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SarahAnnAlien's Journal: My Surgical Adventure

Journal by SarahAnnAlien

[April 26]

Well, it appears that I've survived my "little" surgery.

It felt really weird wearing sweatpants to work, but they had said to wear loose clothing, and the friend who was going to take me there works across the hall from me, and since we didn't have to be there until 11, it made sense for her to just pick me up early in the morning and go hang out at the office until it was time to leave.

I even got some stuff done! Fixed a little bug, and responded to some customer-service type stuff that I have to deal with.

Then we were off on my big adventure!

We found the building easily, but missed the turn. Six turns later we were coming at it from the other direction... and there was a "no left turn" sign. So we went around to try from the other direction again. Wheee!

Found the building, found a parking spot, found the office. Check in. Fill out the paperwork. Sign this. And this. And initial here. And sign this. This is out HIPPA policy, sign here. And this indicates that you'd like to be resuscitated (ooh, yes please!). And you'll have to pay... it was about $1200 for the surgical center and $400 for the anesthesiologist. I had already paid for the doctor last week. I paid with a credit card; we'll work on arguing with Blue Cross again next week.

Sit with my friend in the wating room... waiting... waiting... somehow we end up talking about family members who died. Oh, probably because I lost an uncle just last weekend. In fact, Dad's in Illinois for the wake and the funeral.

Finally, they call my name. I stand up. Friend gives me a hug. And the nurse led me into the changing area. Take off this and that, keep this other stuff on, put this on there, these go here, and here's a bag for your stuff. I wonder, do they realize how confusing such simple instructions can be when you're nervous?

Okay, all dressed and/or undressed as the case may be. Open the door and look for the nurse. She hands me a warm blanket and leads me to the operating table. We chat a little. We talk a little bit about my alien thing.

Anesthesiologist comes in. We chat a bit too. He asks me questions about my meds. Starts and IV. Gives me a "test dose" of a milky white liquid. No, I don't feel anything... giggle... ok, *now* I do... wheee... yeah, that's good stuff!

He gets called away for a bit. I chat with the nurses (now there are two, um, two *different* ones, I wasn't seeing double!)

Anesthesiologist comes back. He asks how I'm doing and I say I'm fine. He puts a giant syringe of the milky white stuff into my IV line. Hmm, it's not doing anything this time, that's weird...

Ow, ow, ow. Apparently I'm in recovery. Did everything go ok? Hmm, there are bandages down there. Ow, ow. Apple juice, crackers, put your pants on, get into the wheelchair. Wait, I just had surgery, why are you throwing me out so fast? Oh, that was a couple hours ago. I've been awake for an hour now. Time is passing very weirdly.

Friend is there. I'm very happy to see her.

Wheelchair to car. Drive to pharmacy. She drops me off. I slowly shuffle in to get the prescription to pay for it. She goes and finds parking, and manages to get a close spot.

Back in the car. Home. She drops me off again, then goes to park. I'm glad we worked that part out in advance so I don't have to worry if she'll be able to find my apartment again.

I climb the stairs to my apartment... slowly. Ow, ow, ow.

She comes in from parking her car. I lay on the couch, she stands in front of my heater. She's a tiny little thing and she's always cold. We chat for a while. She calls another friend of mine, my next door neighbor, who is going to check on me for the next couple of days. Neigbor comes over. We all hang out in my living room and talk.

This was the part that got to me.

See, I had surgery "down there" about five years ago. I took the bus to the hospital alone at 5am, and a friend-of-a-friend picked me up and dropped me off at home... and then I was home, by myself, on my own, for a week.

Now, I have people in my life who bend over backward to help me out, and make sure I'm ok. They're here, now, taking care of me... and I don't just know that they care about me. I can feel it.

This is what changing the brain chemistry has done for me. I can build these kinds of relationships. I can *feel* loved. I can feel how much they care about me. And it feels good. Wonderful.

This is why we're doing this. This is why I'm in pain. And it's totally worth it. I'm sure I made the right decision.

I made a special effort not to cry; their worryometers were already in the danger zone, and I didn't want them to panic! So I did tell them how much it meant to me that they were taking such good care of me, but I didn't cry.

And... uh... then I threw them out! :-)

Actually, I was still groggy from the surgery, and two people chatting with me was getting to be a bit much, so I told them I really needed to take a nap. So, after lots of hugs, friend-from-work left to go pick up her husband, neighbor-friend promised to check on me in a couple hours, and they both left, giving me some much needed quiet time.

* * * * *

[April 27]

That was as far as I got journal-wise yesterday. Now let me see if I can finish without needing another nap.

The biggest problem I had on Tuesday was figuring out how to pee. Between my slightly nonstandard anatomy, the way things were taped up, and the swelling, I was in the peculiar circumstance of not really being able to pee sitting *or* standing. And I figured this out the hard way the first time I tried to go, because I just plopped down on the potty as usual, tried to shift into a more workable position, and then, started to go before I had quite figured it out. Oops.

I was reminded of this old sex reassigment surgery joke: Will you have to learn to pee all over? No, you'll just naturally pee all over... giggle! Fortunately, that gets better as the swelling goes down.

So, as the swelling has gone down, this has been less of a problem. Well, that, and I finally figured out how to get on and off the potty in a way that lets me actually go *in* the potty. The real trick is not letting my hair fall in... yes, it's that kind of awkward. But judging by how things are going, I think that will only be a problem for the next day or two.

The other issue is that there's quite a lot of bruising; I'm pretty sure I managed to pop some internal stitch that first night while I was shifting around in an unsuccessful attempt to get comfortable; for most of the afternoon everything was fine, and then at one point I just noticed that some "things" were turning dark red. I've been more diligent with the cold packs since then, and it hasn't gotten any worse, and I talked with the nurse, who confirmed that yes, sometimes that sort of thing happens. (I have a male friend who had some surgery "down there" who ended up with a bruise that ran from his belly button to his knees. He was also the one who, when I told him I was planning to have this surgery, said to me, "I had mine removed too... but they put them *back* when they were done!")

Aside: the reusable gel cold pack thingies you can get at the drugstore work really well. I'm just glad I've been able to get through this whole thing without anyone recommending that I use peas. Yes, peas work... but in my opinion, the gel packs work much better... and don't involve shoving vegetables down your pants. As an added bonus, they're thinner, so if, for instance, a stranger comes to the door, you can answer it without fear of being asked, "Excuse me, but do you have frozen vegetables in your pants?" I find that a set of four works best, with three in the freezer and one in my pants, the next one is always ready when I need it. I also strongly recommend the ones that come in a cloth-covered gel pack rahter than a plastic gel pack with a separate cloth cover; I just think they're more comfortable. The ones I have are made by Ace, and have the added benefit of rounded corners.

Everyone's been taking good care of me. Friend from work calls or emails a couple times a day. Friend from next door checks on me every few hours, and even brought me some milk from the store, which I didn't desparately need, but will be nice because now I can make instant chocolate pudding tonight. I also felt better having finally asked him for something, she was starting to make me feel a little guilty that I *didn't* need anything, because she really wanted to help. I still have a hard time explaining to both of them that just the fact that they're a part of my life, and that they're here for me now, means more than they can imagine. But milk is nice too. :-)

Dad has called every day. He called yesterday from Illinois; my uncle's funeral was just finishing up and everyone was slowly heading over to my aunt's house. There were a lot of people there, he said; my uncle was a great guy and touched a lot of lives. I wish I'd been able to know him better; we've been on the west coast or Pacific rim for my whole life and I've only been back to visit Dad's side of the family a couple times. They're all good people, and I hope someday I'll have more opportunity to get to know them.

Tonight Dad called and he was in LA, having just flown back from Illinois and then picked up a fish tank they had special ordered several weeks before; they were about to head home but wanted to check on me before getting on the road.

* * * * *

[May 1]

Okay, this time I'm really going to finish this entry!

I'm pretty sure there's something wrong. The right side is fine, little or no pain or bruising, everything as expected. The left side, on the other hand, is badly bruised, still very painful... and there's a lump, in a place where all the lumps should have been removed! Perhaps not surprisingly, that's the atrophic side that was operated on in 1972. I've needed vicodin yet again today; that part should have been over by the weekend. I'll see the doctor tomorrow morning; I hope it's not something serious.

Other than that, everything is fine. People keep calling to check on me. I'm not really bored yet, and I've at least recovered to the point where I can sleep through the night and get by with just one nap per day. Okay, maybe two, but I'm sure that's just the stupid vicodin. Which, by the way, I hate.

I've just about run out of junk food, but there's still plenty of regular food. In fact, I've been feeling the urge to eat healthier, which is good, and I haven't felt like I'm starving, which was a problem on the high doses of estrogen; sometimes I'd eat "dinner" two or three times. Hard to lose weight that way.

I have definitely gained weight, though; the fat-pants I bought just in case I gained weight after the surgery... fit quite comfortably. Yeah, I figured that stopping a diuretic (spironolactone) abruptly might do that. That's why I bought the pants.

On the plus side, stopping the spiro hasn't thrown my tummy into a tizzy, in fact, if I had to guess, I'd say things are working as close to "normal" in that department as they ever have in my life. And... I can poop again! Yay for me!

Sorry about that... it's just that I've been constipated since the day I started the spironolactone. Three years ago. THREE YEARS!

Oh, and I can sort of pee normally again. There's still swelling, though, and I'm sure it will continue to get better.

The other cool thing is that, emotionally, I've been absolutely stable, which has been wonderful. No outbursts of uncontrollable anger, and no tears. Okay, almost no tears, except for this one episode of Quantum Leap from NetFlix. That's fine; I'm happy this way. I don't mind crying, as long as there's some vaguly plausible excuse for it! (Here "vaguely plausible" means "something a woman would understand"... guys might not understand, but that's ok too.)

Yawn.... ok, I'm going to try to post this, and then try to get to bed early. Tomorrow's doctor visit will be the first time I've left the apartment in a week. Hope I can make it down the stairs!

I haven't proofread this much... sorry about that. I officially blame all mistakes on stupid vicodin, so there!

Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis. It makes sense, when you don't think about it.

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