Yes, fellow followers, all is well and good here on my end as our crew finally made it back to Springfield yesterday afternoon to settle back into lives outside of hotels and hospitals. Hopefully Adam was able to keep everyone up to speed throughout the past few days, but now that I'm feeling a lot better, I thought I could add a few of my own thoughts from the past experience....
Surgery. What a whirlwind tour THAT was, but fascinating all at the same time. Getting up at 4:30am, checking in by 5:30, meeting with the doc one last time at 6:30, then being stripped down and taken into pre-op all before 7; the Mayo seriously is a well-oiled machine. One of the surgeons warned me that pre-op would be like being in the NASCAR pit with everyone doing a million things at once to prep me to go, and she couldn't have been more right. Fascinating. Almost a week later, I still have the 'tattoo' of the surgeon's initials to say I was officially ready to cut open. Apparently, Sharpie has found its way to be used as an official medical tool.
As I was signing my life away before the start of the procedure, I had one surgeon ask me very seriously if I accept getting a blood transfusion if needed. I said, "Of course...I agree to whatever you see fit to keep me alive! My only request is that you give me the right type of blood. No mixing that up, now!" I chuckled, and I think it took him a sec to notice I was trying to make light of the situation. But then again, I suppose you don't have too many jokes flying around at 6:45am right before surgery. Looking around the pre-op room, there was a dozen or so more gurneys getting prepped to go, and no one looked like the joking type. Everyone was at least twice my age and looked miserable. I was hoping I would at least find the young guy I saw at my MRI to assure me I wasn't the only 'kid' there. No show. According to how this tumor works, though, I'm about 30 years too early to have this, but the surgeons all showed their thanks for my 'under-aged-ness' along with the fact that I was under 250lbs. I can only imagine how much easier I just had made their jobs.
From pre-op, I got rolled into the OR where I was chatting away with three lady surgeons about France. They stuck me with and IV and some cold fluid started trickling in, right after getting my permission for an epidermal in the spine. I said yes yes yes! Anything to forgo pain, and they laughed when I told them a quote from a girlfriend who recently told me, 'this is the time to forget everything you learned in DARE.' Say yes to drugs! Next thing I know, I was back in the pre-op room feeling nauseous and being told to sniff something alcoholic to ease the swimmies. Little did I know, a good 5 hours had already passed.
The doc originally said he figured the procedure would take anywhere from 4-6 hours, and if there were any complications, he'd be out to discuss this with my folks before proceeding. My parents were prepared for at least a solid 4 hour wait, so when they were met by a nurse telling them to follow her, they said there was a feeling of sheer terror. Shit, what had gone wrong! Was I dying? Oh no, the doctor just wanted to say they were all finished, and the other surgeons were simply doing their final stitching. The job was easier than expected, the tumor was cut out, and no other major organs or arteries had to be touched. Again, the best news ever. They, now, only needed to wait for me to wake up so I could be moved to my hospital room.
As for the rest of the hospital visit, you got the main gist from Adam, so I won't go into much detail there, but man, is it good to be home again. Last night was the first time in over a week I didn't need to wake up to an alarm clock or another nurse coming in. For most of the stay, I was woken up about every two hours to take meds or check my blood pressure or something. Now the real healing can begin.
Besides a constant ache throughout my body, the sheer pain when I chuckle (which can be deadly around my family), or my extremely slow movements, most everything else physically is feeling back to normal-ish. The queezies have gone away, and I thank the lord for my lack of a hangover sensation coupled with my achy body. At least now I can sit around and read or watch TV without feeling like I'm going to vomit....which btw, hurts like hell after having your whole stomach ripped apart. And don't even think about crying either. That hurts even more than laughing. I can't even imagine handling all this as a little kid where this whole situation would probably have me in painful tears over everything.
So here I am now with a new scar to sport as well as a revised belly button. I've always had an outie, but before the procedure, it started swelling out even more. Turns out, the docs found I had a hernia in that spot, so they did a bit of stitching that's made it more compressed. They joked this was the 'plastic surgery' part of the procedure, and that my bill for $6000 would be in the mail shortly. Ha. So weird. But anyways, here's the real quiz for you all:
My incision runs down the middle of my stomach, around the belly button, and just a bit further on.....sooooo, how long do YOU think the scar will be? You can round to the nearest 1/4."