Saturday, July 12, 2014

Surgery part two: my stay at the hospital.

Hospitals are strange places. Nobody really likes them. It's where you go when something is wrong, usually. I don't like hospitals either. One of the things hospitals are, unfortunately, well know for is the bad food. I know I'm difficult with food in general but hospitals are a really bad place to have food allergies and not sticking to the food pyramid. I eat primal and low carb. Grain and I are not friends. I told them this and so they served me gluten free bread. Maybe it's just because they don't serve it a lot (most of the time it arrived frozen) but it tasted like cardboard. It also had the texture of cardboard. I know the anaesthesia didn't help but my stomach reacted pretty much the same way as to normal bread. Not well. I had brought some food myself but not enough and it didn't stop them from trying to feed me cardboard and milk all the time. I didn't have the energy to explain to them why I didn't want any so just repeated I was allergic or simply said no thanks. So this was no fun and really didn't help my recovery.

Don't get me wrong. The nurses were all really nice and trying to be helpful. But they also had instructions to follow, protocols and such. Just like with the people who did my surgery I felt like they had to take an empathy course or something at that hospital. I was truly amazed. They really tried to make me as comfortable as possible with the means they had.

The other thing that didn't help was the lack of sleep. Hospitals are very noisy. And with the heat we had to leave the window open to get in some cooler air. This meant we were also letting in all the lovely sounds of the train, the tram, the highway and the huge flock of blackbirds. I don't sleep well in unknown environments in general and if they are noisy I can pretty much forget about it. A nurse coming in at 1 and 6 in the morning to check my pulse and blood pressure didn't help much either. My temperature has been checked more often during my stay at the hospital then in the 10 years before that. And if the nurses weren't chatting just outside the room which was at the beginning of the hall so everyone had to pass by our room, the other trans guys would be snoring softly. If I had been able to move I would have been tossing and turning all night long. But I couldn't. The drains made it impossible to lay in any other position then coma mode; flat on your back with your arms along your sides. Both your chest and abdomen had been stitched up so you didn't want to put your arms anywhere on your body. Truly wonderful.

After a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and ovaries) you only have to stay one night but after a mastectomy (the chest surgery) you have to stay a bit longer. It depends on the drains sticking out of your armpits. Usually it's 2 or 3 nights and then they remove the drains. Sometimes they send you home with drains though. After 2 nights of about 3 hours sleep each I was ready to go home. I felt like a prisoner, claustrophobic and helpless. I'm not good at giving up control and having people prod and poke me 6 times a day, feeding me bad food and pills while I have a bunch of tubes sticking out of me was not my idea of a good time. I was amazed at how quickly I plummeted into feelings of depression and it really scared me. I knew I had to get out of there. So on Saturday morning I managed to convince the nurse to convince my doctor to let me go home, drains and all. She called my doctor and a few hours later I was on my way home. I felt so relieved. At that point I didn't care I had to keep the drains for 5 more days until my check up. All I wanted was to go home so I could sleep. And I did. I slept 10 hours that night while I usually sleep about 6 or 7. I was so happy to be home. The worst had passed. Things were only going to get better.

For pictures of my recovery check out my tumblr.

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