Tuesday, February 02, 2010

clearing the decks

It's February already, and I'm seized with a feeling of doom. Back in December my fabulous surgeon scheduled me for "the first available surgery date", which was mid-February. Back then, that seemed so far away. Now all of a sudden it's here, and I am not feeling ready.

I scheduled a couple of fun things (next weekend we'll go out for a night of hardcore drinking with my favorite hard-drinking couple, the husband of which once said to me, "Open another bottle; I'm Scottish!". I held a brunch for the 'funemployed" members of my Warcraft guild, where we drank mimosas and ate a fresh-baked coffee cake and frittata while annoying the on-line strangers who ended up completing our dungeon group). I meant to declutter the house, get rid of all those bags of books I always claim I am going to take to the used bookstore, and finish some partially-done quilts, and I haven't done that. I wanted the Sober Husband to take a day off and go hiking with me around Muir Woods, while the children were stowed away at school, but that isn't going to happen. Instead he ended up doing two business trips (he's up in the frigid Northeast right now). I also wanted to see a play which just opened at one of my favorite theatres, but I don't think that's going to happen, either.

While most of the "have some fun before several really crappy weeks of convalescence" hasn't panned out, I'm trying to get a variety of child-related things taken care of before my surgery. I'm wrangling a variety of of obligations related to our applications to a school for gifted children [I took Lola for hours of additional testing; I drove Lola down the peninsula for her day visiting the school in the worst storm of the winter, hydroplaning twice and blurting out that classic prayer, "OhGodohGodohGod"; Iris also spent a day visiting there on another stormy day as well]. I've got a playdate finally set with Lola's new best friend from school, a delightful and very highly-scheduled child. I chaperoned a first grade field trip and helped the fourth grade do a sewing project. The art teacher invited me to come back and help more over the next several weeks, but I can't.

I wish I hadn't known so far ahead of time about this surgery. It just gives me too much time to dread it. The first time I had surgery, it came out of the blue: I was admitted to the hospital one night and operated on right off the next morning. If I'd had time to worry, my worries would have been washed right away by the handy morphine injections they were giving me.

I'm not finding much comfort anywhere or understanding of my dread, either. My own darling husband said, when I first told him that I was worried about having surgery, in a judgmental tone, "Well, you chose to go down this path by getting that ultrasound." [My psychiatrist first said, "What an odd thing to say!" but after pondering it, found the logic in it. "If you had just sucked it up and endured the pain, it is true you wouldn't have had that ultrasound and wouldn't be having surgery"]. Another loved one questioned why I would be spending two to three nights in the hospital, saying incredulously, "I thought they'd have you out right away!"

"It IS major abdominal surgery," I said defensively.

"I know someone who had that surgery, and two weeks later, she just repainted her whole house! She just went right outside, and she repainted that whole house! By herself!"

After that I had very little to say whatsoever. My surgeon has advised me to take an entire six weeks of convalescence, the first three weeks of which I should do absolutely nothing whatsoever, but I felt like the hero of "The Magic Mountain" when he was called upon to explain why he was spending the flower of his youth secluded in a sanitarium.

Indeed I stopped asking for help, since it didn't seem to be doing anything other than making me feel worse and to realize that people I like to think love me don't really, at least not as much as I like to think they do. This depressingly leads me to the conclusion that I am a supremely unlovable person. But! Support is coming from unexpected quarters. My mother-in-law, with whom I have always had a pained relationship, is flying in to be with the Sober Husband and the children while I am in the hospital. This will allow the Sober Husband to visit me in the hospital, which has strict rules forbidding child visitors. She also sent me a signed Mary Karr first edition to read during my convalescence, a very thoughtful gift indeed. A beloved friend from high school is flying in for a few days the second week after my surgery to do some cooking and drive the children around (this isn't unexpected because this friend is really very kind and conscientious, but unexpected because she's going to trouble and expense to help).

And then again, I feel like a loser for wanting help. I should be able to figure this out. If I were a different sort of person, a less lazy one, I would cook nutritious meals for my family for every day of my convalescence and freeze them all. In reality, the freezer unit on my refrigerator is very, very tiny, and it is almost entirely taken up with my ice cream maker (which I like to keep at the ready, in case someone gets a whim to make ice cream), several pounds of coffee, a couple ice cube trays, a bag of popcorn (Handy Hint: all the kernels pop if you keep them frozen), and the ends of puglieses I save for when I need good bread crumbs. Also, I don't cook the sorts of food which freeze well. The kind of food I cook tastes fabulous fresh, usually pretty good the next day, but just becomes a horrible mess if frozen. I remember some amazingly difficult Barcelonan dish I made in a large quantity and froze, which the Sober Husband said of dismissively, "Isn't this going to make us sick?"

If I'm not cooking gourmet, I'm having the children eat canned lentil soup or macaroni and cheese out of a box, and those things don't need to be frozen ahead of time. I like to excuse this sort of laziness and child-pandering on the basis that it's compensated for on the other days of the week, when I present the children with a delicious labor of love with a variety of fresh ingredients. In this case, they'll just have to have a few weeks under their father's care, whose skill is capped at making Ramen noodles.

The other problem is the driving. I won't be able to drive for a few weeks, and the children require driving, quite a lot of driving. I suspect at the least they'll miss their art classes and Lola's dance classes, Iris's book club and Lola's special comic book drawing outing. A few weeks of living on Ramen noodles and not being enriched shouldn't harm them too much, but I'm not looking forward to it myself. One Ramen meal a week is more than enough Ramen for me, personally.


Claire M. Johnson said...

You've thoughfully laid out why you can't make like June Cleaver so you can't. So the kids eat Top Ramen for two weeks. What is more important is that your spend time with THEM pre-surgery. My kids were older (although my surgery was scheduled, we had summer of ER visits and other crap not worth going into), but the anxiety level was exceptionally high. More so for my son than my daughter.

As to recovering, well, everyone is different, but I was on the table for over six hours, and I was up and about in two weeks. And I had a twofer: a hysterectomy and gall bladder. Weak, yeah, absolutely no stamina, yeah, but up and about. And I'm a middle-aged, overweight hag so it's not like I had a wealth of good health to bank on. A lot of recovering from surgery is not just the pain (incision not plesant), but getting all that SHIT from the anesthetic that they give you out of your system. As your liver starts working overtime to rid that stuff from your system, you'll be tired. When you feel tired, sleep. If you give into your guilt and start rushing around before you're ready, it will take longer to heal. I completely indulged myself for two weeks and on the third week, I was up and about.

What would be a good idea is to give the children wee chores they can do while you're laid up. That will make them less spectators and more part of the process. Plus it will help you out. :) Good luck and I'll be thinking of you.

the Drunken Housewife said...

I hope it goes well like that, Claire.. I had a gallbladder horror several years ago, where I literally nearly died and had 2 different surgeries (1 to remove gallstones, another surgery to remove the gallbladder). I developed pneumonia as a post-surgical complication, and the whole thing was a Big Fat Nightmare. My husband got into a big fight with me the day after I came back home from my second hospitalization and said, "When are you ever going to do any housework again?" An elderly cat I'd found on the street and was trying to nurse back to health got taken to the pound at that time... it was really a horrible era. It's based on that I'm freaking out so much this time.

Claire M. Johnson said...

Ugh, so you know the physical drill. If cleaning is an issue for your husband (I have a husband who thinks dust bunnies are two of the most evil words in the human language), call, right now, a cleaning service and arrange for a crew to come in a couple of times. Maybe three days after your surgery and then two weeks after that. Even if only to get the kitchen scrubbed down, the bathrooms decrudded, and the floors washed. It will be money WELL spent. If your parents or MIL ask you what they can do, take them up on their offer and ask them to pay for the cleaning service.

Re your husband's comments. I think this is a fear-based reaction and if you look at it like that, then it doesn't seem like an attack. My first reaction to his comment that, well, if you hadn't gone to a doctor then there wouldn't an issue was goggly eyes, because, hello, you're in pain. Your body is telling you something is wrong. Gobbling motrin is not going to change that issue. But after giving it some thought, I think it's the fear talking [having been down that road as well :)].

Silliyak said...

And, of course, post surgery depression is also normal. Best of luck!

Missy said...

So when exactly is the surgery scheduled for? Date, please!

The nice thing about your MIL is that since you have realistic expectations about her, getting something thoughtful is truly an out of the blue kind of day-maker surprise.

Hugs! Missy

Susan said...

Hey there girl! I'm thinking about you. Why is it that people always say the worst things? I say if you can tolerate it, stay in the hospital THREE days! Sleep! Have them clean up everything! Read! Have them bring you food in bed! Just relax!

Sometimes I wonder if there are just too many people in our society who are competitive about EVERYTHING. If you are sick, they are sicker. If you are back up quickly, they were back up quicker.

Hang in there. I will be thinking about you!

the Drunken Housewife said...

The actual surgery is next Thurs., Feb. 11th. One week...

Amy said...

Hey neighbor, remember saying you wanted to get into my kitchen and me saying it would be better to bring me to yours?

I can totally come over for a night or two and cook. If parking is easy on your street, I can probably even bring the groceries (you'd have to supply the money tho', due to my destitution). I can come up with great dinners for hard core vegans, allergies, and candida diets. Preparing food that *merely* requires the absence of meat is no problem.

My schedule is pretty open, let's talk.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Amy! That could be a fabulous solution. I know the Sober Husband would be greatly relieved if he could hand off some of those meals to a more competent person... he can pay for the groceries. I'll send you an email and hook him into the loop. thank you!

Joyce said...

Awwwww sweetness I think you're mad at me (I'm sorry I couldn't go to Iris' school day), but get over it, because I will bring you a big batch of Cuban black beans. My SIL translated the recipe from Spanish for me and they are the best fricking black beans EVER, and they are vegan!!!!

Anonymous said...

see.... you totally missed your chance to hire me as your personal full time driver.... ;-)

hope your recovery goes quick!!! miss ya'all LOTS

(dag of course)

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!