I’ve had seven surgeries in my lifetime.
1 Insertion of Tympanostomy tube (tubes in the ears)
1 Tonsilectomy and Adenoidectomy (removal of tonsils and adenoids)
3 Lithotripsies (blasting kidney stones into tiny pieces)
1 parathyroidectomy (removal of one parathyroid adenoma)
1 cesarean (Eleanor Kay’s impromptu arrival)
I’m scheduled to get all four of my wisdom teeth removed on Monday. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life! Honestly, I could care less about the actual procedure, the pain afterwards or the possibility of dry sockets. I’d neglected to make an appointment with the Dental Surgeon for more than four years. I blamed it on not being able to afford it (which, let’s be honest, is not all an excuse.. you know it costs over $1200 to get those suckers out!?), but after my last dental check-up, the Dentist convinced me that it was the right move.
I checked in at the appointment and was visibly nervous. I marked the box “single” rather than married (no offence, Devin). And I still wonder what the Surgeon was thinking while walking into the room as I was straightening certificates on his wall. The nurse was training in a young, slender woman from South Central. They were both annoying, which I’m sure that opinion had nothing to do with my mood. I tried to be polite, but my bitch-face was (unintentionally) on the whole time. I did NOT want to be there. I tried to be funny to myself to keep my emotions turning into fire and fury (and I was positive that people were really missing out on my hilarity). I pleaded with the surgeon, a jolly man who had beautiful teeth and that’s about it, not to give me anesthesia. “Can’t you just pull ’em out and give me some super sweet street drugs?” He thought I was joking. My fire and fury started. “Okay, but I really DON’T want the anesthesia.” He began trying to convince me that the pain following the surgery should be my focus.
I obviously have no memories of the tubes surgery as an infant and the only thing I remember about my tonsilectomy was my grandma bringing me a huge box of stuff including Titanic posters (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). When I was 17 I had my first lithotripsy procedure. My mom rushed me to the ER after experiencing intense pain in my lower back for countless hours throughout the day. After a few hours, the on-call Doctor told my mom I had several kidney stones too large to pass. Mama made the appointment, the surgery was scheduled for the following morning and I didn’t have an apprehensive bone in my body. The surgery was successful, but it was taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R for me to wake up. I remember the nurse telling my mom that I had slept three times the length of time they anticipated.
Fast forward to March 2011 when I had to get my second lithotripsy. I vividly remember beginning to wake up. I couldn’t open my eyes, but I could hear everything around me. I was unable to move and my breathing tube was still in. I heard the nurses talking about unrelated things while I began to panic, believing I couldn’t breathe. Well, I could breathe, but I just thought I couldn’t. I was paralyzed. In my head I was screaming for someone to help me and as I desperately tried to open my eyes, tears streamed down my face. I felt the woosh of the nurse walking past me. She looked down, grabbed a tissue and wiped my face, “Ohhh, she’s crying. It’s okay, Amanda. You’re fine.” No I’m not, you idiot! I can’t breathe! Can’t you see that? How is there not an alarm going off?
I precisely remember thinking about Lucy and how I would never hear her giggle again. My tears started flowing more rapidly as I reflected on all the things I wish I could say to her before I died. The more I cried, the more coherent I became. Though it was probably just a few moments, the terrible, awful, horrible feeling of death felt like it lasted forever. I was finally able to open my eyes and I realized that this stupid surgery wouldn’t be fatal.
Maybe it’s ludicrous, I don’t know, but being fully aware of your surroundings while being paralyzed is just about (maybe minus childbirth) the WORST feeling I’ve ever experienced. My following surgeries that required anesthesia were comparably traumatizing. Lots of puking, taking WAY too long to awaken after sedation, believing I was headed to heaven… you get it. Yuck.
So, you can see why I dread parting with these four little devils. And if I’m crabby next week, you know why.
Wish me luck!