ureteral stent

the latest appliance

ureteral stent

Today marked the end of a small, unpleasant eight-day epoch with the removal of my ureteral stent. I won’t bother posting links because you can look it all up yourself.

The fear set in last night. I did my best not to give this fear too much energy. Really, I slept pretty well all things considered. This morning I resolutely did my housework bits, and went off and picked up a sangha member to help her with her spiritual walk. 1:30 PM on the waterfront with my ladyfriend I took a couple Alleve and drank a healthy portion of water, the sunlight streaming in through the windshield and (most) everything okay with the world. My husband met me at the urologist’s and we sort of grimly waited events. The procedure was harrowing and unpleasant but not over lengthy. The urologist triumphantly held up the stent to show me, but I couldn’t look. I was too upset about what had just occurred. I thought it best to be quiet and courteous. Those were the behaviors I hung my hat on.

After I got dressed, Ralph and I met with the urologist in his posh little office and he confessed I was having too much trouble. Time to make an appointment with another specialist. Not really what I want to hear but, I am not driving this bus. I am along for the ride.

If I hear one more person telling me they’re sure I’ll feel better soon I might just have to slap them. No one can make that promise. Why bother? Wishes and prayers for my health and pain-free experience – I’ll take those.

Warming up outside and a bright moon; waning from the apex last night. My daughter and I on a walk with our dog, whose spirits are inexplicably low. His tail is a bit low and he seems cautious. I guess I kind of relate.

no family is safe when I sashay!

I’m up before the children – three, in all – and I have those few minutes after my husband leaves for work, and before anyone else joins me. I shower, and dress. No makeup but a little lipstick – hair back in a slouch cap. Dishes, and laundry, and tidying up some tailoring work as we’ll be expecting company throughout the day.

Now I wake up the children: first, my son, who is frightened over the vaccination he’s set to receive this morning. Then, the girls: my daughter and the kids’ friend C. We’ve got to hit two doctor’s appointments back-to-back. We’ll be doing that before we get a meal out together.

It’s rainy out but I have a little coffee in my Nalgene bottle, and my warm scarf. The kids are cheerful company. Phoenix is a young woman now and would no more skip a morning shower than I. Her hair is wet; her face dear freckled face snubbed with a little powder. At the doctor’s, she finds some women’s magazine – Jane or Marie Claire or something – while the other young girl finds a Highlights.

People in the office, and later running errands – so many seem so unhappy. Irritable at those minor delays that happen everywhere. At the taquería working class men look me up and down as I ferry drinks and napkins and salsa to the table. I eat slowly, checking my phone. Enjoying that first meal of the day. I eat until I’m satisfied. And now: I must get us home. Drop one child off, receive another. Put together a few Christmas gifts.

It’s cold and rainy; my car is giving me fits. Tomorrow is payday so tonight I can write a check for our dinner, and for Christmas Eve dinner. My husband is tired – as tired as I. My knees, my neck ache. My son runs through the house, first acting out every song in “Jesus Christ Superstar” (he’s still quite fixated); later, in a pair of neon green boys’ briefs that match the garish bandaid on his thigh – his vaccination site.

The rain, the curious meow of kitties needing love. Keeps me company as the house falls more and more still.

there and back again

Day surgery, a surreal experience. I slept poorly the night before but if there’s one thing I don’t need great sleep for, it’s anesthesia.

If you read here you probably know: I am terrified of medical procedures that involve being put under by narcotics. I am also terrified of needles. I mean my fears are huge. I don’t know why, and perhaps I will ever know. Today I accept these fears with a great deal of patience and kindness.

That’s all well and good, but these fears mean I have a hard time with all the minor hurts and indignities of the before-preparations. Like now: the nurse fiddles about trying to insert an IV in my left hand and instead stabs through the vein. The room fills with a small sadness as I turn my head and try not to cry. She hushes and wraps my hand and applies pressure, and tells me “sorry” several times – like about five. I am thinking this is not professional, but what is even more important and precious, I can tell she doesn’t want to hurt a patient. It is very amazing to me that some health care professionals, even after how hard they work and how much they see these things and worse, can still have that empathy over my little bit of pain. It really softens my heart.

My husband hates more than anything to see me suffering – it is kind of his Worst Thing. So even though he’s committed to being with me every moment, I know he’s uncomfortable here. I tell him he can go, I am okay. He tells me unless I request for him to leave he is going to stay because he is committed to being there for me anytime shit is rough.

The nurses come and go and now and then it’s just Ralph and I, sitting in the sunlight, both tired, both nervous. We turn and look at the cheerful placard that reads: “Tell Us What We Can Do To Make You Feel Safe!” I whisper to my husband in busted-down sotto voce, “Please stop stabbing me with needles!” He laughs but his eyes fill with tears. He jokes back, “Quit taking my clothes off and hurting me!” We implode into small fits of laughter and even though I am tired and frightened I am immensely cheered.

More procedures. More needles. I’m thinking, I will give you bastards one thousand dollars if you at least let me wear my bra and underwear under this hideous “gown”. I’ m not happy sitting here like a naked mole rat covered in thin cotton. A few specialists come by. They comment on the rarity of meeting someone on Zero medications. They tell me I am healthy, except for the reason I am here, for which I feel grateful. One specialist comes in and speaks to me in such a condescending, ridiculous fashion I gleefully store the exchange in my heart. If you know me IRL I am happy to relay an impression of this hubris to you, as it makes me laugh still. Then the final specialist: an anesthesiologist. We talk a bit and he has that efficiency and expertise of someone with the responsibility of placing another human being in death’s arms and then bringing them away again. He starts me on the medicine and begins to wheel me out the room. I tell Ralph, “Bye,” and I know I am going off to Won’t-Remember.

The morphine kicks in and it is not pleasant – I feel my body squeezed in a hot vise and I feel myself taken away to some other place, from somewhere in my chest.

Only a brief memory of the stainless steel, the friendly surgeons and other personnel, quickly and efficiently sticking sensors to my skin.

When I swim to consciousness and out of a hallucination (a twisted brick path, a nameless creature upon it) my throat feels terrible. It is sore, filled with the acrid taste of whatever lubricant they used to get me on a breathing apparatus. A kind nurse comes and helps me swab and rinse my mouth. She floats in and speaks to me with such gentleness I feel safe and cheered; she has no sadness in her body language or voice so I know I am Okay. Nevertheless, a few moments later I hear two other nurses, one of them disparaging drug addicts who come in with abscesses. I want to tell them of my dear friend who came in this way, and has now been clean and sober since this last event. But I am still muffled under fog and shifting sands and even five feet away they are not reachable.

As soon as I can speak, I ask if I’d had a stint placed. I am told, No. My mind eases a bit.

Back in day surgery my husband is given back to me and I am supplied with a small tub of high fructose corn syrup-sweetened cranberry juice. Nothing tastes better. I know I will vomit everything up again, but I am simply too thirsty not to drink it.

A wheelchair out to the car, a ride home. Vomiting and then again, and then rest.

And yes, in the evening after I slept, I pulled myself out into the world again. I participated in some work with other alcoholics – a very small meeting. I did this because I was okay to walk, and to speak, and it’s something I do if I can. And at first, I thought I was fine. But once I got home I was exhausted, and threw up again. That kind of violent even-out-the-nose vomiting.

But again, I am pretty serene. The vomiting will pass – it is the medicine, and I am sensitive to it.

I am still feeling the gratitude of being awake – and not having a bunch of needles and appliances in my body.

So today: more recovery. Trying to rest instead of working too hard. Hoping I can poop. Believe me, pooping after having morphine is like, a huge milestone of joy for me. I remember in November 2011 having a procedure, and being constipated (my first time ever) and boy by the end I was in fervent prayer.

And on that topic, my brother sent me a link. Read not one review, but several. You will be in tears by the end.

for a while I was dealing in tears and powders

I realize after a few minutes that I have been sitting in a living-cringe position. The waiting room at the doctors’ is crowded and every now and then the bored and somewhat hostile low-level buzz is perforated by a dog’s mighty WOOF. Let’s stick to the facts, because it’s my dog. He’s outside being massive and friendly – and being naughty, and getting rewarded by every stranger who passes and gives him love. I haven’t figured out how to get my dog not to bark when he’s tied outside, and I’m inside somewhere. Because he is SILENT AS THE GRAVE at home and doesn’t bark for any reason whatsoever (even when the children want him to) but then he does this!

So anyway, how I handle the dog doing his thing is I pretend it’s not my dog and I don’t know whose dog it is. But I am sitting in a defensive posture because I’m just waiting. Every now and then a patient walks outside and praises him and calls him a Sweetheart and then leaves the outer door open so a few seconds later his WOOF reverberates through the whole building. I don’t want to step out and close the door because he’d see me and he might think he’s getting what he wants.

I sit for an hour and fifteen minutes before I know I have to leave, no doctor today. I talk to the receptionist then I step outside and pack up my bike and an older woman approaches me: “Is that your dog?” And I wait to hear an admonition or something but instead she says warmly, “He’s so faithful.” Right, like he’s a Goddamned Champion! An even older man follows right on the heels of this woman, tottering and walking so unstably with his arms out so he looks like a small child, he trips towards us and his eyes are open in surprise, whether at my magnificent dog or because he’s about to fall I can’t tell before I turn away. This woman, then, catches him up and I swing my leg over the bike and my dog and I are off.

I’m home and I flush some medicine and I feel better about that. And I make a pot of coffee and light a candle and say some prayers.

I write a list of things I want to get done but I lose the list.

I gather the kids up and climb in through the passenger side of my car. My driver’s-side window shattered the other day and any time I move the door a bunch of glass settles deep inside and makes unsavory crunch-noises. It will get fixed soon enough.

I take the children to lunch somewhere they really like and I feel a little bit better than I have been.

We take two walks out through The Flats and back. The first walk is so hot I strip down as much as is decent. The second is in the gloaming and swarms of gnats accost us. We walk past a dark car and a woman inside, crying. I know her. She rolls the window down and greets me. I ask if she’s Okay and she shakes her head No. But she puts her hand up and signals I leave. I place her back where I found her and I walk on. I say a prayer for her but I walk on.

Home and I run a hot bath and make hot tea.