Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hollaback Robin...

So, I've moved down to my dad's house for a little R&R. My petite soeur says I'm having "celebrity-style rehab" with three other people waiting and watching on me, peaceful and expansive surroundings, and no financial obligation. I'm not opposed to this. It's actually a milestone that made me cry when I finally arrived last night because this was the point at which I knew *before surgery* that I would be healing.

So, I'm healing. It's righteous.

Anyway, my parents have this game cock. Maybe he used to fight, I don't know, I would fight with him, he'd kick my ass. He's nearly my height and just as beautiful as they come - gorgeous colors. Well, as a rooster he's prone to making a fair amount of noise in the mornings He starts at four a.m. and serenades the rising sun until about 7 or 8, then he rests his vocal cords and gives a lunch concert - much abridged - for an hour around noon.

Usually I spend that 4-5 a.m. time period thinking of chicken recipes. This morning, though, I was up before he started crowing and since I'd had 5 hours of continuous sleep and felt perky I eagerly awaited his crow. I had some other music on and began remixing the rooster in my half-sleep state. It was awesome for about five minutes, then he faltered.

The frickin rooster faltered! He lost his tone, there was no pride in his voice, he was crowing sotto voce! It killed me. So I turned off my music thinking perhaps I was doing the impossible and drowning his loud ass out. No sucha thang. He was just barely audible and my room is not 100 ft. from his pen and I usually hear him like some harman kardan speakers are involved at close proximity.

So, I started coaching him, mentally. It's very entertaining to do vocal coaching for a rooster. I was thinking I might be able to produce a youtube video on the subject. This idea I get from Neil Gaiman since his episode of bat training was so ingeniously captured and distributed.

I (mentally) encouraged Robin the Rooster on the topics of phonation, intonation, breathing techniques and finally I just flat out said (to myself) "Sing BIRD, SING!!!!"

He failed miserably. Like any good svengali I was not deterred and decided to do what the best of them do when the talent is lacking talent: I created a remix. Remember that song "Hollaback Shawty?" Well, I decided Robin, being red and slightly shorter than an average adult human female, qualified and if he could just crow to the beat in my head we might have a winner.

He failed to pass muster today, but I have hope for the coming weeks. Get the rooster to crow on beat. I know he likes cherry tomatoes so I've got my incentive plan.

Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bag Lady

Curses! i have a catheter! It has been my longest-running medical bag. Perhaps I will attach a pic that will show some of the shorter-lived IV bags, they tended to go through 4/8/12 hour changes.

But this catheter. Oh, this catheter. I've had it (in some incarnation) for weeks now. I've wearied of carrying it around. Of course, my nerves tremble when I am without it because my bladder does not function so without the catheter I've no way to release water. Other than my bladder bursting, but at this point in the game, I'd really just rather not.

I'm supposed to be sleeping. I suppose I am sleepy. But I have all manner of thoughts bouncing around my head. I've just had a slew of major surgeries and I'm questioning my relationship because my significant other has been significantly absent every time I've come home from the hospital. I'm hoping this isn't a curse, like he comes home and I go back in. That would suck.

And I'm thinking about my life and what I want for myself and who I am as I see me versus who I am when viewed through the prism of what other people see - the reconciliation of those identities. I think I can say with total conviction that I'm finished with being self destructive. So...now I have to fight out how to be self-productive.

With some luck and bladder medication I have a good chance of losing the catheter this week. Maybe I'll end up back in diapers (I've had the pleasure of experiencing adult diaper rash, I totally sympathize with babies now and forgive my little sister for being incredibly difficult as a child). I could appreciate losing the catheter.

I've got to figure a lot of things out.

Friday, May 11, 2007


I have matching holes on my hands - dead center. I've decided I'm manifesting Stigmata (where an individual begins showing all the signs of Christ's suffering on the Cross). I think i can live without bleeding from my scalp or developing holes on my feet, the hand-holes are enough. It's been nearly a month since I wrote anything, especially anything coherent. So funny because for the past month I've been shuttled in and out of the hospital so many times you would think they were paying me for a medical trial. But they weren't paying me, I was paying them. Let's have a quick review of Fast Times at Northside Hospital: A Primer.

1. April 17h - My first surgery. This makes me feel warm and fuzzy because I was so genuinely optimistic and had such precious little puppy feelings about the whole thing. The doctors were going to make me all better, I was going spend up to 7 days in Club Med relaxing, catching up on my writing, sleeping and enjoying primo pain relievers.

2. April 18th - I was up and skipping down the hallways of my ward. Joy to the World - I could feel the change! Okay, I was not skipping, i was shambling, but when I heard my surgery took 9 hours, 4 of which I spent in a jackknife positiion hanging upside down, a shamble was a skip in my book.

3. April 19th - Gets tricky here. I was in the bathroom getting changed up for a walk (shamble) and suddenly I smelled something terrible and felt pure acid on my legs. Upon looking down I witnessed just about all the blood I had inside of me evacuated on the floor. My mom started talking fast, I think it was to keep me from passing out or going into shock. at that very moment - with the nurse launching into STAT mode - my friend Jenn showed up for a sick-and-shut-in visit. What she found instead I cannot describe. I asked my mom to get Jenn out of there, but she couldn't, not navigating me to the bed where I managed to out-white the sheets. This would be what the medical books call a "complication." I am hustled back to the operating room where I amuse myself listening to my surgeons argue about transfusing blood into me BEFORE or AFTER they find the source of my bleeding. (after won, thank god) I go back into surgery.

4. April 20th - Wash. Rinse. Repeat with less blood. I go back into surgery.

5. April 21st - 3 surgeries under my belt. I've traumatized everyone, not least of all myself. But I'm still feeling positive. Heck, they did some patch jobs, that means the shit's really gonna stick, right?

I spend the next few days doing my Club Med activities. Around the 24th they let me go home. HOME!!!!!! I'm scared to death of home. What if something happens? What if nothing happens? I feel safer in the hospital, but I keep those thoughts mostly to myself, I decide even if I am afraid I have to keep on moving. The ride home is excruciating. Who knew there were so many bumps and potholes? Who knew my dad would hit each and every one of them? It just felt that way, but feelings are facts, or so some therapist on TV used to say. And then, once home, I have to re-learn how to "do" stairs. I put my hands on my father's shoulders and take each step he takes. Jesus Mary and Joseph, I have largely forgotten a lot of detail activities in my life. I don't realize I am still under anesthesia from all those trips to the O.R.

Just as I get accustomed to Home I develop another complication. There are calls for me to get to the E.R. post-haste. I politely refuse. I am tired. I am not bleeding. I support my body's right to be complicated. I'll deal with it all tomorrow. Two days later I go into the E.R. and meet with my surgeons. They tell me there is another surgery that will stop the complications. This would be surgery number 4 in less than two weeks. It seems a tad excessive to me and since they can't say my complication is life-threatening I can't say I'll sign up to be diced, have a portion of my small intesting pulled out of my stomach, bagged and left there until everything else heals up properly. Sounds freaky to me.


The campaign took 5 days of coersion by 3 surgeons. I finally reached my limit emotionally with all the complications and decided one more surgery wouldn't affect anything that hadn't already been through the ringer/washer/whatever. I beat the 24-hour mark set in my main surgeon's head before which he was going to remand me to the operating room. He is pretty respectful of my desire to be self-determined, but if i hadn't made the decision he would have made it for me. Two days later on May 4th, I got a breathful of the fun-gas and woke up to a swollen abdomen (something I had not had before) and tubes poking everywhere out of said swollen abdomen. They checked me in recovery and when I looked down at myself I closed my eyes and swore I would never look again. I looked like a terrible pizza experiment. I had been fitted with a super-pubic catheter to replace my trusty and painful foley, I had an ileostomy, my vanity was permanently hampered.

I surf the morphine highway for the next few days. I ask for a dosage increase because what they have given me does not stop the ache, the pain or the personal mortification of what I am undergoing. An increase provides me with long hours of near-sleep and as an added bonus I am the funniest person in the room. I want to talk and I am convinced I'm having cogent conversations, but really, I'm just babbling softly like a 1 year old at play alone. I scare the living shit out of my grandmother who cannot stand to see her happy granddaughter reduced to such a state. My mom watches me very carefully. I develop "junkie" itches. These match all the junkie needle marks from my last visit to the hosptial (every time I went into the E.R. they gave me a new I.V. every time I went back to my room they gave my a new I.V. I have marks from my wrists to my elbows). The junkie itch, I must admit, is annoying. My nose won't quit feeling funny and I can't keep my hands from rubbing it. Then my whole face. I sit on my hands to talk to my surgeons when they come in and spend the entire time twisting and contorting my face into fabulous pastiches. It would be funny if it weren't so god-awful sad.

I start to heal and I let the morphine go. I don't like addictions to anything. So, one day, realzing I'm not in pain - I simply stop. Things start going well, I see the healing. It's not so bad. I'm spared the pre-op pain and the ileostomy is functional and seems well-intended. It's also temporary, just until everything else heals up. I start nurturing the tiniest possible kernal of hope.

Then they send me HOME again. This time I remember the stairs. It is now May 8th. I have a banana, then two because I've been encouraged to do so to boost my potassium levels. They bananas stop EVERYTHING and I spiral into a world where I cannot breathe, cannot move and cannot tell which way is up. Around 1:30 am may 9th I finally bring some of it back up, but with my snazzy new digestive system (the ileostomy) it's all digestive acid and banana. I decide I should go to the E.R. but there is no practical reason to do so. All I can think is I will feel safer - safer from myself, safer from the world - in the confines of the hospital.

It's a nice thought but I have to learn how to live with me - four surgeries and lots of scary moments - outside the safety of the hospital. It's funny to think I've been institutionalized (is that the word?) but I have. It's May 11th and I'm still dealing with those bananas, but I'm doing better. I can't believe I just wrote all of this out. it's time for breakfast of chicken broth diluted with water. I've definately joined the Skinny B*tch Club - membership is limited to those who spend at least a week in the hospital and months recovering from serious illness. Hey, when you can't eat you lose a shitload of weight.

More later. Maybe. Barring complication.