Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Jesus Called My Gallbladder Home for Easter"

If I ever get around to writing a Country-Western song about Easter 2009, that's going to be its title. (I love C-W, by the way, except during times of national crisis when its Neanderthal breast-beating brand of patriotism makes me despair.) There's going to be a line in my song something like "Organs, don't throw stones at your owners" too.

It's a human need to talk in detail about our medical procedures, and I'm all for it, but I'll try to save some for the song.
Here're the basics:
At 5 a.m. on Easter morning, after a night of pain somewhat like having a sullen Klingon crouching in my solar plexus, I called bink and asked her to take me to the hospital. I said she could just drop me off at Emergency and go on home. (Have I mentioned I have a hard time asking for/accepting help?) Of course she didn't, she stayed with me.

The doc immediately diagnosed the pain--Klingons in the gut being a classic syndrome of a gallbladder stone stuck in the bile duct--and the nice, blonde nurse, dressed in pink fleece for Easter, gave me my first morphine ever. Just a wee bit, but now I know why people get addicted: more than removing pain, it made me feel safe.
And it works so much faster than prayer or meditation.

During my 2-day stay, I met many wonderful women from around the world (Liberia, Tibet, Apple Valley, MN) who told me their life stories and dispensed Nobel-Prize-deserving acts of kindness and words of wisdom while taking my vitals in the middle of the night.
bink stayed with me much of the time, even when I told her to go home, and Donna came with flowers and, best of all, clean underwear. When I next visit someone in the hopsital, now I know to bring useful stuff like that. A new toothbrush is like gold, under the circumstances. Also, tieing a stuffed toy bear to the I.V. pole is great for morale.

Several powerful men came and talked at me, and for once this behavior didn't annoy me. I marveled as I watched myself slip effortlessly into "Father Knows Best" mode.
Actually, my surgeon truly was a great guy who listened as much as he talked. His first name was--no kidding--Tor. (The god Thor, you know, is a close relative of Jesus, though I'm not sure how to work that into my song.) When I asked Doc Tor in pre-op if my organs were sad, he looked a bit surprised, but after a pause he said, no, he thought they were relieved because the gallbladder had been a bad neighbor for a long time, always throwing trash around and stuff.

Long story short: they took the Klingon out.
While not up to Dr. McCoy's technique of running a humming salt shaker over the affected area, modern surgery is pretty miraculous--they ran a little movie camera (!) up my belly button, a few snippers through a couple other incisions, and here I am, less than 48 hours later, home and not even taking my high-end pain pills. In a couple weeks, I could sell them in my alley and send the money to the hospital. Cause without insurance, I'm afraid I can't pay for this...

This whole thing did leave me thinking, maybe I should get a job with benefits, working with people in the flesh. Not just because I could use the insurance and paychecks, but because I so enjoyed being around people again, after years of working alone at the computer.
They had a patients' computer in the lounge, and I didn't even want to use it. I wanted to chat more with the nurses about His Holiness the Dalai Lama or President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.
I tell you, except for the pain and fear, my Easter Sunday and Monday was great--sort of like vacationing at the United Nations, but without the bickering.


Jennifer said...

Oh my! I'd just been wondering where you were and if you'd had a busy Easter weekend--little did I know! I like Tor telling you your gallbladder had become a bad neighbor to your other organs. Toxic organs...

I would rather you had skipped the pain and fear and insurance bills to have a weekend retreat and talk about international affairs! I hope you're healing well and a huge think you to bink for providing ambulance service...

fresca said...

Thanks, Jen! It probably would have been cheaper to attend an international retreat...
I really was impressed that Tor could answer that question about sad organs--lots of times people just look at me in confusion when I ask stuff like that.

Anyway, I'm very very hugely much relieved not to have to endure another gallbladder attack--I'd had them before but never this severe.
A busy Easter indeed!

Jeff Ward said...

One thing I found out when I broke my ankle with no insurance, is that hospitals will negotiate. I got my $17,000 bill reduced by about 2/3rds to something manageable. Luckily, when Krista broke hers in almost exactly the same way we had insurance. I wouldn't have wanted to go through the "I just don't have it to pay you" speech all over again.

But they were, as I said, surprisingly willing to work with me to extract whatever they could.

fresca said...

Thanks, Jeff! That's nice to know.
This hospital was incredibly nice about it from the very beginning, when they asked "Do you have insurance?" and I said I didn't.
It's my local neighborhood hospital and they're used to dealing with uninsured folk. They gave me a form to apply for emergency state aid.
Anyway, of course I *want* to pay them--they practically saved my life--but unless they take rubber trees in exchange, right now there ain't much else to pay with.

Rudyinparis said...

Yes, I right away loved that he said they were more "relieved". He's a guy willing to roll with it, that Tor.

Oh, Fresca, I am so sorry you felt any pain! But what a wonderful, wonderful spin you have put on the experience.

deanna said...

Fresca, what a weekend! And a hilarious title for your post. I can't usually go for full-blown country/western (patriotic or no), but I do get a kick out of the stories in song.

So sorry you went through the pain. I was given morphine once in the hospital, and it was funny trying to guess the difference between real visitors and hallucinatory ones.

My gall bladder came out, like, the year before they started doing the laproscopic version. But I still healed pretty fast (a candy bar a day helped). I'd had a mushy stone, and its little pieces were heading for my pancreas, so that organ, at least, was relieved.

I'm happy for your international acquaintances, hope the bill will get taken care of, and, selfishly, I will miss your words if you're not at the computer as often. But by all means be real-world social (and insured) if you can.

Anonymous said...

Jezuz-Badezuz, Grrrl! i was gonna call you and I was a bit concerned cuz you hadn't posted after the wondrous "Making Of...". And then, I thought , oh, the holidays, maybe an intense time emotionally; but, I so wanted to connect and ask ya abunch of stuff...and, plus, I want to meet up with you and chat and giggle and give you your birthday things in person, since I just don't seem to ever get it together to visit a post office during business hours.... Next time i have the feeling to callya, I just am gonna...So relieved to hear you're alive and well and healing. Yeah, morphine and high tech emergency surgery to relieve unbelievable pain; been there.
Of course, here comes the ubiquitous stefalala plug for government-funded or bartered or post capitalistic u. s. a.-other- means-of-economic-exchange-supported single payer universal healthcare...It's a human right, not a "market commodity"! Then, folks'll all have healthcare and education/jobs/training/ research in those fields and many others to help heal the world and do more art.

Love you!

I'll call in a couple days to check in!


jspad said...

Only you could make a gallbladder surgery this entertaining. (My own gallbladder surgery is not such a great story: I'm a dork, so I waited until semester break in grad school to have mine out. The extra twist is I was being treated for ulcers at the same time -- I survived on jellybeans and no yolk egg noodles for two months.)

Hope you are feeling better.

momo said...

oh dear! klingons in the gut sounds hideous and horrible. I'm glad you are home, and maybe I can bring you some chicken soup or ice cream or something in the next few days. bink is a wonderful friend!

fresca said...

When I was a kid, I was jealous of the other kids who got their tonsils out, because everyone was so nice to them. Now I am having the adult version---thank you all for your lovely notes! If only there had been no pain involved.
But really, the pain of everything put together is less than the pain of having a stone stuck in a duct and bile backing up into your liver, so I count myself lucky.

I have put together all the advice I have received here and elsewhere and conclude that I am going to subsist on turmeric and jelly beans while I recover by napping on my back porch. When I can lift more than 10 pounds, I am going to send a rubber tree to my legislators to ask them to get a move on with universal health care.

AND I am going to go back to the "recovery" room and "accidentally" trip with a invalid's-grabber-on-a-stick the sadistic post-op nurse who kept bumping my bed when I thought I was like to die of nausea.

Manfred Allseasons said...

Ouch, how horrible! Glad you are recovering so quickly...

And yes, get going with universal health care, I cant believe you dont have it already!

fresca said...

Why, heck, boy, we 'Mericans don't need no health care. If we git snake-bit er the like, we just tie that limb off with a lassoo and chaw it off with our own teeth! ; )

Darwi said...

Sorry to hear that you had problems with the health. And at the same time I'm glad everything went ok and that you're recovering.
Just take it easy, it will take time until bits inside you heal. I had a surgery too once, so I still remember recovery procedure. If you wish to ask something you're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Con Mucho Cuidado! Hey! I hope you're still in good recovery mode! Yesterday, after work, my fascinating neighbor, Lisa--(whose brother, Bruce, I've had a crush on for the last almost 30 years!)--stopped by to do the neighborly Spring catch-up under our big old elmsibling. She was moving slowly and gingerly...Lo and behold: she was at Regions on Easter weekend having emergency gall bladder removal, too! Is there somethin' in the H2O here, or what!!?...Cardinal spiritbirds were warbling their seduction songs the whole time we gabbed! i love springtime!
And, before you send the rubber tree off to those dickhead politicos: please make sure you are specific in your demands about healthcare: 's' gotta be very specifically "government-funded, single-payer, universal healthcare--NOT simply "universal healthcare " or, "health insurance for all", which are just as inequitable, expensive and unsustainable" as the devilspawn of kapitalism we have now. And, we must demand this for all U. S. citizens, residents, folks travelling here or working here with or without "documentation", citizens/residents of U. S. territories and protectorates as well AND all prisoners on U. S. and its territories and protectorates soils and U. S. indigenous peoples' reservations and homelands AND any U. S. military personnel/servicepeople and their family members--including National Guard folks--wherever they are serving. I list all this because it's stuff I know about--i. e. who are folks already falling through the cracks; what schemes the military industrial prison medical pharmaceutical insurance educational complex uses to deny folks of our basic human rights. Read up, heal up and get ready for the revolution!
I'll call ya in a few after I check my email. Our computer's been down for several hours.

Love and Solidarity!


fresca said...

Thank you, Darwi!
Even though I feel about 94 percent well again, I'm still tired, and I have to remind myself that INSIDE I am still healing.

Hi, again, Stef: Yeah, everybody and her sister's had this surgery, and I am feeling luckier and luckier as I've heard some horror stories about people whose doctors did NOT diagnose gallstone right away...
I am all for the Revolution of the Heart and Spirit!