Thursday, November 20, 2008

my turn on the table

I had EXTREMELY MINOR mouth surgery this week. Something my doctor said she could probably do in the office, but didn't want to be stuck without cauterizing tools in case I was a bleeder. So she referred me to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist.

For some reason they had me come to the largest same-day surgical center in the Midwest to have this thing taken care of. I had no idea it would be such a big ordeal. Dude, this little bump? The one over here that is only sort of annoying in a completely-not-painful way? Did it really require all this stripping-down, open-in-the-back-gown, non-slip-padded-socks, hairnet, no-jewelry drama?

My mom took the morning off to go with me, even though they'd said I could drive myself. She probably felt it was only fair that she be there because she's always been at my brother's side, no matter how small the test or big the open-heart surgery. She even took pictures of me to show him how I looked in all the regalia. I rolled my eyes, but when I had to sit there for like two hours in the pre-op room, I was really thankful for the company.

They sat me in a recliner and gave me magazines and heated blankets. All these years when I've waited in pre-op with my brother before his procedures, I thought getting blankets out of a warmer must be so awesome. Yeah, not really. They stuck this locker-mirror-sized sticky pad with wires in it on my back—the wires hooked up to the "vitals" machine. That thing was really effing annoying because every time I shifted just a little bit, it pulled on my skin in a really awkward way. I just wanted that thing OFF.

When I finally got to the operating room, they strapped me to the table. They took my blood pressure about 14 times. And they stuck this really cold "grounding" pad onto my thigh in case the incision needed to be cauterized. I lay there, helpless, and watched the medical people walk around the room adjusting things, pulling out tools and talking about their Thanksgiving plans.

And then I felt the tears well up in the corners of my eyes.

All I could think about was how much my brother has had to endure. Here I was irritated they stuck a few things on me that I'd be able to remove in about 15 minutes. In his life, doctors have sawed through my brother's sternum and propped him open, sometimes for 15 HOURS at a time—on more than eight occasions. Every time I shifted and that sticky pad annoyed me, I remembered all those dressings he's had to keep stuck to his chest for months, itchy tape that gave him the hives. The countless shots, IV lines, soreness and never-ending regimen of medicines. Not being allowed a drink for days, just a wet swab, when his mouth felt like the desert. And yet, he hardly ever complains.

Lying on the table, looking into the masked faces and the bright lights before I got local anaesthesia and a whopping total of THREE stitches, it became even more clear that if our lots in life had been reversed, I never would have survived.


Teej said...

You just gave me a little afternoon cry over here.

Glad you're fine, glad your brother is such a fighter, pretty sure you would be too.

Sphincter said...

It sounds like you have a wonderful family. Glad to hear that all went as well as it could.