Cancer Sucks: The Surgery

I was SO glad it was only 48 hours between my appointment with the oncologist and the surgery. I was as nervous as a cat and couldn’t concentrate on anything. Finally, the time came to go to the hospital, then for me to go back and get into my lovely gown, rubber-bottomed socks and hairnet. My boyfriend and sister came back and waited with me”¦ the high point was definitely the Super Hot Anesthesiologist (a delightful combination of Korean and Filipino). About six different people asked me the same questions, including what I was having done, although I did manage to avoid the mandatory pregnancy test, as I was outside the 12-55 age range.

The doctor showed up with Miss Perky, his physician’s assistant, and asked me the same questions. I was tempted to be a smart ass and tell him I forgot what we were here for but passed. They started to take me to the operating room, the BF and sister said good-bye, and the Super Hot Anesthesiologist (SHA) must have done something, because the next three hours are a total blank. I don’t even remember being wheeled down the hall, and nothing about the operating room. No “Count back from 100″, nothing. That was okay; I’ve seen an operating room from the table, and it’s scary as heck.

To me, the central point of surgery is the total, utter, and complete vulnerability it represents. People you don’t know and may never see again do things to you that you don’t have a say about. One example: somebody shaved my pubic hair. Who did that???  The SHA certainly put a tube down my throat; he told me he was going to, and I was hoarse for two days afterward. Somebody put a urinary catheter in; and of course, the surgeon did all kinds of stuff to my unresisting body. Where I used to live, I had a network of nurses whom I could call upon to give me the lowdown on doctors. They knew the ones who treated their patients with respect, even when they were under anesthesia. I don’t have that here, so I don’t know. Maybe they were talking about sports or making fun of my toenails during surgery. It’s an eerie feeling, and I don’t like it.

The first thing I do remember was being moved from the gurney to the bed in my room, because it hurt like a motherfather! The next 12 hours are a blur: the BF fed me ice chips, people took my vital signs, and I “pushed the button” – the morphine button, that is. They have it set up so it won’t do anything for a certain period of time after you push it, and I learned the different noises it made. If I pushed it too soon, it made a three-note noise that meant “No drugs for you!” The happy noise was one beep – aaaahhhh! There had to have been a rift in the space-time continuum, because I would look at the clock, close my eyes, and two hours later look at the clock again and only 15 minutes would have passed. Somebody should call Jean Luc Picard.

The BF said I asked him four times what the doctor said, and each time he told me everything was great. The next morning when the doctor came in, he told me he cut open my uterus right there in the operating room (see what I mean, that’s just creepy!) and he could not see a speck of cancer with his naked eye. It looked like a perfectly healthy, normal uterus. That should have been the most wonderful news imaginable, and it was, but it also started an obsessive thought pattern about what if I’d never had cancer in the first place and they took out my parts unnecessarily. It’s amazing how much of our thinking is controlled by chemistry and vice versa.

Day one after surgery was marked by small victories: getting out of bed, making pee pee by myself, and eating real food. It felt like my entire abdominal cavity had entered a state of suspended animation. Absolutely nothing was moving in there, and I couldn’t really digest anything but liquids. The doctor proclaimed I was fit to go home if I wanted to, but I got nauseated every time I stood up and still felt loopy from the narcotics, so I decided to stay another night.

Days two through five have been up and down: my emotional and physical states have run the gamut from fantastic to funky, not necessarily in tandem. They told me not to drive for 10 days, and that’s probably a good thing. My judgment is not 100%, or even close to it – not a good time to make any major life decisions, for sure.

One thing I am sure of is how grateful I feel.  Thank you to my family, friends, and new cyber community for all the positive energy that continues to come my way.

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