Thursday, September 09, 2004

Drugs and nine stitches


In preparation for the surgery, it's time for muscle relaxant, mild diuretic and tranquilizer. Yes, I'm talking about going to the pub with a friend and ingesting Guinness and playing games (trivia, puzzles).


As I've written earlier, I was diagnosed with pleomorphic adenoma (a benign tumor in the neck, salivary gland) and today it was time for surgery to remove it. I rise early Monday morning and take the bus to the hospital, where I wait outside a while before they open. I register, get a room of my own, am told to change into a white smockish number and take these pills please (no red or blue ones to choose between). Painkillers and benzodiazepine.

I get into bed, am wheeled to the operating room and then told to get on the operating table and breathe in this mask please. Things happened so fast I didn't get a chance to deliver the joke I'd been planning all week.

-"Doctor, doctor, will I be able to sing after the surgery?"

-"Well, yes, I don't see why not."

-"Cool, I couldn't sing before."

At least managed to do a similar thing the time a few years ago when I was at the same hospital for minor surgery of the hand to remove some complications from a disagreement with heavy machinery at the factory I worked at.

-"Doctor, doctor, will I be able to play the piano after the surgery?"

-"Well, yes, I don't see why not."

-"Cool, I couldn't before."

Neither could I tell the surgeons to, since they're already there around the face with sharp knives, maybe get a Brad Pitt/George Clooney/Harrison Ford thing going.

Breathe in the mask, fzzzt, lights out. I wake up in the bed I started in, new room, very disoriented and with a tube snaking from my neck, ending in a Jackson-Pratt bulb. I think that's what they're called, based on my pre-surgery research. Not Pratt & Whitney or Briggs & Stratton, because they're engine makers. After some false starts I figure out which limbs are arms and which are legs and the difference between left and right and wave (pathetically?) to attract attention and tell the staff that I'm awake again.

Bed is wheeled back to my room and from the wall clock I can tell that I've probably been out about three hours.

You're told to come to surgery (if it's under full anesthesia) on an empty stomach because you can be nauseous from it, but/so I'm hungry. I joked with a friend the week before about a tumor being a mutation, and what my superpower would be. I suggested To Be Able To Eat As Much As I Like Of Anything Without Getting Fat. But I already have that ability, and the surgical removal of the mutation didn't affect it. Yum, sandwiches.

As an aside, the "What superpower(s) would you recieve after being hit with cosmic energy?" quiz at this link said: "An insatiable appetite and the ability to chew anything. So much for your diet (look for the low-carb concrete)".

Wow. Go figure. But it also said that my sidekick would be: "An elephant that is afraid of the dark".

I get a morphine shot, we'll see what the effects will be... Many years ago I was at another hospital for appendicitis (perforation and peritonitis to boot) and then I got many morphine shots. I could spend the better part of an afternoon trying to figure out what day it was. Yay barbiturates.

Now it's just a matter of waiting, if the amount of fluid draining (the tube in the neck, remember?) decreases, I can go home tomorrow. I have a TV in my room. Yay daytime sitcoms. Full House, That 70s Show, Malcolm in the middle, Nikki AND Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I stay away from talkshows like Dr. Phil and Oprah, because then I'd need heavier drugs. Much heavier drugs.

Bathroom visits and perambulation is a bit hampered by the glucose IV in my left arm but since I can drink and eat it's removed but the needle left in place in case they'd need to put more chemicals in me. Now, for a proper Borg look, the fluid in my neck tubing should be green and the IV thingy with valves should be black and chrome. Clothing should be a biker/Goth crossover.

Nope. Neck = Red pinkish. IV = Pink and baby blue. Clothing = White smock.


Everything is OK, and preparations are underway for going home. I think I scared the bejeebers out of a poor student nurse when I had the IV needle removed. I'm a blood donor, and not squeamish about needles or blood, and was helpful in holding back pieces of tape and putting the bandaid on. Well, she removed the needle under the supervision of another nurse, then they left and I continued packing. Suddenly I feel a wet sensation on my arm and oopsie, I'm bleeding a bit. Like a plug had been pulled. I used the arm too soon, and managed to drip blood on the floor, bed, my pants and elsewhere. I rush to the sink and get a paper towel which is soaked too, but I manage to stop it, then find the button thingy to call a nurse. They come back and I stand there over the sink looking sheepish. "Uhm, it bled through." The poor little student nurse looks scared but both I and the senior nurse are calm and tell her that these things happen, just go get a bigger bandaid and we'll clean this up.

I talk to the doctors that did the surgery. A tumor the size of a hazel nut had been removed, no problems, we'll just remove the neck drain thing and send you home.

I go home, and start spoiling myself. Candy, pizza, more TV, mild Paracetamol painkillers and calling everybody and telling them I'm OK.

Swallowing, yawning, coughing, sneezing and getting up are maneuvers that have to be carefully planned so my neck doesn't explode.


It's sometimes up, sometimes down. I normally don't sleep on my back, but that's the only possible position for a while. Sometimes I can move about freely, sometimes I have to lie down flat or when I move about (went shopping for "food and medicine" (but not guns)) I have to adopt this Fronkensteen monster/Zombie posture where I can't turn my neck but have to rotate my whole torso. Brrraaaaaaiins.

The Show "Las Vegas" was on, the one where Sam is all hyper after handling two craps players for 48 hours straight running on caffeine pills. I can relate to that.

I got two full weeks medical leave but if I feel OK I can probably go back to work next week. We'll se about that after the weekend.

I mainly write about poker in this blog, so why write about this experience? Well, it's my blog, a blog should be personal and I can write about whatever I like. And I can probably work a poker angle into it. I haven't changed the wound dressing yet, so I don't know how many stitches there are in addition to the total of thirtyfour I already have elsewhere, but there will maybe be a slight scar. That can be useful in live (or B & M) poker. "Oh, this? Got it in a fight in Reno with a guy who dealt from the bottom of the deck. Arrr!". I don't know why I sounded like a pirate there.

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