Outpatient surgery using laparoscopic techniques is a great invention, one much applauded by both patients and insurance executives. Rather than a lengthy stay in a hospital patients undergo surgery and float home to the couch for recovery later that same day.
My recent experience required 7 hours at the surgical facility with 2 of that being the actual operation. I was told to expect a few tough days followed by a ramp back to normal. Cool. I’ve never been normal and plan to capitalize on this opportunity for personal change.
Though the repair work was complete my exit was delayed until I performed various functions. Step 1—Achieving Consciousness—was high on the list. Some have trouble escaping the effects of general anesthesia and my care-givers discovered I am decidedly in that group. Shawn was recruited to join their wakeup efforts with hope that the familiarity of her voice would usher me back from the land of undead.
Surprising to me was that two crucial systems do not have to be operational for patient release—the urinary and intestinal tracts. I am pretty sure I heard someone dismiss the urinary tract issue as “that equipment is asleep and should be back online by morning. If not, he will need to return for a catheter.” A what? People, I may be doped out of my gourd, but I can still hear you! I willed my body to awaken faster so I might complete the checkout items as rapidly as possible.
Shawn wrangled me home to the couch then slept beside me in the recliner. She poked pills into my mouth and held the bendable straw so I could siphon liquids without moving. I’m happy to report the urinary tract responded well to the gallons of Ginger Ale used to rehydrate me.
On the evening of the second day my loving wife propped me into a semi-sitting position and held a glass of some type of thick liquid under my nose. The aroma was something from the rotting fruit family. Her stern words explained her expectations. “Drink all of this. It’s medicine. Doctor’s orders.” I was too weak to fight and too drugged to argue so I chugged the brown goo, returned to my pillow cloud, and rejoined the rainbow chase across dreamland.
Hours later my sweet sleep was broken by an urgent interruption from the nether regions. Had the super glue securing the multiple incisions failed and were my innards marching to freedom? As the fog drifted away I explored to discover the reason for the burning sensation. God is an awesome designer and created the body so the systems communicate. The brain accepts inputs from all over and translates the data accordingly. Sensors indicated,
“We are predicting an imminent and substantial seismic event!”
You must be joking. I cannot sit up without help. My right leg wobbles like an over-sprung Slinky, and my left leg is vacationing somewhere beyond Jupiter. I surveyed every object within reach and determined no reasonable and acceptable solution to the pending problem existed in the vicinity. And Shawn’s recliner was empty.
As my mind debated with my extremities the volcanic warnings grew in intensity.
“Slide. Scoot. Crawl. But take action. Now!”
This was my time to man up, ignore the pain, struggle to my floppy feet and make tracks (well, hopefully not) for the facility. The caregivers at the surgery center or whoever removed that paper thin front half of a gown and dressed me, left traction socks installed on my feet. The little strips across the bottoms grab carpet, tile, wood or whatever flooring lies between the wearer and the destination. My path shifted from carpet to vinyl just before the bathroom door. Both feet dug in forcing me into a gentle arcing slide that steered my trajectory toward the waiting toilet.
I declined additional doses of the brown goo. Evidence demonstrated that the intestinal track had more action than Daytona International Speedway on race day.
Prune juice! What a cruel joke to play on someone in that delicate post-surgical condition. Or was it? That organic concoction was the catalyst which showed me I can set a goal, pursue the objective, overcome the obstacles, and complete my mission. Lying inert on the couch is temporary and the path back to freedom of motion will take me through some pain, discomfort, setbacks, and frustrations. Prune juice just initiated the action.
Sometimes we all need a little help.