Back in February of 2014, I had two major surgeries in one day: two benign tumors removed from my lungs, two ribs removed, internal bleeding, and infused with four pints of blood.
Even now, a year and a half later, I still get anxious just thinking about my surgery, let alone writing about it. I get a knot in my stomach and the tears start to well up. I planned on writing in great detail about all the medical interventions that kept me away from my blog for so long. I wanted to explain to my readers why I seemed to have deserted them. It’s still very painful for me to go into too much detail, so this is Surgery – The Light Version.
My operations put me out of commission, both emotionally and physically, for over a year. Even though it wasn’t cancer, it was major surgery and serious and my recovery was slow, painful, exhausting and depressing. I simply had no energy or desire to write or communicate with anyone. And then, about ten or eleven months into the healing process, another black cat crossed my path. Or to be more specific, I smashed my left wrist.
I was working away on my computer, when suddenly an error message popped up telling me that there was “no more space” on my hard drive. I phoned Apple tech support, left a message and went into the house to make myself a cup of tea and maybe steal a cookie. A few minutes later, Apple called back. I ran out the front door to go to the studio and my sick computer. I was so intent on getting the phone call that I didn’t see a small stack of wooden beams that our handyman was using to repair our walkway. Suddenly, I was launched like a jet off a carrier deck. Zoom. Crash. Bang. Eye glasses smashed into my face. Blood dripped all over me and my left wrist dangled, broken. My surgeon said that the fracture looked “ as if two sixteen-wheeler trucks had collided.”
So, it was back to the operating room and three hours under the knife. The post-op me included a titanium plate, iridescent purple screws, miscellaneous bits of wire and metal embedded in my wrist. The doctor informed me that I would be in a cast for three months followed by three weeks in a splint, and another surgery. Seriously?
So three months later, it was back to the operating room for another surgery to remove the wires. The titainium plate and purple screws remain a part of me forever.
Can’t wait for 2016!
I’m trying to be optimistic and as someone once said…
“There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Just pray it isn’t a train!”
MEMORIES, MUSINGS AND MESSAGES
1. As long as I’m able, I need to take charge of my own medical care. I need to pay close attention tomy health and well-being. I cannot assume that anyone else will. That includes my doctors. I had a reality check on my mortality, too. I am (gasp!) 74 not 35! To be honest, I’d been living my life as if there was no end and as Woody Allen put it, “I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
2. I asked myself what did my compulsive frenzy of Tweeting, Facebook-ing, GooglePlus-ing, Pinterest-ing, and Instagram-ing mean? I was suddenly overwhelmed with social media existential angst. Fortunately, I had one of those “Ah-ha” insights and now I engage in social media for the fun of it and for the special friends I make.
3. My husband and my children are my gifts. They are my advocates. Look out for them, because they roar and insist I be well taken care of when I can’t take care of myself. I’ll never forget my daughter informing me, as I was wheeled out after my second lung operation, that “We made a decision, Mom, and we will not leave you alone at any time!” They were always with me and even insisted that I get more pain medication when the nurses said I had enough. They were right, bless them!
4. After four days, the doctors insisted that I needed to have the epidural, which was dripping pain medication into my body, removed from my back. They wanted to transition to pain medication taken orally. At one point, the epidural remaining in my body collided with the oral meds, and threw me into a tailspin. I felt like Alice falling down the hole, not knowing where I was going to land. Our son, Matthew, saw this and grabbed my hand. My husband grabbed my other hand in an attempt to keep me conscious, Matthew started reading articles about the Royal family. He knew I was a “royalty groupie.” He showed me selfies that the Queen took of herself, Kate Middleton, and her corgis. I was amazed that the Queen would take selfies. It turned out that she never did, but it got my attention and brought me back from whatever dark hole I was sinking into.
5. Every morning as the sun rose and the nurses began their probing and testing, I would distract myself by glancing out my window. There is an incredible view as the rising sun is reflected on the red glass panels of the Pacific Design Center. The building looks like it is in flames. I would always insist that the nurses take a moment to stop and savor this remarkable sight. They usually barely glanced and returned to their needles and bags. I was surprised, but they had their jobs and I had my visions.
6. The nurses and I really connected when we talked about makeup. Our discussions shifted from bedpans to brushes –– makeup brushes. I have a gazillion of them, loads of lipsticks and a bounty of blushes. I was amazed that every nurse seemed to be an expert at applying makeup. So it only seemed natural that I’d be asking them the brands of eye shadows when I was awakened at 2AM. What else is there to talk about at that hour?
7. Because they had inserted a breathing tube in me twice in one day, I had trouble swallowing and talking. After four days of not eating, they really wanted me to get started. Believe it or not, liquids are hard to swallow. You need solids. What did they suggest? Apple sauce and mechanically chopped meat. Mechanically chopped meat? OK, I’m a game gal. It tasted like a four course frozen dinner that had been all ground up together. Bring on the oysters, bring on the snails, bring on the octopus but please, no more mechanically chopped dinners.
8. When your left wrist is broken, do not use your elbow to squeeze toothpaste out of a tube. It will fly across the sink and cling to the mirror.
9. While showering, hopefully you will have someone who loves you to help. I had my dear husband. He became an expert at shaving my armpits and told me how much he enjoyed our quality time together.
10. Hair. One hand? No way. I’m embarrassed to admit I became a Beverly Hills Housewife and pampered myself by going to one of those blow dry places. It’s addictive.
You know, I guess I’m REALLY back.