Thursday, September 17, 2009

Comfortably Numb

This is the song that has been my recovery soundtrack, making me - not unusual at all.

Of course if this song is the soundtrack, "my hands felt just like two balloons" was the earworm. Even if it was only one hand. No one ever wrote an iconic lyric about that (or if they have, I'm not aware of it). More on the hand in a moment.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here much before - it's certainly something everyone in my real life knows about me - I love to write longhand. It is quite habitual for me to pull out a notebook and jot down random thoughts and phrases as they occur to me. When I was out of surgery and brought to my hospital room, the first thing I asked for was my notebook and pen. Now this was the night that my best friend was the button that delivered my pain meds. I hit it pretty fast and regular (I know, I know, that's what he said...). I dreamed lovely dreams and - because jotting things down is habitual - made notes about them when I was awake. Alert would be overstating it. But awake happened.

What a hoot.

I wrote of pure white cliffs and clear skies. I wrote of rocks and waves and clean air. I saw the course my life should take with utter clarity. And it was beautiful, man. (The same could not be said for my handwriting.) The word bliss was utilized with an almost shocking frequency. I wanted everyone to know this pure, true - well - bliss that I'd discovered.

Then the writing took a turn as true clarity started to make it's return. In letters not quite as tall and not quite as loopy and spidery, I wrote, "What if this is all just an effect of the drugs? Oh please don't let this be an effect of the drugs!" and later "What if this is all just an effect of the fasting?" (I hadn't eaten in 48 hours at that point) "Don't some religions utilize fasting to facilitate insight? Oh please, don't let it be an effect of the fasting!" Reality bites.

It was just funny to be able to read it over later - to actually be able to watch myself bliss out then crash. It's nice to have a recorded memory of the revelations, though, even if they are awfully silly in retrospect. It's nice to know that I was conscious of feeling that way - at least for a little while. Conscious enough to want to record it for posterity. Bless my little drug-addled heart.

When I stopped hitting the pain button so often, my recovery began in earnest and it went well. I did everything I was asked to do and, in my humble opinion, was a model patient.

Then the hand thing happened. Around 4 am Sunday my nurse came in to very routinely change my IV bag. Immediately after she did, I knew all was not well. My hand hurt and started to swell. It started to stretch. It got scary pretty fast. I'm a little bit on the older side of young, which means, for the purpose of this story, that there is a little extra skin on my hands. (Sometimes I see them on the steering wheel and don't recognize them. It freaks me out for a minute.) That extra skin filled up in no time flat as my hand literally blew up like a balloon. I estimate that it was about four times it's usual size before my (rather desperate) nurse got it all taken care of. I developed the wrist equivalent of cankles as my hand faded directly into my forearm. Which was also beginning to swell. There's a name for this - my nurse used it, my mom used it - but I can't retrieve it. At any rate, it's just something that happens and it wasn't a result of anything my nurses or I had done wrong.

It took two solid days before my hand returned to normal size.

I couldn't write in my notebook anymore.

I had a hard time signing my discharge papers.

And, as Tom told you a couple days ago, I couldn't type.

As of this morning, it is weak and it still hurts. I won't even tell you how many typos needed to be corrected in this post because I don't have the control that I would like. It'll come back. Stronger every day.


Housewife Savant said...

Welcome back-ish! It's good to hear they left your humor when they took out the other business.

I missed Tom's second update b/c my interweb service has been sporadic. (If sporadic means on and off I must explain that until last night we were on the OFF side of spor-A-dik.)
The clutch arrived over the weekend, after your blissful insights began, before you had a Hulk hand.

I'm glad to hear you are on the mend. I hope you're getting good care at home and resting much.

Bass Is Life said...

The only songs I know that are dedicated to one hand are along the lines of "Turning Japanese" and "All By Myself", and those aren't about the hand growing in size.

Sandy said...

It's gotta all be better from here. Glad you are back. Cankles.....I had those when I got back from Georgia a couple weeks ago. Not sure why. They started before the flight home (flying often causes that, I know) and were so much worse when I got home. Not a pretty sight!

Marie-Jolie said...

Get better soon! I love the bliss/crash story, as it's probably one we've all experienced (if only in our heads and not on paper). It reminded me of reading my journals from being a teenager.... bliss, bliss, trauma, crash...bliss again. :)

Hope you'll be on your feet...mmm, hand?...again soon!


mama-face said...

Oh, I'm so glad you are back. I was beginning to wonder if you were okay. Maybe you couldn't pee in that dumb thing in the toilet, that hat thingee; I'm sure that is the correct name), ( the inablity to pee kept me in for a Ionger time when had the very same surgery), which is entirely too much info, I realize. Let's just say I feel your pain all the way around and let it go. at that..sorry... :)

AFter I woke up from surgery I was telling EVERYONE I loved them. A nurse would walk in and I would say 'I love you', later I would only feel like I wanted to say it, and by the time I left I didn't love any of the nurses. They were so mean for wanting me to pee...

The nurse told me that happens with a lot of people when they come out of the anesthesia. I gotta tell you I loved that feeling at first. Some kind of euphoria.

I was afraid to read Tom's update; srsly, Now I feel okay to read it. phew. DO NOT VACUUM, k? You will regret it! just some friendly advice!

Badass Geek said...

Glad to have you back! That IV experience doesn't sound enjoyable at all.

Gin said...

Having just had surgery myself I know how long it takes to get back to feeling normal and I didn't have any complications! Take it easy! Rest, rest, rest!!!

Anita said...

I agree with Sandy, it's all better from here.
Other than the wrist cankle, I hope you are healing well and feeling better.
I've really missed your wit, and wisdom, and look forward to you being back to writing.
I love the story of your drug induced ramblings........too good!

Gibby said...

Oh man, that sucks! A wrist cankle, who would have thunk? I'm glad you are on your way to recovery, and I say, next time leave the typos in! None of us can really spell without spell check anyhow!

carma said...

Thank God you are doing ok. I have been remiss in not coming by sooner to check on you and your surgery :-( I've been a bad bad blogger since I've been in my funk. Anyhoo, glad your hand is back to normal and I wish you a super speedy recovery.

carma said...

BTW, Comfortably Numb - from one of my most favorite albums -ev-ah :D

SparkleFarkle said...

Switch! Pronto! When it comes to the road to recovery, I want you to be in the fast lane! I will keep you tucked under the fluffiest covers: my Good Night Prayers.

MiMi said...

I am so glad you're back and feeling better! I remember when my mom had that surgery, she was out for a long time. As in, it took a long time to recover.
Because I'm a freak show, I wish you'd have taken a picture of your hand. That would've been awesome.
Thank you for having Tom give us updates on you! That was very sweet.
I could never write down what I was thinking while in a drug induced haze...I'm sure Freud would love it! I wonder if I spelled Freud right?

Alicia said...

awww man! yay for drugs, boo for swelling! i love that you wrote through out all of your post op...too awesome! glad you're back!!

Rosa said...

Glad you're feeling better! Also glad your hand is usable again. I can only imagine how frustrating that was for you. Good for you for being a model patient. That will definitely help you in the long run. Happy recovery!

Anonymous said...

I hope recovery is going smoothly.

I read once that some authors write first thing in the morning, when they are still half in the dream state. I wonder if it's a similar effect to writing while on pain killer. I bet that notebook will continue to entertain you for years.

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to my hand once years ago. Now I will only get the IV in my left, just in case!

Glad you are on the road to recovery, although I know the road is not paved very well and is full of potholes! Keep on truckin'!

Pam said...

Welcome back! You've been missed. I love that you took notes during your drugged state! Classic! I think you should consider posting them.

Kathy B! said...

I'm glad you wrote while you were in the hospital and half-sedated. I imagine that was a very interesting read.

Glad you are getting your strength back. It's no fun around here without you!

BONNIE K said...

Welcome back and the hand thing sounds very very creepy. Now each day should get better.

The Redhead Riter said...

It is so nice to hear that you are slowly getting better. I hope you will continue to take it easy and let your body heal. My thoughts and prayers have been with you because I know that this surgery is not easy since I've watched both my sister and mother have it done.

Take care and get plenty of rest! Lots of ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

blueviolet said...

I love that your writing went through stages as you moved through the various drug induced hazes and out of them. Kinda like life! ;)

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

So glad you're back and sort of feeling better... my hand hurt when I was reading about your cankle wrist, you poor thing! I'm still cringing thinking about I better stop thinking about it... :)

How cool that you wrote while you were in your drug-induced haze...I bet it's interesting reading as your mind gets clearer! ;)

Wishing you a speedy recovery...((HUGZ!))

Joanna Jenkins said...

Welcome back honey!!!!
".....wrist equivalent of cankles!" Yikes. I am so sorry. I hope you're stronger every day. Sending love and hugs from So. California.
PS Your sweet hubby did a great job while you were away. THANKS!!!

prashant said...

Glad to have you back! That IV experience doesn't sound enjoyable at all.
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Unknown Mami said...

So happy to have you and your giant hand back.

Alex the Girl said...

It's a good thing you weren't only coming through in waves. Now that would have been something to see. Sorry I missed your return, and I hope you're feeling way much better.