Sorry Gulch, Arizona, by Eric Talerico

Thursday, January 1, 2009

post Surgery

I was in no pain that day.  Blissfully, thoughtlessly comfortable.  My daughter visited. Happy to see her, I don't remember a word we said.  Toward evening I walked cautiously to the bathroom and gratefully returned to bed.  I had no curiosity about the compression bandage on my chest, did not want to know what the operated area looked like or how much breast was left.  That night there was no watching a DVD on my laptop as I slid from my high point walk to the bathroom directly into sleep.  I woke briefly several times during the night aware of a nurse, always the same woman, carefully checking my bandage, checking the tightness of the compression stockings, taking by blood pressure, adjusting my bed cover. Kind person.  I never saw her again.

The next morning, I was fully awake and glad to see a breakfast tray of coffee and brotchen, butter, jam, and cold meat cuts arriving.  

I had a tiny private room - just big enough for the hospital bed and its paraphernalia, and one visitor's chair.  Built into the wall within arm's reach as I sat in bed, was a wee refrigerator, and a cupboard. I had my own bathroom. I was a private patient because of my American insurance.   What I loved about my very very small room in this old building was the floor to ceiling window.  The first floor window overlooked a tree-shaded path on the campus.  I was aware of medical students with backpacks biking, walking, scurrying to this hospital in the morning.  Later, I actually saw one or two of them on this station in their short white coats.  As a high school teacher, I loved seeing these students, now beyond secondary school, which is where we want them to be going. 

The day after surgery I was sent a physical therapist who showed me how to exercise my left arm while still in bed.  But I did not remain in bed long.  That day I walked the station, a short walk.  The second day after surgery I walked the entire wing, discovered an  interesting route back when I got lost. 

In the meantime, dressings were changed and I discovered what I still had for a left breast. The nipple was gone, and most below it.  The scar was harsh.  Eighteen lymph nodes had been removed. I had two drainage bags, one from the breast, one from the the left axillary.  Both bags  were pinned to my t-shirt.  In order to  shower, I had to stand outside the shower and stick my head in to shampoo my hair, then stick in my arms, legs - keeping my chest etc absolutely dry.  A challenge.  On my surgeon's rounds that day I said to him, " I washed my hair in the shower this morning, all by myself."  Said he, "Wow! So did I!"   I looked at this athletic healthy man's short hair, and loved his humor!  Bless him.