Goodbye You Useless Sack of Stones

I don’t remember much about the hours I spent in the hospital the day I had my gallbladder removed – probably because they were handing out narcotics like Halloween candy.  But I vaguely recall being asked to strip naked and put on a hideous hospital gown that did little to protect my ass or my dignity.  It seemed no matter how much I fussed with the ties, some R-rated body part was always exposed.

But after the operation I felt like my guts were on fire, and I no longer cared if my ass was hanging out the back of my gown.  I only cared whether or not the onlookers had any painkillers.  I felt I was entitled to a little pharmaceutical relief since people had been stabbing me with sharp, metal objects for the last hour.  So, when a nurse offered me pain medication, I made it clear to her that I was more than willing to swallow, inject, snort, or smoke any drug she was willing to throw at me.  In fact, I would have opted for a week-long drug coma rather than going home that day to face what would surely be an unpleasant recovery process.

As I would soon find out, unpleasant wouldn’t come close to describing the week that followed.  I was led to believe by several people who had gone through the surgery, that it was no big deal.  They assured me I would be back up and running after a couple of days.

Lies.  ALL LIES.

As I laid there in agony, I felt like I had been duped – sort of like when I wanted to start a family, and all the parents I knew told me how great it was to have a baby.  Then I had one of my own, and realized they just wanted me to be as miserable as they were.  But I’m going to give it to you straight, readers.  This way, if you have to have your gallbladder removed, you’ll know exactly what to expect during your first week of recovery.

Spoiler alert – it ain’t all rainbows and kittens people….

Day One – Please kill me now:  I have about as much chance of making it upstairs to my bedroom as I do of climbing Mt. Everest, so I set up camp on the couch.  I quickly discover that my bladder is public enemy number one because it’s the only thing that forces me to move off my makeshift bed.  During the painful, excruciatingly slow shuffle to the bathroom, I debate the pros and cons of adult diapers.  I decide against them because I don’t think I can convince my husband to change a diaper filled with pee that (for some mysterious reason) smells like a revolting mixture of asparagus and nursing homes.

I spend most of my time alternating between writhing in pain, sleeping fitfully, and eating saltine crackers.  I try eating chicken soup (I hear it’s good for the surgical patient’s soul), but after the first bite, my stomach is quick to remind me that I just had one of my organs yanked out through my belly button today – looks like nothing more than saltines and flat ginger ale will be tolerated.  In the meantime, my living room clock and I are in a stubborn battle of wills – it bets me that I can’t last the whole four hours between my doses of percocet.  Bastard wins every time.

Day Two – I think the cats want to eat meMy husband returns to work, and my kids go off to school.  I’m left home alone with my two cats.  They appear concerned for my well being, standing like two furry sentries on the couch.  But in my weakened condition, I sense that their primal feline instincts are starting to kick in – they know an easy kill when they see one.  If my husband doesn’t get home soon, I fear they will take me down like the wounded impala of the herd.  I wonder if my life insurance policy covers being eaten by house cats.

Day Three – So NOT back up and running:  Screw running, I can’t even put on my own socks without my husband’s help.  The pain is slightly more bearable, but I’m still taking pain medication at fairly regular intervals because they’re the only thing that prevents me from screaming and cursing whenever I want to venture off the couch.  I keep waiting for the “percocet vacation” everyone told me I’d enjoy, because right now all the percocets are doing are making me constipated.  How long can a person go without pooping before they go into septic shock?  I take Milk of Magnesia because I’d rather not find out – pretty shitty “vacation”, if you ask me.

Day Four – This isn’t what I meant by running:  The good news is that the Milk of Magnesia worked.  The bad news is that it worked a little too well.  After the fourth or fifth trip to the bathroom in less than an hour, I start to feel nostalgic about being constipated.  I realize that my doctor (who recommended the M.O.M.) is a sadistic asshole for giving me diarrhea when I can barely walk.  I take some Imodium A-D in the hopes that it will counteract the Milk of Magnesia.  But if my experiment doesn’t succeed in tipping the intestinal scales in the other direction, I’ve decided to let my cats eat me.

Day Five – Weapons of mass affection:  You know that instinct you have to comfort your kids when they get sick?  As it turns out, kids have the same instinct – we just don’t get to see it that often because they’re usually too busy annoying the hell out of us.  But as I lay helpless on the couch for four straight days, I watched my kids’ nurturing side emerge.

As sweet as it is for them to want to comfort me, having them within a 10-foot radius terrifies me – especially my 8-year old son, Aidan.  He’s usually about as gentle as a bulldozer, and I know that even an uncharacteristically cautious hug will produce more pain than my percocets can handle.  So, he discovered a comforting compromise – the head hug.  It has all the heartfelt affection of a regular hug, coupled with the asphyxiating effects of a sleeper hold.  I’m pretty sure this is where the phrase, “I love you to death” originated.

Day Six – Jesus hates me, this I know for Bruce Springsteen told me soWe bought tickets to see Bruce Springsteen in concert before my surgery was scheduled, but we decided to keep the tickets afterwards because I thought I’d be back up and running in a couple of days – remember the lies?  I think I can cope with the pain because all I have to do is get to my concert seat, sit down, and enjoy the music.  Wrong.  There’s a rain delay (outdoor stadium), and because there’s a threat of lightning, they won’t let us wait in our seats.  So, I decide to find a patch of concrete somewhere in the sheltered recesses of Metlife Stadium, and sit down to sulk.

I’m fairly claustrophobic, so I’m less than thrilled about being crammed into a concrete box with thousands of other people.  After surveying my options, I’m happy to find a spot slightly separated from the soggy masses – at least until a total stranger decides to join me.  If it isn’t bad enough that this guy is playing a disturbing game of personal space invaders, I’m also pretty sure he has leprosy.  At first glance, I thought he was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, but upon closer inspection (which I couldn’t help since the guy is sitting right next to me) I see the stuff covering his arms aren’t sleeves.

I know I should feel bad for the guy, but it’s difficult to be compassionate when I’m wet, in pain, and now getting flaked on every time he scratches his scaly arm.  I don’t buy into religion much, but it’s hard not to feel like God is testing me a bit:  TWO HOURS of pouring rain with no rescue ark in sight, and now there are lepers.  What’s next, a plague of locusts?  It’s official, Jesus hates me.

Jesus: Linda, you’re supposed to love all God’s children.
Me: Yeah, but you make it hard when you flake on me like that.
Jesus: Duh, that’s why it’s called a TEST.
Me: Couldn’t you have come back as Ryan Gosling instead?

Day Seven – Sign, sealed, delivered, I’m curedJesus may hate me but there are plenty of people around who still love me, despite my inability to tolerate people with gross diseases.  During the course of my recovery, there was an outpouring of support and concern from my friends and family:  emails, texts, cards, and phone calls came in daily to check on my progress.  It’s impossible to thank everyone individually – mostly because I was too drugged up this week to remember what happened.  So, I’ll throw out a blanket, “I LOVE YOU!!” to all of you who cared enough to check in on me and make sure I wasn’t dead.  I’ll also make a few honorable mentions….

1.  Moe, one of my best friends since the 10th grade sent me flowers with a card that read:

Here is the text I sent in reply:

“Bitch, don’t you know it’s mean to make someone laugh after they’ve had a holes cut into their guts?  Thanks for the flowers though.  Love ya!”

2.  My mother and father in-law sent me cupcakes in the mail.  CUPCAKES!!!   Despite my mother in-law’s mistrust and confusion surrounding the internet, she managed to successfully secure and ship me a dozen of these tasty treats.  Had I known there was the possibility of cupcakes being involved, I would have had my gallbladder out years ago!!  Maybe I’ll go for my appendix next year.

Their card read simply, “Gallbladder out…. cupcakes in.  Love, Mom & Dad.”

3.  Last, but certainly not least, is my wonderful husband, Kevin.  This week, he was Florence Nightingale and Mr. Mom all rolled into one.  Had he not been there to help me sit-up, take showers, and put on clean clothes, I would probably still be lying on the couch in a pile of my own stink.

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26 thoughts on “Goodbye You Useless Sack of Stones

  1. I am sooo sorry! So sorry that you endured so much pain and discomfort. I just ran over to the den and asked my husband if I was in a drug-induced fog after my surgery, and was it possible I didn’t remember how bad it was. He said, “Nope. You didn’t have anything other than a little soreness.” I left you with thoughts of Taco Bell (true!) and butterflies and rainbows … and I’m sooo sorry. But you look beautiful with the flowers. ~Maddie, the unintentional liar

    • Okay, rule No. 1 here at Get Write Down To It – never take anything I write too seriously. That rule is closely followed by rule No. 1 1/2 – No apologies or guilt trips allowed 🙂

      I did have you in the back of my mind after my surgery though – or more specifically, I had the possibility of taco bell in the back of my mind. I just chalk it up to luck of the draw – you hit the surgical lottery and I got the saltine cracker consolation prize. On the flip side, it’s been a month since the surgery and you’d better BELIEVE I’ve been eating me some taco bell… just took me longer to get there 😀

      • Your humor in light of the situation was wonderful, and I loved your post, and I laughed and smiled and said “ahhhh” at the outpouring of love for you, but I felt so bad that you didn’t have a good experience. I had been reading your blog for a while, and when I finally spoke up to say hello, it was to tell you how easy your surgery would likely be. So glad you had cupcakes and eventually made your way to a Taco Bell. 🙂

        • Okay, you’ve forced me to bring up rule No. 2 now: no feeling bad allowed when you’re reading my blog. EVER. I write this blog for the sole purpose of entertaining people and making them laugh – I get bonus points if I make you spray your morning cup of coffee all over your keyboard while you’re reading it.

          So I’ll make you a deal – you keep speaking up and saying hello, and I’ll keep trying to get you spray some sort of liquid out of your face before you get the chance to swallow it. Wait a minute…. that sounded kinda dirty…..

          • Deal! And even though it’s 12:30 am, I’m drinking a cappuccino and nearly spewed it over my monitor because you sounded kind of dirty. 🙂

  2. I certainly did not lie, but hey, we’re all different. Also, never listen to those younger than you; they bounce back quicker. 😉

    • Oh sure, rub the I’m-so-young-and-bouncy thing in my face 😉

      I’ll reiterate to you what I just wrote to Maddie (another young and bouncy reader who went through the surgery) – Rule No. 1 around here is to never take anything I write too seriously. Besides, I meant “lie” in the sweetest, nicest, most flattering sense of the word.

  3. I sure hope you’re out of pain now. When I had a ruptured Fallopian tube I was recovering in the hospital and my husband mentioned bringing me some kreplachs. Wouldn’t you know that was the time I chose to think that was the funniest word in the English (well Yiddish actually) language and practically ripped my stitches open trying not to laugh. So of course he had to work that word into every sentence. Believe me! Sometimes laughter is NOT the best medicine!

    • Jody –

      Your kreplachs story was exactly what happened to me when I read my friends card! You should have seen me trying like hell not to laugh, which of course only makes you laugh harder. I was giggling and at the same time cursing because it hurt so much. I think whoever coined the phrase “laughter is the best medicine” never had abdominal surgery 🙂

      I’m definitely not in pain anymore though. It has been almost a month, and I feel great. It just took me longer than most to get here. I should have known that would be the case going into the surgery because I always take twice as long to heal than most.

      But I’m glad I did it because now I can eat cupcakes without consequences! MUWHAhaHAha!!

    • Thanks, Les! As miserable as it was to live through, it has definitely turned into one of those look-back-and-laugh stories. This is one of the reasons I love writing this blog so much – by writing about all these little moments, I’ll never forget them…. even if sometimes I wish I could 🙂

  4. Glad you are feeling better. It makes it all worth it the first time you eat something delicious and don’t double over in agonizing pain. I remember laughing with my staples in and it wasn’t pleasant. But everything was horribly funny. There was a guy on my floor just moaning for like 30 minutes and another who was fighting with the nurse about eating something that ended with “I hate crackers”.

    • All the pain I went through is worth it because I just lived through Halloween and didn’t have to deal with any abdominal pain while I was stuffing my face with candy.

      Why is it that situations become funnier when you’re not allowed to laugh at them? That happens to me in church all the time! At least then it’s not painful, merely a sinful to be giggling when I’m supposed to be praying for world peace… or jesus… or something other than “please make my son stop making shadow puppets on the guy sitting in front of us….” 🙂

  5. Dear Linda,
    as I read your latest article, I´m lying on the couch, right foot elevated and everything I might need in the next 12 hrs or so within my reach: water, chocolate, laptop, book, phone and … PAINKILLERS. Unluckily, the toilet is just out of reach … but I´ll start training my bladder to be more consistent.
    My suffering has just been reduced massively by laughing hysterically at your way with words … YET AGAIN!
    I have just had an enormous painful and horrible wart removed from the sole of my foot. Sounds harmless, right? Wrong. So, so wrong. Ok, I admit, it´s nothing compared to the agonies you´ve gone through. But beware the day that one of those suckers starts to grow – not ON your foot, which would be the only decent thing to do, but INTO your foot. Yes, this horrid thing decided to grow inwards until last weekend, after 3 hrs of Tango lessons (dancing: yup, mostly on the THING), when I woke up the following morning unable to walk without screaming.
    Today found me in a completely demeaning position, screwed into a kind of human cashew nut on an operating table, offering up my foot to the mercy of a doctor with stringy hair, who said “now, this may be a bit uncomfortable”, as he injected the inflamed area around the THING with the anaesthetic. Linda, I swear to God, I´d rather bear 10 children than have that pain again.
    When he left the room to let the anaesthetic kick in, I was reduced to pathetic childish sobbing.
    I never once sobbed in childbirth, believe me. Ok, I yelled. But I didn´t cry.
    So now … here I am, united with you on the couch and hoping for your and my speedy recovery.
    Thanks once again for making me see the bright side of everything!
    Love from the Continent, Miriam

    • Hello my friend and fellow sufferer – great to hear from you again 🙂

      Your foot surgery story made my toes curl – that sounds like agony! At least my surgeon had the decency to knock my ass out before he started jabbing me with sharp objects! With the amount of drugs out there, he should have at least given you some sort of local sedative so that you weren’t aware that you even had a foot, much less that he was jabbing it with needles. Sadistic bastard.

      I’m glad I managed to give you something to smile about… in between the screaming and sobbing 🙂 I wish you a speedy and drug-filled recovery. Just like in childbirth, there won’t be any medals given out for bravery if you manage to make it through without drugs, so pop those suckers like M&Ms and don’t try to be a hero!

      As for me, I have reached the light at the end of the tunnel – it’s been over a month since my surgery and I can once again eat junk food without feeling like I’m being kicked in the gut…. which is great since Halloween was yesterday and I consumed more candy than I handed out to trick-or-treaters. Do you guys have Halloween in Germany? I wish we didn’t – I can barely zip up my jeans today 🙂

      Love, Linda

  6. Again, great post! I remember when my back was screwed up after an accident and my ribs kept popping out…well one time four of my ribs popped out and were pressing against my heart. That very day, I was already 45 mins away at my friend’s potluck where everyone suddenly decided to be funny that day. I was reduced to silently hitting the table while holding my breath because I couldn’t stop laughing. It really sucks having a low tolerance when it comes to finding things funny. Haha.

    • Karen –

      Good luck! I just happen to be one of those lucky people that take 3 times longer to heal after an injury or surgery. I’m sure you’ll fair much better than I did 🙂

      Take care,
      Linda

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