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As some of you know, I was supposed to spend Thanksgiving holiday in Hawaii with my parents, brother, and sister-in-law. As some of you know, an unplanned surgery put the kibosh on those plans. Here’s an account of the whole affair, including several nerd thoughts that helped me get through my first major emergency room experience and surgery.
– The week of my scheduled flight, I had some abdominal pain and a fluctuating fever. The pain I could manage; I was always good at being able to deal with constant pain. The fever was much tougher to deal with; spiking to 104F and being in severe chills half an hour later made it difficult to function. The sad part was that I wasn’t really thinking about my overall health. Instead, I was thinking, “I can work through the abdominal pain, but the temperature spikes make it too difficult to write and edit video.”
– The night before my scheduled flight, I was feverish mess, but was determined to catch the plane. My Dad, in the latest of a lifetime of valuable advice, told me to get to the ER. My excellent friend Paul was kind enough to drive me over to Good Samaritan Hospital, which is about a mile from my apartment. Paul knew something was really wrong when the ER attendant asked me, “Why are you sweating so much?”
– The ER nurses gave me some tests and an ultrasound over the course of several hours. The whole time I was hooked up to all kinds of sensors and tubes. The sensors had me thinking about the process that turned a skinny Steve Rogers into Captain America. The tubes had me thinking of the Weapon X procedure that laced Wolverine’s bones with adamantium. I’m pretty sure that nerd thoughts are my mind’s first line of defense when dealing with serious health issues.
– But wait, there’s more! I went through three litres of intravenous fluid. I’ve never had an IV drip before, so the sensation was funky. You know that feeling you get when you down an ice-cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day? Imagine that same feeling concentrated in your forearm and that’s what three litres of IV fluid feels like. At first, it made me feel like Iceman from the X-Men generating an ice shield. As the sensation spread, it almost felt like I had one real arm and one artificial limb, like Cable (the poorly named mutant savior, not the aptly named television service).
– Loopy on painkillers and generally tired from dealing with this illness, I was told by ER doctor that I had gallstones and would need my gall bladder removed. It sounded like a good idea, but at that point I would have agreed that a brain transplant would have been a good idea.
– I was admitted to a hospital room some time on Friday and scheduled to have surgery on Saturday morning. While prepping for the surgery, I was restricted to a diet of ice chip soup. More fluid, painkillers, and antibiotics were being pumped into my system through IV. At one point I noticed that the fluid was being pumped into my body at a rate of 120ml per hour. The first thing I thought about was vaping: “Wow, that’s like four bottles of premium e-liquid!”
– The surgery was successful, but more complicated than planned. Under optimum conditions, it’s just a series of small incisions that don’t traumatize the body that much; some patients are able to go home several hours after surgery. My gall bladder was really f*cked up. The doctor told me that I had several gallstones that were larger than golf balls and that he had never seen a gall bladder so damaged before. To make room for it all, what’s normally a 1cm incision became a 10cm incision. I currently have two small cuts with four staples and two staples, respectively, and one large cut with at least ten staples.
– Due to the more invasive surgery, I had to spend several more days under hospital care. I recovered quickly, graduating from ice chip soup to solid foods in a day. The Internet connection in the hospital wasn’t the greatest, so using my tablet was hit or miss. To pass the time, I watched a lot of television…and was quickly reminded why I hate a lot of television. Moonshiners?!? Mystery Diners?!? This is what people want?!? Crappy television shows and general impatience had me really anxious to leave on my third day of recovery. Thankfully, I was able to do so.
– So I’m back at home, healing up. The pain can be high and a lot of simple movements are difficult because my abdominal muscles are just wrecked. Laughing can hurt. Sneezing and coughing hurt a lot. My energy levels won’t be normal for a while too. Right now my goal is to make it to next week; my wounds should be healed enough by then so that I can get my staples removed. There are a lot of things that I want to write, shoot, and edit, but I need to take it easy. I’m sure you guys and dolls will be instrumental in making sure that I don’t go batty while I’m healing.
– While I currently have the strength of a small kitten, I’m happy to be rid of the pain and fever I had before. I didn’t realize how bad it was. While I was bummed to miss a trip to Hawaii, I’m thrilled to be alive. While it wasn’t an ideal Thanksgiving, there’s definitely a lot that I’m thankful for.