I am going to assume that post-op, someone checked to make sure I was ‘awake‘ enough to be moved to recovery, though I don’t remember that at all. The next thing I remember was a dark curtain being pulled back, letting some light into a very dark area was when I first opened my eyes. A female determined that I was awake enough to tell me, “We’re just waiting for a bed to become available for you.” At the time, I heard the words but nothing really registered. It was only much later when I considered why surgery would have been performed without knowing whether I would have a room to recuperate in afterwards or not! That sent up a bit of a red flag, but I obviously was helpless to do anything about it!
The next time I remember waking up, I was in a patient room. There was a clock on the wall across from the bed, and it was almost 7:30 PM. My belongings had been moved from the bottom of the bed to a chair across the room. My patient room door was open, and I could hear the patient in the room next to me (her name was Donna) coughing almost continuously, that kind of wet cough associated with pneumonia or bronchitis, and then finally she’d get it coughed up. I tried to doze, but all I could do was doze because her coughing was loud and disruptive. At some point, I dozed off deep enough that I didn’t hear someone enter my room to leave me a tray of food. Now, it had been 12 hours since I’d had anything to drink, and longer since I’d had any solid food. I expected I would be given liquid and/or soft food because of my jaw having been operated on. On a plate under the dome was an ice-cream scoop size of mashed potatoes and a few small pieces of cooked carrots. I managed two small bites of the unseasoned potatoes but I really wasn’t hungry. What I did want was a cold drink.
I am anice person. I am anice person. Those two sentences initially appear identical, with the same spelling error. But one is subjective and one is objective. Sentence #1 should read “I am a nice person.” I want to assume that to be a true statement at large, but I know that I am not a 100% nice person 100% of the time, even if I don’t act upon it my “not nice” feelings. Sentence #2 should read “I am an ice person.” This sentence is 100% true 100% of the time. I will admit that, as I was mentally preparing for this hospital stay, one of the things I was looking forward to was being able to have ice chips as desired. I’d seen plenty of movies and TV shows showing these little cups of what looked like shaved ice served with a spoon, and I planned to take advantage of them during my stay. Later that evening, I asked for some ice chips, my mouth almost watering with anticipation. What I got was a cup – sans spoon – of what looked to be small, thin squares of ice (about 2/3rds the size of a Chiclet, if you’re old enough to remember what they were). Not at all what I was expecting, and despite being grateful for them, since I’d had no liquid to drink since at least 10 hours before, it was disappointing that they weren’t the kind of crushed, snow cone ice I was expecting and hoping for.
Around 10 that night, a staff member came into my room with a small cup that held what I was told was three tablets of Tylenol and a little cup with red juice in it. I took the pills and popped them in my mouth, followed by lifting the juice and taking a sip. Eeech! It tasted like cranberry (it was) but had the consistency of applesauce. I was not expecting that, and it took me a long moment before my mind could convince my throat to swallow. I questioned what I was drinking and was told that all post-op patients were subject to non-thin but still liquid diets because it had been determined that post-op patients tended to choke on liquid items. This was, indeed, cranberry juice, but it had a thickening agent added to it. (NOTE: By pure accident, I was on Amazon’s site and saw that there were several brands of food thickener available for sale there. It kind of freaked me out that this was a product that was popular enough for Amazon when I’d never heard of it before.) Fortunately, it was a small cup, and it was cold, so I convinced myself it was cranberry applesauce and quickly finished it off.
I dozed on and off all night. Strange bed, strange sounds, coughing neighbor and flat and plastic covered pillows all contributed to me not being able to fall into any kind of restorative sleep. By 4 AM, I was tired of lying in the bed, so I got up and sat in the comfy chair next to the bed and grabbed the menu that was on the bedside table. Yes, indeed, the hospital had a menu, just like a restaurant, and the variety was surprising considering that it was actually a hospital. I looked through all of the options. I wasn’t really hungry, but I was looking foward to coffee. The nutritionist came in about 6:20 AM (the menu said between 6 and 6:30) and would be taking my order for all three meals for the day. I had decided that I wanted coffee – 2 cups if I could – and a bowl of mixed fruit. I was told that I could have these items, but the coffee would be served with the thickener added to it, and the fruit would be pureed so that it was also thick and didn’t need to be chewed. It took every ounce of willpower not to throw a tantrum. I had to relook at the menu and mention items to see if I could have them, and finally decided on a bowl of butter-flavored grits (I like grits but seldom get them) and asked for apple juice. I figured I could convince myself that thickened apple flavored juice would be applesauce. After asking several questions and finding out I couldn’t have any kind of broth, I ended up ordering applesauce and cottage cheese for lunch. (NOTE: The cottage cheese was the large curd variety, which required me to do some mashing with my tongue against the roof of my mouth to break it into smaller pieces, thus not something that I, personally, would label thick and easy.) For dinner, I wanted mashed sweet potatoes, but was told I wasn’t allowed to have them, even though I could have regular mashed potatoes (HUH?). I ended up ordering mashed potatoes and pureed green beans (they looked like a small, green lump on the plate but tasted like green beans).
Breakfast arrived around 7:45 AM. I have to say that I loved the bowl of buttered grits! I got through the apple juice as well, and thus, earned the “clean your plate” award. Around 10:30 AM, after I’d crawled back into the bed to try and doze off again, a doctor (introduced himself as Dr. so-and-so) entered my room. I wasn’t asleep so I opened my eyes the moment I heard him entering. After introducing himself, he told me that, if I wanted to, I could go home that day.
Did your chin just drop and/or did your eyebrows furrow? I was in surgery at around 3 PM and it was okay if I went home less than 24 hours later? This is the face he was looking at as he said this (I took this at approximately 9 AM, after breakfast and had washed the dried blood off of my lips):
I was probably a little more terse than necessary when I explained that, #1), I had not slept the night before and felt exhausted and #2), I had yet to have had a follow-up visit with the surgeon regarding my surgery and prognosis. The only “treatment” I had gotten since the surgery was 3 tablets of Tylenol and I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to leave at that time.
He didn’t say much, just made a notation on his paper and left.