Tender is the Night

June 25, 2009 at 1:43 am (Uncategorized)

Youchy. I am a little sore, yes. And I didn’t sleep well because my left side especially is quite tender. The Comfarol Forte I took did squat for making me drowsy (at 3 am, I was perfectly capable of operating heavy machinery), although it was fine for pain relief. I have four entry points, one in my belly button, and then three in a little white plaster smiley face across my abdomen. Some stitches. And some answers. It turns out that I have endometriosis. Huh. How about that? And that’s about all I can tell you for now, because while I apparently had a lively post-operative chat with Dr F in which (according to the theatre nurse) I peppered the man with questions, I have zero recollection of that. Like, none. Nope. Not even a faint shadow of memory. I called his surgery earlier to let them know this, and when his receptionist said, “Yeah, you’re sort of half there, half not there after a general,” I said “How about not there at all?”

It’s eerie and disconcerting knowing I yammered away while still totally off my trolley – awake, by all accounts, but not remotely returned from wherever I’d been. Odd stuff, anaesthetic. Oh, and I did mention my untimely awakening to the anaesthetist, and he nodded and said that for the procedure in question (colonoscopy), it was not uncommon because they use the general more to induce sedation and therefore I guess the levels are different. So there you go – he didn’t bat an eyelid. No such trouble this time – this time I was gone longer than I was out… wacky.

It was a long day. Llew and I made merry on Tuesday night because we live life like unsupervised children and saw the impending surgery as a good excuse for fun the night before, but of course then I didn’t sleep, lying awake going over and over just about every aspect of my life, including branching off into the lives of friends and family and their health and happiness. It was all happening in there. Cast of thousands. Llew woke up at some point and asked me what I was thinking about, and after I rattled off at least a dozen topics of current interest, he paused and said “Right. You really do have stuff on your mind.” How do you turn it off?? Maybe I need to investigate meditation. I’ve heard it’s helpful. Last night I turned my insomnia to good effect, coming up with at least half a dozen new scenes for manuscript #2, which is great because just quietly I’ve been feeling really stalled. That almost makes the sleeplessness worthwhile – or at least it might buy me some sleep stamps on those nights I may otherwise have been awake worrying about writer’s block. Ah, the tangled webs we dreamless weave.

Got to the hospital at 6:45 am and proceeded to wait for well over four hours. I’d been fasting since midnight and was NIL BY MOUTH this entire time, and as someone who drinks water camel-style and starts eating the moment I open my eyes, it was torture. I started feeling wildly off-base around about 10 o’clock. That’s when I started annoying Llew. And audibly swearing in the waiting room. Like, under my breath but still really volubly because I didn’t care who heard me. Not even all the uniformly elderly people we were sharing the room with. At that point they all just looked like obstacles to me. Obstacles in the way of my next meal. Worse, there were all these food ads on the endlessly droning TV for which there were no controls. And then cooking segments on the appalling morning programs. And trolleys groaning with food passing by en route to the recovery room next door. I started feeling pretty crazy, and I was reading the same page over and over and over in my book because T.S. was short on food in the scene I was reading, and so I became fixated by his predicament as well as my own.

Then Llew said, “Look up. This will cheer you up.”

And he was right.

Onscreen were two grown women wearing fleece tents with sleeves. One was bright blue in that highly-flammable fabric kind of way, and the other was deep maroon, ironically just like the blanket they throw over you as you’re being led from a towering inferno. Their heads looked like tiny little balls atop synthetic mountains. I cocked my head.

“Didn’t Homer wear one of those on a Simpsons episode?”

Llew started laughing. These things are called something like the ‘snuggler’ and they’re new to Australia from the home of the brave and criminally insane.

“Why would you wear one of those?” Llew wanted to know.

It was a good question for which there was no answer.

“Can you imagine shuffling around the house in…what is that thing? A blanket with a head hole and gospel sleeves? Or a blanket suit? How would you like to wear one of those to work during winter? I just can’t imagine the world in which wearing one of these would seem like a good idea. Why don’t they just turn the heater on?”

I loved these women for maintaining straight faces throughout their entirely ludicrous infomercial. I admired their comic level of composure, as though these snuggler blanket onesies were not the last word in stupidity, and as though being forced to don them for an extended sales pitch – with their immaculately groomed hair and make-up hovering just above the blanket line – was not one long exercise in ritual humiliation. It was awesome. Cheered me right up. I completely forgot about the lack of food and water the entire time they were on. Thanks, ladies. Thanks, snuggler.

Not long after that, I sent Llew to the driving range, and it was time for me to go under. The second they got me down to recovery, I ate a sandwich [five quarters – go figure], two packets of biscuits, two cups of tea, a bottle of ginger beer and a cheesy spinach scroll. My blood pressure and heartbeat post-op? Worryingly low. My blood pressure and heartbeat post face-stuffing? Totally normal.

Llew arrived soon after I got down there (bringing the scroll and ginger beer, in fact, because he knows my hungry crazies well), and had beautiful orchids waiting for me in the car. He was the supremo carer last night, too. And it was really, really nice to be home.

POSTSCRIPT: my friend J just sent me this link to an amusing Snuggie parody.


  1. Simonne said,

    Ah, the Snuggie! http://tiny.cc/nqada The first time I saw this I thought it was tongue in cheek. Turns out it wasn’t and I watched the whole video in open-mouthed astonishment.

    Anyhoo… I’m so glad you’re all done and ok and didn’t wake up mid-procedure. I guess it’s good to have an answer and now you just have to work out the next step. Llew was clearly a champ. Happy resting x

  2. doctordi said,

    That’s it!!!! Thank you so much for the link, Simonne, that’s just as hilarious today as it was yesterday. Enjoy a snack! Use your laptop! Um. Yeah. Okay. But what’s with that cavernous thing below your neck??

    Yes, I love having an answer. I needed one. Now we’re entering the *management* phase – which is an improvement on the ignorant phase no matter what happens next. Thank you – I am resting like a natural rester…

  3. charlotteotter said,

    Glad to hear it’s over, and you know what you’re dealing with and that you were well looked after.

    Funny about sleeplessness – I often find I write late at night, which doesn’t help with grumpiness the next day, but it’s because inspiration and ideas seem to come then when my house is quiet and nothing else is competing for my attention.

  4. Pete said,

    That’s hilarious about the Snuggie. Glad you got through the procedure Ok and sorry about the endometriosis. I’ve probably told you that my sister has it. She says the best cure is to get pregnant. Yeah well … And well done to Llew for the orchid and the general all-round superhero caring thing.

  5. doctordi said,

    Charlotte, thanks, me too, and I was really well looked after. Except for that whole waiting for eternity thing, the staff were SO LOVELY. And Llewie was the master fuss-maker.

    Funny you should say that. I nearly got up. I was slightly worried I’d forget the ideas otherwise, but in the end I decided to count them out on my fingers so I’d track them back that way. I think as a parent you have to take your chances where you find them – for me, I work in a quiet house all day every day so nights are still usually for sleeping.

    Pete, the Snuggie kills me. I don’t know if I did know your sister has endometriosis (if that’s her best cure, does that mean that’s what happened to her??), but I just spoke to Dr F, and he was pretty relaxed about it, and he doesn’t think I need to consider IVF for a few months yet now they’ve removed the endometriosis. He said to see what happens, give it a few months. And I know a couple of people who had the same thing, had it removed, and then fell pregnant next cycle. So I guess we’ll see. And if nothing happens in a few months, then off to IVF we go. Llew will appreciate the props, too!

  6. Pete said,

    No, my sister is still trying. Her endemetriosis was quite bad though. Also heard good stories, as you say, about people getting pregnant pretty soon after this procedure (can’t spell laparotomy). That snuggie looks just like a red cassock. I think these women should just joint the priesthood and then their fashion worries will be over!

  7. doctordi said,

    Laparoscopy. I’m sorry she’s not had any luck yet, but you have to assume it’s better when they know what the problem is. I hope she’s hanging in there and feeling good.

    Yes, exactly!! Who needs to be gotten to a nunnery when this is the fashion craze sweeping the nation?! Could there BE a less sexy spectacle than the Snuggie?!

  8. litlove said,

    I’m so glad it’s all over and that you survived pretty well, all things considered. My mother had an early hysterectomy because of endometriosis and I’m sure I have it but , not being in the market for more babies, will just let it be as long as I possibly can. I’ll be interested to know how they treat you for it. But again, your experience mirrors that of the friend I was telling you about in the other comment.So, much encouragement to be had from the procedure so far, I’d say.

  9. doctordi said,

    Thanks, Litlove, I think I am in pretty good shape… and I got the feeling it was pretty low-level as these things go, and certainly not panic stations insofar as Dr F’s manner on the phone. I don’t think there’s much treatment beyond removal. I think some people need pain management but I’ve not had any problems in the past, so there’s not been any need for that and nor do I necessarily expect there will be now, but I don’t know how long these little suckers have been setting up shop. Wouldn’t you want to have it seen to regardless? It might cause you a lot of unnecessary discomfort and pain, might it not? Yeah, I do feel encouraged, even just for knowing what’s there and, just as important, what’s not.

  10. Grad said,

    Well you’ve come through it with your humor intact, as I knew you would. And I’m sure you’ll get some encouraging news from the good doctor regarding pro-active treatment in reaching your goal. The Snuggie is big hit here, like the Sham-Wow. I read a report (somewhere, but I’m old and forgetful) that tested the Snuggie and found it was impossible to maneuver in, the sleeves got hooked on door knobs, they knocked glasses over, and were a general hazard – especially after a gin and tonic or two.

  11. doctordi said,

    Grad, please explain “Sham-Wow.” Immediately. And the Snuggie even LOOKS impossible to manage, it’s basically a fleece swamp. I honestly think it’s a potential fire hazard. And I just can’t imagine peeling off the notes, counting the cash, handing over the money and thinking “Yeah! Finally! I got me a Snuggie!”

  12. Lilian Nattel said,

    Orchids–that’s wonderful. I’m glad it’s over and you’re getting some answers. It sounds like your sleeplessness was productive! What I do sometimes to turn off thoughts is play word games in my head. I pick a category and then think of words to fit the category from A to Z (say animals, birds, countries, book titles). Or sometimes even simpler, I start with a dipthong (say br) and think of a word that is bra…, br-vowel-b, br-vowel-c.

  13. davidrochester said,

    Llew’s a good guy to have around, sounds like.

    I’m glad you know what’s up; sounds like it was worth the fasting and low-blood-sugar craziness.

  14. doctordi said,

    Yes, Lilian, they’re beautiful. Answers are also nice. And I have to say, that game of yours would definitely keep me awake!! Got any ideas for how to drift back to sleep?!

    David, he is indeed. And yes, I very much like knowing what the hell is going on. But fasting is for the birds.

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