A week ago I underwent a surgery called “laparoscopic total abdominal colectomy with end ileostomy” at Weill Cornell - New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Since I’d rather not bore any of you with the hows and whats…you can click here for a whole thing from Cancer.org.
This is surgery one of three that I will be undergoing in the next 6 months or so…and they say the first step is always the hardest. And boy was it.
briefly take you thru the process - just to get everyone caught up and to give you some background on this whole business…which is just fucking gross. Bear with me - this post is super long and reads like a diary…but I added some Real Housewives GIFs to help the story along.
Thursday, July 31 - We’ll also dub this day, “the day the famine began” Legit. You can look it up in the Holy Bible, Genesis 41:54. Joseph had called it. And what was only 72 hours…sure felt like 7 years. After what normal people who aren’t starving themselves call “lunchtime” - I was ready to kill. Everyone. By nightfall - it was every man for himself.
Friday, August 1 - This one we shall call, “the day that would not for the ever-loving fuck just END.” My call time was 9:30am. Being punctual is my jam and I thought maybe if I’m early they’ll put me to sleep early…chhhhh-yeah right. I get my epidural and a really fun dirty martini IV drip and I figure I’m all set…just let me sit here and I’ll be done in a jiffy.
Cue the nurse with the bad news.
"Hey - yeah - so there’s been an emergency patient (which they said might happen…) and she’s got to go into the surgical suite before you so its going to be a few hours."
That sobered me up real quick, I remembered how ravenous I was, and I ate the nurse. One bite. Or maybe that was the drugs. I’ll never know.
I’m finally wheeled into the suite around 4:00pm. It felt like a movie. I recall silently telling myself to remember this because it was so cool. As a fan of all things surgically surreal, just seeing all the robotics and screens made me feel like I was in some trippy sci-fi flick.
I “wake up” around 9:30pm…maybe…on Mars…with another head attached to my shoulders and some wicked super powers. Inception. Its a real thing.
I’m eventually rolled around into an elevator by one guy. I’m in an empty hospital. No control of where I’m going or who is taking me. I initiate my fight or die instincts and think, “If this guy is taking me to some dark corner of the hospital for some fucked up experiments…how am I going to escape?” I had a whole plan which included ninja moves that I’m sure I would be able to do with 6 surgical incisions and a mind full of cumulus clouds. Fortunately for this guy, he decided to just take me to my hospital room and have a nurse take over. Good decision on his part.
Nurse Steven McDreamy. Poor thing. I was such a little asshole. It was 3am by this point (if you’re counting the hours…thats 30 hours that I hadn’t eaten) and he was just doing his job. His job that morning was to make me get out of bed, walk to the end of the bed and walk back. I moaned and groaned and took 4 steps and turned around and took 4 back. He seemed pleased…albeit my worst performance involving a bed.
Saturday, August 2 - “Ten laps equal a mile,” says Nurse Lizzy. “Then ten’s my goal,” I replied. In fact, I did 15 laps of 14N Greenberg Pavilion before the day was done. I had my hospital gowns, my colostomy bag, my epidural and IV drip tree, and I was a-shufflin’.
Although I busted a move to promote quicker healing, to get my blood pumping, and to get my mind off the fact that I still wasn’t allowed anything to eat or drink - I wasn’t without pain.
During laparoscopic surgery, the surgeons puff you up full of cO2 gas so they can work inside and much of the time, you’re sealed up before the gas can escape. As you’re more upright, the more the gas moves up and eventually settles in your traps, pecs, scaps, and shoulders. And OH THE HORRIFIC PAIN! Pish posh to the fact that I had 5 feet of my insides ripped out of me…the pain in my shoulders was so excruciating, it took my breath away and nothing would stop it.
Sunday, August 3 - Second verse. Same as the first. More laps. Actually accrued 2.5 miles on the Lord’s Day. And the best part…chicken broth! It was like the last frickin’ supper. Who knew chicken broth would make someone so very happy…well…besides starving children in Africa or NYC models…and me.
Monday, August 4 - The day I got butter. And a roll. And soup. I worked hard for it. Over 3 miles on my little track. My little epidural friend also left me this day. I thought it would be more difficult and more painful. I’m not a huge fan of prescription pain medication, so I didn’t take the Oxycodone and opted for just Tylenol and while there was a little discomfort, I know I made the right decision. One Tylenol every 4 hours…including overnight, which was especially joyful at 2am when the nurse would come knocking on my door. Annoying. But necessary.
Tuesday, August 5 - Deliverance. I was discharged home. It was somewhat surreal and I was nervous about going home and being away from the hospital, nurses, and round-the-clock surveillance. But…I knew I had to move forward, progress, and get myself healthy for round two.