Peeps, I am SO sorry that it’s taken me this long to write this. There’s nothing like an invasive procedure and 2 weeks of recovery time to completely jack up my schedule. I can’t seem to get all the way back to normal yet, but I appreciate you bearing with me while I get my asses in gear. Let’s get started talking about what is officially known as Day 1 Post Op.
After drifting between snoozes, walking around the entire floor, and obsessively clutching at the sponge-on-a-stick that I was allowed to wet my mouth with, it was finally time for the thing I’d been dreading almost as much as the surgery itself: the barium swallow test.
I didn’t have to wait too long in the morning before this hunky looking surfer/orderly named Kevin came swaggering into my room with a plus sized wheelchair to take me down to radiology for the big test. Even though he pushed me at a normal pace, I felt slightly dizzy and giddy in that chair…like I was in a car with Dale Earnhardt Jr. or something. Wait, sorry, I can’t stand him. Make that Ryan Newman. Anyway, I felt like I was speeding and we were really only moving at a normal pace. It made me realize just how slow I’d been shuffling down the halls all night long in my hideous beige slipper socks.
Kevin pushed me up behind another patient in a wheelchair and soon other patients began appearing behind me. We were like a bariatric conga line. Everyone looked drunk and nervous. After all, if we didn’t pass this test we wouldn’t be allowed to drink water or have ice chips and…well…shit was gonna get ugly soon if I didn’t get any ice chips.
Hunky Kevin stepped over to visit with the other hunky orderlies. Seriously, they were all handsome and my drugged up brain started wondering why they took jobs at the hospital where they ran the risk of seeing a very plus sized naked ass backing into their wheelchairs every day. I figure there’s probably an injured cheerleader wing somewhere in the hospital and they’re all just praying for the day they get to work on that floor, right?
“Paging Kevin the hunky surfer/orderly to room 717. Please escort the patient in the vagina sling to radiology!”
Hey, seriously, you land in the jump splits wrong on a hard floor one day and POW! You’ll know what I mean. I’m off topic, sorry…
There I was thinking about some poor cheerleader in a vagina sling when I distinctly heard Kevin speaking Russian. He said “Good morning”…so I said good morning back. He turned around and said “No way!”
I smiled and replied “That wasn’t Russian, dude!” Then, in Russian, I asked him what his name is. You’d have thought I bought him a new surfboard for Christmas or something. He was bouncing around in front of me and making me high five him, which I gladly did with my non-IV arm.
Before long it was my turn to be wheeled into radiology where I was met with a very patient male xray tech and my surgeon’s nurse practioner/aka angel in a white coat. Her name is Beryl and she’s the shit. You could be in a world of hurt and Beryl’s sun-shiney disposition would lift you right out. She rocks.
Of course, Xray Guy and Beryl are both wearing xray protective crap and I’m just standing there in my extra wide hospital gown while they scoot a tray table in front of me with a paper cup on it. Shit. Here we go. The first liquid I’m allowed to drink and I hear this shit is nasty. They get me into position. Xray Guy is holding a movable screen in front of me so that they can see my esophagus, sleeve, and small intestine. Then I get the signal to take a big swig of barium.
It’s hard to describe the taste of barium, but I’m gonna have to go with a combination between dishwashing liquid and lemonade flavored vomit. Yep. Something like that. I swallowed and willed myself to keep it down (even now while writing this I’m having to fight my upchuck reflex just thinking about it…ugh!). They watched it ooze down my esophagus, telling me what they were seeing – which in a way was quite fascinating. Then it stopped.
The barium stopped. Not moving. Crap! Beryl said it was going, it was just slow…so I heaved a huge sigh of relief and Beryl yelled “Ohh! There it goes! Whatever you just did, do it again!” Another big sigh and some forced relaxation and the barium was flowing into my sleeve…and then slowly into my small intestine. Test passed. Thank ya, Jesus!
My new Russian speaking BFF Kevin wheeled me back to my room, all the while asking me how I knew how to speak Russian. I had to explain to him that I’m so old that I took Russian in college during the Cold War…and there was no one I could talk to back then to keep it fresh in my head, so I’d forgotten most of it except the pleasantries. He was just learning it because it seemed fun to him…which actually was the reason I was learning it way back in the dark ages before Kevin was even a sperm.
I was back in my room for about ten minutes when my nurse, a lovely and wonderful soul named Kristen, came in with the best thing I’ve seen since Robert Downey Jr was born: a cup of ice chips, a cup of ice water, and a teeny tiny one ounce measuring cup. My instructions were to sip at the water and try to get one ounce down every 15 minutes. No eff’in problem, sweet cheeks. Lemme at that water!
I had no problems with the water or the ice other than forcing myself to slow down. It was the best water I’d ever tasted. A few minutes later, a very flamboyant man-child came in with a menu and showed me how to order my first official meal. Just something so simple as ordering food was wonderful to me. I was finally on the other side of surgery, no longer having to worry about anything but focusing on my own recovery.
I ordered cherry flavored sugar free jello and water with Crystal Light. Flamboyant Man-Child came flowing back into my room ten minutes later with a tray. The jello was great, even though they clearly used the same cherry flavoring they put in cough syrup to make it. It wasn’t jello brand that was for sure. I didn’t care. It still tasted like Heaven to me…and then Heaven walked through the door in the form of Hot Mess Hubby, ready to take me home.
Kristen had already let me change into my own clothes and I was sitting on the couch in my room, already tired of being in a bed all day. HMH helped me get my shoes on and we sat and waited through the long discharge process. I didn’t care how long it took. I had a death grip on my ice chips and I wasn’t going to let them go for anything.
I was soon wheeled out of the ward, into the lobby, and out into the frigid North Texas air. I thanked my nurse one more time and carefully got into the passenger side of my car, reminding HMH to take it easy driving it. When he picked me up after my thyroid surgery years ago, he forgot I couldn’t use my neck muscles and he stepped on the gas a little too hard. My head flew back like a freak’in PEZ dispenser.
We had a long drive home. An hour and a half to be exact. Every pothole and bump on the road was a painful reminder that I’d just been through quite a bit. If you’re considering this surgery, take a bedroom pillow with you to hold against your tummy on the way home. I wish I had.
Once home, HMH went in the house first and put the dogs out in the backyard. You haven’t felt fear until you’ve seen 300 pounds worth of dogs trying to maul you to death with their puppy love. Saint Bernards lean on you when they’re showing affection. In my weakened state I was sure I’d get leaned right through a wall. HMH came out to help me out of the car, but by the time I got through the front door Kirby (the smart one) had figured out something was up. She was standing at the back door, excited wiggling her booty, wanting desperately to get some Mommy snuggles. She hadn’t see me in a whole day, after all.
By the time I gingerly shuffled to the bedroom, she was standing on her back legs and pounding the door with her giant feet. Mommaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!
HMH helped me into bed and then he let the dogs in. The initial rush was a little frightening, but Kirby is an amazing dog and she knows when people are hurt. As soon as she was close enough, she laid down on the bed and put her head on my leg. She was still a wiggly ball of excitement but she knew not to jostle Mommy around. I stroked her head and spoke sweetly to her.
Dyson came up on the other side of the bed and I made sure to give him lots of head rubs and attention as well. Mommy was home and the puppies were happy. After a few minutes, they decided to go back to their busy schedule of napping.
Caesar the cat took up the first nursing shift. Every time I woke up he was there, watching over me. I’d get up and go to the bathroom, sit up and talk to HMH for a while, but when I went back to bed there was Caesar…waiting for me. After 24 hours, Kirby decided it was time for her to take care of me…so she didn’t leave my side for a long time. I had a weird menagerie of furry nurses taking care of me in that first week, which is a story unto itself.
Next time I’ll cover week 1 post op. It was an interesting expedition into the world of clear liquid protein and farts that can not be trusted. I hope you join me next time.
In the meantime, as always, if you have any questions…feel free. Ask away!