The kids were out of school, flowers were planted and we were enjoying a pleasant summer. Then out of the clear blue everything changed. Andy and I were at a doctor's appointment and as we were leaving, I suddenly began having shooting pains in my belly. I chalked it up to gas and at first didn't take it that seriously. We headed home with the pain getting worse with every bump and turn. I chewed a Gas-X and stretched out in bed, but the misery continued. So we headed for a freestanding Baylor emergency department where they started an IV, gave me some industrial strength painkiller and did a CT.
The hot appendix I thought I had turned out to be a hernia, of all things. I couldn't think of anything I'd done recently that could have caused that problem. It took until evening to find a bed, but I ended up in the hospital closest to our home. With paperwork and the CT disk in hand, I was admitted through the emergency department and taken to a nice comfortable room in their brand-new pavilion. Surgery was scheduled for the next morning.
Everything went smoothly and I came back to the room to finally have clear liquids and later actual food. The surgeon, a very athletic woman in her thirties, came by and told me that she had laparoscopically repaired two different types of hernias. I stayed as an inpatient for three nights, as my pain was not very well controlled, but it was nice to come home to my own bed. Hannah came by to put clean sheets on the bed and fill the fridge with groceries. Alison helped out with household chores and her husband Matt tended to my neglected plantings. My grandson Booker even came by to do some tasks for me. Hannah and Reagan provided a lift chair, which made it much easier to get up and down. Getting in and out of bed was pretty miserable, but I remembered the "log roll" technique I learned when I had my spine surgery several years ago and that helped.
Major surgery can deplete your energy like nothing else. The smallest activity seemed insurmountable, so Andy had to take over getting meals, doing laundry, etc. I was sleeping several hours a day and while I loved seeing my three grandchildren, I couldn't really tolerate the extra noise and confusion. Finally, after several weeks, the pain and fatigue began to lessen and by six weeks post-op, I was feeling fairly normal.
Unlike other surgeries I've had, there was no opportunity to prepare this time around. I'm so lucky to have family nearby to pitch in when help is needed and access to excellent medical care. There's so much to look forward to this fall, and I'm ready to enjoy all of it.
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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.