The Secret to Successful Surgery

Dr. W looked oddly casual in his surgical scrubs and snazzy black sneakers, which he confessed would come off–the sneakers, not the scrubs–during surgery. It gave him better balance, he said, while he operated using the daVinci robot. He chatted amiably with us while we waited for the signal that the OR was ready, until the lead surgical nurse came in, scowling. The surgical plan wasn’t in my chart, she said. Dr. W looked, and sure enough, the printed plan wasn’t there.


They found it in the system, much to everyone’s relief; surgery sans printed plan sounds like an unwritten recipe for chaos cake. Once printed and affixed in the chart, we were on our merry way.

In the end, Dr. W removed my uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes and cervix. He also removed swaths of scar tissue (thanks, endometriosis) that had stuck my appendix to the abdominal wall (explaining why running and other jarring activities caused so much pain). Who knew this anatomical feat was possible? Cancerous or other growths were not evident and most, but not all of the biopsies are clean. Dr. W was very pleased things went as well as they did and gave me souvenir pix of my innards to share with family and friends. No, I won’t share them here. They look like shots from a Halloween creep-out lab. No one needs to see that.

Whew. The worst, I think, is over.

I spent a morphine-soaked 24 hours in the recovery unit of the not-quite hospital, not-quite outpatient surgery center where they only employ nurses directly descended from Heaven.  Everyone, I mean everyone, was kind, positive, and eager to take care of me. When I regained consciousness, they brought me ice chips for my screamingly dry throat (I was intubated during surgery). They swapped my cold blankets for heated ones every hour or so (fever made my teeth chatter in my hazy head). When I whimpered in pain two hours after the last dose of morphine, they were right there to zip some more into my IV. Whatever I needed medically, they quickly provided it.

One of my nurses took great pains to order me a gluten free breakfast for the morning after surgery. She seemed very excited about doing this. “I double checked that it would be gluten free!” she said.

How kind is that? That breakfast consisted of gluten free toast, scrambled egg product, GF peanut butter and jam for the GF toast, fresh fruit and hot tea. I ate some of everything even though it hurt to swallow.

As amazing as the nurses were, they paled next to my man, David. He fed me the ice chips, gently encouraDMtn Dew IVging me to let them melt in my mouth instead of chewing them. He ran to get a nurse when I said I felt myself oozing some blood. He drove me to surgery at 7:30 am; sat in the waiting room during the surgery; which started an hour later than scheduled; and then sat with me in recovery until I shooed him home at 9:00 pm, worried that he needed rest, too. He was back at 5:45 the next morning. He ran to the grocery store when they said breakfast would be late and got me Envirokids GF Panda Puffs cereal and Silk Almond Milk and raisins so we could share a comforting breakfast bowl like we would have enjoyed at home. He prayed with me, warming my cold hands as well as my sagging spirit. He even emptied the container attached to my catheter line to help the nurse.

And, if that wasn’t loving enough, when I said I had a screaming headache from being caffeine free for thirty-six hours, he shared his secret post-surgical magical elixer: Diet Mountain Dew.

If you know David, you know that this is his liquid gold. He can’t be without a bottle during daylight hours. It might be what makes his heart tick, might be what makes his beautiful face glow with golden kindness. When David shares his Diet Mountain Dew, he’s declaring devotion, staking a claim to genuine affection. If he was a cat, that bottle of soda would be the dead mouse he’d share with his chosen feline friend. In other words, this is an act of caffeinated love.

I accepted a few swallows with all the reverence the occasion merited…and then I promptly fell asleep, dragged into oblivion by a fresh dose of morphine. I’d say David felt relieved rather than hurt: more DMD for him! It was the least I could do for all he’d done for me.

Of course, the real secret ingredient to recovering after surgery isn’t Diet Mountain Dew. It’s love. I’ve have love wrapped all around me. Friends brought prayer and healing reading circles. When David had to go back to work after taking three days off plus the weekend to be with me, my sister came to check on me in the mornings. She brought me medicine just the other day when I ran out and she called and texted me with stories of the real world so I felt connected. She also loaned me sleep shirts and some T-shirt dresses which are all I can wear with my belly so swollen and tender. My dad also came over to weed the yard and trim some bushes, which is his great and practically useful way of taking care of me. Can’t let the garden go to pot just because of surgery.

And best of all, I have my David by my side every step of the way and it’s made all the difference in the world. Did I mention he voluntarily went gluten free…just for me as soon as we started dating?  No one’s ever done that for me. That’s true love, a match made by God.