When last we saw our intrepid heroine, she was hitching a ride with a van full of hep cats. Who knew such creatures still roamed the streets unchecked, preying upon innocents like Frannie? Well, we do, now. Frannie, however, is not quite so innocent and helpless as she may seem at first glance; she is intelligent, resourceful, and highly competent, not just for her age, but as a human being. But we already knew that, didn’t we?
As the van trundled down the highway at its top speed of 52 miles per hour, Frannie began to really get into the staring contest that she and her seatmate-slash-possible-new-mom were having. Blinking seemed to be okay, but breaking eye contact was not. At long last, the mostly-grown girl threw her head back and laughed like her life depended on it.
Frannie shrugged off her mild confusion, and continued the staring match with the girl’s funny-looking hair. It was so ropy and thick, like an old dirty mop. She wondered if the girl would mind Frannie touching it.
“Can I touch your weird hair?” Frannie asked.
The girl was still laughing, but she nodded and leaned her head over a bit so Frannie could cop a feel. It felt ropy and thick, just as she’d suspected.
“What’s wrong with it?” Frannie continued on the hair-related questioning.
“Nothing, it’s just dreaded,” the girl replied.
Frannie mulled this odd term over for a moment or two before moving on without a worry. “Where are we headed?” she asked.
The driver leaned over to his right and hollered back over his shoulder at her, “Wherever the wind takes us, little dude. We’re on a pretty sweet adventure right now, man.”
“I’m a girl,” Frannie muttered to herself as she crossed her arms sulkily. “Not a dude.”
The driver paid her no mind, and Frannie gave up the sulk to pull the grocery list from her back pocket once more, mulling over the list. She’d already come to the conclusion that these were not her new parents, and knew that she’d better get a move on to the next prospect before it got too dark. She didn’t want to spend the night in this van.
“Can you drop me at the store when you get there?” Frannie asked, very politely. “I don’t believe I’m up for a sweet adventure on top of the one I’m already having, thank you very much.”
The driver didn’t seem to hear her at first, but as his head bopped up and down, sometimes in time to the music playing, he gave a bit of an extra nod. “Sure thing, little dude. Sure thing.”
Frannie rolled her eyes. “I’m a girl,” she grumbled yet again.
Tuesday my alarm went off at 545 for us to get up and take me to the hospital for surgery. I had to be there by 630. We probably could have slept a few more minutes; I had at least ten minutes to spare when we arrived.
I was finishing up at registration when Ian made it in and upstairs. I stupidly decided to use the restroom before we went upstairs. I should have known that I would have to pee in a cup, but it was really early and walking with a stent equals have to go potty. We took the elevator up to the day surgery floor, and I followed the clerk’s instructions of left and left and sign in at the podium. Thank goodness she explained that to me, or I would never have noticed the small music stand ‘podium’ in the hallway with the raggedy binder atop.
We only sat in waiting for a few minutes before the grumpiest nurse of the day called my name and the names of the two ladies behind me. She sent them into an office and had me follow her down the hall. When she asked if I’d like a large gown and I replied with a questioning yes? she unhappily detoured to a small linen area where she grabbed a gown. We got to my room and she put the gown on the tray table at the foot of the bed, handed me two packs of chlorhexidine wipes and a urine cup and told me to take all of my clothes off, clean myself all over, put my gown on, and put the cup on the table after I filled it. Then she picked the gown back up and left.
I laughed with Ian about her taking the gown she’d just gotten out, but whatevs, there was another on the bed. I took it and the cup into the bathroom with me where I wiped my body down with the disgustingly warm wipes. They must keep them in a warmer, but it did not make the wiping any more pleasant. I felt so sticky and gross after. I know, blah blah protocol, but I wasn’t there to have any new openings made in my body. Wouldn’t a clean catch kit have been enough? Ugh. Seriously gross.
Ian put my clothes and shoes in my little plastic bag and I hopped into bed after putting my cup in the designated area. Then another nurse came in to take a quick history–like there was any change in the four days it had been since I’d been there. I know, I know. She was nice, though. Got my pee, verified my identity and armbanded me, made sure I hadn’t eaten or drunk since before midnight. Then she left.
The other two beds filled up with their occupants, and we were in fact lucky enough to not get someone as drama queen-ish as my best friend’s roommate when she had her tubes tied. That woman had a toe amputated, and I’m sorry, fresh out of recovery, you are not in that much pain. She was mostly screaming about the psychological adjustment to having nine toes.
The urology resident came in and introduced himself and gave the first of many surgery length estimates that day: two to three hours. That was a little disappointing, as I’d been told in clinic half an hour to an hour, but what can you do? He verified that my stent and stone were in my right ureter and asked me to pull up my gown so he could mark me. Great idea! He also verified that I hadn’t eaten or drunk lately and told me that they would try not to put another stent in unless it was absolutely necessary.
My mark is fading but still quite visible.
The nice nurse came back and started my IV. She was not good at this. She chose an odd vein and missed it at first, so she had to wiggle the needle around in my hand. We can’t all hit a vein the first try, I know, but we can at least choose the largest, most visible one, can’t we? The bruising is not as bad as I expected, but my hand is still a little sore. She taped it down and went to fetch a cap because she hadn’t brought one in.
Then we waited.
Nearly two hours went by before transport came to take me to the holding area before surgery. Ian was allowed in there with me, but then I wouldn’t see him again until I left the recovery room. The tech pushing me was very friendly; probably the nicest person I’d met so far. He dropped me off in holding and wished me luck.
In holding I met two nurses, one who was training, apparently, because the more experienced nurse was watching the computer screen over her shoulder to make sure she got her t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Apparently there had been a meeting that morning, and I now had to sign a new surgical consent with one extra sentence. But not just anyone could hand it to me, we had to wait for someone from urology to come over and explain it to me all over again. Urology is at least a quarter mile from where I was, so we waited. I also got my second time estimate: an hour.
I met my anesthesiologist, who was the nicest person of the day. He asked to look inside my mouth, as did another doctor who I only saw that one time. He hooked my IV to a mystery bag that I couldn’t see because it was behind my head. I told him I hadn’t had general anesthesia since I was ten, and that I’d gotten sick after, so he gave me some Zofran. I signed a consent for a medical student to hang out and watch.
I finally got to sign my new surgical consent, and the anesthesiologist gave me some IV sedation. Then it was time to go. I squeezed Ian’s hand and said goodbye and that I’d see him soon.
When I got in the OR I transferred to the operating table and scooted around until everyone was happy with my position. The anesthesiologist asked me to hold a mask on my face while he started some things in my IV, and then he took back over holding the mask. That’s the last I remember. No counting backwards from 100 or anything, although I may have done that and just don’t remember.
I came to in the recovery room, where I had the second grumpiest nurse of the day. She was also not very informed about what I’d had done. Not very informed at all. When I was finally myself enough to talk, I asked her if they’d put another stent in. She didn’t know, but she didn’t think so.
I had a coughing fit, and overheard another nurse talking about bronchial spasms. Well, yeah. I have bronchitis. I had to tell my nurse that I was coughing so hard I peed, so she slid a pad under me. Then I just coughed my little heart out without a care in the world. Except I really missed Ian.
My monitor kept beeping because my oxygen saturation was dropping below 90%, and grumpy nurse would tell me to take deep breaths when she was in attendance. After the second or third time, I was awake enough to keep an eye on my monitor and try to preemptively breathe deeper. I was not very good at this. Grumpy nurse kept pulling the sleeve of my gown up every time she walked by, but with every coughing fit, it would slip back down. I didn’t care. I was just happy to have a cup of ice to crunch in between coughing, to try to wet my poor mouth back to some semblance of normalcy. I longed for chapstick.
Finally she told me I would be going back to my room in a few more minutes. Another nurse came to help unhook all of my cables, and she complimented me on my tattoos. She even grabbed another nurse to come see them. I was tickled.
Grumpy nurse pushed my bed out of recovery and down the hall. I’ll give her this: she was grumpy, but she did warn me of every bump in the floor on the way to my room. I saw Ian pop his head up when we came out of the double doors to the surgery wing, and I was very relieved to see him. He said he’d talked to the urologist and the anesthesiologist, and while the surgery took only twenty minutes, they’d given me too much anesthesia so it took me about an hour longer than they expected to wake up.
I got back to my room and tried to ask again how things went. Grumpy nurse told me that she thought they just left the stent in. I’m not sure if she thought she was reassuring me or what, but thankfully Ian jumped in and said that he’d talked to the urologist and I did not have a stent. He told me later that he’d seen the look of terror on my face.
My last nurse came in and told me that all I had to do was pee and we could go. Her name is also April, so hers is the only name I remember. She brought me a can of Coke and a cup of ice. It tasted horrible, extra syrupy and sweet, but I was so parched and dry. I stayed in bed a few minutes before asking Ian to help me get to the bathroom to pee and dress in my own clothes. He reached to untie my gown and was surprised that I was in a different one–my first one only had top ties, and this one had a broken top tie. I just slipped it off like a tshirt.
I’d told Ian that I was sitting on a pad because I was coughing so much I peed myself, but I don’t think he understood the volume of this pee. I got up to go to the bathroom, and we could see that it was a lot. I’d wondered earlier if they were going to suction out the water that they pumped in my bladder with the cystoscope, and I’m reasonably certain that answer was a resounding no.
I peed and got dressed, and Ian went to tell my nurse. She told Ian to go ahead and get the car, and then she brought my discharge paperwork for me to sign and took out my IV. Then I just sat in my wheelchair waiting for transport to bring me downstairs.
I was so happy when we got outside and I got in the car. So happy. But dying of thirst. I asked Ian to stop at for a bottle of water for me, so he did, a block from the hospital. I tried telling Ian some of what happened in recovery, but it was hard talking, so on the way home I mostly listened to him tell me about what the doctors had said as they left surgery.
The urologist said it was probably the easiest and fastest procedure he’d ever done. My stone was hard enough that the laser didn’t nick my ureter, but soft enough that it split right apart into good sized pieces that they easily scooped out of my bladder for testing. My body was rejecting the stent, so it hadn’t grown into my skin at all and was actually lower than it should have been. This was good, because there was no blood from having to pull the stent out of my skin.
But the anesthesiologist was very apologetic. He’d dosed me by weight since I hadn’t been under since I was a kid, and that was a mistake. I have a low tolerance for medication, so by weight was way too much. But at least that’s in my chart now, so if I have any other surgeries, they’ll know.
We got home and I walked up the ramp to go inside. I was glad that I hadn’t thrown up at all that I know of, but I was starting to feel a little nauseated, so I took a Zofran and tried to eat my leftover fried rice. It tasted horrible, which google says is a side effect of anesthesia. I put it back in the fridge and tried to eat some goldfish. They were also unpleasant. We watched some episodes of Bob’s Burgers and then went to take a nap.
I had a headache that was getting worse and worse. I tried to use an ice pack, my usual headache remedy, but it only helped the spot it was touching when it was touching. When I moved it to soothe another area, it immediately started hurting where I removed it from. I lay there and it just got worse and worse. Top three worst headaches I’ve ever had. It was horrible. So hopefully if I have to have anesthesia again, it won’t be so bad because I won’t get as much.
I tried Excedrin Migraine, I tried 10 mg Norco, but nothing really helped, and noise only made it worse. so I asked Ian to bring me some cotton balls and put them in my ears. That was the most helpful thing I tried. So I walked around with those the rest of the day.
We both wanted burgers for dinner, and Ian found a new restaurant, grub, and when he was looking at their menu and read Rice Krispy Treat milkshake, I was sold.
Unfortunately, they no longer have the Rice Krispy Treat milkshake, but I got a Kitchen Sink milkshake (pretzels, peanut butter, salt, butterscotch sauce, caramel sauce,chocolate chips, coffee grounds, and potato chips), which was awesome and gone by the time we got home. I had a Voodoo Mushroom Burger, also very good. I’m not sure which one Ian had, but it had an amazing garlic mayo on it. He didn’t like the mayo, but I put it on my burger. I’m a sucker for garlic. And we got my mom the You’re My Boy Blue (obvs bleu cheese burger), which was my second choice, but I was glad I went with the mushroom burger. Looking up their site to link tonight, I see they have a gladiator burger for Memorial Day. We may have to check that out. It’s a snooty rich people burger bar, but damn, good stuff, y’all.
But the best part of the whole ordeal was when I went to the bathroom when we got home. I’ve been dealing with pain for so long that I forgot that it’s not supposed to hurt when you pee. It’s not supposed to hurt at all. And it doesn’t. Appreciate the pee, guys. Appreciate the pee.
Now to just get my strength back. I put flea medicine on the two easy cats this morning, and it got me out of breath.
waiting here, watching
leaves falling so softly down
Surgery went well, no new stent, and I’m on my way home now. ❤️
He searches the stores as he walks by, head swinging left, swinging right, in time with his footsteps, his eyes roaming, seeking his prey like a caged predator at the zoo. Good luck finding whomever you’ve lost, sir.
Her flower headband speaks of a time lived by people thrice her age. The weight of the taxicab yellow Forever 21 bag speaks of a credit card belonging to someone twice her age. The jelly sandals on her feet speak of children half her age.
She slides along with her tennis ball-footed walker, giving the stinkeye to a scantily clad teenaged girl passing by. Judge not, lest ye be judged, old woman. What short shorts might you have worn in your salad days, I might ask.
He looks fierce and grumpy; a drill sergeant at the mall, perhaps seeking a gift for his buddy’s bachelor party. But his steel gray Mohawk belies that fierceness and lets his playfulness shine through.
He looks lost: walking slowly, eyes darting around. He constantly refers back to a slip of paper in his right hand. A list of gifts, a list of stores, a list of sizes–he doesn’t share the secrets of his list.
For my final quote, Kurt Vonnegut:
Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.’
No tags today; just know that you are not alone.