I'm Much Obliged For Such a Pleasant Stay

(song: Ramble On/artist: Led Zeppelin)

If you're just joining us, my last post was all about the events that led to my emergency back surgery. Welcome.

My adventures at Hospital For Special Surgery: December 14 - 19

All smiles before surgery.
On oxy(gen) and Oxy(codone) after surgery.

Continuous leg massage. Heaven.


The Bad:
A not uncommon but potentially dangerous complication during surgery meant I was on strict bed rest for 4 days. The first two days, I was on a liquid diet. My husband put a napkin under my face and literally spoon-fed me. Often while singing the Yankee Bean song from that  episode of Seinfeld. He's good that way. 

There was a lot of spit-taking.
I also had to be sponge-bathed (Hey Lidia!), and I sported a catheter all week, so I was totally Porky Pigging it the whole dang time.  And I was hopped up on Oxycodone which made me sweat profusely which then left me freezing while trapped in my saturated linens. 

And, the pain. Good lord, the pain.  Turns out, getting your back muscles sliced open hurts like a bitch. When I was lying on my back it felt like there was a lacrosse ball embedded in my tailbone. Two people had to help turn me because it was excruciating to turn myself.

And then...Marlene moved in. Marlene Rabinowitz* sounded like Harvey Firestein and was practically deaf so her cell phone conversations were always at an 11 and she talked exclusively on speakerphone. The night they wheeled the old bag in, she proceeded to call her pal Tony... at 12:30 in the damn morning, y'all. That was the moment I knew I had died and gone to hell. She screamed at her daughter for not coming to visit her, but the conversation would later reveal that her daughter HAS CANCER and was wildly sick from her chemo treatment. Anyone, I mean any one - she told a flower delivery guy how miserable she was - that passed her bed, got an earful of Marlene. I asked to be moved and was immediately accommodated. On my way out of the room, I heard Marlene say, "Where is she going? She was such a good roommate. So quiet. I hope I don't get a crazy one." Oh, Marlene. Bless your heart.

Ear buds, white noise app and a sleep mask still could not drown Marlene.

My next room had a way better view but the roommate was only slightly better. Andrea Friedman* spoke at a softer volume but her whiny nasally voice made her equal to Marlene on the annoying scale. She sounded like Estelle Costanza  and endlessly complained of pain. From the constant rotation of people she summoned to her bedside, I was able to glean that Andrea was a seasoned pill-popper and not satisfied with the measly strength of the hospital-administered pain meds. Luckily she brought a Ziplock freezer bag full of narcotics from her private collection. "Methadone, Oxy, Xanax", were among some of the names being bandied about. Mercifully, Andrea was moved to another floor and my last night was spent enjoying the silence and soaking in this view.

If you gotta be in the hospital, this doesn't suck.

The good: 
It turns out what the radiologist and the surgeon thought was a cyst was in fact just a part of the ruptured disc. My surgeon said it was one of the worst herniations he had ever seen. But hey, no cyst.

Hospital For Special Surgery was incredible from check-in to discharge. And even though it sucked not being able to lift my head, or pee in a toilet, the staff was wonderful! I had the best nurses and care aids. At the end of every shift, I felt like I had a new friend -- Hey Janet! My girl, Amy! Helga and Carol, I see you. 'Sup, Kryshnann. Lidia gave the most gentle sponge baths and preserved the sliver of dignity I had left as she somehow simultaneously bathed me and changed my sweat-soaked linens. The care I got far outweighed two shitty roommates. If I had to do it again, I'd go right back to HSS.

And I got so much love from family and friends. My sister-in-law, who lives near the hospital, visited every day and she made me stand up for myself when Marlene was driving me to the brink. I had hospital visitors and got flowers and goodies and messages, and all of it made me feel so loved. 

Feeling the love.

Honestly, for a housewife, it was like an all-inclusive vacation. I had a room with river view in a facility where people catered to my needs 24-hours-a-day. And they gave me drugs every three hours. Why would I ever want to go home?

On day 4, I finally got to raise my head. First 30 degrees for a few hours, then 45 degrees! I didn't get a splitting headache so I was cleared to take my first post-surgery steps. 

45 degrees!
A physical therapist guided me on my first walk. With the aid of a walker, I took my first steps toward recovery. As I walked out of my door and towards the nurses station, I began to sob. I felt so small and vulnerable and fragile. Broken. A massive wave of grief struck me when I didn't jump right out of bed and sprint down the hallway. I just kept thinking, "This is going to be so hard."

Cleared for take-off.

And, she's up!

On my last day, I was an emotional wreck. I sobbed intermittently all day. At noon, my friend Marisa walked into my room and it was if an angel had appeared. Marisa is a dancer, fitness model (we met when we did QVC spots for Brazil Butt Lift) AND she's a nurse. If she weren't so nice I would hate her for being so accomplished and so hot. She is also a back surgery survivor and completely understood how devastated I felt. She listened and nodded while I wept, and assured me that what I was feeling was normal and that it would get better. She was exactly who I needed to see on my last day. After she left, I had my last sponge bath - This time sitting up in a chair in the bathroom! - got myself dressed and reentered the real world.

High as a kite, homeward bound and scared shitless.

*Names changed to protect the annoying.