I suck at surgery

But really, I totally suck at surgery. And not just because I’m not qualified to operate on you.

Let’s put it this way: If recovering from surgery were a competition, I’d be in last place.  In terms of competition, I’m not talking about a typical athletic event, either. My recovery has more resembled an episode of Total Wipeout than say, a baseball game. You know, Total Wipeout–that show where the contestants wade through pools of mud and water to complete a giant obstacle course that somehow resembles both a carnival fun house and a hallucination you had once in college? My kids used to love that stupid show.

Anyway….I should have probably been tipped off by the outlandish expectations I received from those who had previously had their own gallbladders removed. “I was back to work the next day!” and “You’ll only be sore one or two days,” had me dusting off my hands and ready to step up to the plate. I had this. Most impressive was my own Dad who swore that literally two hours after his surgery he was sitting at the kitchen table drinking his morning coffee. There was also some talk about how he walked a mile to the post office that afternoon.

And then of course, were all the well-meaning people who simply smiled and said, “You’ll be able to eat again!” which I now know meant, “I’m not going to tell you how bad it can be because it will only scare you.” You know how we do that thing to first time mothers where we tell them it’s not so bad because why on earth would we want to scare the crap out of them? It’s not like they can get out of giving birth; Better to just let them continue on blissfully until reality hits. Yeah, it was just like that.

True to form, I had decided I would die on the operating table. Imminent death is standard procedure for me, so John took it all in stride. He patiently held my hand and listened as I told him where I had stashed the detailed list of all our bank passwords and how to disable my tumblr account. My surgeon was running late that day, so there was also plenty of time for me to help him memorize the recipe for Thomas’ special bread and give a short tutorial on making the perfect ballet bun in Cate’s hair.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up in the recovery room, still alive. I was only slightly embarrassed that I made it since the last thing I remember before falling asleep was telling everyone in the operating room a joke about how many shots of bourbon it would take to knock me out. (I think I even said, “I’m not a cheap date.” Trust me, no one was asking.)

So we headed home, and I’ll be honest, since I was still alive I was pretty excited about this next stage of recovery: 3 full days of just John and I on the couch watching Netflix and snuggling. It would be like a vacation, right?

Ok, so I’m not going to go into the pain, or how I apparently feel pain on a much higher scale than other people (just based on their feedback). I mean, I did deliver three children, so I think I know what constitutes pain. I resolved to deal. I counted on a few days of it.

I also counted on the insanity that I knew would come from Cate’s six ballet performances and two dress rehearsals between Wednesday and Saturday. I factored that crazy into my recovery time.

What I did not count on was Henry waking up Thursday morning with a NONSTOP cough. And that he beat me to the couch and my recovery spot, thereby banishing me to another room where there was no tv, no laughter, and no cozy place to snuggle. I was a broken toy on Misfit Island and I could still hear his hacking cough NONSTOP. (not that it was irritating me at all. ha) Obviously getting near him meant my own demise. Something about constant coughing and abdominal stitches seemed incongruent.

We thought that was the low point, but by the next morning Thomas was also home with a fever. John cooked and cleaned, and cooked and cleaned, and dosed out cough medicine and shuttled Cate back and forth, back and forth all while I sat on my lonely living room couch (NOT the comfy one) with the hard wooden chair pulled up to it so my feet could stick out straight. Not since the movie Titantic has anything been this sad and ridiculous. Meanwhile, I told anyone who passed by (so just John, over and over and over) about the fact that I wasn’t healing as fast as I thought I should be and that I wasn’t enjoying the couch potato holiday I had envisioned. And then I started to cough a little bit, too…..

Before you start to cry (obviously from the Titantic reference), I should mention the bright spots. Flowers delivered to my doorstep from good friends, reminding me that there would be drinks and fun in my future; about 40 text messages Wednesday morning wishing me good luck; meals delivered from both our moms. And then, a highlight: a late night (lol, probably 8:00 pm) text from Natalie telling me to check the front porch and finding more flowers (including my favorite, lilys) plus a coveted copy of the Mockingjay Part 2 feature from US Weekly. (There are full size posters of Katniss and Peeta inside! Yes, they are already hanging in my office!)

This morning I was technically supposed to go back to work. I can still barely move, I still can’t eat anything without stomach pain, and I’ve lost 3 more pounds (did I mention I’m convinced I will literally disappear eventually?)

I googled, “How long should it take to recover from gallbladder removal” and found a bunch of people online with way worse (and more disturbing) problems than mine. Oddly that helped. That, and the knowledge that my surgeon told John it was a good thing she took out my gallbladder because it was the WRONG color. Good riddance.

And I promise: if you need to have your gallbladder removed in the future, I’ll look you right in the eye and say, “It’s not that bad. You’ll do fine. You’ll be able to eat!” wink wink


p.s. You probably already figured this out, but just the simple fact that I’m blogging means I’m obviously getting better. Now to just re-insert my sense of humor and move on….

The ballet Moms kept me in the loop with constant photos of Cate so I wouldn't miss out. Ironically, given my state of mind, she was performing in "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead)

The ballet Moms kept me in the loop with constant photos of Cate so I wouldn’t miss out. Ironically, given my state of mind, she was performing in “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead)

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