Thursday, June 12, 2014


Being in the hospital is one of the most torturous experiences.  By all recent comparisons, this stay was a 4star excursion. I had my own room and Phil stayed the nights with me. Not the romantic 2 night get away that I have been dreaming of, but we survived it and that's all I ask for these days.

I absolutely do not know how non medically savvy people negotiate hospitals. I feel like at every turn I am telling someone how to do their job in respect to me. It's exhausting- this continual advocacy. Some say it's because we are in the military health care system, but I think that is a side effect of a bigger problem. Jaime sat, visiting with me in my luxurious suite with a perpetual look of horror as I explained this was the nicest room I'd ever been in here at Tripler. She asked when the last time I was in a private hospital was. Never. Not me anyhow. I've visited friends in private hospitals. I can overlook the bells and whistles for quality care. More often than not, quality care these days feels like it merely doesn't kill you.

The preop visits to the surgical center usually horrify me. They are aggravating in that not only are you a bundle of nerves- but you are sitting in a room with other nervous folk waiting, waiting waiting to tic items of a checklist that cumulatively take a grand total of a half an hour, yet the visit drones on for close to 3 hours. You don't meet with any of the people you will be seeing the next day and they always deliver disappointing news like- you cannot eat after such and such time and oh- be sure to stop by the pharmacy to waste another hour of your time to pick up some nasty concoction to drink and prepare the bowels fro surgery. Oh crap I forgot about the bowel prep. More so I filed it away under something one doesn't want to think about.  To add insult to injury you have to start cleaning the pipes at 2pm the day before.  So the last dinner turns into last lunch and each bite chewed is chewed with the dawning realization that it shall be but a memory in a mere hour or so.

Whether Jaime was the good luck charm or slathered over my chart was some cryptic have mercy on this poor woman who contrary to what is IN this chart does NOT enjoy pain- the day progressed fairly painlessly. I even managed to squeeze in an annual well woman exam while Jaime waited for my pharmacy number to be called. Because amidst all of the appointments in the past month leading up to this surgery- it failed everyone's notice that I was overdue for a pap. Either way- it was taken care of.

We arrived home, I drank the lemony flavored make you poo goo and dreaded the next events.  Since I react to all kinds of things- I don't do the weird pre surgical wipes which cover you in a bacteria fighting film and supposedly cut down on post op infections.  I have theories on this and infection control in general- but I will keep them to myself. I generally am relieved to be first case as the assembly line processing of the ORs always makes me wonder. Either way- I shower night and morning before surgery. This whole not having hair thing means less toiletries for the hospital and not having to worry about crazy post op bed head. The sun is still soundly asleep when we begin our trek to the hospital. And less shaving for the OR team- woo hoo.

Despite my several pre op appointments and pre surgical arranging- no one is qualified or has the appropriate supplies to access my port in the OR. After not 1, not 2, but 3 IV tries- I have an IV barely hanging on between my ring and pinky finger knuckles. Obviously it doesn't matter that all blood draws will have to be below that( I guess out of the webbing between fingers) and I have an entire arm that cannot be used due to lymphedema risk- they have fooked away my good arm's worth of veins. It is too early to call the VAD team or wander down to oncology and just have them access my port. I shake my head. Fairly unacceptable. Had I not gone over this with pre surgical people- I would have just gone into oncology and had the damn thing accessed the day before. Instead I now have a greenish brown zombie arm as the multiple vein blows heal.

The only reason I dealt with it is because an IV is needed for versed. Versed is my favorite and the only reason you can get me anywhere near an OR. Within a minute of that injection you are waking up in recovery and everything is a little achy and foggy.  I woke up with 2 IV's. Both of which came out within hours. One as I tried to sit up, I look down and blood is dripping out of my hand and there's enough meds going on that you just look at it like- hmmm that's probably not ideal. That is another pretty green brown zombie bruise now. The other had clotted.  I spent many hours that night as a nurse whacked my hand and arm trying to find a viable vein- consistently ignoring the one I pointed her to and finally after Phil kicked her out of the room and another nurse came in- did they get blood from the vein that I had pointed out. Advocacy is exhausting.  I had decided then and there I was out of there as soon as humanly possible. Saturday afternoon was the earliest they would consider letting me out- so by Saturday morning I was asking to leave.

Any surgery sucks. Abdominal sugary has it's own set of not niceties. Standing up sucks. Walking sucks- as things get moving again- it most definitely sucks. Waking up and feeling like you have to sneeze sucks. As you try to prop yourself up to grab the pillow to hold against your tummy so your intestines don't get blasted across the room. Ah good times.  The first day home alone with the kids- I decided watermelon sounded good. So bella put the watermelon on the counter for me. The leverage needed to slice said watermelon was more than I had- so I asked Kiera to please take care of it. I went upstairs to nap- because on narcotics- leaving kids downstairs with a big knife and a watermelon seems pretty acceptable.  After a short nap- I return to Kiera- several bowls of weirdly sliced and crushed watermelon- a mop, a sticky floor and her brother sitting there eating watermelon while she giggled. Later we find out that she ignored the watermelon and it rolled off the counter and splattered everywhere. SO she put the smooshed watermelon in the colander and rinsed it. That melon is what her brother gnoshed on. Hence the giggling. She was on her 3rd round of mopping but from what I can tell- In true Gallagher fashion- she was just pushing watermelon juice around.

Today has been a week post surgery and I am starting to feel human again. We've had a couple hurdles. I'm on blood thinners(fun nightly Sub Q shots) and antibiotics.  I can lay fairly comfortably, sit fairly comfortably and stand up pretty straightish. I am very tired. After 4 c sections, I knew what to expect and my expectations were a little high. This led to many a melt down while Phil assured me I was doing fine. A 15 minute phone call should not require an hour nap- I blubbered. I am a human paperweight I cried as the fan blew a few of the girls get well cards around the room- and I'm failing at that. I'm very antisocial post surgically. It's probably best. I know that next week will be better and the week after that better and then back to the chemo routine. And that absolutely sucks. Getting better to get knocked back down. And then the sun comes up over the palms and the clouds drift by and I feel good enough to sit outside for a half an hour and enjoy it. And the kids give me hugs, gentle, careful hugs and kiss my stubbly head and that's why we get up and do it all over again. These wounds will heal and hopefully lead to something better.

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)