March 29, 2009

Blood lines

My two thick wrinkle lines that had stretched from nose to mouth had been replaced by two red lines. My eyes had red streaks beneath them, some crumbles of (I supposed) dried blood and they were pulled. I thought, "I don’t want them to look so pulled when I get better." Blue bruises above the eyes but I still saw the traces of all that overhanging flesh Dr. Delos had called attention to, that he had intended to eliminate. If it is still there now, where is it going to go a month from now?

March 27, 2009

Snow White . . . NOT

So naturally I went into the bathroom to check. Nothing to pass out about. Nothing as upsetting as the sight of a needle. But no Miss America contender either. Yes, ET was a good description. A fluffy cotton snow cap that trundled down from the top of my head and over my ears and down bordering the left and right sides of my mouth (unsmiling, because I still couldn’t smile due to the numbing effect of the anesthesia). It extended below my chin and covered more than half of my neck. The ends were tucked away at the back of my head somewhere.

I don’t know where most of my hair was but part of it stuck out of an opening in the top of my head at the back.

March 22, 2009

ET, pee, and me

4:10 am. I have to get up to pee again and now I can’t get back to sleep. It’s not the pain exactly because I can’t say precisely what the "pain" is. I do feel like my head has gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson and Nando says he feels the same. My surgery was only 3.5 hours, not 4 as originally anticipated, and that’s good. The anesthesiologist, arrogant as he is, must know his stuff. Whatever he had given Nando to make him feel like a jolly pepperone, it’s like the scene in "When Harry met Sally": I want whatever he ordered!

That evening and the next morning, Nando asked me several times how he looked. Like a raccoon. Dark half moons under his eyes and dark above them. A thin line of what had to be blood along his lower eyelids. Stitches? I couldn’t see them. The rest of his face unchanged. Actually quite lovely; his skin relaxed and firm, his forehead unwrinkled.

"And how do I look?"

"Oh, you don’t want to know." He had inspected himself in the mirror but didn’t think I’d be inclined to do the same. Blonde young nurse also advised against it.

"You look like ET right now. You should wait a few days."

March 20, 2009

Let it pee

Same day: 8:20 pm: I realize I am conscious. I get up, wanting to pee. I want to make it to the bathroom unassisted so I hold onto the salmon walls as I go along, and I succeed in making the long trip on my own. Nando is awake and asking, "What time is it? Is it 4:30 pm or 8:30 pm?"

The importance of his diabetic condition cuts through my confusion and I ask him, "Do you need to take your shot?" I call the nurse. It is now 8:30 pm. Nando has salmon (to match the walls?) and spinach. I am given orange juice but am allowed only one glass. A second glass might make me throw up, advises the nurse.

March 15, 2009

The operation

At about noon Blondie came in and said, "Now it’s your turn." It felt very unhospital-like to trot after her in my bare feet and my little white babydoll nightgown. Shouldn’t I be on a stretcher or at least a wheelchair? We walked the few steps across the hall to the operating block and I obediently lay down on the operating table. That was already a gas; how often do you get to WALK to your own operation?

I don’t recall Dr. Delos being in the room, though he may have been. The anesthesiologist was on my right and he asked me to hold out my arm. I knew what was coming; I welcomed the anesthesia (considering the alternative), but felt obliged to tell them about my psychological aversion to needles. "You should know I have a problem with needles. I faint when I see them. So I will look the other way." He gave me a piqueur. The nurse said, "Now really that didn’t hurt so much." I agreed but pointed out that psychological reactions are beyond our direct control and have little to do with "pain". That’s all I remember.

March 13, 2009

Tension and trauma

From then on, the car ride, the interlude in Monaco, the arrival in Marseille, we had both been calm. Except I noticed Nando had been acting more harshly to me, more critical, more impatient than he had been for several months. I asked him if he had been advised not to take his anti-depressant these final pre-op days. Oh no, he had continued to take them, he said.

So I figured this hostility was his way of releasing his tension. "Why do the traumas of the people nearest you always bring out the worst in you? It’s supposed to be the opposite: when the worst happens, it often brings out the best in people. Not you though."

March 11, 2009

The calm before the surgery

Blondie had asked me if I wanted something to sleep this morning since I wouldn’t be operated on till about noon. I had declined. "I guess I’ll be sleeping all afternoon. So it’s better to take advantage of the time now while I still feel okay." I’d rather feel like myself as long as possible before the operation. Besides, I wasn’t scared, more anxious and curious than else. I was actually feeling calm about the whole thing. Was it the pill under my tongue? My worst bout of tension so far had been leaving Homer in the kennel, wondering whether HE might need plastic surgery upon my return.

March 9, 2009

Dog dry afternoon

Nando was complaining about his mouth being very dry. I had a flash of waiting in a recovery room somewhere (after the dog attack in France? when my wrist was broken and reset in Monaco?) and having the same sensation. Dry block for a tongue. What I had craved was a Coke or lemonade. But there had been no one to respond to my cries. I was not going to ignore my husband's. I brought him a glass of water from the bathroom and guided it to his mouth. He took a few sips, giggling about his pepperone trip in between small gulps.

The nurse kept telling me that Nando had to sleep. He would see better, feel better, be able to eat a meal, if he would just stop talking and take a rest. Eventually he did, but it took almost half an hour.

March 8, 2009

Bloody business

I asked the doctor why he wasn’t familiar with the insulin equipment we’d used and his response was textbook French: "Madame, I am a doctor, not a nurse. If I need to know a patient’s blood sugar, I ask the nurse to do it. Also, I am an anesthesiologist. A specialization in diabetes is not within my purview. Chaq’un a son competence."

Murderously I thought to myself, "YOU are a doctor, asshole, which is more than I am. YOU knew or should have known that my husband is a diabetic. You BET it is your business."

March 6, 2009

Sugar shot

The doctor had brought a needle for the insulin but I didn’t want him to administer anything before knowing how much/what strength Nando needed. My husband was coherent enough to insist that I fetch his testing instrument from the toiletry bag in the bathroom. The doctor and nurse hadn’t a clue how to use it. So he explained to me in English and I did it (except for the blood prick itself) and gave the results to the doctor. His sugar was 264.

That’s high, said Nando, concerned in spite of his buzz. When the others asked what was normal, he told them "120 or so." Meanwhile, I dug the grey insulin pen out of my husband's medicine bag, and the doctor set it on 8 as per Nando’s instructions, and administered the dose. Then they left, with the nurse promising to bring him some food immediately.

March 5, 2009

Pepperone nose

Nando, meanwhile, was laughing. "What a trip!" he kept saying. "Boy am I stoned. I am a pepperone. I want to scratch my nose but I can’t find my nose. Hahaha."

He wanted to know where he was and where I was and what time it was -- the latter question he repeated often. He also kept insisting that his nose itched but he couldn’t find it. So I scratched it for him while he laughed delightedly.

As stoned as he was -- and he DID realize he was stoned -- he had the wherewithal to insist that his blood sugar be tested with his portable tester. So the anesthesiologist was rounded up, along with a nurse, to help Nando figure out the correct insulin dose and administer it.

March 4, 2009

Raccoon man

When I was led back to our room, five steps away, Nando was lying in the bed. Without my contact lenses or glasses, I had a hard time figuring out what, if any, had changed. His eyes looked darker, as if he had two black eyes. When he insisted on closer inspection, I put on my glasses and saw that his eyes were in fact blackened, lightly swollen, with little flecks of blood along the rims of the eyes. I wasn’t sickened by the sight so much as frustrated by my inability to comprehend what had happened.