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.
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.