Waking up in a hospital post-surgery is a bit alarming, sort of like waking up after a long night of drinking and passing out in the shower of the football player’s dorm room across the hall. You open your eyes and realize that you made it, you’re not dead. Your chest and throat are heavy with the effects of the breathing apparatus or the anesthesia or the “just for fun” choking games that doctors play on patients in an attempt for levity after a long day, I don’t know. There’s just a heaviness, an uncomfortable settling that very slowly dissipates in fits of coughing and time. Amid all this, and the inevitable grogginess, there is the shouting. The nurses, god bless them, want you to know they are there, to understand that they’re ready to give you whatever they need. Maybe they think anesthesia makes it harder to hear, maybe they think you’re deaf or retarded from those sticks plunged into your sinuses, dangerously close to your brain. Who can say? All I know is that after every surgery, there is a lot of yelling. LINSEY, YOU’RE IN RECOVERY. YOU MADE IT THROUGH SURGERY JUST FINE. HOW ARE YOU FEELING? There is the pressure to answer, and the post-anesthesia confusion about what is going on. My first ever nose surgery had me waking up next to a woman who’d had eye surgery and would NOT. STOP. COMPLAINING. about the itching in her eyes…with the itching and whatnot. MY GOD, THE ITCHING! This time there was no eye itcher, only an older gentleman who maybe suffered from sleep apnea or had lost his will to live because there were whistles and bells and alarms every few minutes when he stopped breathing. And then the lovely nurses would yell at him to BREATHE, MR. WHATEVER…DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE! It’s like a fucking circus in recovery.
I’m a little unclear as to how long it takes for anesthesia to wear off. It always feels like I’ve been under longer than I have, I know that much. Someone in recovery near me was also named Linsey and this was confusing to everyone but me, because that Lindsay (she probably spelled it that way, they all do) B, over there across the room, is NOT ME! I don’t know what surgery she had, but I’m telling you, we are different people who happen to have the same sounding names. I am the Linsey who had surgery on her nose. My dad was right after all, they needed to add this shit to the bracelets because who knows what they could have done to me in the confusion over the fact that we shared a name that was only phonetically similar. It was all especially unnerving because I was in and out of consciousness, and when I’d come to, I was trying to concentrate only on the ice chip lady who was kind enough to spoon them into my dried up hole. I’ve never loved someone so much as I loved that ice chip lady just then (sorry Janie). When they wheeled me into the next level of recovery, where my dad would meet me and be forced to sit for another couple of hours while I gathered my senses ever so slowly, they were concerned that I’d already been checked out, that I was supposed to have been delivered to some other recovery room several minutes before but, WAIT, oh, no…that was Lindsay B who is someone else entirely. Next time I’m bringing a Sharpie to write more identifying information onto my bracelet before surgery.
It has been just over a month since surgery and I’m still healing. My right side is swollen and gooey and especially clogged up. I guess it’s no surprise since that was where most of the work was done, but GOD DAMN, I’d hoped for more to have happened this far along. I thought maybe I’d at least have cleared myself of all crusty, snotty masses impeding my ability to breathe and snort cocaine, but no such luck over there on the right. I can feel this mass back there, coagulating, gathering up more goo and dangling in the back of my throat. It’s maddedning because no amount of snorting or blowing will dislodge it. No tweezers jammed into my nostrils can reach it. Sometimes black or red or greenish yellow chunks come out, but there’s more there, I know it. I KNOW IT! My second follow-up appointment went well, and my doctor prescribed me some nasal steroids and then told me I had some crusting somewhere, which is “normal.” and I wanted to tell him that “crusting” is never normal, not ever, not even a little bit.
I’m beginning to breathe better, I have a heightened sense of smell which can be good and bad all at the same time, depending on whether or not our cats have pooped in the litterbox or, say, on my pillow. It’s a new life, this one with increased nasal flow. I imagine it’ll be better than it had previously been, because everyone knows that people with the ability to breathe through two nostrils at once get all the girls without having to pay a fee.