Losing things

We went out for dinner tonight, and then Starr asked to swing by the thrift store, and that just about wiped me out. I have to build up some stamina in the next week or so, because I’ll probably be heading back to work shortly thereafter. Must exercise more.

When I went in for the surgery, I weighed about 197 pounds, which is not especially unhealthy for my size and build, but it’s not trim either. I weighed myself today and I’m about 180, which is much better if I can keep it there while building my strength back up. Still, this is not a recommended weight loss plan.

I remember going in for the surgery, a little later than we’d thought as I’d misread the schedule – 11:00 was the report time, not the surgery time. I lay in pre-op getting more and more nervous until it came time for them to put in the epidural needle. According to Starr, I was conscious and lucid for several minutes after that, but I have no memory of it – they warned me that was likely.

My next memory is of awaking briefly in post-op, and dry heaving twice. I always have a rough time coming out of general anesthetic, which was part of the reason for the epidural – the heaves went away much quicker. After that, next thing I knew I was in my room and Starr was with me.

Much of the next week is blurred. I hate what narcotic pain medications do to my head – I would drop off for a two-hour uneasy nap, awaken, crane my neck to see the clock, and realize that only twenty minutes had passed. At least once, friends came by to see me and I didn’t remember that until long after getting home, when evidence was produced. Sometimes, even when I hurt a bit, I’d avoid activating the ‘as needed’ medication pump simply because I didn’t want to go back to the fog.

They did have to move me to another room once, as we had a bit of a monsoon storm here on the coast, and one of the walls sprung a leak! A couple of millimeters of water collected behind my bed and they realized I had to go. After that, no further moves.

Entertainment was thin. The hospital TV showed about twenty channels, none of which showed any programming which interested me. Though I had wireless access, most everything but email was blocked including the social networking sites I’d planned to use to keep people updated. Oh, I know ways around that, but the fog kept me from doing much with that knowledge. Thank goodness I had Starr to keep me company or I might have gone more insane than I am now.

More in a later entry. I just want to write some of this down before the fog claims it completely.

Return from the Medical Satellite

I am here, and I haz update.

Some folks may have heard that I was out of surgery last Wednesday night, and that everything went just as the surgeons had hoped. Assuming I held down solid food Thursday night, they’d be sending me home on Friday.

My anaesthesia was much nicer to me this time, with my post-op heaves much better controlled, but it wasn’t enough: my digestion shut down completely, and didn’t choose to restart until Monday. They couldn’t send me home until I handled solid food, so I’ve had nearly a week of being fed through a tube and dazed nights of sleeping via pain medication.

Though the hospital had free wireless, just about everything was blocked besides e-mail, and most of the time I stayed too dazed and weary to do much of anything with that.

Finally, though, they pulled the last tube from my body (I had a half-dozen in me, and you don’t want to know where all of them led (I kept restraining the desire to look at Starr and utter “Resistance is futile,” in an emotionless voice)), and told me to go home. Even that was bumpy enough, and there’s a lot more to tell, but I fear that I’ve literally used up my evening’s energy levels typing this. Pathetic, I know, but I have a lot of drugs and emotional stress to work from my system.

And, oh yeah, as I stayed so long, I got to hear the prelim pathology report. Little of the tissue turned out to be actively cancerous, and what was so was safely surrounded by buffer tissue in the removed mass. So I’m safe now.

TL;DR version: I’m home, I’m safe, everything went well, and I still feel like total crap. And I love you guys. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Medical team to the bridge

11am tomorrow, H-Hour. That’s when I go under the knife.

I know it’s a bit over-dramatic, but that’s how I’m feeling right now. I just can’t seem to maintain an even emotional keel at the moment. I’ve had surgery before, my hip replacement decades ago and my gall bladder just weeks ago, but this one has me really worked up. They’re going to make the second biggest incision a surgeon’s ever made in my body, and they are going to take a tennis-ball-sized chunk of one of my organs.

The surgeon does dozens of these a year, and has had papers published on the subject. I might well be back home before my birthday. The overwhelming odds are that everything’s going to be just fine. So why am I so worked up?

Starr will be posting to Twitter and Facebook, and passing out phone messages to be spread around. They say I’ll have wireless in my room, so I might even be posting here myself before tomorrow’s over. We’ll use the 21st Century to it’s full advantage. To everyone who’s been sticking by me in person and online, thank you so – I doubt I’ll find the words to say how much it means to me.

In a completely unrelated note, Happy Belated Birthday to southernsinger. I’d have mentioned this before, but I’m a bit distracted.

Circling the calendar

The doctors have scheduled my surgery for November 11th. I’ll go in in the morning – no idea how long they’ll actually be rooting around inside me.

Man, it’s weird knowing that someone’s going to cut me wide open – with my permission, yet.

Protected: Somewhat displeased

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Hurry up and wait

Back to the doctor again today, where they told me that I’d need another pair of CT scans – with and without contrast dye. On the other hand, the reason they want them is that the kidney surgeon has concluded that it’s a simple cyst, and if it has no cancerous tissue, he doesn’t think it should come out. It will need twice-yearly monitoring, but nothing more.

So, everyone please cross your fingers, or send good vibes, or do whatever else you do to encourage the Fates. The surgeon feels there’s a 40% chance it’s a harmless cyst, and a 60% it will have to come out. I’d like to fall in the 40. He does about fifty of these a year, so we’ll guess he knows what he’s doing.

Starr drilled him mercilessly on every technical detail. He commented, “You’ve done your homework. Want a job?” I said, “Y’all have already given her one,” and she confessed to being an oncology nurse with the same hospital chain.

And oh yeah, just because there’s not enough pain in our lives, we gave all three cats individual baths tonight.


I linked this in Facebook, but I’m reposting the link here because Starr saw me watching the new episode and asked to see the whole series. Freeman’s Mind follows a playthrough of the legendary “Half-Life” videogame, with a narration track added to the silent main character. The narration is smart-assed, sarcastic, and slightly deranged; Starr laughed through the 15 episodes so far completed. Recommended. (I’d have embedded it, but that’s disabled for some reason.)

More Tales of the Plumbing

I’m startled to see that I didn’t post here about the surgery. Sometimes I have trouble remembering which sites have current updates and which ones don’t.

Anyway, I went in on Wednesday morning and sat in pre-op for about an hour, getting more and more nervous. Thankfully, they gave me a bit of anti-anxiety in my IV drip, which helped; we also had a medical student stop by to tell me that she’d be observing the procedure, which Starr said was a good sign; they usually assign students to observe the simple, straightforward, textbook cases.

I don’t even remember them starting the anaesthetic. All I remember is waking up in post-op, and feeling utterly lousy; soon, they put me in a private room, and Starr joined me. The surgery went like clockwork, and removing the organ clearly had been the right decision, as it was discolored and had unusually-placed stones.

They’d intended to keep me overnight for observation, but the cafeteria accidentally sent up a solid-food dinner instead of the intended liquid diet, and not knowing better, I ate it. When the doctor discovered that I’d kept down solid food, and that my wife was an RN, they decided there wasn’t any real reason to keep me, and home I went Wednesday night.

Thursday I spent weak and in pain, accomplishing nothing besides leveling Mirandala to level 74. Friday, while still tired and hurting, I was able to fold some clothes and move up and down the stairs a couple of times. Saturday, we’d intended to participate in an overnight camp-out with a couple dozen friends; after much debate, Starr and I attended, but on the condition that I sit on my ass (or optionally lie on it) the whole time. I accepted, and had a great time, but I was still utterly wiped out by Sunday afternoon.

Life doesn’t wait up, though. The fuel filter replacement I’d done on Tuesday hadn’t done the trick, and Sunday I prepared to grit my teeth and fork over the $300 for a new pump assembly – only to find that all the local parts stores could order the assembly, but they didn’t actually have one in stock. They did have the actual pump part of the pump assembly, though; so while I didn’t have the super-clear instructions I did for the filter, I nevertheless worked out how to replace the pump part, and with the help of a friend for the heavy labor, managed to do it. The Hyundai took me to work this morning without a hiccup; we’ll see how it does this afternoon, but I’m optimistic.

So today I’m here at work, and tomorrow I have the MRI for my upcoming kidney surgery. I’m sure glad I don’t have a boring life like some people.

Data from a eight-foot medical tricorder

The doctors have scheduled me for gall bladder surgery on Wednesday. Everyone is telling me it’s a perfected procedure, I’ll be home that afternoon, and that I’m really not likely to miss it all that much. And y’know, I happen to be married to a registered nurse. So, okay, I’m about as optimistic as one could possibly be about this.

But there’s something I didn’t get around to mentioning back on the 28th. The CAT scan that revealed the gallstones also displayed a mass on my kidney, which the doctors wanted to follow up on. Yesterday, I got the lowdown, complete with pictures.

The mass is a tennis-ball-sized lump of tissue on my kidney, and the doctors are quite certain that it needs to come out. This is no outpatient laproscopic surgery, either; they’ll have to cut me open and remove it the old-fashioned way, and I’ll be on my back for days afterwards. The good news is that the artery and ureter aren’t involved, and I’ll still have half a good kidney on that side when they’re done.

I took the news pretty calmly, and waited until after a good lunch and an afternoon nap before having a meltdown. (That mostly involved tripping over sentences I’m trying to assemble, and getting a little strident in my tones from time to time. Yeah, I’m a fireball.) Luckily I had Starr and a couple other understanding friends there, who even kept offering me a little alcohol if I thought it would take the edge off. Not my speed, but I appreciated the goodwill.

So, the kidney surgery will probably be in three weeks or so, and I’ll be posting more details as I have them. Sigh.

Like a sledgehammer to the gut

Recap of yesterday:

40 minutes into my hour commute, halfway across the Monitor-Merrimac bridge, when my usual mild morning nausea turned powerful, and changed over to intense pain. I don’t know how to describe it to anyone who’s not felt it, but one would gladly give up PIN codes and passwords just to make it stop. I got the car to work, and the pain briefly subsided, but as I walked into my office, back it came. I was floored – literally. I fell to the ground in the fetal position, moaning.

My co-workers found me, and called the ambulance. My work managed to reach Starr, and she met me in the Emergency Room. I felt quite certain I’d experienced a flareup of 2006’s diverticulitis. The doctor found it likely, but decided to do a CAT scan to be sure. I spent an hour drinking a nasty ‘lemonade’ drink, and then they put me in the big donut.

Well, no diverticulitis. The CAT scan says I have gallstones, and the doctor says they’ll need to remove my gall bladder. I’m really less than thrilled with this, if for no other reason that I’ve just spent a couple of years trying to improve my diet, and now that I’ve got it where I like it, I may have to make further changes. More importantly, I’m not thrilled with this ongoing loss of body parts fate is demanding from me.

Well, I can’t go back to work until I’ve seen the surgeon. At this rate, I don’t even know when they’ll want to do the surgery. I’m on Vicodin, antibiotics, and nausea medication, and sitting in bed playing with my Wii. But I’ve been reminded over the past 24 hours that I remain a lucky man – I may be losing an organ, but I’ve got insurance that’ll pay for it, and the support of many wonderful people to back me up. Starr’s been a treasure, there for me every time I needed comfort or assistance. I’m thankful.

Now, I just have to figure out how to retrieve my car from work.

Burning sensations

Strange dream last night. I was at a USS Yeager meeting circa 1994, and in charge of getting everyone together for a group photo; however, every time I hit the timer button on the camera and stepped over to the group, people started chatting and wandering away before the shutter fired. I would have to badger them back into position, and try again. Iron Chef Morimoto, who’d graciously agreed to pose with us, was getting fairly impatient with the whole thing.

Can’t say that I think there’s any deep meaning in that dream: since I was gamemastering last night, I already was in ‘herding cats’ headspace, and I’ve recently been taking more pictures. I think I’m more excited about pictures these days, since the Web’s been giving me more places to show them off. I don’t know what Morimoto was doing there, though.

Then I woke up with heavy coughing caused by a combination of pool chemicals and last night’s GM oratory. Got back to sleep, eventually, but my throat still burns a bit this morning. I’ll be so relieved when I can put the super-bleach away, I’ve been dosing that pool with this and that for weeks now trying to get it usable for what remains of the summer. Next year, I’m starting in March.

We’re finally on the new Shadowrun adventure, but we got rolling a little late, so the evening was spent in negotiating the job and traveling to the site. Our heroes are investigating the disappearance of a Draco Foundation science team that was researching Crater Lake; the GSSC had been providing security, and needs some deniable assets to cover their butts. I’ve got an action sequence ready to start the next session, and some curious plot points prepared.

Tonight: moving stuff into the attic. And more pool work.

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