November 6, 2008

As I’ve mentioned in nearly every post since, I had sinus surgery two weeks ago. Many years ago, while playing soccer on a recreational team called the Stingers, I broke my nose. I was playing goalkeeper and I made a bad mistake. I plowed my face into the knee of an opposing player and it shattered my nose in ways I can’t even explain. I had four corrective surgeries in the four years following that Sunday afternoon incident and when it came time for the fifth one, I declined. I’d had enough.

All these years later I’ve emerged with a fairly straight nose, one that most people can’t really tell was, at one point, flattened to the side of my face. The only real problem was that it had become a haven for sinus infections. The openings were apparently so tight, that whatever went in was staying in. All the infectious bacteria and goo that normal defenses kick to the curb were stuck up in my head, hurting, aching, planning a jihad or practicing Opus Dei rituals. The problem with sinus infections in a nose like mine is that they overstay their welcome. Despite weeks upon weeks of antibiotics and suggestions that it think about moving on, it’ was still there, not leaving, eating all the ice cream and drinking that last ginger ale, threatening to sleep with my wife and when I came home I found it sitting on the couch with the cat on it’s lap, watching Golden Girls and wearing my favorite pajamas. The only thing left to do was call the cops to have him forcibly removed, even if it meant my neighbors found me wandering the halls in my granny panties high on Vicodin with a crumpled tissue danging from my right nostril.

In the time leading up to the surgery I was pretty nervous about dying. I worked myself up pretty good, and the night before, I got a horrendous headache. Since I was having surgery under general anesthesia, I wasn’t allowed to take anything for the searing pain that was going to take over the world, like that spaceship in Independence Day or something equally a serious and angry. I couldn’t drink any water. I couldn’t even brush my teeth. I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t get comfortable, which meant that Janie had to spend the wee hours of the morning listening to me moaning and yelling “OH MY GOD THIS IS THE MOST HORRIBLE THING TO HAPPEN SINCE JANUARY 20, 2001!”. At 3am, I started throwing up. Janie finally got up to get ready for work, a place where she was happy to go, for once, to escape the unending whining and declarations of impending doom coming out of my maw. In between showering and brushing her teeth, eating breakfast and getting dressed, she tried to comfort me but was brutally rebuffed. I DON’T WANT TO BE TOUCHED! I WANT TO DIIIIIIEEEEEE!!! I was heaving and sobbing and, oh yeah, peeing all over the place.

Several years ago I developed a weakened bladder after a bad bout of the flu, and ever since then I pee when I throw up. Without fail. No matter the place. Even when I am sure I’ve got nothing left in there, don’t worry…something will always squeak out. This has happened to me at home, at my parents house, at work and, once, at the grocery store near the bulk nuts and Odwalla juices.

I was throwing up until my father came to get me at 1030am, when I willed myself into some dirty sweatpants and a sweatshirt that didn’t match and no bra, because FUCK, DUDE…WHO CAN WEAR A BRA WHEN THERE IS SO MUCH PAIN? We went to the hospital and checked in and I managed not to throw up on the woman at the front desk, but I knew she could tell it was a close call. I found a spot on the waiting room couch and tried to remain calm, determined not to puke and pee in my seat with all those people surrounding me. I focused my attention on a two year old with his parents who were telling a nurse that he was there to have a corrective surgery because his circumcision didn’t go so well and there was “extra skin.” I don’t know penises, we all know this, but the notion of some “extra skin” sounded uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as having it sheared off. Apparently the kid didn’t mind because he was so happy to be there, in the hospital, about to have his wee-waw hacked in a matter of minutes, and he was running around, screaming and laughing like he was at motherfucking Disneyland, only the rides at this theme park involved needles, knives, and delicious narcotics.

After an hour, they called us back to the pre-op waiting room where they gave me some robes, special socks and a bracelet with my name and some secret codes on it. My father was concerned that they didn’t put the surgical details on it, because what if they didn’t remember what I was there for? What if they tried to fix my botched circumcision while some poor two-year old boy had his sinuses chopped apart? I was too tired and in too much pain to care. All I wanted was anesthesia and intravenous miracle drugs so I could sleep and not feel the pain. My father sat by my side as they questioned me vigorously about my medical history, asking the same questions they had asked in the pre-registration phone call I’d had the week prior. I AM HERE FOR SINUS SURGERY. I HAVE NOT EATEN OR HAD ANYTHING TO DRINK SINCE LAST NIGHT AT 7PM. I AM NOT DIABETIC. I TOOK METFORMIN FOR PCOS, NOT FOR THE DIABETES I DON’T HAVE. YES, I’M SURE ABOUT THAT. I HAVE A HEADACHE AND I WAS THROWING UP. I WANT TO BE KNOCKED OUT NOW, PLEASE. HELP ME. HELP ME. HELP ME. SERIOUSLY, I’M SURE ABOUT THAT METFORMIN. I DO NOT HAVE DIABETES. CAN I GO TO SLEEP NOW?

We waited for two hours past the time I was scheduled to have surgery. I was beginning to panic, worried they had forgotten me. I was in a sleepless haze and my poor father had no magazines or television to keep him occupied, only me, his distressed, aching, sleepy, terrified daughter who kept dozing off in her recliner while he sat in his folding chair. I asked if he wanted to go, suggested he could find more to do in the waiting room or cafeteria. He’d been up since 430am, at work for a few hours before coming to get me. He refused to leave, saying, “No, I can’t leave my little baby alone.”

It was one of the sweetest things anyone has ever said to me.

As I waited I noticed the other surgical patients coming in and out of the area. Each given a gown, all but myself and one free-balling guy across the room who kicked his legs up and bared all for me to see, were also given pants. PANTS! The woman beside me was having reconstructive surgery on her breasts. She got pants. I was having surgery on my FACE, farther above where pants go than where she was having surgery and still, gown only. I wanted to protest the injustice; the inequity of material covering my ass. WHERE ARE MY PANTS? IS THIS BECAUSE I’M A GAY LADY? WHY DO YOU HATE GAYS? WHY CAN’T THAT GUY UNDERSTAND I CAN SEE HIS BALLS FROM ACROSS THE ROOM!? HOSPITAL GOWNS ARE A BULLSHIT!

Finally, they took us back to the third waiting area where a friendly nurse attempted to give me an IV. My poor little veins were hiding, unwilling to subject themselves to the past horrors of needles being jabbed into them recklessly and with wanton blood lust. Finally, after a lot of slapping, she found one contender and quickly hooked me up. It was near-painless. Next, we waited, and waited, and waited until finally the nurse came in to go over what was going to happen. My father expressed his concern that my bracelet didn’t state my surgical details and she told him it was because it would violate HIPAA. He seemed content with the explanation, but as she later walked me to the surgical room, he yelled after me to remember to “tell them you’re having surgery on your nose!”

It’s a strange thing, being led by the IV bag into a surgical suite. Everything happens so fast in a small room crowded by people and machines. I remember these things: It was very white and cold. There was a nurse, an anesthesiologist, the doctor and some other lady who stripped off my outer robe (I actually had two, the outer acting as a bathrobe) and started pasting shit all over me. The nurse untied my other robe and my ass was exposed and I felt uncomfortable. She told me to lie on the table and I did. Then the other lady whose job I don’t know, who had previously been sticking shit all over me tucked my arm into a blanket and tried to clip it across my body, like putting me into a cocoon. As she was doing this, the anesthesiologist started talking to me, telling me that soon he’d give me something to help me relax and then something to help me fall asleep, but I couldn’t pay attention because the anonymous lady was talking, too, about my arm or something about tucking and clipping. Then the anesthesiologist put a sticker behind my ear and said it was to help with nausea and I could wear it for three days. I immediately thought: FUCK YEAH! NOTHING IN MY BUTT BECAUSE I HAVE A PATCH! Then he said the stuff to help me relax was going in and it stung a little. I asked if it was normal and he said if it didn’t go away, to let him know. It didn’t go away, but before I could say anything I realized I was totally stoned and my head stopped hurting THANK YOU BABY JESUS, and then he said he was giving me something to get me to sleep and it would hurt, a lot, and take about a minute to kick in. It burned, bad, and it made my hand ache massively. This is what went through my head “MY HAND FEELS LIKE WHAT HAVING A HEART ATTACK MUST FEEL LIKE, IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE IN YOUR HAND….OH, WOW, HE WAS RIGHT…THAT DOES HURT…” and I was out.

(to be continued…)


  1. Robin O
    November 19, 2008

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this ordeal. You have evoked the unpleasantness quite effectively. I am wincing.

    I am very much hoping Part 2 (or 3, or however many parts this shall have) has as its ending, ” . . . but now I feel fabulous!”

    Hospital gowns are a bullshit. I had a similar experience when I went to have surgery on my neck. I took off my t-shirt and bra as requested, put on the hospital top, then just refused to remove the shorts I arrived wearing. I told the nurse that complained at me that if my ass somehow became involved in my neck surgery, that I 1) apparently had many more serious problems than were currently diagnosed and that she 2) had my official permission to remove my shorts then.

    She just kind of shook her head and walked away. I think she thought fighting with me about whether or not my shorts were coming off would not improve her day. I would have agreed. I also emerged from surgery still wearing my shorts.

    Belligerence. Occasionally it works for me.

    However, the question still remains, why give a person about to have a serious surgery a hard time about this in the first place? I still have no adequate or sensible answer to that question . . .

  2. November 21, 2008

    i don’t understand why you are being so vague. i mean, it sounds like you had sinus surgery. is it just me?

    thank you for making a horrible situation funny for my reading pleasure. and, i’m very glad you lived b/c a world without you is pretty much unimaginable.

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