Real ImmersionPosted: April 10, 2008
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.