There’s a lot to write about. A lot to process through. A lot to be grateful for. A lot still on the horizon.
I suppose I should start from where I left off last. It was before surgery. I was able to get the $700 needed for the deposit I was blindsided by. Work went well. My patients were extremely supportive during my last days at work.
Tuesday I went to my first day of class. Introduction to Sociology. I was able to talk to the instructor after class. It was nice to have a face to go with the voice I had heard over the phone earlier the week before. We talked about the day I would be missing. She gave me the makeup work. She wished me well during surgery.
After class, I went to the airport and picked up my dad. It was good to see him. We stopped at Arby’s on the way back to my apartment for lunch. We chatted for a bit. He got to meet the kittens. He got to meet Ox. That evening we went out for dinner at Brewsky’s. They have pretty good wings. My FA and her family showed up.
It was a thing I tried to work out with most of my co-workers; my “Cancer Eviction Party.” Not many people showed up but when you work the crazy hours we do I was sort of expecting that. It ended up being pretty awesome regardless. My FA is an extremely important person in my life. She is one of the biggest advocates for my development in the company. I know it may seem childish but I’m glad she was able to meet my dad. He spent a really long time talking to her and it seemed like she genuinely enjoyed the conversation. There were lots of jokes and laughing and shared stories. It was exactly how I wanted to spend my last night before my surgery; with good people having good food and a good time.
I had my last cigarette with Ox before driving back to the apartment. My dad camped out in the living room on my air mattress while I slept with the kittens in my room. I woke up early. I didn’t eat. I had a bit of chicken broth to drink, but that was it. We got to the hospital around 10 am. I got checked in and was shown to my pre-surgery room. I had to take my piercings out. I had to wipe down with antimicrobial wipes. I had to wear a hospital gown. I had to wait a really long time. I had to answer a bunch of questions. I had to give them the paperwork for my living will so it could be in my medical record.
The surgeon came in and talked to me. I think he could tell I was scared. Remarkablely, he was extremely kind to me. There was something different about his eyes. Something different in his voice. Something about the way he held himself said, “It’s ok to be scared. I’ve got you.”
Eventually, 30 minutes past when my surgery was supposed to start, I was wheeled down the hall to the surgery room. I was ok going into the room. The staff helped me transfer over onto the surgery table. They started putting EKG electrodes on me. They were talking to me, to each other. I was told to rest my head just so on the pillow.
I could feel the tears running from the corners of my eyes. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be doing this. I didn’t want to have surgery. I didn’t want to be in the hospital. I didn’t want to have cancer.
The tears kept coming as everyone moved around getting things ready. It was harder to breathe. To keep it even and normal. Harder and harder to not cry. They put the mask over my face saying it was just oxygen. But I knew it wouldn’t stay just oxygen. I knew they were going to put me to sleep with no way to promise that I would wake up. I started crying as someone stroked my forehead saying that I was doing really well.
No, I’m not. No, I’m not. I’m not doing well. Please don’t do this.
That was the last thing I remember.
After that, I was waking up with two nurses in my room. I don’t remember the beginning of the conversation but I remember saying that I knew mom was still dead and breaking down because it hurt so much all over again. I woke up and she still wasn’t going to be there.
Somehow we got onto the subject of my kittens, most likely because they didn’t want me crying so hard with my incision being so fresh. Ox and Dad weren’t in the room yet. I could hear Ox’s keys as he walked, though. I knew he was close. I remember looking out the hospital room doorway and seeing him and reaching for him. I needed him near me. I need him to touch me. I needed him to be real.
Me: I woke up.
I remember saying that. I remember explaining that I remembered mom was dead and crying again. I remember my younger brother talking to me on the phone and saying it was good to hear my voice. I was still pretty out of it. I felt sick; nauseous. I didn’t eat anything for another four hours. I drank a lot of water during the moments I was awake enough to do so. I was able to walk to the restroom by myself on my first try. That was important to me. I don’t know why, but I needed to prove to myself that I could.
Dad stayed with me through the night. Around midnight I had half a bowl of oatmeal. My throat was extremely sore from being intabated which apparently they had to do that twice to me. The seal broke on the first one.
Around four in the morning, I had a small container of applesauce. I was still nauseous feeling and the thought of anything more solid than that wasn’t appealing. I had a few cups of chicken broth throughout the night as well. I was extremely dehydrated after the surgery.
I ended up having a pain pill as well. 5mcg of hydrocodone with 375 mcg I believe of acetaminophen. It wasn’t enough to make me one with the Universe or anything, but it took the sharpness of the pain down to a dull ache that I could work with.
I had a drain in my neck. Not sure if that’s really important in the grand scheme of the story, but I feel I should mention it.
My RN for the evening was amazing. Shelby. She was so kind and quiet. She’s the type of nurse I want to be.
In the morning I had blood drawn to check my calcium levels. I was kept until noon because of the drain. The PA thought it was still draining a bit much for her to be ok with me leaving in the morning. My dad and I played a few games of cribbage to kill the time. Breakfast was brought up. Two pancakes, one piece of sausage and a single strawberry. I ate it all which I was proud of.
Eventually, I was rounded on again. The drain was doing fine. The PA removed it which totally sucked. God did it fucking suck. Thankfully it was over quick. My morning nurse went over my discharge instructions, talked about incision care, and follow-up steps once I was at home. Kristen. She’s another nurse I want to be like.
I asked for all of the names of people who helped take care of me while I was in my post-surgery room so I could write thank you cards. Kristen got me the list.
I walked all the way to the lobby of the hospital. I didn’t think I was trying to be a badass. I didn’t think it would be a hard thing to do. I was beyond grateful to sit and wait for Ox to pull up with the car. I was so tired from walking the relatively short distance.
Once I was in the car, holding the vase of flowers from Allison’s mom, my dad drove to the Chinese place where Ox and I like going. I got an order of the seafood soup with a side of fried rice and the three of us ate lunch before going to pick up my medications. I got my Synthroid as well as 15 more pain pills. I also got a container of peppermint Tums since I had to take four tablets a day to make sure my calcium didn’t drop post-surgery.
I was exhausted after lunch and going into Walgreens. Dad drove me home and I went to sleep for I don’t know how long. I think we went out to dinner for food but I don’t remember where if we did.
I don’t remember breakfast the next morning. I do know we went to Walmart and got a 3D crystal puzzle. It was the purple dragon on. Dad and I put it together, well… together. It was nice. We did a few more games of cribbage, too. I was still taking a pain pill every six hours. All of my body hurt. My neck, my shoulders, my abs. Laying down in bed sucked more than getting out of it.
Oh! Ox got me a purple weighted blanked which arrived just in time for me to use at home. I believe it was delivered Thursday.
Anywho. It wasn’t until Saturday morning that I started feeling ok pain wise. I had another pill that morning before we drove into town to have breakfast with Ox, the kids, and his parents. Which reminds me… I had breakfast with dad at Greenfields on Friday. Saturday was Village Inn.
It was a good breakfast. It was nice for dad to meet Ox’s family. There was more good conversation and overall I think it went well. I worked on my make up assignment for school. I napped. We went to Brewsky’s for dinner and tried out the Mettle Grill for lunch. All of it was good.
I talked to a lot of people through Facebook and phone calls in between the days. Everyone wanted to know how I was doing. Dad and I were able to have some really deep and important conversations while he was with me. He got to explain his actions and choices after the diveroce. I got to explain how it felt as a young girl and that I realized as an adult that some of the things he said and did weren’t meant the way I took them.
I got to tell my dad, in person, that despite all of the times he wasn’t there for marching band competitions or graduation speeches, that when I needed him to be there for me, he was, and that I would always be grateful for him. We both took a lot of steps to mend our relationship. There were a lot of tears but they were healing tears. Painful tears but at the same time good tears. They were tears that needed to happen. To be shared and shed.
We talked about mom a lot. He explained what he remembered about the situation when mom had her surgery.
My dad isn’t much of a cat person, but he did go onto Amazon and buy a laser toy for them since we were having so much fun tormenting them with a handheld laser pointer. It’s a tower with a rotating top that shines a laser on the floor. It spins around, moving the laser randomly. The cats have yet to conquer the red dot of doom.
Monday night Ox, dad, and I had dinner again. Dad told Ox that he was extremely pleased that I had Ox in my corner. He told Ox to take care of me. Dad thinks I’m doing well. He thinks I’m where I need to be surrounded by people who care deeply about me and my wellbeing. He thinks I’m headed in the right direction with my life and that all I need is time. He thinks I’ll get to where I want to be. It was validating to hear him say those words. That he was and is proud of me.
It meant a lot that he liked Ox as well; that he thinks Ox is a good person.
The whole week was amazingly nice. I didn’t have a lot of alone time. I didn’t have a cigarette the entire time my dad was here. I had breakfast with him at a diner I really like. We drove to the airport and said our goodbyes. I had my post-surgery appointment later in the day and I promised to keep him posted on how it went.
I didn’t cry when he left. It didn’t feel like a goodbye. More like an “I’ll see you later.” It was nice. It felt like I still have a parent and like I’m not an orphan.
I went to class after the airport. It was a good class. We talked about shootings, and game violence and suicide. Pretty deep and heavy topics and how different cultures respond differently to different things and what could be some cultural underlying issues to social problems. Very thought-provoking discussions.
And I guess for now that’s where I’ll leave this writing. There’s a lot more to catch up on, but this was my first week post-surgery. Quiet, slow, full of recovery and kindness and empathy. Full of love and family and connectedness. Full of my dad becoming part of my life again and seeing a glimpse of my world and being proud of the tiny corner I’ve eeked out for myself here in the middle of nowhere.