Sunday, May 22, 2011

So What's Kidney Removal Like?

I don't know.

The whole thing seemed surreal to me right up until I woke up. I've never seen my own insides (aside from one CAT scan display), so the notion of something being removed didn't really mean a lot.

Once I checked in on the 12th, there was maybe an hour of paperwork and questions to answer before I was rolled to the Operating Room. It was maybe 9 a.m.

The staffers moved me to a narrow table and put a mask over my face, told me to breathe--

--then there was noise around me and pain and light and it was 2:30 p.m. And that was the surgery. No dreams, no darkness, just 5 hours passing unnoticed. It didn't feel like 5 hours, but it didn't just go by in a flash. It felt like time had gone by; I just hadn't been in it.

The only real pain came from the Foley catheter. That's not something I want ever again. At least that one went in while I was unconscious. I was wide awake for the second one.

Worst moments: by Saturday May 14, they were trying to get me weaned onto solid food. But for breakfast was the "clear liquids" diet: some sort of broth, tea, apple juice. That broth did a number on me and kept me nauseous for the next 3 days. Lunch was fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, a roll, and a slice of chocolate pie.

I could barely stomach the whipped topping on the pie, let alone look at the rest of the platter. I held on to that pie for another 2 meals (back on clear liquids) before giving up. I wanted to cry about that.

Then there's the first walk. Saturday, two horrible people dressed as hospital types made me fight my way out of bed and onto my feet. Took me 20 minutes to get that far--and it hurt every millimeter of the way, because none of my limbs belonged to me yet. Once I was propped up on a pair of wobbly legs...those horrible people made me walk across the room to the wheelchair parked at the door. That room was several miles across and trembled underfoot with every step.

That wheelchair was a throne, though. A conquering king's not supposed to fall or sag into the thing, though. I was rolled down to X-Ray, rolled back to that horrible miles-wide room...and those horrible people made me walk some more. The conquering king act didn't work with the bed, either: I sagged again.

Best moments: They tried solid food again Tuesday morning, the 17th. Two little strips of bacon, two pancakes, an 8-ounce milk. Smelled better than anything I've ever experienced before, and I would have cried over that, too, but I was too hungry. By this point, it had been a week since I'd had any solid food at all (2 days before surgery, I went on a "clear liquids" diet).

The first bite of bacon--a tiny sliver, the merest crumb--was the most exotic, near-orgasmic food experience ever. I savored it for a good 40 minutes, eating slowly and carefully, not wanting to have to go back on fluids again.

Sex has nothing on good bacon. No bread, mayo, or tomato needed.

Sadly, bacon will never be that good again.

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