Monday, April 23, 2007

Congratulations Miss Bell!!...

It's a gall bladder!!!

Yep! I have safely labored and delivered a six pound gall bladder! Much to the amazement of myself and my family, friends, and a few doctors!

It all started last Wednesday morning at 4:00 a.m. when I woke up feeling unwell. I wasn't particularly sick... I just hurt. I could not get comfortable to save my life. I attributed it to a pulled muscle, because my back was hurting so much and I've been a good girl lately and have been faithful to go to the YMCA! I just KNEW that was the problem.

I got in my car to go to work and never made it to the interstate. The pain was pretty intense. So, I got back home and lay down on a heating pad hoping for some relief. None. Nada. PAIN. At 10 a.m. it was time to see Dr. Brad... my fix-it doc!

I drove myself to Brad's office in Brentwood and wanted to die. Driving, it seems, was more painful than lying about in pain. When he saw me I told him I thought I had really outdone myself at the gym and he said he really didn't think I had. (Does Brad know me that well? Or did I just look that bad?) Anyway, he had me lay on the table and he started poking and prodding around (like doctors are want to do) when all of a sudden he hit a really tender spot.

"Hey... hey.., hey... that's tender right there. You should stop doing that now."


"No really. Tender. Stop now."

"That's your gall bladder"

"That's not at all what I want you to say"

"Still... it could be something else, but all your symptoms say gall bladder."

"Can we change my symptoms?"

"I don't think so"

Still... because Brad knows what a chicken I am (no needles... no hospitals... please) he gave me a prescription for something and then told me that I needed to go THAT AFTERNOON for an ultrasound if the pain did not lessen at all.

It didn't.

At 4:oo pm (12 hours after the beginning of my little drama) I was headed to the ER at our new and fancy hospital here in Smyrna (which I will go to again... because it is verra, verrra nice)

The ER doc was a fun guy and he poked and prodded on me too. However, his poking was not as severe as Brad's and so when he asked about pain, it wasn't as bad. So... he didn't think it was my gall bladder, since I hadn't been throwing up and I wasn't screaming in pain. He told me we would run tests and rule out all possibilities.

That's when the nurse arrived. Yep. Time for the IV.

"Do I really have to have an IV?"

"It really helps us to give you medicine"

"Can't I take a pill?"

"The medicine will work faster through an IV"

"I'm a big chicken. Don't you hear the clucking sounds"

"I wondered what that was" (still preparing her miles of tubing)

"I hate needles. I really do"

"Let me see your arm... GIRL! If I can't hit that vein, I should hang up my stethoscope right now"

In goes the IV with little to no pain. THEN... in goes the shot of demerol... and now the hospital people are my BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!!!

"Do whatever you people want to do to me... I just don't care"

A trip to the x-rays came and went and then I went for the ultrasound at about 8:00pm. That lady was nice too... until she got to the area of my gall bladder, which was very painful. I should have kept that to myself, though, because when I told her it hurt, she took more pictures at that point. Sheesh.

Back to my little exam room I go... and about 30 minutes later my ER doc comes in and says "Boy, was I wrong! You have one of the ugliest gall bladders I have ever seen". I bet he tells that to all the girls! We could let you go, but I think you should just go ahead and be admitted and let us take that out. It is really ugly. So... I get another shot of demoral (Thanks new nurse) and sign a bunch of papers and off to room 311 I go.

It is probably close to 11pm by the time I get there and my floor nurse is THE BEST EVER... because she is nice and she gets me a demoral pump! Pain meds all the time now! Whoo Hoo! As I am drifting in and out of pain free sleep I wake up to see an unusal face staring down at me. This was about 12:45 a.m.

"Hello there. Can I help you?"

"I'm Dr. Larsen. I'll be your surgeon. How are you feeling?"

"Fine. Just fine. Pull up a seat and let's have a chat."

"Is this your mother over here?"

"Hmm? Oh yeah. Mom... meet the doc. He's the surgeon"

My mother already knew that because she was probably awake before I was. (Mom would not leave my side, by the way. She's a great mom)

"So... you're having a gall bladder problem?"

"That's what they tell me"

"Tell me what happened." And so I fill him in on my details, including my misdiagnosis of a pulled muscle and my recent trips to the Y, and he nods a lot and stares at me, and I wonder if I have a booger or something and then he asks me what I do for a living.

"I work for an attorney."

Silence. I mean, you could hear crickets. I think surgeons hate those of us to work in the legal field. But he recovered pretty well when I told him I didn't know anything about medical malpractice, but that I was certain that my boss did. He laughed nervously and then proceeded to draw a picture of the digestive tract and included the gall bladder and explained the procedure. He was a really funny guy. He has a dry sense of humor that connected with me right off! He gave me the option of treating this by drugs and going home, but he told me that I would just end up back here... and since he already knew I worked for an attorney, I figured I would keep him instead of having to break in another surgeon. So... they were going to fit me into the surgical rotation for the next day and it would be mid-day before my surgery started... and they would let me know as it got closer. Dr. Larsen left... I hit my "happy" button and went back to sleep.

To be awakened at 4:00 so the nurse could take blood and be told I was two points off on my potassium levels, so I would get potassium with lidocaine through an IV. Ok. Whatever.

I met the anesthesiologist about 10:30 who had a bunch of questions to ask and wanted my signature on a consent form. I had to look over a list of "possibilities" whilst I was "under".

"I'd like you to keep away from esophagial laceration, if you don't mind"

"That shouldn't be a problem."

"Also Death. Stay away from death, please."


"But most importantly... even more than death... this one here about waking up while the procedure is occurring... please don't let that happen."

"Not to worry. Just sign here."

"You do know I work for an attorney, right?"

So, at 11:30 they come and take me away... much to my mother's chagrin... but she's holding on while I am there. She doesn't want me to know how scared she is... and I get wheeled down to the surgical area where I meet anesthiesiologist number two and a surgical nurse.

"Do I have to be catheterized?"

"Yes hon, I'm afraid so. But I won't do it until you are under and I will remove it before we wake you up. You won't ever know it."

They explain they will give me something in the IV and then put a mask over my face and tell me to breathe and I will go right now. "You guys know I work for an attorney, right?"

My surgeon walks up. He's a hoot. He asks how I'm feeling and I told him I was fine.

"But I forgot to bring that picture you drew for me last night. You do remember where my gall bladder is, right?"

Without breaking a smile... "I thought I would just go over to this computer and google it and see what I find out. I figure if anything goes wrong, I'll just hit the reset button"

"Don't forget Control-Alternate-Delete if things go really bad" He laughs... they wheel me to another room... I see a blue mask and then NOTHING ELSE. I don't remember them moving me to a surgical table... I don't hear nothing and I don't see nothing and I like it that way.

The next thing I know, I am in recovery and life is fine. No pain and people keep asking me the same questions... what is my name, date of birth.... why am I here? You'd think they would be able to tell this from my arm bands, but no... they keep asking.

And then I am back in room 311 with my family and my friend Melissa Leaver, who has brought me 15 different types of ChapStick...because she is a real friend... and the rest of my day/night blurs into moments of consciousness/unconsciousness as I hit my happy button... wake myself up snoring... and make my first trip to the potty.

Of course... having not known I was going to be operated on... I had on my fancy panties. Purple with bright red hearts and wings and words that say "Wild at Heart" or something stupid like that. I can only imagine the surgical team's words when they took those off me. I know they took them off me, because a nurse brought them back to me.

Only after they tried to give them to a 70 year old woman who was still in the recovery room after I'd left. She swore they were not hers. I am grateful they made their way home to me.

Now, it is just about the recovery. My boss says he will see me in six weeks. I will lose my mind if it takes that long. I am hoping for a couple of weeks. Saturday was a really good day, and I stayed out of bed for the most part.

Sunday was a set back and I spent the day in bed. I am trying to be a little more careful now.... so it is back off to bed I go!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hey... nifty hair net!

Only a true friend would restrain herself from taking a quick photo of another friend while she was doped up on pain meds and being prepped for surgery.

I. Am. A. True. Friend.

I wanted so badly to photograph my friend Requelle earlier this week as she was preparing for outpatient knee surgery. But I restrained myself. Yes, I did. I'm not sure why I felt the need to restrain... perhaps it was the early morning hours and my lack of focus.

I typically wake up early now... but usually just in time to jump in the shower, throw on some clothes and make it in to work. NEVER to drive through early morning Nashville traffic on my way DOWNTOWN to a surgical center. There should not be traffic at 5:00 AM... but alas, we live in Nashville, so of course some bonehead had an accident and made me late. I would not be thwarted however, because again... I am a friend, right?

Maybe I restrained myself because I was fearful of the rather large, bearded, sweat-shirted man sitting to our right. He was apparently semi-famous (as many people in Nashville are) because a nurse spoke to him later that morning, shook his hand, and they talked about music and how she had seem him perform at (fill in the blank--------). Music City USA... go figure.

Perhaps I restrained myself because I fear that one day the tables will be turned and I expect my friend to show me the same sort of respect. Hmm. That must be it. I am typically well motivated by thoughts of fear.

But, restrain myself I did. I didn't even bring in a bottle of water or go across the street where the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign at the Krispy Kreme was shining for all the masses to see. I wanted the Krispy Kremes sooooo badly... but what sort of torture would that be since Req couldn't eat anything past 8pm the night before. I am cruel on occasion, but that would have just been hateful. The sugar high would have to wait!

We enjoyed our early morning conclave with Suz (The Winner of the "WHERE IS REQ STAYING CONTEST"... I'm not bitter) and Sam, our prayer guru whilst sitting in the waiting room and awaiting the call to start our engines! A nurse with a very, very bad hairdo (think Swiffer dust mop) called Req to sign papers swearing upon a blood oath that no matter what should happen to her on the surgery table, she would be responsible for paying the $13,000 surgery center bill. Wow. That's a stinkin' big amount of money for hanging out in a building for three hours. Maybe I should rent a room out at that cost. If I jack up the prices enough, maybe J.Lo will want to hang at my crib!

Maybe not. (Blind poodle not included in price of stay)

But for that kind of money, you'd hope the coffee would at least be drinkable... and not so much like dark water.

They took Req back through the swooshing door at about 7am and the conclave just continued to move along with Sam the Prayer Man, Suz the Winner and I (still not bitter) until they let us make our way to visit by her bedside. Req was a lovely vision in a pale surgical gown that was offset by the word "yes" on her right knee and the word "no" on her left.

For $13,000 you only get printed words. I bet cursive words would have run into the $18-$20K range.

Req was wearing un-color coordinated arm bands that gave us her name, rank and serial number, and let us know that she is allergic to apples, pears and plums. How is that possible? Three members of an entire food group shot down the proverbial garbage disposal of life. So sad.

Req's final surgical accessory was a lovely blue hair net. It was not the appropriate Kentucky blue color, but closer to a North Carolina blue. I would have refused that color... but that's just me. This is where my restraint REALLY showed itself. I felt my hand creeping into my purse to wrap around my camera phone... but then I chose the high road... again for fear that it may one day be me with the surgical gown on. Sam the prayer man led us in prayer over our girl and then we left her in the capable hands of Dr. Rosen.

Whose hands apparently are not only capable... but fast. No! Not like THAT! He was just quick on the draw and about 35 minutes later was telling us how well everything went and that we'd be seeing her in a few minutes. Suz the Winner couldn't even drink her entire soft drink before we were heading back to see a bandaged and awake Req smiling up at us... hair net in hand.

Req's biggest complaint? She didn't get to count backwards or quote scripture before she was out like a light. For $13K you'd like to think she could at least get "Jesus wept" out before she was under the knife, but no...

Req has done remarkably well. She was actually up and walking to the bathroom before we left the surgical center and made a couple more potty trips before I left the Grand Champion Rushing home... where she has elected to stay. She'll be heading to PT tomorrow and hopes to be back to work next week.

So... for 13 grand, you get a couple of small incisions, your knee scraped and proded, home healthcare from Suz the Winner and a lovely blue hair net (which I made sure to tuck away for Req to keep as a memento)

But you can't shower for three days. Now I'm thinking maybe I'm the winner after all!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen... Zach Johnson!!!

What I know about the sport of golf, one can fit into a thimble. Really. I only understand what a par is because I do okay at miniature golf. As far as I know, a birdie is a fowl that flies on air currents or that spongy badmitton thing I miss every time I play badmitton. An eagle is our treasured national emblem and a boogey is a term I learned from all those wonderful "Top Gun" moments.

Zach Johnson, however, knows all of these terms and his knowledge of them... along with his prowess at the game itself... has earned him a Master's Tournament Championship and a lovely green jacket. Some guy named Phil gave it to him. That was nice of Phil.

My youngest brother is appalled that I don't know who "Phil" is... but that is neither here nor there.

As far as I am concerned, there is not a finer man who could have taken home this jacket other than Zach Johnson on Easter Sunday. He is a man of faith... and I don't know that just because of his post-game statements, but because he and his lovely wife are faithful givers to a ministry that is near and dear to my heart. ( I am sure that others on the PGA tournament give generously, but when you have been touched by a specific person... you tend to applaud just a little louder and call all your friends to tell them to watch a golf tournament and pray over this young man who looks a lot like Joaquin Phoenix... if you tilt your head in the right direction.
I have never watched a golf tournament in my life. Ever. My friend Requelle was trying to explain certain things to me over the phone... like birds and bees... no wait... boogeys and the boogie-man?... Well, she was getting a kick out of the fact that I was actually getting excited about a golf tournament.

Me. Excited. About golf. I know... it is not like me. There were no linebackers or centers or forwards in this game. There is no physical contact... no tackling or knock-outs. It is generally a group of fairly casually dressed men walking across the grass.

Walking. Across grass. And hitting a little ball with a stick. Into a hole. By a flag. In the grass.

I'd love to see the game changed up where you actually have to defend the hole. Maybe while wearing goggles and flippers.

Or Speedos. You can't go wrong with Speedos.

Okay, actually you can go very wrong with Speedos... but wouldn't that make the award ceremony a little more exciting? Instead of a jacket... you'd get green Speedos. Now that's something for the Masters people to think about in the future.
I am seeing the game of golf in a whole new light now!
Congratulations to Zach!