Chatter #43: September 13, 2001

12/14/2001 — I started the Chatter section on July 27, 2000 when I noticed that the rest of my site was sometimes getting cluttered with lots of text. I'm a talkative guy, after all! So now I talk about my life here, instead of all over the place. Originally this was one huge section, but in December of 2001 it simply became too large to remain as one page, and I broke it into dated sections, as you can see. —>PM



ARGH! I've had the hiccoughs for an HOUR now! Dammit, this is driving me crazy!

Okay. I'm back, at least enough to write here. Here's what happened:

I didn't sleep well Monday night; I was pretty nervous, and woke up every hour or so. Finally the dreaded alarm went off, and we got up and got ready. It was 5:45 AM as we got on the highway for Peabody MA. The hospital was about 70 miles from our house, so there was a lot of driving to do; worse, we'd be going near Boston right at the morning rush hour. I needed to be there by 7:45AM, and the surgery was scheduled to start at 8:45.

But the traffic wasn't bad, and we made it with about half an hour to spare. They checked me right in. I was told to undress and put on a "johnny"; I'd heard about those hospital gowns that leave your ass totally exposed, but this was my first experience with one. It was difficult to tie.

The nurse came in and shaved my stomach. Then the anesthesiologist came in and put in an IV—another first for me. She told me to expect a "big pinch", and since in my experience medical people always understate the amount of pain you'll have, I gritted my teeth and expected agony. To my surprise, though, the pain wasn't really bad' perhaps because the needle went into the back of my wrist, a comparatively insensitive spot. It was a bit disconcerting, though, because even after the IV was in I kept feeling the needle. It didn't hurt much, but it was impossible to ignore until she taped it all down.

She also put a finger cuff on me. I'd seen those on TV, but hadn't known how they worked; I'd wondered if some sort of needle was involved (I used to have an unbelievable fear of needles, and still don't care for them at all). But it turns out that no piercing was involved; the thing merely looks at your nail bed to determine the oxygenation of your blood. No problem.

They started me off with a mild sedative in the IV as an "appetizer", and said they'd increase the dose before I went in to surgery. My midsection would be numbed with something like novacaine (!); I'd feel "tugging", but shouldn't feel pain. General anesthesia would be available as a backup in case the novacaine didn't work or the surgery had to be expanded.

Teri and my parents waited for me in the waiting room during the operation.

They wheeled me into the operating room, and I stared upwards at powerful-looking lights that weren't on yet. And then...

I fell asleep! Yup, slept through the whole thing. When I woke up I felt quite clear-headed, and had a moderate pain around my navel. Before long Teri and my parents came in and told me that three minutes after I'd gone into surgery planes had hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Go figure—I missed it all!

After about 90 minutes of lying around they gave me a perscription of Percocet and sent me home. A 3 x 5 bandage was taped across my navel; I was to keep dry for 48 hours, then I was free to shower and remove the outer bandage, but not the surgical strips beneath it. They'd fall off by themselves in a week or so.

On the way home, I twisted Teri's arm and got her to stop at FuncoLand. We bought a used Nintendo 64 and three games: Super Mario World, Mario Kart, and Star Fox 64. The pain was increasing, and I was walking around hunched over; it felt like a bad back spasm. The muscles of my stomach were extremely sore.

We got home, and I took two Percocets—650mg in all. To Teri's amazement, they did nothing to me! Not only did they not relieve the pain, they didn't even make me drowsy. In fact, for all the effect they had I might as well have taken a placebo. I've continued taking them, but the effect has still been absolutely nil. Apparently this amount of Percocet would knock any normal person out, but I've noticed that medication almost never affects me. I'm not sure why. Come to think of it, alcohol doesn't seem to affect me either; of course I don't normally drink, but the one time Teri made me down two glasses of wine neither one of us could detect any effect on me whatsoever. So I guess I have some sort of freaky body chemistry.

I slept poorly that night, and felt much worse the next day. That was probably because all the anesthetic from the operation had worn off, of course. The pain was really quite agonizing; I couldn't stand up, or even sit up by myself. I could barely walk. Teri had planned to go into work, but when she saw how helpless I was she stayed home with me. I'm lucky that she did, because although it's embarrassing to admit it, I was really incapacitated. Teri was about to call the doctor to let them know that the Percocet wasn't helping, but just before she picked up the phone it rang. It was the hospital.

They confirmed that everything I was feeling was pretty much to be expected. Not sleeping was actually a good sign, they said; it indicated I was healing (I don't really understand why). The Percocet reaction was very unusual, but they told us to increase the dosage; from 1 pill every six hours to 2 pills every four hours. We did that, although I'm still not sure if it helped at all. The effect was minimal at best, and I have no doubt that I could drive a car flawlessly right now, for example. Except that I've been forbidden to drive at all for four days, of course.

Wednesday was long, painful, and dull. But Wednesday night I slept better—a couple of four-hour stretches—and I woke up on Thursday (today) feeling a lot less pain than before. It was still very hard and painful to get up, but at least I could manage by myself. Which was good, because Teri had to go to work today.

My stomach muscles still ache terribly, and I can feel the huge surgical slice across my belly (although that may partly be psychological), but if I hold still there's usually no pain, I can stand upright without much difficulty, and all in all I feel much better. Except now I itch like crazy; the hair is growing back on my stomach, and since I haven't been able to shower for three days now I feel really crawly. I should be able to clean up tonight, fortunately.

I'll be home tomorrow as well, and should be able to go to Lamaze class on Saturday without too much pain. Monday may be a difficult drive in, but I think I'll make it okay. And that's the story!

Oh, a postscript: the Nintendo 64 I got a FuncoLand doesn't work. We'll return it tonight for a replacement. I supposed I should have spent the extra $30 and got a new one...maybe they'll let me do that instead of just replacing it.

Until this afternoon sitting at the computer for more than a few minutes hurt me, so I haven't had any chance to work on the site. I'm looking forward to getting more done on the Basic RQ project, though. I have to admit that I'm surprised that no one has expressed much interest in the project, though!

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[email protected] Copyright 2001 by Peter Maranci. Revised: December 14, 2001. version 1.0