June 2012- Going under the knife

I’ve had work done.

Well, it’s not what you may think. I mean, it’s not like I’ve had a boob job or anything. I’ve always been perfectly happy with the size of my breasts. That’s been a non-issue with me, no matter how many emails I receive from dubious sources that seem to think I’m truly unhappy my breasts are not larger, and offer me equally dubious enlargement solutions. Considering age continues to increase their size anyway, I’ve never felt the need to take these companies up on their offers.

No, all of my surgeries have been of the medically necessary kind. Luckily, none have been of the emergency medically necessary kind; I’ve gone into all of my surgeries knowing what to expect.

Or so I thought.

My earliest surgery occurred while I was in college at the age of 20. Some torn cartilage in my left knee from an old wrestling incident needed to be repaired. It was my first time having surgery, and I was oddly excited by the prospect. I wasn’t nearly as excited by the amount of shaving my leg required before the surgery, but I doubt the nurse doing the shaving was overly thrilled, either- neither by the shaving nor by the bright blue mini-briefs I was wearing that clashed with the hospital gown I was given. The gown that refused to stay closed and hide the briefs, incidentally.

(Once again, there’s probably a mathematical formula hidden somewhere in this life experience: the size of one’s hospital gown will be inversely proportional to the distance to the bathroom multiplied by the desire to not have one’s underpants on display.)

This surgery was when I discovered that my mother was actually a lot more squeamish than she had ever let on when I was growing up. After completing the bright-blue-derriere parade returning from the bathroom, I discovered that there’s a reason the nurse asked me to be careful with my I.V.-implanted hand, as a significant amount of blood had flowed back into the tube and up towards the saline bag. Excited, I showed this to my mother, and pointed out how we could watch the blood slowly move back into my body. Much more quickly was the rate the blood left her face, matched only by the speed with which she sat down. I could tell she was not nearly as enthralled as I.

Naturally, I remember little about the surgery. Nothing, in fact, between the time I left the prep-room to when I slowly regained consciousness in the recovery room as “I want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner played on a radio somewhere nearby.

To this day, I can’t hear that song without thinking of bright blue underpants and obscenely small hospital gowns.

My recovery from this surgery went well, although I was on crutches for much of the next month, and discovered for the first time that pain medication makes my brain do funny things. When during a thank-you speech to members of a group I was involved with that had helped me produce a major concert on campus, I thanked everyone who had helped for “sticking through me.” If my mother had been there, she probably would have gone pale and sat down quickly again, just like she did when we reviewed the video of my knee surgery. (I thought the little tool with the munching teeth was really neat – mom, not so much, it seemed.)

Years later, after having my wisdom teeth out, this odd reaction to anesthesia would pop up once again. After napping for the afternoon after the surgery that removed three wisdom teeth, two molars, and nearly broke my jaw, for some reason I decided it would be a good idea to go the local bar that suffered my patronage regularly.

Without going into details, to this day I swear the … person … I woke up with was not the beautiful creature I left with. I didn’t even drink anything.

I remained surgery-free until just a few years ago, when in fairly quick succession I went through seven surgeries, two of them oral.  All of them involved various stages of anesthesia, from fairly strong locals to full-on general anesthesia putting me completely to sleep (including one that occurred without my foreknowledge.)

I’ve been told I am a good patient during surgeries, being overly effluent with my praise of everyone involved (to the point of demanding the names of the surgery team so that I could write thank-you letters of praise to their superiors)(Except for that one anesthesiologist who put me under without warning me first. Maybe he didn’t like my underpants.)

I’ve even been known to become unusually … chatty.

Apparently, one of my surgeons reminded me of my late maternal grandfather, a dairy farmer, so during the entire surgery, I carried on an enthusiastic conversation with him about cows. I’m not sure how I managed to carry on a 45-minute bovininious conversation, because I truly don’t know that much about cows. I either repeated myself a lot, or the conversation quickly devolved to me listing ice cream flavors I liked. Even that had to have become repetitious.

No hospital has ever allowed me to leave on my own after surgery, probably because they didn’t want to be responsible for whomever I woke up next to in the morning. Thankfully, I’ve always had stalwart friends available to help me out. Equally thankfully, they’ve never (to my knowledge) taken advantage of my anesthetized state, when I became extremely generous and giving.

No surgery occurred without a stop at the pharmacy on the way home for whatever pills and painkillers I’d need for my recovery. Unfortunately, this usually also took more time than I was willing to sit quietly and wait, and I inevitably ended up wandering around the pharmacy, looking at everything for sale, and offering to buy things for whomever was trying to guide me through the path of least destruction. After one surgery, I actually had no one else available to take me home but my boss. And she really wasn’t prepared for the level of excitement I displayed when I discovered that the pharmacy sold grape jelly.

In my gushing awe, I bought four jars. She refused to take any. I still have some.

Usually, my post-surgical care has been entrusted to my long-suffering roommate. By the fourth surgery, I think he’d become somewhat anesthetized himself, as he no longer even reacted when I wandered around the pharmacy, offering to buy him a toothbrush.

And a deck of playing cards.

And some candy. Was he thirsty? I’d buy him a drink if he was thirsty … Look! Breast pumps! Did he want a breast pump? I’d gladly buy him a breast pump …

Considering his breasts were smaller than my own and no more useful, he declined, and a breast pump was not purchased that day, for him or for me. So I can’t blame the increased size of my breasts over time on that.

Sadly, it’s been entirely natural.

No surgery required.

 

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