The Insurance Part
ME: Hi, billing lady! I've been working out every single possible angle of this whole "paying for surgery" business. I think I've worked out how to pay for it all, but I just need reassurance. Does this payment plan work?
BILLING LADY: Oh, totally! All set! We've got your deductible all worked out!
ME: Great! And this won't turn out to be all fucked up later, right?
BILLING LADY: Of course not!
ME: ... Against my better judgment, I am going to believe you.Pre-Op
NURSE: Okay, just a few more things to go through. First, please put all your stuff into this bag
NURSE: Then put on this paper bag and matching booties!
ME: You got it!
NURSE: Then pee into this container.
ME: Sure th--wait, what the hell is this?
NURSE: We need a sample of your urine.
ME: In a toothpaste cap
NURSE: Now, now. It's at least
ME: What, you need, like, half a cubic centimeter, tops?
NURSE: Well, you haven't drunk anything since last night, have you? How much are you expecting to have to pee now
So I went into the bathroom to change into my paper bag and Pee In The Cup. And, in order to make this as inconvenient as possible, the tiny bathroom contained exactly two things: a toilet and a roll of toilet paper. Which means that once you've whizzed all over yourself and into the cup, you 1) have no where to set
the cup, and 2) have to exit the bathroom to wash your hands. Which is also awkward when trying to adjust your paper bag.
ME: This is a hazing, isn't it.
NURSE: You have to prove your devotion to the surgery!
ME: The thousands of dollars didn't do that already?Op Op
One of the things about getting surgery in the hospital where your dad works is that all the staff know
your dad. It's weird to have the anesthesiologist laughing that "she even rolls her eyes just like her dad!"
It also means that I know a little bit of doctor-dynamics backstory.
ANESTHESIOLOGIST: Well, hi there! Lie on this table. We'll get you all straightened out.
ME: Is that the Rolling Stones playing?
ANESTHESIOLOGIST: Nope, it's the Who.
ME: Don't get to play that when you do surgeries with Dad, do you?
ANESTHESIOLOGIST: Well ... he likes
classic rock ...
ME: I know. But not for surgery.
ANESTHESIOLOGIST: He prefers ... well ...
ME: Smooth jazz.
ANESTHESIOLOGIST: *wistful sigh* Yes. Yes, he does.
ME: I feel ya, buddy.Anesthesia Is WHACK
ANESTHESIOLOGIST: Anyway! Let's get started. Here, I'll just put some local anesthetic in your hand here ...
ME: DAMN! That is a big old bump on my hand!
ANESTHESIOLOGIST: And then I'm going to put in the general anesthesia itself ...
ME: Sounds good!
RECOVERY NURSE: I see you're waking up!
ME: ... wharrgarbl?
RECOVERY NURSE: Yup. Surgery's over. We'll have you on your way home in a little while!
ME: ... did I ... miss ... something?
RECOVERY NURSE: Just your gallbladder!
Seriously, y'all. Anesthesia doesn't give you the same sense as when you're asleep. When you sleep, you have at least some sense that you have
been asleep. Anesthesia is more like those couple of times I've passed out--it's less like feeling you've been unconscious and more a sense that you just hit one of those time skips the Harlem Globetrotters kept running into in Futurama--you're in one place, and then suddenly BAMF and you're struggling to comprehend how the hell you wound up in the recovery room.*
I also became aware, before I really was paying attention to anything else, that I was hooting with every exhale.
I'm not sure why, but when I am feeling under the weather, I have this tendency to hoot. Or hum, or moan--I'm not sure what you'd call it. I just make these little soft moany noises. For some reason, it makes me feel better. Here, though, I couldn't seem to not
hoot. Every time I let out a breath, it was with a little noise. Mom informs me that I was constantly commenting on it ("oh, I just did it again"), but all I remember is trying not to just to see if I could
stop. I couldn't.Home To Sock Jail
The other thing I hadn't thought about was that I was going to be taking compression socks home with me--little leg wraps that puff up to help with circulation, so's to prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Mom got me set up with them that first day. Pain in the ass, they are. Every time I had to pee I'd either have to take them off or unplug their little motor and carry it with me to the bathroom.
It also presented another issue.
CAT: Oh, you've just had surgery? So what? In case you haven't noticed, I
am stuck outside, and am at your window demanding that you make the long trip around to the back door to let my fuzzy ass inside.
ME: You're lucky I'm so goddamn nice, cat. All right, I'm going back to Sock Jail.
CAT: I'll probably want to go out again in a few minutes. First I'll come check out your room and OH SHIT WHAT THE HELL IS THAT
ME: It's my sock motor.
CAT: HOLY FUCKING FUCK IT IS MAKING NOISE
ME: Yeah, it does that.
CAT: IT WILL GET US ALL
ME: Don't worry. It's a rental. It'll be gone soon.
CAT: I AM ON TO YOU, BUZZING THING. YOU'RE IN LEAGUE WITH THE TRAIN
, AREN'T YOU
ME: At least you have good survival instincts. Insurance Strikes Back
INSURANCE COMPANY: Guess what! Your insurance payment plan is all fucked up!
ME: I wish you jerks wouldn't deliver these letters on Friday afternoons. Now I gotta wait all weekend before I can call you and yell about this.And So
So that was what happened a couple of weeks ago. And then I loafed around for two weeks having mood swings and feeling like stomped shit, and the only thing that made it really bearable was that lineup of audiobooks I got.** But now, it's been enough time that I think I'm starting to feel normal! It's kind of a nice feeling. My sleep schedule is still Even More Fucked than it was before this whole gallbladdery disaster, but hopefully that will get fixed soon.
The other weird thing is feeling the very obvious absence
of a gallbladder that has been very much PRESENT for a couple of years. It doesn't feel like an empty space; I'm just not getting the sense of some large, bilious*** alien sitting just under my boob.
And it wasn't just a subjective feeling. I went in for my post-op the other day and my doctor just about burst into the room.
DOCTOR: YOUR GALLBLADDER WAS THE BIGGEST, INFLAMEDEST GALLBLADDER I HAVE EVER SEEN! IT'S A GOOD THING WE GOT IT OUT!
ME: So peeing in the toothpaste cap was justified after all!
It's always a validation to realize that you felt rotten for a reason. Hopefully I will now feel less rotten. Every day seems to be getting better about that!
*Or, that one memorable time when I passed out, why the hell you're lying in a wet bathtub with your Dad throwing a towel over the shower door at you so you'll be decent when he opens it up to see if you're still alive.
**For the record, Bruce Coville's Full-Cast Audio Unicorn Chronicles are pretty excellent. A few of the voice actors' choices were Not How I Imagined Them (the attempt to Ed Wynn-ize Medafil was weird, and the first book's voice for Lightfoot was kind of ridiculous), but overall they are audiobooks as they should
***"Bilious" is a rather startlingly apt description. Before all this nonsense I hadn't realized it, but there is a very specific feeling associated with it. The closest other description I have is "sour"--as in, it felt like there was a big sour THING just sitting in there--but really, even that doesn't work.