Real Immersion

I’m sitting here sipping Tazo Zen, a green tea blended with lemongrass and spearmint. I haven’t been to my desk in the upstairs office in three days. I haven’t worked, haven’t written, haven’t done much of anything but stand and walk slowly and then lie down again. I’m using my laptop set up on the breakfast table in front of the bay window, where I can look out over the yard and see how lovely the part of it is that I was able to finish and to see how much work there is left to be done.

My genre is creative nonfiction, the immersion genre, in which a writer “immerses” herself in an event or in nature — or a medical procedure — and then writes about it with an insider’s view. I had an opportunity to write such a piece, only I was too immersed. So immersed that I missed a three-hour surgery I could have told all about.

Monday, I arrived at Williamson Medical Center at 6 a.m. I was put in a room, given a gown, four plastic bracelets, some socks and a Fleet enema. The last time I had an enema was in Paris, France, when I was eighteen. I’d been so busy touring eight countries in twenty-one days that by the time I got to Paris, I needed one, and an old woman in my group made sure I got one. She stood at the top of a curved staircase above a hundred guests in the lobby of our hotel and held up this big red rubber gadget and said with a smile, “I got one, Kathy. C’mon.”

At 7:15 I was taken to a holding room, where a member of the anesthesia team started an IV, put a hair net on me and put stockings on my calves, as well as pads strapped tightly with velcro that would pump up and massage my legs so I wouldn’t get blood clots during surgery. Then he said he was going to give me some I don’t care medicine to relax me. It did more than relax me. The next thing I knew, a nurse in either green or blue scrubs was standing over me in a blur, saying, “Mrs. Rhodes, you can’t get out of bed.” I reached for the sidebar and pulled myself toward it. Again, she said, “You can’t get up. You’ve had surgery. You are in the hospital.” I opened my eyes and leaned up to look around. The room was bright and yellow with people moving and talking, and I kept frowning and trying to say, “No, not yet.” As well as I could tell, a big clock on the wall said 11:30.

Between Holding and Recovery, I had an LAVH. I didn’t even know what that was until about two weeks ago, and I’ve never had any kind of surgery under general anesthesia. But on March 24, my doctor and I decided that a laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy was medically appropriate. More technically, the plan was a hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy. That means everything goes.

Now, I have three small incisions and two bottles of pain pills, and I’m getting better each day. I’ve been blessed with supportive friends. Thanks to my new friends from the Mid-South Creative Nonfiction Conference — Sherry and Sarah, who show up on this blog from time to time — for all your thoughts and prayers and acts of kindness. To my old friends, who have had this or a similar procedure recently and let me know that everything would be okay. To my neighbors who brought food, to Linda who stopped by the hospital, and to Deborah who wished me well all the way from France. And to my husband who is the best caregiver in the world, even though he does draw a line at polishing toenails and brushing the dog’s teeth.

I’m sort of getting anxious to get back to my desk, but in the meantime, I am enjoying some much-needed reading time. Today, I hope to finish Melany Nielson’s Even Mississippi, a memoir published in 1989. So for now, another cup of hot tea, two chocolate Chessmen cookies, and another chapter. And then maybe a Lortab.


5 Comments on “Real Immersion”

  1. Aforementioned Husband says:

    You are most welcome! Now put a rush on the getting well thing. I’m exhausted. …Just kidding… I’m just pleased as punch to be able to take care of you so that you’ll be beholding to me when I need a return favor.

  2. Deborah Rey says:

    Dear,dear Kathy,
    Why not try and be EXTRA smart and give yourself time to get back on your footsies? You had major surgery, dear friend, and you should be kind on yourself.
    All the very bestest very best and speedy recovery I dare say from ALL of us. Don’t worry, we won’t run away!
    Deborah (with sunshine from France)

  3. Sherry Walker says:

    Kathy, It sounds just like you to try to get up the minute you’re awake! 😉 You’ll have to keep the nurse’s words in mind over the next few weeks. “Mrs. Rhodes, you can’t get out [to that flower] bed. You’ve just had surgery.”

    Enjoy your well-deserved rest and cup of Zen. I’m so glad you have wonderful Aforementioned Husband and others who love you to make sure you do. Sending you love from the snowing, icy world of April in Colorado. Even the robins are mad. Stay snug. –Sherry

  4. Sarah says:

    I can’t believe you can write a brief piece that includes your having two enemas and a vaginal ANYTHING and you’re worried you wouldn’t be honest enough to write something like the “club” story.

    Also, how is it that you can write something about having two enemas and a vaginal something and come out of it sounding gracious, well-raised, and very polite? That’s some trick. You might be scaring me… FEEL BETTER!

  5. Kathy says:

    Ouch, it hurts to laugh, Sarah!

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