“A grey day in February
Some flecks of white, but mostly brown
Purple surprises riding in on a nerve
Begins to excite you before it settles down
It’s after the knives and the sutures and needles
I’m left with an arrow that points at my heart
I call it the seat of my sentimental sorrow
Gone seems to be one of the sum of my parts.”
Carly Simon, “Scar”
It has been an interesting week, to put it mildly.
Since last fall, I’ve been having gallbladder issues. A nuisance, mostly – something my doctor and I were “keeping an eye on.” The first attack was scary enough to send me to the ER. If you’ve never dealt with gallstones, they tend to make their presence known with sharp chest pains (accompanied by pain radiating to the right shoulder and/or middle of the back), shortness of breath, nausea, chills, and dizziness. In my case, I got very pale. This can last, on average, from an hour to 5 hours. It’s scary because a lot of the symptoms mimic a heart attack, which is what I thought I was having.*
Last fall an ultrasound revealed a few gallstones, and by the end of January, the gallbladder attacks were becoming more frequent and more severe. My doctor referred me to a gastroenterologist, whose nurse, when I called, told me to make an appointment with a gallbladder surgeon as soon as possible. Which I did, and my surgery was scheduled for March 6.
This past Monday I was at work when a gallbladder attack hit. Two hours later, I was on the phone to my surgeon’s office and by lunchtime, I knew this was not one of my typical attacks. (It would turn out to be a 9 hour gallbladder attack, my longest yet.) Surgery was moved up to Wednesday.
Usually gallbladder surgery can be done as an outpatient procedure, but apparently a wayward stone had gotten stuck in my common bile duct and the surgeon couldn’t get to it – hence, they would need to keep me overnight in the hospital and the gastroenterologist would do another procedure (an ERCP) the very next day.
So, the end result is that I no longer possess a gallbladder nor any offending stones, and I’ve been recuperating from two surgeries in two days. I’m still pretty sore and spending a lot of time in bed. The good thing is that being bedridden provides ample opportunity to get a lot of reading accomplished.
While in the hospital, in the very small hours of the morning as my husband (who has been the most amazing caregiver and partner and parent during all of this) slept in a chair beside my bed, I turned on my Kindle to read Beth Kephart’s new memoir Nest. Flight. Sky.: On love and loss, one wing at a time, published by Shebooks. Now, you know several things about me and my books. You know how much I love my friend Beth Kephart’s writing – and this short piece (it’s only 34 pages) is wonderful in so many ways. You also know how much I believe that the right books find us when we most need them, and this one absolutely did. I’ll have a longer post about this later, but I am so very grateful for this.
(Shebooks, incidentally, are the perfect thing to read while you’re recovering in the hospital.)
I also read Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, which was just okay. I wanted a book that I didn’t have to think too much about and this was a good choice as a recuperation read. (This reminded me of Jodi Picoult’s novels and indeed, there’s a blurb from Ms. Picoult on the cover.) I liked the first half better than the second and there were some predictable instances in this story about the aftermath of two women fleeing their unhappy marriages, but otherwise, it was all right. (Pittsburgh makes a brief cameo appearance in this one, which was rather enjoyable – although McGee Hospital for Women is really Magee.)
Yesterday I started Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic. One of the reasons I’m glad my surgery got moved up is because I have tickets to see him on March 10, so if my surgery had been on the 6th, that could have been questionable. I love Colum McCann – although it’s taking me awhile to get into this novel – so I really don’t have an opinion on this right now.
I’m told I should expect to feel better within a few days, and that seems to be the path I’m on. So, that’s been my week – sleeping, reading, and not all that much else. (If surgery wasn’t involved, it would have been a pretty good week.)
*Keep in mind, I am not a physician and this post is no substitute for seeking professional medical advice and attention.