Woke up tired, gut-crampy, and queasy with nervousness. I actually caught myself thinking, "Should I throw up? Would that empty my stomach and be a good thing, or cause irritation and be a bad thing? And my stomach's probably already empty and I'd just be dry-heaving, which is no fun. And it would give me bad breath, and that would be rude to the doctor. So I won't throw up." I am reminded of the story of my mother, while pregnant with me, shaving her legs after her water broke so they would be nice and smooth for the obstetrician. Apple, tree, etc.
I'm glad I put out my clothes the night before; that made it easier to shower and dress and get out the door on time. Josh had arranged to work from home for the day so he could come in with me. He was very sweet about making small talk and generally balancing reassuring me and distracting me on the trip down.
I handed over a week's worth of stool samples, filled out paperwork, and sat around and checked my email while Josh went out and got a snack. (Lucky bastard. I was very hungry and thirsty by then.) Eventually we were summoned into the prep room by an awesome soft-butch nurse with a haircut very like mine and the superb and unlikely name of Badger. She was totally sweet and explained everything very helpfully. I put a gown on over my dress and gave Josh my glasses, and we waited a bit more, and then she took me into the exam room and sent him back to the waiting room.
Dr. Eng shook my hand and introduced me to the anesthesiologist, whose name I didn't catch. The two of them had perfectly complementary bedside manner: Dr. Eng is very cheerful and talkative, and the anesthesiologist is very quiet and soothing. They very clearly do these procedures several times a day. I warned them that I was nervous, and of course being nervous made me chatty, so I told Dr. Eng that Badger was awesome and said I hoped he didn't mind if I kept my shoes on because I was cold and asked the anesthesiologist whether he'd ever read my articles in Anesthesiology News
and apologized in case dehydration had made my veins difficult to work with and joked that if I fainted when they put the needle in then that would just make things easier for them, and then I looked away and made myself keep breathing while the anesthesiologist made quiet calm small talk and put the IV in my right arm. After a moment he asked how I felt and I said I got a little dizzy when people put needles in me, and he said "Look, there's no needle in you, it's all done, you were very good" and I was confused because of course the line was still in my arm, but then I looked and realized the needle was gone and just the tiny plastic catheter remained, and I felt remarkably better after that. The brain is such a funny thing.
They put a thing in my mouth to keep it open while I was unconscious (it looked hilariously like an open mouth gag
, except it was turquoise plastic with a rubber strap instead of leather and chrome) and arranged me on my left side. The anesthesiologist put a heart rate monitor on my right forefinger and I was amazed and amused as always by how easy it is to make it speed up or slow down.
Dr. Eng: Okay, we're going to start the drip in a minute, so close your eyes--that's important--and think of someplace you want to be. Like on the beach on Maui. You're walking along the beach, it's sunny...
Me, with difficulty around the plastic thing: I don't like beaches.
Dr. Eng: Oh, you don't like beaches, okay. What do you like?
Me: I like New York.
Dr. Eng: You like New York? Ha, okay. There, he's starting it, can you feel it?
Me: Whoooa. Yeah. Throat is all tingly. Weird.
Dr. Eng: So close your eyes. You're in New York, on a crowded subway car. No one will give you a seat...
and then I was asleep, and then I woke up in the recovery room. Just like that.
Propofol is really amazing stuff. I didn't have even a moment of amnesia, or lost time. It felt like sleep. I did feel a little woozy when I woke up, but no more so than I would usually feel when I haven't eaten in 15 hours. I was very pleased to be able to remember the details of the pre-sleep conversation, and to recall that the tingly throat feeling did not give me even an instant of panic, which surprised me. My throat wasn't even sore from having a tube run down it. I did have a moment of thinking "What if I died and the afterlife is just like real life?" and then I decided that this was unverifiable so I wouldn't worry about it.
I called out to let Badger know that I was awake, and she brought Josh in right away and took the IV catheter out of my arm. I briefly wondered how exactly they get it in there without leaving the needle in. (There's an animation here
that apparently shows how it works, but I'm not going to watch it because I'm already getting a little woozy just writing about needles.) Then I focused on sitting up and drinking water and eating Oreos, of which they had a convenient stash along with some cheese-and-crackers packets. Very smart. Badger asked where we were planning to go for lunch; I mentioned Jamba Juice and she said I could have real food if I wanted, which was very nice to hear.
I felt pretty clear-headed but was stumbling over words a bit. Dr. Eng had moved on to the next patient, so we waited and talked for a bit, and I called my mother to reassure her that everything had gone well. (She was so fretful that she apparently called Josh at 9 this morning, before I even woke up, to ask how the procedure went. Apple, tree, etc.) Then Dr. Eng came in and shook Josh's hand and asked how I was doing. "Spooning in speakerisms," I said, deliberately. He got it, and laughed. I like him.
He said that the exam had shown a little inflammation of the stomach and the esophagus, but nothing really obvious like an ulcer; no surprises there. He took a tissue sample to test for H. pylori
but I will be very surprised if it comes back positive. I appreciate that he remembered my background and was happy to use terms like "gastritis" and "H. pylori
" without dumbing them down. He told me to call in a week for test results. And that was it.
I was starting to feel a bit of a sore throat, and for some reason I desperately wanted to be out in the sun, so I got up and we headed out, stopping briefly to reschedule my colonoscopy for post-Readercon. As I spoke with the receptionist, I realized just how much the office seemed to be straight out of central casting: male Chinese and Indian doctors (both first-generation immigrants, if I'm reading the accents correctly), female African-American nurses and Puerto Rican office staff (all almost certainly New York natives). On the one hand, multicultural awesomeness yay. On the other hand, you see that sort of distribution a lot more often than you see female African-American and Puerto Rican doctors working with male Chinese nurses and Indian office staff.
Then we walked up to Madison Square Park, where I thought I would get a fancy shave ice, but the only flavors they had were rhubarb and plum, which I didn't want. I dithered and finally decided I wanted pasta, so we went over to 7th Avenue and had a very nice lunch at Il Bastardo. (We figured that if we weren't going to take a taxi home, we could spend the money on lunch out instead.) They swore up and down that my pasta was cooked with oil and not butter, but I still felt a bit iffy afterwards, so I took a Pepcid. We got on the 1 train and I alternated napping on Josh's shoulder and checking my phone in case anyone was reporting Readercon sign-up software bugs.
When we got in I made the mistake of attempting to rehydrate by drinking homemade lemonade. I immediately felt like there was a steel-shod horse in my belly trying to kick its way out. Josh had the rest of the lemonade; I had a banana and a piece of plain toast, which more or less made the stabbing pain go away. Then I lay down for a nap and woke up more than four hours later, having had a very peculiar dream
. Apparently medical procedures are tiring, even very simple ones.
Josh had to go out to a client, so I sat around faffing about online. Eventually I decided I wanted pasta sludge, and Josh was on his way home, so I made sludge for me and heated up some chicken rice soup for him. That sat reasonably well. He was exhausted, poor boy, having been both supporting me and working all day, so I put him to bed and then used a burst of postprandial energy to clean the living room and bathroom and sweep the hallway.
Josh: You don't have to do all that.
Me: But your mother's coming over tomorrow.
Josh: It's fine, she's just meeting me here and then we'll go out to breakfast somewhere while you sleep in.
Me: But... mother-in-law visiting! Must clean! Culture tells me so!
Josh: Fuck culture. It's stupid.
Me: She'll run her finger over the top of the shelves to check for dust!
Josh: No, that's your
Me: My mother doesn't have to check for dust. She just knows.
Josh: "My West Hartford sense is tingling!"
Anyway, I wanted to clean. It felt good to do
something after being immobile most of the day, and cleaning is always satisfying. I didn't stress about it; I just did as much as I felt up for doing. Then I crawled back into bed for a nice long chat with Xtina and some fun Twitter games
, and now I am going to go to bed. Even with that four-hour nap, I suspect I'll sleep pretty soundly.You can leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry if you like. The current comment count is .