You may be wondering why I chose the number 21 for this post. No, it's not the name of one of Adele's albums or the age when you can drink alcohol without getting arrested. For me, it represents something entirely different. It's the number of surgeries I've had during my 76 years. I know, it's hard to believe. And it doesn't even count procedures which only required sedation, like having dental surgery. The only plastic surgery I've had was to lift my eyelids so I could see the world a little better and not have permanent wrinkles across my forehead--that did not involve anesthesia either.
The first three trips to the OR were actually happy events: C-sections which resulted in the births of my three children within a four-year span. As I got older, I needed surgery for a number of orthopedic issues, like bone spurs and knee replacements. The biggest of these was a major rebuild of my lumbar spine in 2017, a "360" procedure which meant 11 hours in the OR and three incisions.
Now, in the space of about 10 months, I will have had two more trips to the operating room. Last July, it was emergency surgery to repair two kinds of hernias on my right side. Later this week, I will check in to Baylor Lakepointe Hospital for a repair job on a tear in one of the muscles that makes my left hip work. It will be an outpatient procedure that takes 45 minutes and I'll be home by afternoon. No idea why it happened, just that it has been causing serious pain for weeks. I've been using a cane to get around, taking a bit of pressure off the offending area and sleeping on my right side, which really sucks since it's not my preferred position for watching Friends re-runs before drifting off.
Surgery doesn't scare me. It might be because my dad was a doctor and my brother David is one, too. I worked for hospitals most of my career, doing healthcare fundraising and communications. What does scare me is getting an IV started. I don't seem to have any available veins, so I'm always the victim of several "sticks" until the nurse finds one. It usually takes an ultrasound to locate the little sucker so they can start fluids and put me to sleep.
After this go-round, the fun really begins. I'll be using a classy new walker ordered from Amazon (I tell you, what can't you buy there?) to get around for the next six weeks but only using my right leg and touching the toe of the other. This is so the muscle can heal properly. Then it's six weeks of physical therapy to finish the job.
Not looking for sympathy or even a get-well card. This is not my first rodeo and I'm sure I'll come out on the other side of this lovely experience just fine. Just pray that they find a vein on the first try.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.