Me and Magee

I can’t remember the last time I knew of 5 o’clock in the morning’s existence. I was so exhausted, my memory is fragmented down to the moment I set foot into Magee Women’s Hospital. First, I stood in my living room hugging my mother and saying goodbye. Then, I sat in the gas station parking lot when the voice started screaming, “Get out of here! Go! Run away!” Next, we were at the light to the on-ramp to the highway. And finally, we were entering Oakland.

I arrived to check-in at 5:30am. I was ushered through registration so quick that I didn’t even have a chance to fill out the papers before I was in pre-op.

Pre-op is just like when they call you from the waiting room to the examination room. Then, you’re required to sit and wait for an eternity. Various nurses came through. One to instruct me to strip down and don the teal and white pinstripe hospital gown. Yes, the one that leaves little to the imagination when it comes to my backside. Another to make notes of my current medications. There’s certainly no staff shortage there!

And finally, I met my OR nurse. She was a pretty lady, probably at the end of middle-age. She had fluffy, curled blonde hair, tiny sapphire eyes, and a warm smile. I related my extreme loathing of IV’s. The first time I had an IV, it was in my hand continuously for 48 hours. The last time, they gave me a pain medication that sent me through the roof. I paced the room screaming about how I wanted the IV out now or I was going to rip it out myself. I can always feel it in my veins and it hurts my whole arm.

She smiled and said, “You’re in luck! I’m going to put a local into your hand. You won’t feel a thing.” I didn’t! I stared at the IV in my left hand in amazement. She put a blue gauze hair net over my head, pulled my blanket closer around me, and fixed the one in my lap. Everything felt so warm and maternal. She looked at me confidently. “You’re all ready!”

I took a milligram of Xanax at 5am. I must have timed it perfectly. It grabbed me hard just before I was about to go. I joked with C.S. about silly things. The pangs of panic existed, but they hardly echoed from their distance.

Dr. T. came in and I knew it was showtime. I was eager to introduce her to my husband. I felt like it was a long time in the making. Really, it has been. April 2011 was the beginning of round two. It was at that point that the nurse and anesthesiologist joined her. They plugged the sedative into my IV while I kissed C.S. goodbye.

He had the talisman. I was in caring, capable hands. I was wheeled into the OR completely soothed.

The sedative was interesting. It messed with my vision first. The fluorescent lights seemed to have a runner, a beam of light than ran along them. The staff helped me off of the gurney and onto a soft, heated OR table. They asked how I felt and I told them that it was all wonderful. I had two snuggly blankets around me and I felt like I was lying on blankets fresh from the dryer. “It feels like a cocoon.”

The staff was helping me to put my thighs into some elevated pads instead of cold stirrups. And that’s the last thing I remember.

I started telling the nurse that was talking to that I needed more medicine. I think my mind thought that I was still in surgery. She told me that I didn’t. I woke up and started sobbing. I looked around and didn’t know where I was or what happened. I asked if I could have a few tissues.

I inquired between sobs, “Is this normal? I have bipolar disorder.” I was terrified that all of this triggered a vicious episode.

She put the box of tissues in my lap and assured me, “A lot of our younger patients experience this. It’s completely normal.”

I remembered something from my childhood. I would fall asleep not remember doing so. Then, when I woke up somewhere else, I’d bawl my eyes out, because I was so confused. I felt like it was akin to that.

“Are you in any pain?”

“Surprisingly, no.”

“Can you walk?”

“I think so.”

A young, brown-haired nurse helped me off the gurney and over to a quiet, private area. I sat in a nice leather recliner and she asked if I’d like something to drink. “A soda, Pepsi. It’s all I’ve wanted this morning.” She assured me that I’d have a cold soda and C.S. in a short moment.

I was delighted to see him and smiled. He smiled back in relief, at beside me, and I started crying again. I laughed and sobbed at the time time, “I woke up crying in the post-op!” He laughed and hugged me.

The local started to wear off, and I was in some severe pain. C.S. was on the phone promptly to get me relief. Considering a had a part of me electrocuted off today, I’m great! I’m a little cranky, emotional, foggy, and tired. But nothing unusual.

Crossing my fingers and toes that the LEEP took care of all of the bad cells for good.

C.S. bought me a few “get well” presents!

War Paint and The Zodiac Pendants

“Mrs. M., your war paint doesn’t fool me.”

It was conveyed to me by a warm, tight hug from a near stranger. I met Ms. F. about a month ago. We don’t interact frequently. And yet, she was the most comforting on this turbulent day. It settled my buzzing mind and filled my lungs with fresh air.

It is moments like those where the best qualities of humanity shine through.

Rewind. 10:13AM EST. My Blackberry rang out a techno beat and nearly buzzed off of the small, black end table. 412-xxx-xxxx. “Local. Answer it.” The woman on the other end sounded official. “I’m from Magee Women’s Hospital.”

Oh.

Rewind again. 8:14AM EST. There I was, looking at my personal email. “Might as well get this over with. I opened the email containing the video to explain my procedure. As if I needed to be reminded so early. I’ve been scouring to put scraps of information together. I watched the procedure done in cartoonesque form. At the end, there was a warning. “IV sedation may cause a life-threatening reaction that could result in death.

Comforting.

Fast-forward back to the phone conversation. She wanted to know absolutely every last detail of my medical history. She asked, “Any psychiatric problems – depression, anxiety. “Anxiety and Bipolar Disorder.” How is this relevant?

She asked about previous surgeries. “Cryosurgery,” I answered. “On your cervix?”. “Yes.

“Oh.”

Those responses weren’t comforting. Thank goodness for my sister who has made it a point to spend her free time with me this week. My phone conversation ended and I was quiet for a moment. “You know ‘The Voice’?” She nodded. “It’s screaming in the back of my head.

It screamed for most of the day. Garbled monologues of hundreds of voices at once. I could only manage to grab a few at a time. “I’m scared out of my mind.” “What if…” “I don’t like losing control.”

I am okay. I am going to be okay. Maybe not right away. But soon enough. I am in good care. I can give my trust. I can let go.

Mantras.

Am I that translucent?

I can’t wear any jewelry. Quirk number 8, I am superstitious about my capricorn and taurus charms. I have not been without them in awhile. I wore it on my wedding day in my bra. It was around my neck the day T.D. was born. I wasn’t without it during my last surgery. This time, I have no choice. C.S. has agreed to wear them for me.

5:30AM EST, I will be prepping at Magee Women’s hospital. 7:30AM is the procedure. If I have to have C.S. post for me tomorrow, I will.

I consider you my friends, my equals, my inspiration, and the source for strength and wisdom. Like Ms. F., we are relatively strangers. But you’ve given me so much.

Thank you in advance for your encouragement, thoughts, and prayers. I am forever in debt for your compassion and the courage you have bestowed upon me. My gratitude is beyond any words in any language.