Monday, April 28, 2008

Life in Slow Motion

Two days, my ass.

There was a lot of misinformation given to me prior to this little adventure, one of which was that I would only spend two days in the hospital.

I came home yesterday– four days later.

Now, I suppose it’s not so much of a complaint – after all, I could have never arrived back home and that would have sucked, so four days versus two days – eh, I can deal.

And besides, I was in NO shape to come home after two days.

Because even more egregious than the misinformation of my stay length was the reported amount of pain that I would be experiencing. For example, they told me, “Shortly after waking up, you may have some mild discomfort around the stitched area which we can treat with a mild painkiller. And the stitched area will include three small holes in your belly and then one two-inch cut just below the belly button, from which we will take out the kidney.”

What they should have said was, “Shortly after waking up, confused and delirious from the anesthesia, you will notice that you will be paralyzed from pain, and for the next two days, you will not be able to sleep, sit, or stand up straight because of the trauma to your muscles, from which you will never recover.”

“Oh, and by the way – sorry about that ‘two inch’ cut – turns out it’s the same size as the five-inch job your sister had WHEN WE PULLED OUT A TEN POUND BABY FROM HER STOMACH. Oh, and there are four slashes, not three dots, like we thought. But we tried - So have fun in a bikini, bitch.”

I was also told, "And sometimes patient will have some mild discomfort from the gas that builds up when the organs are moved, but it’s not that bad for everyone.”

What they should have said is, “Now, you will feel like a three-hundred pound man is standing on your chest, and punching on your abdomen at the same time, you won’t be able to laugh for three weeks, and have fun trying to take a shit – ‘cause it ain’t gonna happen.”

Short story long – the pain has been unimaginable – like nothing I can ever put into words.

On the positive side - the night before the surgery, my sister Ellen joked that I was one kidney transplant away from my goal weight.

We laughed– but the reality is that I haven’t weighed this little since I was ten. No shit on that. It’s a good thing the pain is pretty limiting on my physical abilities, otherwise I’d be off to Gap Kids to get myself a new wardrobe, and calling up Nicole Ritchie for some maintenance tips.

Ahh, I know - it will come back on sooner than I can say Dunkin Donuts. Lemme just enjoy my "Save the Babies Campaign" look for its fleeting exisitance.

Also on the positive side is that I approached the recovery like training – every time they came in for meals or vitals, (noon, 4pm, and 4am), I used that as my cue to get my walking socks on and went out to do my laps up and down the halls. But after each round, I needed a nap. And just like training, there were times when it hurt like hell to do another lap, but I kept telling myself, "Don't go back to bed, don't got back to that room without doing another lap."

But everything right now takes twice, if not three times as long to do as normal. I am slowwwwww.....

I think the most emotional part of the whole weekend was when my mom, my brother and I were shuffling down the hall pushing our IV poles. We passed a young woman from housekeeping, who was clearly starting at us, but in a curious way. As we passed, my mother looked over and said, “Yup, they’re both mine.”

It kind a broke my heart a little.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for my mother to get her own exercise walking from unit to unit for the last four days, or sitting in the waiting room post-surgery wondering of either or both of her kids would emerge safe.

My sister drove my mom home last night after they brought me home, and she said that she had never seen my mom look so tired.

Just writing makes me teary. Man, that must have sucked.

What’s craziest is that exactly two weeks ago this morning, I had just crossed the finish line at Ironman Arizona. I was at the peak of physical fitness, had dedicated months and years to caring for and building up my body. I toed that start line in the best condition I could have imagined for myself. And when I crossed that finish line two weeks ago, I was at the top of my world – my energy was limitless.

And when I got home yesterday, I went out for two trips around the block – my new training program. During that short trip, I had to practice my breathing (which is horribly difficult, labored and shallow), forcing myself to inhale despite the pain. And when I arrived home, I needed a nap. I slept for two hours, woke up, and needed another one. I then proceeded to sleep almost 10 hours during the night.

There’s a lot more to report on those days – the nursing follies (the first night was so bad, my surgeon filed a formal complaint), the pain-riddled silent sobs and back rubs from my mom sitting on the side of my bed, the balloon feet/cankles and feet-rubs from Ellen, the Mike ‘n Ike’s and Wheat Thins my mom snuck in Saturday, the way I would fake-sleep mid-sentence when I thought my estranged and deranged cousins came to visit (long story, but dang if it didn't have me and my mom in laughing tears), the kidney shaped pillow my brother's wife made me.

There's just a lot, and I won't bore you.

I am just glad to be home right now.

I am glad to be doing well enough to go back to work today.

I am glad that, even if I decided not to go back today, the State of Illinois did one thing right and covers four weeks paid leave for donors.

I am glad I had a Blackberry in the hospital to read the comments left on Cheese's updates.

I am glad that people won't hold any responses I attempted to send back against me, given my morphine state.

I am glad to have my family and bloggers.

I am glad when I pass gas, because it means I am getting better.

I am even more glad when I poop - Jackpot!

I am glad to be alive.


Nytro said...

so glad you're passing gas again, chica. really. that's a milestone for surgery like that. tell me, does yours smell like pumpkin? because when i passed gas yesterday, benny told me that i should never again ask him to help carve pumpkins for halloween... because it would just bring back bad memories.

anyway, as you well know, training for ironman has prepared you for the crap you have to go through now. that which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger and all that crap, right? oh, and you say you're one kidney away from your goal weight? damn, gina! i shoulda donated!

hope you're feeling better soon and hope that your brother takes what you've given him (you know... LIFE) and uses it for the best.

oh... and you can thank the Utah god for your recovery thus far. i sent up a special prayer that you be able to fart and... whaddya know?

works. every. time.

Alili said...

I am glad you are doing okay. You helped me through my HM yesterday:)

Rest well!

Danielle in Iowa said...

Glad you are home! Sorry recovery has been rougher than imagined! I hope you have been able to get down some chocolate milkshakes to aid in recovery!

stronger said...

One day child birth will be a piece of cake. And with one less kidney- that's gotta descrease your chances for a kidney stone, right? 'Cause that's a lot like child birth too. There's positives all around...and the biggest one is that the sugery was a success and you are both on the mend!

Molly said...

You are SO brave!And I have to tell you I am so impressed with your ability to take this seriously and yet appreciate the humerous parts of the situation!
Sucks that everyhthing is worse than you expected...fight the good fight and
Take Care

IM Able said...

I wanted to write something funny, but how do you top a comment about pumpkin smelling farts?

I'm not going to even try.

We're all thinking about you and I know you'll find progress in this next week. Baby steps to the elevator.


Lauren said...

so glad you're on the mend!

momo said...

yea, carrie and i got a good laugh out of the email responses we got from you... :-)

and it sounds to me, from the tone of your post, that you may have one less kidney, but no less meg humor. life is good, girlfriend.

big, BIG hugs.

Benson said...

Holy crap! (pun intended).
From Ironman to Kidney donor. Now there's a title for a good article or a short story.
Good news on the farting and pooping success. What about the peeing? You haven't told us about the tinkle. Are you wizzing twice as often or half as much? Details please. There is no TMI here. Lay it out there for us.
Jeez, sure wish I could gimp around the block and take 2 naps a day...
Wait, that sounds like how my ironman training is going lately.
I swim, bike, gimp, sleep at the office, repeat.

God bless you for everything. I mean EV-RY-THING!
Wait, I did t

Danni said...

Hi Meg!
I am glad to hear you are recovering well. You are in my thoughts.
Your character just shines through. Even though you were in huge amounts of pain, you still took the time to put yourself in your mother's shoes.
I applaud you and your courage.


Prin said...

I'm glad you're ok and that you still have that bizarrely positive attitude that I come here for. Phew. I'm glad that wasn't somehow attached to/secreted by that kidney.

I feel a little bad for trying to make you laugh when you couldn't really laugh. On the upside, because I was trying, I probably wasn't very funny.

Glad you're home. Although, you should totally take advantage of those free four weeks...

The Clyde said...

As I tell my daughter. It's fun to "windy pop". (You can look it up, it's legit I guess, that's what J makes me call them because she wants Violet to be a lady when she grows up and not some hillbilly like I'm trying to raise her as).

Sorry about all the pain, hope you recover soon, we got some rides to do this summer!!

Nancy Toby said...

I'm thinking you could parlay this into a sympathy spot at Kona with the right backstory.... They'd eat it up. :-)

Well done. You're on the road back - good thing you were so strong at the start!

someday tri said...

Ooooh, ditto on the Kona pity story idea!

Welcome back, fart humor and all. Wish I could share the abundant gas that's passing around our house. Husband has (charmingly) taught our 2-year-old to "toot" on command, drop of a hat, just give her the word. And every time, she could not possibly be more proud of herself -- that grin says it all. I imagine your reactions are about the same :)

Brent Buckner said...

Hope your healing picks up in pace, and that you don't knock yourself out at work.

Andra Sue said...

I know I already emailed you, but to record for posterity: I AM SO GLAD YOU ARE HOME SAFE!!! And with your sense of humor intact, no less.

Training is'll be back to those 7 hour bricks in no time. :D

Duane said...

If you can pass itm, I'm thinking you should indulge on your fave candy! Glad you're home!

Brigitte said...

Glad you are home safe.
You should definetely take some time ( later on) to write about your life. That would be a best seller guaranteed: kidney donor, Iromwoman, finding love on the internet... I would buy that book for sure.
Take care of yourself.

Prin said...

Ok, so in lieu of flowers, I bought me some shiny new white and pink running shoes (Nike, no less- they were out of adidas), and I ran probably almost nearly a mile. But it was raining and 9C (48F), so I get bonus points for that, right?

Thought so.

I just figured I'd run because even though my knees are arthritic because of the compression injuries from snowboarding, I still can, you know?

Donald said...

Good luck with your recovery. And good luck to your brother.

LittleB22 said...

Found you through Clyde...what an amazing thing you did. Glad to hear you're on the road to recovery, sorry to hear it was so painful.

Anonymous said...

The Ironman attitude wins!!! Get well, take care, be kind to yourself, and quit doing so many laps!

Take baby steps to recovery, and you'll be in top shape in no time. Passing wind and all...

Go Mom Go said...

Boy Megan after all that child birth will be a piece of cake!

I am so glad that you are home and healing. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to heal.

Still praying for you friend!


Mommymeepa said...

Glad to hear you're tootin' ok. Will pray for a quick recovery.