Under the knife, under the weather, under the gun.

So as I waved goodbye to my dreams of being Twiggy, I prepared to go under the knife and get rid of this cancer ridden organ. (OK, I didn’t want to look like Twiggy but you get the idea)

I began telling friends and family that the bypass surgery was off and I was preparing for a much more serious operation. Of course people were stunned. It was at this point, I found out who wasn’t in favor of the bypass surgery even though they expressed support in the beginning. I can handle honesty even if I don’t agree. I struggle with lies, no matter how well intended. I knew that those that “lied” did so out of what they felt was kindness. It was really caused by lack of knowledge of what the process was and would be. But it is what it is and I moved on. I had bigger issues to face.

Knowing that there is cancer infecting your body makes you want nothing more than to have it gone. NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week or next month, NOW. And I pressed the surgeon to make this happen as quickly as possible. I was able to get a surgery date of April 2. That was less than one month after the initial diagnosis. I can be very persuasive. The surgery would be long and in some ways, very delicate. It would require two surgeons. There are a gazillion blood vessels that are attached to your kidney and each one needs to be cut and cauterized.

I went into the hospital on Tuesday April 2. I had a friend drop me off and I went into this scared and alone but trusting I would be okay. My sister had wanted to come and be with me. But her own struggle with caring for her sick husband meant she could not get away. She even considered taking the train down from Maine, spending the day with me and going back at the end of the day. The timing (2pm) of my procedure meant that was not really possible. I know she was torn about this but I understood and it was okay.

So the time came for the trip to the OR and off to sleep I went. If you’ve never had surgery, let me just tell you that Versed is your friend! It’s the drug they put into your IV to send you off to sleep. It feels good in those moments before oblivion. In fact, you could take me to the parking lot for the surgery and I would smile and say, “okay…”!

Some time around 8pm, I woke up in the recovery room. The procedure had taken almost 5 hours. I felt fine. Well, as fine as you can feel in a recovery room. I had no pain. I was quite comfortable and drifted right back into sleep. Apparently, I was the only patient left in the recovery room. I had the place to myself, me and a bunch of spectacular nurses. I liked my drug induced sleep. I would wake up for a few seconds and drift right off again. Those nice nurses kept trying to wake me up and keep me awake but I was having none of it! After an hour or so of this, the nurse became concerned because I was not waking up and staying awake. Also, I have this tendency to breathe very lightly and my oxygen levels were of concern to them. I heard them call the Doctor but I guess he was not too worried as they just continued to monitor me. Finally I came around enough around midnight and they moved me upstairs to a room. Midnight!!!!! That was one very long day!

I did pretty good over the next two days. They do get you up right away and get you moving. There was not tons of pain, it was uncomfortable but not unbearable. One thing that was pretty odd…(do not read if you are squeamish…) When they take your kidney out, they go in from the front, take all your intestines and stuff out (still attached) and move them aside to reach the kidney. When they are done, they take all your stuff and mash it back into where it came from. But there is a new space where the kidney used to be. So, the first time you get up to move, you feel all your stuff kinda sloshing around inside as it settles into the new space. Yikes!!!!!! So consider this a public service notice/warning if you ever find yourself having a kidney removed. You’re welcome. 🙂

On Friday, I went home to continue the recovery and get well. I would be out of work for at least the rest of April. It was Spring and I wanted to be up and out and getting better. I had decisions to make about the gastric bypass surgery. I was being pressured by well-meaning members of the program I had been in. I just could not commit to anything other than getting past this cancer thing. I needed time…


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