I have not really eaten a meal for a couple of months – maybe 1/2 sandwich a day, maybe a cup of ginger tea a day. That Tuesday (the 24th) I called my doctor’s office and said that I still had no appetite and my stomach was quite bloated. I was told to get in immediately, and while my own doctor (BL) was completely booked, they set me up with his partner, (CK). They drew blood, Dr. CK poked me in the stomach, my own doctor stuck his head in to poke a few extra times, and then they decided to send me for a CT scan lickety split. The very next day I was full of ‘contrast’ (a concoction actually based on Country Time Lemonade) sliding through the CT scan, and the results followed the next day, Wednesday.
Wednesday afternoon I found a phone message from Dr. BL that said GET TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM NOW – three times in one message. So my friend DD (more about her later) and her honey drove me to the emergency room. We arrived at 9, they drew blood, and then wanted to do a urinalysis. I couldn’t pee. 10pm, still no pee. 11pm, still no pee. They gave me 3 LARGE cups of water, and still no pee. They started talking catheter, which terrified me. By 2:30 am, I was so concerned about DD and her honey, still stuck in the ER waiting for me. I finally gave in to the catheter, and that was the first in a series of things about which I had concern and they turned out to be no biggie. This is the first MAIN POINT of the whole blog – that fears so often are groundless – that we create our own panic. “”There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Hamlet
The following Thursday
As I was lying by myself for hours in pre-op, I decided to paint my own canvas regarding this whole thing. “What can I do to make this a fun experience?” I asked myself. All the folks in surrounding cubicles seemed to have someone with them, so there were lots of tender conversations going on all around me. I loved that gentle murmur, and I loved listening to other languages (I picked out Spanish and something unidentifiable) and that was fun. The journey had begun, and I was steering the ship
The second MAIN POINT is what I have decided to call a PAH! moment: when I lived in DC I got very involved with the Deaf community and Deaf culture. (I got my MS at Gallaudet University in DC where all undergrads are deaf.) I learned at the knee of a fabulous ASL (American Sign Language) poet Clayton Valli the extent of the sign PAH! meaning success or at last! My days in the hospital were full of blessings large and small, each one a little explosion of joy. That reminded me of “PAH!” – an unexpected moment of joy. As I started noticing and appreciating more and more of them, more and more lined up at the door waiting to come into my experience.
One thing that I have loved LOVED is so much touch – from doctors, nurses, and CNAs. The pain of living without human touch has worked up to a fever pitch in the last few months. Odd that I chose to address it by manifesting cancer and a week in the hospital. I am probably one of very few people who actually loved being in the hospital – all of that human contact! I even loved when they came into my room in the middle of the night!
SOME OF MY PAH! MOMENTS:
No pain, all gain. I have had no pain following surgery. What a blessing, eh? They had me on IV pain meds directly afterwards and perhaps my body would have felt pain then, but everyone – doctors, nurses, CNAs (certified nurse assistants), friends – everyone expected there to be pain. Pain had not even come across my radar screen before everyone was asking about it – I had been neither expecting it nor dreading it. I have turned down oxycodone, percoset, even extra strength tylenol, as none of it was necessary. PAH!
The Language of Flowers. I really wanted something to read. I know years ago, volunteers would push around a cart with books and magazines for folks to read. I was told that does not happen anymore. But my friend DST sent me an email through Mission’s website, but they told her it would not go through on the weekend. Well, Sat. morning a volunteer delivered her email to my room (what a treat!) I was chatting with the volunteer talking about yearning for something to read and he said “Well let me see” and he came back in MINUTES with a lovely book The Language of Flowers he had borrowed from the nurses station. PAH!
Mission has a wonderful integrative health program. Essential oils have made a huge difference in my life and to have them in the hospital is SO healing! And I had a lovely hand and foot massage. Alas, the dogs were only there on Fridays – I SO WOULD HAVE LOVED THAT. But anyway, PAH!
My Kingdom for a piece of toast. After days of nothing but clear broth and then only a choice of cream of chicken soup or (hospital) mashed potatoes, I started craving toast, and toast appeared with my very next meal. Next I craved toast with jelly, and that came with my very next meal. Heaven. PAH!
My cousin Jim steps into the picture. I had 3 good friends as my health care power of attorneys when my cousin Jim who went to appointments with their family friend Judith for 10 years (she had ovarian cancer) volunteered to step in. He is a very sharp guy and now has 10 years experience with ovarian cancer as well as with the system. He is working on seeing if he can get me on Medicaid. PAH!
A nurse named Cyndie came in with a lovely little crocheted throw her mother makes for patients for me to keep. PAH!
Lovenox helps prevent blood clots after major surgery. They come as shots that I have to give myself in the stomach daily for 2 weeks. I dreaded them so, but turns out they are easy peasy. PAH!