Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Part 3: You're Going to Feel a Little Pinch

Squick Alert: If you are particularly squeemish about medical stuff, or in any way upset that I'm discussing my Lady Business in a relatively public way, then maybe you should stop reading and go do something else. Also I sometimes use Very Bad Words, but only when nothing else will do.

The night before the cone biopsy I had a clogging performance at a nursing home. It seems like kind of a crazy thing to do, but it beat the hell out of sitting at home worrying about the next day. This way I got to dance up a sweat while I worried about the next day. After the show, there were many hugs from the people who knew what was up. Totally worth it for all those hugs and good wishes. I also had a great conversation with a good friend who has had a similar medical experience. She capped our conversation with, "Don't worry - anytime they can surgically remove an organ through your vagina, it's going to turn out just fine." My friends are so unbelievably awesome.

I normally don't eat breakfast until around 10 am, but tell me I can't eat and suddenly I'm ravenous. Because the biopsy is done under general anesthesia, I'm told no food or drink or gum or mints from midnight the night before. I wake up at 5:30am pretty certain I might starve to to death before I get there. Best Boyfriend Ever drives me to the hospital, about 10 minutes away, and comes in to help me get settled.

Since I had done the pre-admission testing a couple of days before (chest x-ray, blood work, EKG, and solemnly swearing to pay my bills no matter what), on procedure day I can go directly to the outpatient surgical unit. Sally, my nurse for the day, shows me to a room and leaves me to change into a gown. First big problem arises when I can't for the life of me figure out how to tie the blasted thing. Sally comes back and laughs and ties it up saying "You'd think someone with an artistic background could match blue with blue and white with white." Yeah, you'd think. I must be lightheaded from lack of food.

I meet the anesthesiologist, who looks down my throat. Nurse Sally comes back and looks down my throat. Doctor Justin's Terrified Intern comes in and looks down my throat. You people know you're working on the other end today, right? Turns out they're making sure the airway is clear in case there is an anesthesia issue.

After I sign a ream of forms, I get set up with an IV.  Why why why do doctors always say "You're going to feel a little pinch," when they're about to hurt you? Why not say, "This is going to feel like getting poked in the hand with a needle," because, seriously, that's exactly what getting poked in the hand with a needle feels like. My kids' pediatrician had a great trick when they got their vaccinations. The nurse would hold up a paper towel on the opposite side from where the needle was going in and she'd instruct the kid to blow on the towel and make it flutter as long as they could. By the time they ran out of breath, the shot was over. Deep breathing helps control pain and relax the patient and having a focal point reduces anxiety. Whole series of childbirth classes are created around this technique - why not use it for all pain management? My advice to doctors - just tell your patients to breathe. We're grown-ups and we're pretty clear on the difference between "a little pressure" and a stabbity pain in the delicates.

Doctor J comes in with Terrified Intern to review the procedure. He explains again how he's going to carve out a chunk of my cervix about the size of the end of his thumb. I'll go home and will need to take it easy for a couple of days. Ever the optimist, I ask if I can start dance rehearsals on Saturday and he just laughs and suggests I take the weekend off. After they go to scrub up, Nurse Sally says, "You know he's the best. If I was going to have this done, he's the surgeon I'd ask for."
 "Really? And you're sure he's old enough to operate on people?"
She says, "I know what you mean. When I was a young nurse I flirted with all the doctors, now I just want to pick them up and burp them."

They wheel me over to the operating room where it appears there are at least 100 people working. We have Dr J and the Terrified Intern, The Anesthesiologist and the Assistant Anesthesiologist, a dozen nurses, a security guard, the janitor, a videographer, party planner, a caterer - the room was full of people and they were all going to be staring up my Lady Business! I was never so happy to be knocked out in all my life. The drugs kicked in and I dreamed my way through some seriously unpleasant shit.

(I know how awful it was because I made the HUGE miscalculation of checking out the procedure via a YouTube video. DON'T DO THAT!!. Just don't. I couldn't watch it all the way through, but it was bad enough that when my Mom watched it several days later, she called me to say, "You go home and lie down right now! RIGHT NOW!" )

I was blissfully unaware at the time and woke up 45 minutes later. Every now and then someone would peek under the sheet to make sure I wasn't hemorrhaging. Considering I had what felt like a sofa cushion between my legs, I'm figuring it would have taken a lot of bleeding to set off the nurse alarms, so I guess I did OK. Within an hour Best Boyfriend was picking me up and I was on my way home with my discharge instructions:

Call if you have fever or bleeding.
Don't drink alcohol for 24 hours.
Nothing in vagina for two weeks.

Sweet Jesus. You have to wonder what people have done in the past to necessitate such stark instructions. All I can think of is one of my kids' books called "The Holes in Your Nose" and the the line, "Noses are not pockets." And that's all we need say about that.