As you are reading this column, I'm at a local hospital making the doctors and nurses wish they had never pursued the healing arts.
After eight months of unsuccessful therapy, a hysterectomy is necessary. Naturally, I'm not too thrilled about it. My husband is even less thrilled since he will be taking two weeks off from work to take care of me during the initial recovery period. I figure that if the marriage makes it through this, it will survive anything.
However, in the days preceding the surgery, Jim didn't seem sufficiently worried about me, so I did things to scare him. First, I made him read all the literature the hospital gave me regarding my surgery. His face was pale as he read about the removal of the various organs.
The section about the risks during surgery scared him even more, and the release form was no picnic either. He read, "I realize there is no guarantee regarding the success or failure of this procedure" as "I realize I'm doomed."
Ever have a thallium stress test? It's a piece of cake, unless you're phobic about needles. They put an intravenous in your arm, inject some thallium, make you briskly walk uphill on a treadmill for awhile, and then scrape you up off the floor (that happens mostly with fat people who eat lots of Twinkies).
As you've probably guessed, I'm not one of those noble folks who worry silently and present a brave front. I'm determined to sweep my husband, family and friends into the same hysteria I'm buried in.
One of my cousins told me that if I sent out a heartfelt farewell to everyone, I'd feel really silly when the operation was a roaring success. Well, quite truthfully, I'll be so relieved to be alive, it will be worth feeling like a fool.
And you know that's how it's going to be. Here I am making all these death preparations, and of course, everything will be just fine. However, if I didn't take all these morbid precautions, I'd probably be in cardiac arrest before they made the first incision.
In my life, it pays to heed the words of Voltaire, who said, "God is a comedian playing to an audience that's afraid to laugh."
Because I'm considered a high-risk patient, the doctors they thoroughly tested my heart - EKGs, carotid Doppler, thallium stress test ....
Ever have a thallium stress test? It's a piece of cake, unless you're phobic about needles. They put an intravenous in your arm, inject some thallium, make you briskly walk uphill on a treadmill for awhile, and then scrape you up off the floor (that happens mostly with fat people who eat lots of Twinkies). The technician pointed out that no needles are involved; the intravenous is actually a sharp piece of hollow plastic.
"They stick it in your arm and it breaks the skin, right?" I countered.
"Well, yes," he replied.
"It's a needle."
Somehow we got through the test without my ripping out his throat.
During my pre-op checkup at the hospital, I told the nurse how scared of needles I was, and she pulled out a "butterfly," which is a teensy needle that doesn't hurt. I've been having six blood tests a year for 10 years now and nobody ever mentioned this little gem. The downside? It takes five minutes to draw a couple of test tubes of blood. But once the needle is in, what do I care how long it takes? It's not like they're being paid by the hour.
Unfortunately, they only had one-size-fits-all gowns. Not only was it tight, but I had tied the back strings so I'd have the illusion that my butt wasn't completely exposed. Naturally, when I tried to remove the gown, I made knots. Houdini had an easier time getting out of a straightjacket than I had getting out of that hospital gown.
By the way, I've already told my husband that I don't want any visitors after my surgery. The last time I was in the hospital, I had tubes in my nose, mouth, hands and other more private places. I also had a steady stream of visitors who were apparently so fond of me that they had no qualms about sitting and watching my bodily wastes emptying into plastic bags. Not this time, baby.
I know these visitors are just trying to spread cheer, but I don't want them there. Some years ago, I was in the hospital, and I always tried to fake sleep so the visitors would go away. They didn't.
"Oooooohhhhhh, she's asleep. Let's be very quiet so we don't wake her."
Then they'd do all they could to "accidentally" wake me up. They drew their chairs up to the bed and stared at me. I could feel it. One visitor went off in search of a vase and then drove me crazy sloppily arranging flowers and splashing me with water from the stems.
Finally came the inevitable: "Gee, she looks awful doesn't she? So pale, and look at those dark circles under her eyes ..."
"Hey, what's that bag hanging out under the bed? It looks like ... ewwwwwwwwww!"
I ask you, do I need this?
By the way, does anyone know the approximate weight of female reproductive organs? I'm hoping to come out of this at least a few pounds lighter.
After a few weeks of recovery, I should be good as new, the doctors say. If something goes wrong though, I assure you that I've planned a funeral service that will make Princess Diana's sendoff look like a pauper's burial. Bring food.
(Some things just never change.)
This article is copyright 2001 by Minx McCloud and appears here with both her permission and the permission of The Princeton Packet.
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