Hospitals are scary. Hospitals in Madison are petrifying. The incident at St. Mary's in summer of 2006 took all the fun out of the phrase "naughty nurses." And the suicidal gunman parading around the UW hospital last fall was more unsettling than bedpans. No one ever dreams about going to the hospital unless babies or boobs are the outcome.
For me, the nightmare was real. Bill Lueders might have carved a turkey for the Thanksgiving holiday, but to commemorate the first day of Chanukah, I got carved at Meriter Hospital.
That would be a laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, cystoscopy and appendectomy -- you want fries with that?
I got to Meriter at the ungodly hour of 5:45 a.m., with my surgery scheduled for 7:30 a.m. I was prepped with general questions -- do you smoke, can you be pregnant, do you have any metal plates in your body, do you have any fake limbs -- and was then handed a sheet regarding the do's and don't's following my procedure.
GO DIRECTLY HOME, it said in big bold letters, but unlike in Monopoly I did not get to collect $200 on my way.
DO NOT GO SHOPPING. That one kinda sucked because I had planned on a marathon spree at Hilldale after having my torso impaled by lasers.
DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL -- INCLUDING BEER. I am really glad that one was clarified.
After these formalities I changed into my hot nightgown and robe ensemble with complimentary tan, Meriter booties -- with the grippy bottoms! -- and was wheeled to meet the anesthesiologist. As I lay on this tiny bed with wheels, going over my living will in my head, a scruffy man with an earring walked in and greeted me with a smile. My anesthesiologist could head up a motorcycle gang! Far out!
He told me about the sedatives and something something happy land, good night!
Then I woke up. With tubes up my nose. And pain.
It was decided that an overnight stay was best for my bloated, prodded body. This actually turned out to be fabulous! Meriter is incredibly clean and has a dedicated staff that checked and rechecked how I was feeling every hour or so. And they gave me these nifty leggings that strapped around my calves, inflating and deflating to keep the blood flowing to fend off blood clots. Grand!
My two-person room became a single after my roommate hit the high road (not to heaven, no worries). After I told my mother and boyfriend how to feed my cat five times between slipping in and out of consciousness, someone decided I should eat something -- help me gather my wits.
Perhaps it was the Percocet playing with my palate, but I found the cafeteria food scrumdidiliumptious. The chicken soup was full of yummy noodles and real chicken, none of that "rib meat." I could have ordered more, but scouring the TV channels for various incarnations of Law & Order wore me out too much to indulge in a second course.
In a narcotic haze, I was awoken by a nurse at 3 a.m. to get more pain medication and to make sure that I urinated. Part of someone's job description was to ensure that I peed. That's just silly. Speaking of silly, where'd they put my appendix, anyway? Is that why the soup was so good? Curious....
Things I learned in the hospital:
1. It doesn't really matter if a stranger sees your rear when you go to the bathroom -- if they are a nurse, they see random bums all the time; if they are a patient, they are probably on painkillers, too, and your bum could be a pigeon for all they know; if they are a visitor, shake it and make it memorable.
2. There is such a thing as unisex, one-size-fits-all underwear that is as absorbent as a terrycloth towel!
3. It is not advised to put your arm down after the IV is removed -- keep it elevated, or else have a pair of those undies on hand to stop the blood flow. They work well for that, too, I learned.
4. Hospitals have all sorts of crazy things from adhesive removal wipes to breakfast sandwiches and morphine -- and it is okay to ask for all of those, whenever you want!
My bellybutton looks like a toddler scooped it out with a melon-baller and then punched me in the gut with a fist soaked in yellow highlighter fluid. And despite over 14 hard cleansings later, I am still finding adhesive in curious places. I know exactly what you are thinking: I am really ready for Playboy now. But all kidding aside, I am glad I had my surgery at Meriter Hospital because now -- I'm bionic.