Wednesday, April 25, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

I wasn't entirely sure I was ready to leave the safety of the hospital for life back in the real world, but Dr. Geter thought I was. I had this weird fear of falling down, of all things. Not pain. Not infection. Not bleeding. Falling. 

I was not leaving the hospital without a shower. I discovered I really didn't give a rat's ass how hairy my legs were, but the hair and body needed to be washed. I was sure I looked (and smelled) like a DK. 

The nursing staff wasn't terribly interested in getting me clean. I asked several times for help taking a shower, and finally, around noon, the nurse stuck these clear, plastic sheets over the four drains to protect them from water.  That was the end of that. It became up to my husband to give me the shower, if I were going to have one.

While I dissed my husband on Facebook as being a lousy, whiny nurse in comparison to Kristin and Cindy, he actually was very good in the long run. The shower was just the beginning. Not that he gets any gold stars for technique. I sat on a shower chair and he sprayed me with the hand-held shower like I was a dog outside in a washtub. I had shampoo running down my face and into my eyes, and a good portion of it remained in my hair when it was over, but I was cleaner than I was when I went in. 

I put on real clothes, where I discovered the drains were EXACTLY where the waistband of my yoga pants would go. Hadn't allowed for the drains, not having had a CLUE what they were going to be all about when I packed what to wear home. Mid-afternoon, I finally got my walking papers and was ready to get the hell out of there. 

I stayed at my parents' house in Branson for a few days after leaving the hospital, slowly gaining the ability to walk upright. The tummy tuck portion of the surgery left my stomach tight as a drum; so tight, in fact, that I couldn't completely straighten up. It was almost as if I had atrophied into one side of a parenthesis. The drains made sleeping miserable. I devised a method of sleeping where I put my drains and tubing (in the fashionable little black bags) next to me on the bed and covered them with pillows so I had a place for my arms to lay. I was propped up with many pillows as well. Every trip to the bathroom or to go sit outside on the deck required that I unload all my pillows onto the floor, hang my little bags around my neck and carefully swing my legs over the edge of the bed without catching anything on the drain tubes. Then I had to do it all in reverse when I got back to bed. 

Sitting on the deck, soaking up sunshine.
Another lovely thing about the drains was they had to be stripped twice a day. The nurses taught my husband how to do it (thank God - I couldn't have done it myself if I could have even REACHED them). It was a disgusting little exercise where the fluid inside the tubes had to be scooted down into the drain reservoir, where it was then poured into a cup, measured and the output duly recorded. Each drain reservoir looked like a clear hand grenade. The four drain  tubes were stitched into place, so if the tube stripper (i.e., the husband) pulled a little too hard when stripping the drain, it pulled on the tubes and stitches and hurt like a sonofabitch. Then once a day, the gauze pads over the openings where the drains were inserted had to be changed. That meant the tape had to be pulled off each one, some kind of gooey medicine had to be applied around the wound, and then the whole thing re-bandaged. The whole process made me a little woozy. In fact, the only time I cried in the hospital was the day I was leaving and the nurse was pulling off the tape while I was standing up instead of lying down. I started feeling light-headed, sat down on the bed and started to cry. Couldn't begin to explain exactly WHAT I was crying about. It just all got to be too much.

The days spent at the lake were a delightful transition from hospital to home. I got a lot of rest and got to watch mindless tv shows like "Dance Moms" without anyone whining about wanting to watch something else. But just as I was ready to leave the hospital, I was also ready to leave Branson and try to get back to some kind of routine at home. I imagined my family there, happy to see me, joyfully taking on the household duties of doing laundry, scooping the cat box, cooking, doing dishes. What a lovely fantasy....

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