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Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Surgery Story: Part I

I received my surgery date of March 14 at the end of January. It actually worked out very well for me as I had quite a few things I wanted to have completed before I returned home to recover. I had been warned and was prepared for the first six weeks of recovery to be difficult and I wanted to have time to take lots of naps, stare at TV and read. So I cleared the decks.

I had two outstanding work projects, and I got the first one completed, and then a project I'd been working on for over two years--my oldest and dearest friend--he came up to our place the Friday to Tuesday before surgery to get his book completed and published. We worked long, hard hours--something I was not used to as the last few years my health has taken a beating and energy and endurance had been particularly hard. In the evenings, my friend took my husband and I out for dinner or lunch. And I don't mean McDonald's--the first night, we ate the top restaurant, not the buffet, at the local Indian Casino. We both had lobster thermidor lying on a bed of spinach and cheese ravioli in a garlic cream sauce. OMG, I closed my eyes and leaned back against the booth and just went "Mmmmm mmmm mmmm."  My friend agreed. We followed that with dessert. Then we went to probably the best steak house in central California the next night, Harris Ranch. Yeah, they have their own grass fed cattle. I had the best steak, a rib eye, I've ever had in my life. It was so good that we went there again on Monday night. Just wow. Over the next few days we had Vietnamese, Mexican....it was a true farewell to food tour. Good food. And there was a lot of laughter. Good times.

My friend was going to leave on Monday, but we had problems with the upload and conversion of the e-book, so he came by again on Tuesday (he stayed at a local hotel; he's slightly allergic to cats), and we worked on it together, our screens side-by-side, and went over every problem we'd found, fixed it, and had it uploaded. I was exhausted.

My surgery was in three days. I had Wednesday to pack, buy vitamins (which I had shipped to my mother's house where I would spent the week after recovering), get my act together, check that the cat sitter was still available, and mostly think about what I would be doing. I waited to buy the vitamins because I was afraid my insurance company would balk at the last moment, but I figured three days before surgery my odds were good that it would happen. The vitamins arrived at my mother's on Thursday. I didn't think they would arrive so soon so I didn't mention it to her. She almost sent them back. Oops.

So Wednesday, all systems were GO, and I got into the van and hit the road about 2:30 pm to pick R up from work and drive down to Southern California. I had booked a hotel on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena about two miles from the hospital. It was a well-known chain hotel, and the price, on Hotels.com was just right. I booked two nights.

Wednesday I was on a creamy liquids diet. I had cream of chicken soup with milk, I had Crystal Light, I had a Mango Smoothie from Jack-in-the-box, and split pea soup for dinner at a late-night diner I used to frequent when I lived in Pasadena and worked nights. (I was very hungry by our 10 pm dinner.)

The next day, Thursday, I had an early appointment with my surgeon, then shortly thereafter a pre-admit and labs at the hospital. And I was on clear liquids. Gatorade, iced tea, hot tea, chicken broth, and I forget what all. I also had to do a bowel prep using liquid magnesium citrate. I was very hungry. I had been advised by the preadmit nurse not to have either my evening or surgery morning insulin injections. The concern was my blood sugar falling too low. High was better than low. Low could get my surgery canceled. I followed her advice.

The surgeon appointment went fine, it was a quick drive (no traffic at 10 am!), but we spent about two hours at the hospital filling out paperwork, registering, and taking labs to prepare for my 5:30 am check in the following morning. Surgery was scheduled for 7:30. Sweet. I was the first surgery of the day.

My friend with the book kept calling and texting me that there were more problems with his e-book. I had gotten a bad virus on my computer a few weeks earlier, and although I thought I had gotten rid of it, I was still having problems with my computer, and clearly, it was affecting the upload of his e-book file. He wanted to come to my hotel that night so I could work on it. *balk*  I was tired. I spent five, twelve-hour days in a row working on his book, then one day of packing and prepping to leave, then a 200 mile drive, doc appointments, labs (five vials of blood), and I was tired. TIRED.

But...he is my oldest and dearest friend, he needed me, I needed to help him before the surgery because my experiences from previous surgeries was that I would have a bad case of anesthesia brain (doih). I told him fine, come on over, but I had to do a bowel prep and I may be running to and from the bathroom and it might even smell. He was cool with that. Actually, he was in a panic over his book.

My husband left to go pick up my mother and my plan had been to get a nap. So my friend shows up at my hotel room and voila! He's purchased me a top of the line, 17" screen, HP laptop with some super peripherals--Office 2010 (with Word, etc.); a 64G flash drive; two years of tech support for up to three different computers; a $150- top of the line virus program; and I can't think what else. In all, it was a $2000- gift.

When I asked "Why?"

"Because your computer is a piece of crap. LOL"

He was right; it really was..

I don't deserve a friend like him.

I'd never even seen Windows 8, but I'd heard there were issues.

I managed to get online using the hotels WiFi and install Word 2010, add his file from his flash drive (he was sure it didn't have the virus on it as he'd spent a couple of days making changes), I made my changes and had it uploaded by 7:30 pm.

In the meantime, the bowel prep, which tasted like sour 7UP, had yet to "kick in."  Then my husband showed up with my mother, who said she wanted to be at the hospital on surgery day. The best way to do it was have her at the hotel with us as my check in time was 5:30 am.  There was much hugging and chatting. My mom hadn't seen my friend since he went with her in the 90s to help her buy a car. The guy is a bodhisattva (angel), I'm telling you.

So they all wanted dinner. I said "I can't eat, I'm not going." Everyone understand and the three of the left together in search of food. My friend treated everyone to Dupar's, which had just opened in Pasadena.

In a stroke of luck, the bowel issue made itself known while they were all out having a good time and a nice meal. By the time they came back, I was all done. Hallelujah and thank g*d for my Kindle (I can read it on the toilet.)

My husband started helping me gathering up all non-essential luggage and take it out to the car so they could have a quick checkout after he dropped me at the hospital. We all crashed out--I had trouble sleeping, of course, but my eyes popped open when the alarm went off at 4:30 am. I had about 4 hours of sleep. I knew I could catch up on my sleep later, but I was TIRED.

I showered real well with tea tree oil soap, a natural antibiotic, I didn't wash my hair--it was fairly clean and I didn't want to show up for surgery with wet hair, got my husband up, we dressed, and drove through the eerily quiet and empty streets of Pasadena by 5 am. 

***to be continued***

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