Unfinished Business, Part 1

I am such a procrastinator.

I posted twice in March, both open-ended stories, and at the end of April I find myself with a couple of loose ends to tie up. I’ve really got to do a better job of this. Not for the sake of the few readers who may accidentally stumble upon this modest collection of ramblings, but for the sake of my own self-discipline, which has been sadly lacking as of late.

In early March, in a post entitled “Here We Go Again!“, I told the beginning of my gallstone adventure, and left off, as I remember, having the complaint but no firm plans for its care.

After another week had gone by, I called the Medical Center and left a message on their machine for Dr. Daday (are there any medical facilities left that have actual people manning the phones?), reminding him that I was not having the greatest of times, and was counting on him to help me out. He returned my call the following day, telling me to call Dr. Vasily Sawyena a call. I called and made the appointment, which wasn’t for another week. Seven more days of agonized eating!

I showed up at his office a few minutes early, knowing there would be a mountain of paperwork to fill out. When my name was called, I went into the exam room and met the doctor.

“Let’s see,” he said, looking through a folder that contained the paperwork sent over by the medical center, “you’re here for a hernia, correct?”  He said it so seriously that even today I’m not sure if he meant it, or was merely starting the interview off with a joke. In any case, the session was short and sweet. He just confirmed some information and told me he could do the procedure the following Tuesday.

Afterward, I was going over a few things with Linda the the desk. Dr. Daday had told me that the procedure was no big deal, no hospital stay, and I should be back to normal in a couple of days. I wanted some verification.

“Well, yes, you can probably go back to work on a couple of days. But you still have to be careful. No lifting anything over ten pounds for a month or so.”

What? That wasn’t back to normal for me!

I asked about exercise, specifically my MMA workouts at Tiger’s.

“Oh, I don’t think so,” she said with some doubt.

Dr. Sawyena happened to walk past at that moment.

“Doctor, he does karate.”

“Not for the next six to eight weeks, he doesn’t,” the doc replied without slowing down.

“It’s still major surgery,”  Linda explained to me firmly.

Turns out that what Dr. Daday meant  by “no big deal” was a comparison to the way gall bladders used to be removed, with six-inch incisions, week-long hospital stays, and up to six-months of recovery. My procedure would be much simpler: a few barely noticeable cuts, gall bladder removed through the navel, dissolving stitches, no muss, no fuss, no months of lying around getting better afterward.

I was curious about what changes I’d have to make in my diet. I asked my best friend, Google, what they knew about it.

AVOID THESE FOODS

Eggs (Research showed that eggs caused symptoms in up to 95% of patients. Try substituting flax seed gel in recipes that require eggs for the “glue”. That’s 1 TBSP ground flax seed to 3 TBSP hot water. Let cool and add.)
Pork
Onions
Fowl (turkey, chicken)
Dairy (milk, cheese, cream)
Gluten (wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, etc.)
Corn
Coffee
Oranges, grapefruit
Nuts
Trans fats,
Hydrogenated, partially-hydrogenated oils
Margarine
Fried Foods
Saturated fats
(even coconut oil until feeling better)
Red meats
Coffee, regular or decaf
Spicy foods
Chocolate
Ice cream
Black tea
Alcohol, beer, wine, liqueur
Fruit juice
Carbonated water
Tap water
Turnips
Cabbage, cauliflower
Colas and all sodas
Oats (for some people)

Avoid all artificial sweeteners, sugar, preservatives, refined and bleached foods (like white flour)

Avoid all possible food allergens.”

What the hell? What am I supposed to eat? Bread and bottled water?

Happily, the more sensible (as well as credible) medical websites, such as WebMD and Oprah.com, suggest that I would have to make no dietary adjustments. I decided to follow their advice.

The Big Day arrived. I got a call Monday night telling me that the surgery would take place the following morning at 9:30, and I should show up an hour earlier to take care of the paperwork and other preparatory matters.

I arrived at the scheduled time, filled out the paperwork, and put on the cap and gown. One of the prep nurses remembered me from last summer’s back surgery. Great. Not only does Foursquare tell me I’m mayor of the Medical Center, the Surgery Center and the Hospital, but now I’m becoming a familiar face in the operating room. Where everybody knows my name.

I was wheeled down to pre-op, where I re-identified myself to several personnel, including Dr. Sawyena, who stopped by to say Howdy. The anesthesiologist started an IV drip in my arm. I happened to glance at the clock over the door: it was 9:20 a.m.

The next thing I remember was almost waking up, and a nurse asking how I felt. I remember saying, “It hurts.” Because it did. She said she’d get something to help me feel better. Or something. I don’t remember for sure. I was only almost awake.

I regained my full faculties lying in the spot I started out from, in the prep area upstairs. As soon as I had shaken off the effects of the anesthesia, I was given a Lorna Doone and a small apple juice to  make sure I could keep food down. When that was happily established, the nurse told me I could get dressed while she called Jill; as soon as she got here, I could go home.

Shortly afterwards, she told me she had dialed Jill’s number, but it had gone right to voicemail. I asked the time; it was 11:15.

What??? 11:15? So in less than two hours, I had been prepped, the surgery had been performed, and now I was dressed and ready to go? Gotta love modern medicine. This is why I believe my 17-year-old will be around to see the start of the 22nd Century.

Anyway, to bring this runaway narrative to its conclusion, I’ve survived five weeks sans gall bladder with few ill effects. I’m planning on going back to Tiger’s in a couple of weeks, providing the lymphedema flare-up in my right foot clears up.

Yes, it’s always something. Getting old’s a bitch!

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