display | more...

So far this year, my life has involved fairly regular dealings with the medical/pharmaceutical complex. Though I've been employed at my current job for about a year and a half and was offered health insurance coverage immediately upon hire, I chose not to initially take it. The reason was purely financial (I couldn't afford the paycheque deductions at the time), but in retrospect, I should have taken it. Grabbed at it, even; held fast to it and refused to be parted with it, as I am, much to my dismay, approaching middle age.

When the open enrollment period began last November, I dutiflly enrolled. The coverage began on January 1 of this year. Since then, I've had a complete physical examination; was treated for two different varieties of influenza; saw a dermatologist to have a number of unsightly keratoses removed; started seeing a psychiatrist again and got back on antidepressants after a hiatus of two and a half years; and undergone surgery to correct bilateral inguinal hernias. Future plans include a follow-up appointment with my surgeon later this week and seeing a dentist later this month to evaluate the possibility and cost of removing my three heavily chipped front teeth (both upper central incisors and the right lateral incisor next to them) and replacing them with implants or dentures.

The surgery, which took place last week, was a hell of a thing. I'd had surgery to correct the exact same issue—bilateral inguinal hernias—back in the 1970s, when I was less than a year old and surely knee-high to a grasshopper. Hernias in babies are, I've read, quite common due to the incomplete/ongoing development of the abdominal wall during the first year of life. I'm not sure what corrective measures were taken then, but what happened this time was pushing the extruding bits of intestine and/or bowel back into the appropriate abdominal cavity and patching up the holes they'd forced open with super-strong nylon mesh, each with a small passage for my spermatic cords to pass through. Anyway, since my memories of being a baby are completely absent, surgery was a new experience for me. It went pretty much as I expected it to:

  1. 05:25: Arrived at Crittenton Hospital Medical Center
  2. 05:30: Checked in with surgery reception
  3. 05:35-05:45: Filled out the requisite paperwork; received ID wristband
  4. 05:55: Introduced to my handler nurse, an older but sprightly lady named Mike (I didn't ask what it was short for: Mikaela? Michelle? Mieke?)
  5. 06:00: Got settled in a pre-op prep room; disrobed; donned one of those extra-flattering hospital gowns; vitals taken; was hooked up to IV line and stickered with monitor electrodes
  6. 06:15-07:30: Met a seemingly endless parade of hospital staff that would be involved, directly or indirectly, with my operation (the surgeon; his assistant; the anesthesiologist; and a whole cadre of nurses); got the incision sites shaved by an indifferent nurse
  7. 07:30: Rolled on a gurney into the operating room
  8. 07:31-09:40: The surgery itself, of which I have absolutely zero memories
  9. 09:45: Awoke in a recovery area; was given a top-up of fentanyl for the pain
  10. 10:00: Released to the care of my girlfriend, Jennifer
  11. 10:15: A nurse called the hospital pharmacy to order my prescription for Vicodin, which Jennifer picked up as I lounged in a recliner
  12. 10:20: Jennifer and nurse Mike wheeled me out to Jennifer's car
  13. 10:45: Arrived home; ate some turkey jerky; Facebook'd for a short while; and was totally lucid throughout all this, with seemingly no post-anesthesia hangover
  14. 11:00: Fell instantly into deep sleep until long after dark

I was told by people I know who have endured various surgeries to expect the anesthesiologist to ask me to count backwards from one hundred, or that someone would tell me something like "this may burn a bit going into your IV", but nothing like that happened. When I met the anesthesiologist (whose name escapes me), he explained very clearly that I wasn't being put under heavy anesthesia; it was more of a "twilight nap", as he put it, in which I would be conscious but for the most part unaware of what was happening. In spite of his description of what to expect, all I remember is being rolled into the OR on a gurney and having a quick look around. The next thing I remember is waking up in one of the recovery rooms, apparently the second of two, with no memory at all of the surgery or the first recovery room. I wasn't sure at this point if I awoke on my own or if the attending nurse woke me. The nurse asked me how I was feeling. I stated I was in not insignificant pain, which prompted her to make an adjustment to one of the tubes in my IV line.

"This should help with the pain," she said.
"Oh, yeah, that feels much better. Is that morphine?" I asked.
"Fentanyl," she said, matter-of-factly.
"Ooooh," I marveled.

I'd never had fentanyl before. It made me talkative and happy, in that way that only strong opiates can. The nurse noticed this and asked if I was always this restless.

"Nope! I just feel really nice and I want to share it," I cooed. I didn't feel restless.

The nurse laughed, then left to check on her other charges.

The fentanyl high didn't last long—a few minutes at most. The surgery, despite being invasive and using both local and general anesthesia, was outpatient, after all. All told, I was in and out of the hospital in a little over five hours.

Since then, I've been walking and moving gingerly as the incisions, though they're stitched shut, are still painful and there's been quite a bit of swelling and discoloration. I see the surgeon again on Friday to get the stitches removed. Between now and then I've got only four Vicodin left for the pain. After they're gone, it's ibuprofen and ice packs. Unfortunately for me, Vicodin doesn't make me loopy or high. It used to, the first few times I had it (after a tooth extraction in 2001), but not since then. But it still kills pain effectively, despite the lamentable lack of warm fuzzy feelings that used to come with it. And that's good enough for me.

The local anesthesia kept my thighs completely numb for about a day following the operation. What a weird feeling. The opiate painkillers made my skin itchy—I could feel the itch on my thighs but not the scratching to relieve the itch, which was frustrating.

Now, I'm back at work, after five days' medical leave. I'm struggling to stay awake after being a complete layabout for a few days and I'm in a constant search to find a comfortable sitting position that doesn't put pressure on my lower abs. The whole area surrounding the surgical site is ridiculously tender, to the point where I can't even touch it without twitching, flinching or wincing a bit. But all this is OK. It's what I signed up for when I got health insurance. And surgery was a new experience for me and despite the unpleasant aftereffects, it was actually quite enjoyable. I rather liked being fussed and fawned over by complete strangers. The lights on/lights off effect of general anesthesia was a fascinating experience. The whole thing was... well, fun. And if I'd let it go without treatment, it could have become fatal.

I say this now, of course. I haven't received a bill yet and the process of haggling with Blue Cross/Blue Shield has yet to begin.

It's things like this that seem to confirm that I'm actually an adult, which is at times difficult to believe. Granted, I've never felt like a child (even when I was one), but I've only rarely felt like a real adult that does real adult things. For the most part, I've been stuck in between those two states of being. It's vaguely reassuring to confirm my adulthood by doing things like this. Ah, whatever.

Today I did some things I don't normally do like roast the squashes that have been sitting in my kitchen since I don't even know when. My unemployment claim is jazzed up again and I don't know why, or what I can do to fix it. I'll have to call an actual person and figure out what is going on with it and if there is any chance of my collecting anything from my previous employer. I'm so tempted to just forget the whole thing entirely because then companies who are contacted to see if I actually did the things I said I was doing like applying or interviewing will know that I was fired, but it's not like I can afford to leave money on the table. Today I learned that I should have been keeping better records of my job search. Normally I'm great at this type of thing, but I think my brain is shutting down because for one thing, this is very confusing, and for another, it's such an emotionally charged issue I forget how to think entirely. I think I need someone else to be with me when I do this, maybe I will go out and buy an emotional support pet like a goldfish since I can't have pets at the place where I live now.

Yesterday I did a lot of fear facing. I went to a small organic grocery store that's nowhere near my place. It was good to be able to a shop at a place where I felt like they had a larger selection of foods that I can have. It was cozy, the sun was shining, even if it was a drive, I enjoy driving and I was so happy to see fruits, vegetables, and meats that seemed fresher and more vibrant than the ones I see at stores that feature more conventional items. I'm so tired, I could really use a nap, but I'm glad that I made myself come to the library and deal with some of these things that I've been putting off for far too long. I really need a better way to track my paperwork projects. I set important papers down and then they are never heard from or seen again. I'm angry that I left my 1 - 31 sorter at the place where I used to work. It feels as if I could really use that to keep me on track, it would also keep my papers in order, and then everything I need would be in one place until the issues are resolved or I can cross them off my list for another reason. 

Last night I was texting that guy I met on Tinder. I was talking about the whole job search and whether or not I should accept the position(s) I've been offered. He said he wasn't too sure where he was at as far as his career goes. I asked him about that, he had made a reference to being stressed out at work earlier. He has a job that pays well, but he doesn't like it and I think it's just a matter of it not being a good fit for his skill set. He works for a large government agency so there is a lot of red tape and pointless checklists that prevent actual work from getting done. My mom and sister are both involved in this type of thing and I rarely have to deal with it myself, but have problems when I do (witness problems with my stupid unemployment claim) so I can't imagine what he's going through on a daily basis. I think he's burned out, stressed out, lacks meaningful work, knows he has a 'good' job with great benefits, and tries to tell himself that he should be more grateful for the blessings he has rather than upset that he feels like he isn't doing a very good job. I don't know if that's actually true, or he's just being hard on himself, or it's a little of both perhaps. Anyways, I feel bad for him.

I feel better than I did before I wrote this. Sometimes I just need to sit down and get things out. Still nervous and stressed, but better.

All my love,


P.S. Some day soon I will look back on how I let fear and anxiety rule my life and wonder why I didn't do some of these things that I knew would lead me closer to where I want to be going.

P.P.S. I just accepted the job. I'm so incredibly nervous, but I'm also very excited too. God is good. He wouldn't be putting opportunities in my path if he didn't want me to learn and grow from these experiences. 



Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.