See Part II here
Well, it is pre-op day. Alana and I walk over to the hospital and chat about my fabulous lunch date I had just had with my friend Natalie. Natalie is brilliant and a quiet & sweetly fierce and radical feminist and her energy was the perfect fix for my pre-op jitters.
We did the usual registration, hurry up and wait and finally got to the pre-op floor where it felt like equipment and staff were sent to pasture. I sat in the bleak cavernous pre-op assessment room, having no idea why I needed to block 3 hours of time for my appointment. I listened to the other assessments happening around me (I had no choice!) as heaven forbid people would have the doors closed and use hushed voices for these personal experiences. The person in the room next to me was directed to swab their rectum and the nurse bellowed, “We need a rectal swab from you. Make sure you get right in there but you don’t have to go too deep” – and it was said far too many times in a 5 minute period.
I looked at Alana, horrified, “Am I gonna have to put things in my bum?”
I couldn’t think of why they would need anything from my rectum but if they did, I definitely didn’t want the entire second floor to hear about it.
I was rushed in here for 2:45 PM and it’s now 3:05 PM and I haven’t been seen by anyone. I was also told to arrive 15 minutes early. Of course, since I arrived right on time, I will forever wonder if those 15 minutes would have made a difference… that’s how they get you… to arrive earlier and wait longer.
At 3:16 pm nurse, Helene with an ‘e’, entered to do blood work and get my blood pressure. She started with the usual, verified my birth date, address, and phone number. Her nails are really long. I wonder how she can get shit done with such long nails.
Nurse: “You’re allergic to latex – what happens? Just a rash?”
I explain that I get a rash and my skin blisters and turns into open sores. With prolonged exposure I get swelling. I say that I am also intolerant to adhesives like on tape and bandaids and stickers and the reaction is the same.
Nurse: It says you are allergic to adhesives. What happens?
I pause as I literally just said what happens in my previous answer. I say it again.
Nurse: You are allergic to narcotics….
This continues down the list of things on my chart. She tells me that my chart from my last surgery did not have these allergies on it which would explain why I was given morphine and was covered in adhesive tape and latex gloves were used. I have NO understanding of why any of this happened since I tell every care provider I come in contact with about these allergies/intolerances.
We move onto the consent piece. She reads out consent faster than the micro machines guy (who remembers those ads from the 80s?!) and I only catch snippets. She glibly explains that my fallopian tubes and uterus and cervix will be removed through my vagina. No eye contact, no change in her voice. Just, that is what is happening. I nod. Then say yes as she is not looking at me to see my head moving.
Then she asks me if I consent to blood transfusion if needed, she quickly follows up with it being rare that it would happen. I say fine, but only if I am at the brink of death, otherwise heck no.
Then it is my blood draw time. I have never had any issues with blood draws and I love watching them. There is something so cool about it… Anyway, she pokes around my one arm and cannot get it to work. She asks if I have had any water today. Yup, lots. She pokes around my left arm for a while longer and then starts scratching at my vein with her long nail (eureka, I found a purpose for those talons since it is not peeling tape or typing). She retracts the needle from my arm and moves over to the other arm.
Nurse: Maybe I need a smaller needle, your veins are tiny.
I beam, that’s the nicest thing that anyone’s said all day. “You’ve got skinny veins!” says Alana.
Nurse: You’re a tiny girl.
I just take it all in. Hearing skinny + tiny + me = so happy!
I have put on about 20 lbs over the last 18 months. My body looks totally different than it did when I was training 9-12 hours a week and playing roller derby. I cannot be bothered to workout regularly and I feel so flippin’ tired all the time from excessive blood loss that I gave up working out cold turkey in late 2016. Now I am paying the price with softness everywhere and do not feel 100% in my new skin. Hearing anything on me is ‘skinny’ makes me feel good. I feel I should be past all this shit, and I am not. And I am fine with it.
I ask why I am getting blood work done as I had it 2 weeks ago, and 2 weeks before that and am supposed to go again next week. The nurse explains that if my hemoglobin bottoms out before surgery then I will need a pre-op blood transfusion. Wha?! No one mentioned that. They just said I couldn’t have any pre-cancerous cervical cells and my pap came back negative this week.
Ugh. New info just keeps trickling in even though I ask 100s of questions.
The pre-op info keeps coming with no food after midnight on the 16th and only sips of water in the morning before my surgery. Then the nurse starts reading all the things I need to stop taking starting 2 weeks before my surgery, which was that day. She reads the list really fast and I ask her to repeat what she said as I did not even know most of the items on the list. She paused and grabbed the pre-op flyer and wrote ‘POT’ above herbals and circled it and then repeated it with an emphatic underline. Ummmm, ok. I don’t smoke pot AND I still don’t know what the other 6 things are and those are not written on the sheet.
I need to call the day before to get my time. I cannot believe I don’t get a scheduled time.
Helene with an ‘e’ feels complete on her assessment and tells me to wait here as I will be having my consult with anaesthesia to discuss my post-op care plan as I have some issues with opioids.
I am feeling so anxious about my post-op pain management care plan. I cannot have morphine and codeine and anti-inflammatories. Soooo, I am limited to say the least. The doctor that came in to talk about my care plan stared blankly across the desk at me as I explained how scared I was about pain management. I have had terrible allergic reactions after any anaesthetic in my life and it made recovery difficult. Alana read a list of medications that we had researched as options for me (yes, we are those guys with our proactive care plan). The doctor said that I would be getting hydromorphone and we ‘would see’ how I would respond. Uhh, k, and what about when I get home? She smiled and announced that I could have all the Tylenol I wanted. Tylenol? That is my post-op care plan?! Really?! Hoping to abate my anxiety with this consult, I felt NO better.
With November 17th fast approaching, Alana and I are in planning mode around food and Gray’s care and work.
I flip flop on how I am feeling on an hourly basis. I am still anxious about my dead end vagina. I am still sad about being barren. I still don’t want to be a ‘Crone’. I tell this to Rhondda after she started a really interesting dialogue about my potential new title. She is so wise and kind and I love her words! She explains:
You don’t have to be a Crone yet. There is an archetype that is missing in our culture in that trinity of Maiden-Mother-Crone. We have forgotten the Matriarch. I see many women in my life, in and around their 40’s, who are in need of this archetype. I see women who have connected with their inner power, but haven’t found an outlet or expression for it yet, or recognition from our culture for it.
Shit, she is wise. She shares a resource with me from midwife Elizabeth David that says:
“Maiden, Mother, or Crone-where does a woman in her forties fit in? Women who have turned to feminist spirituality for appreciation of women’s ways of knowing have struggled with the confining concept of the Triple Goddess. Though no longer raising children, a woman may not yet be ready to be a “wise old woman.” The Women’s Wheel of Life offers a new archetype for this woman-the Matriarch. The Matriarch is the Queen of the Harvest-reaping the rewards of sustained work and effort, at the height of her sexual and professional power. Elegantly self-possessed, fuelled by an intensity and direction, she is poised to rekindle the passions, dreams and spiritual pursuits of youth. She represents the challenge facing midlife women today-how to reap the harvest of one’s work and make time for new creative and personal explorations.”
Well, I can fuck with that. Better than Crone for me right now.
I have dreams that my bladder gets cut and then a domino effect of terrible starts. Alana tells me I have to stop watching Grey’s Anatomy before bed… well, the joke is on her since I did not even watch it last night AND still had the dream and besides, I have seen them all already. She may have something there though.
My mom has booked her tickets and Natasha has started a meal train for Alana and I. Olivia is sending her cleaning gal to get my house surgery ready and Alana and I are nesting like we are about to have a baby. Nothing like a hysterectomy to get those annoying little tasks complete like this little nook o’ shame in our kitchen….
For now, I let myself feel how I want at any given time. Well, I try to anyway. I feel very loved by my people and thank you to everyone for reading and commenting and sending love.
Part IV will be coming soon – I guess that one will be my post-op experience unless something real exciting happens in the next week before my surgery.
Bianca Sprague is a birth doula, lactation educator, childbirth educator and business consultant. She and her partner, Alana, are the moms to their 10 year old daughter, Gray. Bianca is the CEO and co-founder of bebo mia inc. and Baby & Me Fitness.
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