My daughter said I look like a cyborg.
A many-pronged thingy fits into my back, dead center, keeping my mind clear and my bod foggy. An IV feed perces my left hand, flowing in electrolytes and mysterious clear liquids. My torso is adored with about eight sticky, soft-plastic circles armed with metal nipples, and numerous thin colored cords wrap themselves around the body. A clear tube protrudes from my sanctum sanctorum, loops itself around my legs and wanders over to a plastic bag that seems to be filling nicely with a beautifully colored chardonnay, or, if I swill cranberry juice, zinfandel.
"Taking a walk," which all patients are encouraged to accomplish after surgery by shuttling around the ward several times, is an operation for Cylons like me. The chardonnay and various bits of equipment must be unclipped from the $26,000 bed and re-hung somewhere on the wheelies. Somehow I must be hauled upright, have shoes jessed on, and then off we go the great adventure: arround and around the ward, all eight beds of it.
I’m a star patient–yes, someone on the nursing team actually used that term. I write two blog entries, engage everyone on staff in conversation, entertain visitors, and, most miraculous of all, produce a little product indicative of the bowel’s resumption of function.
The epidural in my back anaesthetises everything in the torso that is lower than it. Never before have I awakened from surgery feeling this good, this competent, this positive. What I don’t comprehend, of course, is how I would feel on the regular post-op goof–narcotics, lots of them.
On the third day, the Eppy is removed. I’m a little apprehensive, since it hurt so much going in (apparently unusual), but removal doesn’t hurt at all.But suddenly, I’m not half the patient I used to be. I can’t sit up without help; can’t cough or blow my nose. The prospect of sneezing is terrifying. Getting out of bed has become an ordeal. Food repels me. My sweat stinks. The blood pressure rises to heights never before seen on my screen. I can’t bend forward, lie on my side, or walk without hanging onto my increasingly protuberant belly for dear life, lest it fall off. The entire abdominal cavity, front and back, has become a theater of pain, racing impetuously up and down the scale from 2 to 8.
The mountain of belly rising before me as I lie in the bed reminds me we are only flesh and blood. How can a body cope with all that we inflict on it?
Oh, yes, I whimper. Once you’ve been a Cylon, it’s hard to go back.