In Love

I want to tell you guys about the only time I have ever been in love. I have dated a lot of people. I have slept with a lot of people. I cared about a few of them. I loved a few of them. But I have only ever been IN love with one person.

That might sound bad considering how many people I have dated. But I think after this story and this story, you guys might have started to realize I haven’t really dated anyone worth falling in love with. And none of you have even heard the worst of it.

 

This was during my heart surgery phase. I love that expression. It sounds like my heart surgeries were just a phase I was going through; like wearing glittery eye shadow or side ponytails.

That scrunchie is a nice touch.

As soon as the anaesthesiologist pumped me full of magical knock out drugs, I was out. I could have been dead for all I knew. The last thing I’d see was some random forest scene on the ceiling of the operating room. Then I would suddenly be riding out of the operating room on a stretcher and into the recovery room with no memory of the passage of time.

And I’d always be like, I don’t want to die looking at pine trees on a screen.

It was in the recovery room that I fell in love.

 

There was a perianesthesia nurse there in that room. He was the same person every time.  And this may partially be the drugs talking, but he was the loveliest human being I have ever met.

 

Waking up from anesthesia is traumatic. I would be wheeled in with IV lines in my arm or neck (or both) and heart catheters still hanging out of my groin. I also had very bad reactions to anesthesia every time.

 

But that nurse would talk to me with a voice that washed over me like a soothing balm. He was calm and soft spoken. I knew he would keep me as safe as he could.

 

He never put his hands on me without warning me first. He never lied to me. He told me it was going to hurt for a few minutes while he pulled my caths out. And it did. A lot.He told me it was going to hurt while he put pressure on my groin to keep me from bleeding to death with all the blood thinners I was on. And it did.

Apparently he was pulling this thing out of my heart. No wonder it hurt.

While he was hurting me and helping me, he was also talking to me. He would joke with me. He actually made me laugh in my miserable state. He made sure I felt okay, he would check in with me every few minutes. He didn’t try to rush me out of the room. He treated me like I was the only person in the world. Like I mattered. And he gave me some amazing drugs.

 

He told me I was brave and strong and good. And when he said those words I believed him. He made me feel brave and strong and good. He told me I was going to be okay. And I believed that too.

 

I think it is hard to not fall a little bit in love with someone when they are so good at their job and that pride and skill shows in their work. I think it is hard to not fall a little bit in love with someone that helps you through one of the worst experiences of your life.

 

I think we all want to be with someone that makes us feel brave and strong and good. Someone that makes us believe we are going to be okay. I never wanted to leave that recovery room. Each time I would stay literally for hours, just listening to his voice.

 

He never told me his name. I never saw his face. All I know is that he was a man and, judging by the ring on his finger, he was married.
I don’t want to find him. I don’t wish I knew who he was (though I do hope he knows how much I appreciated him). What I wish is that I could meet someone that made me feel as brave, and strong, and good, and safe, as he made me feel. But preferably without all the drugs and hospitals and surgeries.

Baby Robot Octopus

Alright, I am about to do something I have never done yet on this blog. I am going to show you a semi-sexy picture of myself. I am really nervous about posting it. but I want you all to get what I am saying here. Please be kind in the comments, at least about my body. Feel free to be dicks about everything else.

 

After every heart surgery, and still at random intervals even now, I have to wear a portable heart monitor. This thing looks like a baby robot octopus attacking my chest. It’s how I have always imagined it.

It actually looks like an iPod until it is attached.

The first time the nurse tried attaching it to me, I wrapped the cords around my neck and pretended it was choking me. I was shouting and fighting it off like a hero.

Oh god, it has me in it’s slimy grasp!

She was not amused. She was a tough older Russian lady. She was clinical, cold, and very unfriendly. I was a little bit intimidated.

 

Until I turned around to assist her in attaching this thing to me. Apparently, I was the first person to ever help her attach it to me. I was dumbfounded. I was just being courteous. I mean, she wasn’t my servant, she was my nurse. But after that, and ever since, she has always been very kind to me. She still doesn’t think I am funny, though.

 

The way this thing works is that there is a small box, about the size of a deck of cards. It has a green light and four leads that come out of it. The leads are wires with snaps on them. The snaps attach to half dollar size stickers that attach to your body.

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So, this is how it looks attached. Fun bonus for you guys, you can totally see my third nipple here.

The real issue is that you can’t shower while wearing this. And you have to wear it for 24-48 hours. I work a pretty physical job, in Florida. That means lots of sweating.

 

Not only do I smell bad, but the leads can come unstuck. The trick to keeping them stuck to you is two things: sandpaper tape to rub off the top layer of skin and hair, and a skin safe epoxy to keep them extra stuck.

 

The problem with those two options is that I have EXTREMELY sensitive skin. I have a mild form of dermatographia.

Mine is not quite this bad, but I do have a future story about it.

Also, as mentioned here; I am allergic to everything. This means that by the time the leads are attached, my skin is angry and irritated like a huge blotchy rash. It also means that when they are removed I have giant scabs, like I really have been attacked by an octopus.

 

 

 

 

Yeah, it looks exactly like that.

So they rub my skin raw, coat the raw skin with epoxy, and then coat it with a lead patch. They take the actual device and put it either in a halter mount, for men, or in your bra, for women. I don’t know why they cram it in there, I mean, my bra is already being used to hold my boobs. But that’s where it has to go for some reason. And you can’t remove the bra to sleep either. That is super uncomfortable all night.

 

When wearing these leads, I have to keep a journal of everything that I do and also any symptoms I feel. I like to make that fun for the people reading it, which I suppose is my cardiologist.

 

Here is an example of what I like to put (just so you know, all these examples are true things that happened):

 

6:30pm-7:00pm eating dinner (I eat really fast and food excites me, don’t be surprised to see palpitations here).

 

8:00pm-8:15pm sponge bath (bow chicka bow wow).

 

10:30pm-10:40pm I thought I saw a roach and freaked out, but it turned out to be a very roach realistic woodgrain pattern in my new wood floors (definite palpitations).

 

3:27am-3:45am I had a dream I was in an abandoned construction site fighting a zombie horde (definite palpitations).

7:00am-7:05am really hot guy smiled at me and I accidentally punched myself in the face trying to put on my seatbelt (possible pounding heartbeat).

 

After the allotted time, I would go back to see my nurse and she removes all the leads. She tries to do it carefully, but it doesn’t really matter. I usually remove my bra while still in the office. It peels off like a used band-aid. Then I drive immediately home and shower. And wash my bra.


The giant sucker marks generally go away after a week or two.

Tattoos

My brother T, sister J, and I had all agreed we would get matching tattoos when we were growing up. I kind of forgot about the agreement as I figured none of us would be able to agree on an image.

 

My brother went to Europe for a summer when I was 20-ish. When he came back he had a tattoo. As soon as J and I saw it, we knew it was the one. J went out and got hers immediately.

 

But I hesitated. I didn’t know where to get it, or what color. And then I was suddenly 26 and having heart surgery and taking blood thinners and was not allowed to get any tattoos.

 

So, now, I am no longer on blood thinners and not in any danger from my health issues.

 

I took a week off work this week (which has been amazing). On Wednesday, I was hanging out with my brother, T, and casually mentioned that I finally had a few days off and could go get my tattoos. I have had two planned out for over a year.

 

T told me that he had the card of a tattoo artist that only booked appointments with people that were referred by people he already worked with. We happened to be less than a mile away.

 

We met with the artist, A, who was extremely cool and friendly. And I scheduled to come back the next day.

 

I was finally going to get my first tattoo. I was so excited that the adrenaline started hurting my veins. I started feeling nauseous and couldn’t sleep Wednesday night.

 

But I got them done on Thursday. So here they are.

 

The first is a heartbeat. Not just any heartbeat. It is MY first heartbeat after my last heart surgery. It was my first ECG with a normal heartbeat. I have wanted this one for almost two years.

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Love!

 

 

The second is the one that my brother and sister also have. It is an ouroboros from Fullmetal Alchemist, which is a manga TV show that my brother is really into. I like the show too. But more so, I like ouroboros. They are heavily associated with ancient mythology and alchemy. They are supposed to symbolize the cyclical nature of life.

 

How impressively  freckle-y am I? And I am not even the freckle-y one in he family!

How impressively freckle-y am I? And I am not even the freckle-y one in he family!



I am already planning my next ones. Probably Harry Potter and LOTR related.

 

I expected it to hurt a lot more than it did. I was so nervous and freaking out. I was actually shaking! I know after having heart surgery you would think it would be no big deal.

The one on my wrist at worst felt like being stung by a hornet. The one on my back actually tickled in a few places. And I love the way the vibrations from the tattoo gun were reverberating in my chest. Afterwards, it just felt warm. And now it doesn’t hurt at all.

 

Sorry for not posting something more interesting, but I am excited about them. Also, did I mention being on vacation?

Suppository

After this post, I figured I may as well bite the bullet and finish what I started. So, here you go, the next humiliating thing that happened on that hospital stay.

Two days after the fingering incident, the hospital and my doctor were interested in releasing me to go home and recover in the comfort of my own bed. Where the TV  isn’t censored. It’s a religious hospital and I can only go so long without seeing adult language, adult content, and nudity.

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I took this beauty from the same chain of hospitals. I wish I had taken a picture of the 20 foot tall mosaic at my hospital. I may go back and get one. It’s worth it.

Some of you may not know this, but you aren’t allowed to leave the hospital after a surgery until you have a *ahem* bowel movement. (I won’t be offended if you choose to skip this post and move on to the next one).

The problem was that I was not having one. Between the reaction to the morphine, the physical pain, the emotional humiliation, the medicines, and the terrible cardiac ward food, nothing was forthcoming.

Every time the nurse came in she would check the toilet to see if I had had one. Because in the hospital you are not a trustworthy adult. You are a petulant child that must shit into a pan to get released.

Another day went by. Waiting to be released from the hospital is exactly how I imagine hell to be (if it existed). You are in serious pain. They wake you up every few hours all day and night to poke you with needles and press on your wounds painfully so you never get a goddamn minute of sleep. They humiliate you. There is no much bullshit and red tape. And then, you can’t leave. Ever!

Finally the nurse came in to talk to me directly. This was the same one from the fingering story and she had been avoiding me in an obvious and humorous way. She told me that it had been 4 days with no movements and it might be a good idea to take a suppository.

I didn’t know what she meant by a suppository, I mean, I knew what one was. But I thought that’s how you gave pills to horses and how teenagers get really fucked up on ecstasy.

Fun fact: A suppository can be administered not just up the anus but also in the vagina or the urethra for men. You’re welcome.

For my five male readers; there you go, gentleman.

But she was talking about giving me some kind of stool softener suppository to help me “go” so I could get the hell out of the hospital. I really really did not want to do this. But I wanted to go home more.

She got me the suppository. It was huge! Which I guess makes sense because it’s not like I was trying to swallow it.

Like a fucking missile!

I went into the bathroom. Remember the whole serious agony/heart surgery thing? Yeah, there was no way I could contort myself to get this pill in my own ass. I could still barely bend at my hip bones.

I’m glad I got to use this picture.

I called the nurse back and told her the situation. The look on her face was one I will treasure for many long years to come. I swear to you, I could read her mind at that exact moment. And she was thinking “Seriously, bitch? I already had to root around in your nasty vagina. Now I have to put my hand up your ass? Fuck this job.”

But instead she tried to convince me that I really could do it if I just tried harder. And I assured her that there was no fucking way I could bend like that without re-opening my wounds.

I did not feel the slightest bit bad for her. This was her job. And if anyone was going to be embarrassed it was me. And I had instead chosen to find it all very hilarious. But that may have been the drugs I was on.

At this point, A stepped in. He offered to do it.

I tried to talk him out of it, mostly to fuck with the nurse. But he was very insistent on putting that suppository in my ass (you men, so obsessed with anal).

So we went back into the bathroom and he assisted me. I assume nobody wants the gory details of this, it was pretty straightforward anyway.  I have never taken anything for constipation before or since. But I can say it definitely works as intended. I was released later that day.

Of course, I developed a huge hematoma and had to go back in to the hospital almost immediately, but that is a story for another day.

Bursting of the dam

I haven’t posted anything about my period or my vagina in a few weeks. But brace yourselves, people. The shame is strong with this one.

My fifth and most recent heart surgery took place just over two years ago. It was noteworthy in several ways. It was my fifth one. I had been chosen to participate in a clinical trial for a new type of catheter that had sense receptors on it. They were going to burn through my right heart atrium and into my left for the first time. And I was in my first few months of a new relationship with A. We all know how that turned out.

It’s not like burning holes in your heart is serious or anything.

My other four surgeries had been some of the worst experiences of my life. This one would turn out to be my worst. Because of the added procedure and the sheer quantity I had had by this point, they stressed very heavily that I could die.

I was at a crossroads. I could take medication that controlled my heart, but the medication was newly approved and there had been no research into the long term side effects. There was an extreme likelihood that I would die from liver failure in about 20 years. When I was 47. And I’d be on very expensive drugs forever. Missing even one dose caused serious heart problems.

Liver, shmiver. Am I right?

I was taking so many drugs that I had to set up multiple alarms set throughout the day. Or I could choose the surgery. It might work. It might kill me. It might not work and I’d still have to take the drugs. I decided that I would rather die sooner than later.

I had been on my period for three other surgeries, and it was no surprise to anyone that I was on it for this one too. As mentioned here, I use the Diva Cup. It is a little tiny silicone plunger that catches everything. It is comfortable and clean and good for your body and the environment. (Still no endorsement forthcoming).

Best thing ever invented for periods besides chocolate.

When I was wheeled into the operating room at 5am, I told the head nurse that I was on my period, I was using the cup, etc. She said she would note my chart and if I was under for more than 8 hours they would remove it for me.

I thanked her and didn’t know anything else for a long time. I came to in the recovery room. I have a post waiting to be written about the recovery room, but let’s just say this: It is the last place I would feel okay for several days. And I wanted to make it last. I spent two hours in there.

But, finally, they had to take me to my room. When I got to my room, my mother and A were anxiously waiting for me. What I didn’t realize was that my surgery had taken 18 hours. Plus 2 hours in recovery. They hadn’t seen me in over 20 hours. They were frazzled. But to me, it was around two hours. That surgery time is lost forever.

However, while they felt fine. Maybe tired and anxious. I wanted to die. I am not joking when I say this. For the 24-48 hours after every single one of my surgeries, I seriously wish I had died during it. It is the most miserable and in pain I have ever been in my life.

After this type of surgery, you are not allowed to move the lower half of your body, at all, for 24 hours. Not even to shift positions to get more comfortable. Whatever position the nurses put you in on your hospital bed is how you stay for the duration. And obviously, you aren’t getting up to urinate. Bed pans all the way. In fact, you can’t even wipe yourself.

This particular surgery is when we found out that not only does morphine do absolutely nothing for my pain, it makes me extremely nauseated. But they couldn’t give me something for my nausea in case I vomited it back up. And they couldn’t give me something for my pain in case I overdosed on morphine plus a second pain-killer.

Also, they apparently thought only drug addicts are immune to morphine. Not so!

Cue 5 hours of intense agony and bawling pain. And a healthy dose of abject, helpless nausea. Finally, when it turned out I wasn’t going to vomit (5 hours later) they gave me something for my nausea.

I was feeling a little better and the pain wasn’t consuming my every thought. I finally thought to ask the nurse where my Diva Cup was. I didn’t feel like I was using a pad, but honestly, I might not have noticed.

The nurses checked my chart and found that the head nurse (despite saying she would) had left no notes. The searched the operating room, nothing. They searched the gurney I had been wheeled in on, nothing. They searched the room, nothing.

There was only one place left to search. My vagina.

The nurse came in and sent my mother and A out. She lifted the sheets and my gown and started probing around in my vagina. It was in there.

I was starting to freak out. For those of you bad at math, this was only supposed to be in for 8 hours tops and we were going on 26. Not to mention the fact that I was on blood thinners and the blood wasn’t going anywhere.

She reached in and tried to pull it out. But she couldn’t figure out how it worked. I tried to explain that you had to fold in the wall to break the seal, but she couldn’t get it. After a few minutes of fumbling around in my vagina, she called in backup.

A second nurse came in and they turned on the brightest overhead light ever. It was like an old timey police interrogation and my vagina was the suspect. They pulled good cop, bad cop on my vagina. But their efforts were a waste of time.

Where were you on the night of December 11, 2010?

They were just tugging on it, trying to yank it out. Not only was I in agony, but it felt like they were jerking on my entrails.

This is something I have done to myself millions of times, but I couldn’t move to get to it without opening my wounds. It was a serious issue because I had lost a lot of blood during the procedure. I had already heard mention of a blood transfusion.

They covered me up and called in my mother and A. They explained the situation and I explained how to get the fucking thing out for the third time. My mother rolled up her sleeves and offered to give it the old college try.

My mother has long fingernails. She reached up there and began probing around. I stared up into the light. Wishing myself into unconsciousness. Or at least hoping to blind myself so that I would never have to make eye contact with her ever again. But she also failed.

Finally, A stepped in. He is a very large guy with big lumberjack hands. He did a few quick warm up stretches and dove in like a pro. At this point, I was beyond pain, beyond embarrassment, beyond any sense of shame. This was the fourth person that had put their hand in my vagina in the past 30 minutes.

He finally realized what the problem was. For all the genius of the Diva Cup, they were meant to be removed while sitting or squatting, not lying down. My pelvic bone was blocking it’s passage. But he was determined to succeed.

He thrust and parried, trying to vanquish this worthy foe that had defeated so many others. Finally, with one great lunge, the cup was pulled out. It was like the demolition of a dam. Everything was now soaked with blood.

Brace yourselves!

They cleaned me up and changed my sheets through a long and arduous process. I was free.

And that is how, less than two days after their initial meeting, my mother and ex boyfriend both fingered me while in the same room together, at the same time.