Monday, August 24, 2009

on vicodin

*caution: graphic content*

I'm currently naked, and have been for the better part of 4 days. I just showered for the first time in that span. Naked doesn't mean exposed; I have been wrapped in swaddling clothes for modesty sake. While I won't go into detail, I had surgery this past Friday, and it had to do with my bait and tackle. Everything's fine now, except that I've been on Vicodin ever since. A narcotic, in every sense of the word. One of the two active ingredients is acetaminophen, which I figured was the part of the tag-team that relieved the pain. Last night, in an effort to be normal again, I decided to just take Tylenol instead of Vicodin (mainly so that I could have a beer), hoping that the loopiness would go away with the pain. Unfortunately, whatever the surgeon did to me on Friday left me with formidable pain. The Tylenol didn't cut it; so now I'm back.

Vicodin doesn't make me say funny things. It doesn't make me see apparitions. And it doesn't really knock me out. It's almost akin to having a few beers. Basically, it makes me care less. I do sleep more easily, but not because of the drug itself; I think it's because my scope of concern when I'm on the narcotic shrinks to the size of my bed, almost like Scrooge's bed-curtains he hides behind. And it might take the Ghost of Christmas Future ripping my curtains aside to convince me there was something more to care about. But I wouldn't say I am Scrooge, who might lack care for others; I'm not care-less, more like care-free. I've also enjoyed how great of an excuse it has been to do nothing. Of course, I am in pain and I can't really do anything even mildly strenuous, but I when need to, I'll ostentatiously play the surgery card. Yeah, sorry, I really wish I could go with you to hang out with all of those acquaintances; it's just the surgery, you know?

The surgery was my first and it was scarier than I anticipated. The nurse was exhaustingly nice. When she learned I'm living in China, she asked me if I knew a neighbor of hers who was also living there. Fat chance. She poked needles into both of my arms, one for an IV and the other to draw some blood. Strike that, an asian nurse came in to take my blood when the other one wasn't there. Later, with my mom by my side, I was visited by the first ghost: the Nurse anesthetist. Boy, anesthesiologists are a bore, aren't they? Whenever I see one I end up falling asleep! I wanted to use that one on him, but when he started to explain the procedure, he frightened me. Apparently they were going to give me an epidural.

"We are going to stick a needle into the middle of your back, near the spine," he explained, "Then we'll ask you to arch your back, with the needle still in, and we'll put a catheter in through the hole we've made. After that you'll lose feeling from the waste down."

"Boy, I just never thought I'd ever have to get an epidural," I said, mildly excited until I realized what this all meant, "So, during the surgery I'll be awake?"

"We can give you some sedation so you might feel like taking a nap, but you'll be mildly alert."

I'm pretty sure my eyes got bigger. Alert was not one of the words I wanted to hear in the same sentence as surgery. But I trusted them and I signed the waiver. At least I could say I've had an epidural before, right? Then the second ghost came in. He was nice too, but he actually had good news.

"So did you make your decision?" he asked.

"Decision?" I was confused.

"Yeah, did you want the epidural or general anesthesia?"

"You mean I can just be totally out if I want to?"

"If that's what you want."

Hm. A huge needle in my arched spine and being alert while someone cuts me open OR falling asleep and waking up to the problem fixed.

"I'll do the general."

The third ghost arrived and was as calm, if not calmer, than the ghost of Christmas future. The surgeon explained the procedure once again and, whether it was the anesthesia dripping into my IV or the solemnity in his voice, I nearly fell asleep before he finished talking. Until he told me I couldn't drive for a week and a half. Lame.

The surgery was easy, from my point of view. All I did was fall asleep. I remember them starting the drip into my IV, the surgeon leaving, then being carted back to the OR. I must have cracked some sort of joke about everyone's inexperience in the OR because all I remember is one of the nurse's laughing about it being all of our first times. Unless she was serious, which would mean that I made the right decision. I would hate to have been awake and hear someone say, "whoops." Hopefully nobody goofed in there. down there.


I'm going back to China on Thursday, September 3. Mark your calendars, America, things are about to get a lot duller once I leave.

Tim and the rest of my team will be arriving a week earlier than I am. In case you don't know Tim, here's a picture of him. It's really recent.


Clyde said...

Proud of you for getting through it all. Did I miss it, or did you tell us what this surgery was all about? Great pic of Tim by the way.

esther lee said...

I couldn't read all of this. I got the epidural part and was feeling so light headed and woozy that I had to stop.

I saw Faith on Sunday, she said you were doing well. I'll trust her.

But I really want to hang out again before you leave.

Janet Phillips said...

Have had those epidurals a few times - you made the right choice! Tim told me your date was pushed back to the 13th now. Know you're anxious to join them as they are to have you there! The say waiting is the true test of faith...