Are you prepared for emergency surgery?
I’m not wishing that on you of course. But have you considered how you would fare?
A burst appendix never crossed my mind as a possible hurdle. So I was unprepared. Mentally, financially and physically, I could have been better equipped to deal.
The unforeseen costs, relatives who visit despite being strung out about hospitals, logistics of kids schedules. The potential pitfalls are many, at a time when you need to be thinking about healing.
If you’ve never spent time in a hospital room, rejoice! No one wants to stay in one.
Of all the reasons to have surgery, though, an appendectomy comes in somewhere near a C-Section on the danger and stress scale.
Low. Compared to something like cancer, say.
Generally, the surgery takes less than an hour. In, out, recover, never think about it again kind of surgery. But visitors still drop in, nurses still prod you and someone still delivers nasty food at mealtime. In other words, you’re still in hospital.
And, the down time still feels like aeons.
I spent hours just thinking. While I lay in the hospital bed. While wheeling my IV stand around the nursing station along with all the other shufflers. While I stared at the dim (but not dark) room after being woken up at 2 a.m. to have my vitals taken.
I’ve boiled all the hours of contemplation into ten concise, mini-epiphanies. Or ways to be prepared for a hospital emergency. Some are serious. Some are kinda goofy. There was morphine involved, after all.
1. Having more money in the bank is not just a nice idea.
Worrying that your husband has to take a day off work to chauffeur your toxin filled body to the hospital is a downer. And, who needs more to worry about when a bag of poison has been sprayed all over your insides?
Even if you’re a stay at home parent or retiree and you don’t lose a paycheck while you’re sick, other costs pop up during a hospital stay.
Just have more money for emergencies. It’s smart.
2. Being in shape is an absolute must. Forever.
I’m no fitness model but a few months ago, my husband and I returned to the gym. Thank God for that timing! Feeling like a bag of goo before having any number of slices through your belly – skin, fat and, hopefully, some muscle – is not fun.
Even with good muscle tone, it’s no bowl of cherries. But I know that the four weeks recovery the doc talked about will be shorter because of one thing: abs.
Build some. Keep them. Even surgery at 70 will be better with abs.
3. Some people can always be counted on and some people are just ‘people’.
A few of the ‘people’ are just jerks. But most have their own stuff that’s keeping them from loving on you. Don’t get down on them.
But do love on the ones you know are your peeps. A few shining stars will show up, sometimes where you least expected it. Write hand written thank yous. Give hugs. Make sure you show up for them when they need a star to brighten their night.
4. Good things come from sleeping all day when you need it.
Some people are grumpy if they have to wake up early. I, on the other hand, am grumpy if I miss too many hours of productive time due to sleep.
“What?! 10 a.m.? I’ve slept the day away!”
This is me. If you feel unproductive when you sleep in, put a sign on your bedroom ceiling that reads:
Tissue repair is hard work.
Give it your all.
Go back to sleep.
5. Dread sneezing.
I think I was gifted with excessive sneezing during my first week of recovery to reinforce number 4. Maybe God thought I would forget that I needed to rest. Perhaps the stabbing pain every time I sneezed was a necessary reminder that I still needed to recover.
Hug a pillow.
6. Have compassion for people who are afraid of the weakness of others.
A close friend of mine cannot show compassion for the pain of others. It’s not uncommon. And it doesn’t mean they’re unkind. It usually means they are hurt.
Your pain may remind them that they are not enough to keep you safe. They may not be able to look at your weakness because it reminds them of their own.
Selfish? Sure. They should be thinking of your injury. But, the truth is, they are injured too. And they have no doctors, no antibiotics. They have no morphine.
No morphine. Seriously, which one of you is actually in pain and needing care?
7. Even emergency surgery for a potentially life threatening condition is not enough to make some people see you clearly.
You may have visitors who come to your bedside and whine at you about their (fill in the blank). Thankfully, you are not the captive audience they think you are.
That is what the call button beside your bed is for. The last thing your nurse wants is for you to throw up. Retching after abdominal surgery is frowned upon.
“Nurse, the pain is getting worse. I think I’m going to be sick,” is usually countered by Gravol and more pain killers. And sleep.
Personally, I’d rather not lie, though, even to escape self-centred visitors. That’s why I suggest keeping something back from your lunch tray. That plastic-looking butterscotch pudding that made your guts roll just thinking about it should do the trick.
Now you’re not lying. Real retching will do a better job of bringing out the Gravol than any fictional barf ever could.
8. A Walking Dead marathon can be almost as effective for pain as two Tramadol and a Gravol.
I hide from the gore. (I don’t even know why they do the gore. The story stands alone.) My point, though, is that hiding from a third to a half of every episode means a lot of down time for napping. Sometimes, I don’t even wake for the story.
Hours of half-sleep to a marathon of something you like. That’s my prescription for healing when you give up on the serious work of tissue repair and haul your butt out of bed.
Bed to couch.
9. Mothers never stop being mothers. And, sometimes, they improve with time.
My mom was a super-woman while I was sick. Grocery shopping for mushy, bland food. Picking kids up at school. Ignoring moody, stressed out husbands. She did it all.
But it might be someone else’s mom who steps up. Even a mom-like nurse might do the job. Regardless, you want to love on the mom’s who care for you like the incapacitated, useless blob of groggy, neediness that you are.
Let’s face it. You won’t be pampered often. Appreciate the person who does the mom-thing.
10. Nothing is off limits to the devil.
He may even have invented the appendix to do his bidding. No one knows why we have an appendix, do they? I don’t mean to be irreverent. I’m just sayin’.
Or, maybe he just likes to let us think that our appendix is his tool. Like some terrorist group taking credit for a bombing they didn’t do. That would be just like him, wouldn’t it?
Seriously though, the devil is a real bad dude, with real ability to mess with things. It’s always a good time for prayer.
- Be prepared: save, workout & pray, not necessarily in that order.
- Be thankful: to those who are caring for you and compassionate to those who struggle because you are struggling.
- Be loving to yourself and others – even the ‘people’ and the nurses trying to find a vein.
- Be honest but resourceful. ‘Turn the other cheek’ doesn’t mean be a doormat.
- Know that you have an enemy and, while he may not be the author of the fate of your appendix, he’s real. Arm yourself with prayer.