Saturday, August 8, 2009

Life's pretty sweet.

A week and a couple of days post-surgery, and I'm feeling good. This is honestly a surprise, as I was expecting all sorts of random things to go wrong and/or side effects from the meds. This is how my mind usually works (preparing for the worst), but it does seem like with an operation this delicate there was plenty of room for error - hooray, things going right!

As I mentioned in my last post, things took a while to get back to normal after being under the anesthesia for so long - my surgery began at 9am, and I woke up at 1pm. When I woke up in the recovery room, I could barely breathe - my first foggy memory is of desperately trying to inhale while my lungs dealt with the unexpected fact that they were full of fluid. Well, "full" is likely an exaggeration, but I couldn't breathe, dammit. The nurse taking care of me - a wonderful woman named Cecelia, told me matter-of-factly that I had stopped breathing for a bit and they had had to do some sort of emergency procedure to get me going again. I'm still unclear as to when exactly this dramatic event took place, and am looking forward to getting a little more info. I could barely talk when I woke up (and for the next few days), so asking questions wasn't really much of an option. After I was awake and it was obvious I was still struggling, Cecelia injected me (via my i.v.) with something called Lasix, which basically took all the extra fluid buildup and moved it to my bladder so I could pee it out. I felt better right away. Crazy and magical.

The surgery itsself was a major success - I am SUCH A FAN of my surgeon! Seriously, if you know anyone who has to have their thyroid out, and is covered by Kaiser, talk to me. I've got your man. He's super talented, laid back, and an all-around nice guy. Most importantly, he does this sort of operation all the time (about a dozen a month), so he's got the skills - meaning he was able to save my vocal chords & my parathyroid glands. High-five.

They kept me overnight in a room with two other people. Apologies all 'round for not getting me my own room, but apparently it was a busy day for surgeries, and they were all full up. I got the bed nearest the window, so that was a coup of sorts. The other two women in my room were recipients of new knees (one each, I believe), and so were entirely bedridden during their stay. I was transferred to the room at around 4pm, and by 6ish I was able to hobble around a bit - did the classic slow stroll down the hospital corridor. At least it was sparsely populated, and I had JB's arm to lean upon - and it was on the 7th floor, alongside a bank of windows facing North over Oakland, Berkeley, and the hills, so there was a decent view.

When Cecelia first wheeled me into the room my stomach did some flip flops and I puked - thankfully in the bathroom. Puked once more later in the evening, but besides that I held it together pretty well. Didn't eat anything 'til the next day, and avoided Vicoden, as I heard that makes you extra-nauseous. My main issue was with swallowing and breathing - I definitely felt like that breathing tube had been shoved down my throat rather viciously. The surgeon & his team popped in later in the evening, and pronounced the procedure a success. They had to take out the entire thyroid (bummer) but the cancer seemed to have been isolated within the nodule - they hadn't needed to take out any lymph nodes (awesome!) No-one seemed worried about my throat or lungs, so I decided I didn't need to be, either. It just kindof sucked.

The lady in the bed farthest from me was ancient (I peeked over at her a couple of times on my way to the bathroom) - probably in her 90's, but pretty lucid. Her daughter was there much of the time. The woman nearest me was a self-described cat lady, probably in her 60's. We never spoke directly, but she had a way of verbally grabbing hold of every nurse that walked by - she was a complainer, and felt pretty sorry for herself. Nothing wrong with that after having your knee replaced, but dear lord, she would go on & on. And when she made a couple of phone calls it became clear that she was a shouter (not in anger, just.... shouting across those telephone wires.) Gah, I'm still annoyed at that woman.

All thru the night nurses were coming & going, and even with earplugs & an eyeshade I only got about four hours of sleep. I was pretty excited about leaving the next morning. It was generally a smooth process, and I was at JB's by around 10am. I basically slept for the rest of the day - it felt so good to have some peace & quiet!

More on my recovery later.

Here's a fascinatingly artistic shot of my hands pre-surgery. Got an i.v. in me.

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