Once upon a time life was stressful. gross, I know. and my body decided it didn't like this new state of stress so it started a boycott. It started on a run, continued through packing, and on to... well everything. How did my body boycott, you ask? Pain, lots and lots of pain. Food became my worst enemy, and sleep was constantly interrupted. I lasted until Tuesday before I decided it was time to figure out what was going on. A lot of tearful phone calls later (not having a primary physician and insurance are tricky things when you are away from home) my dear mother came to the rescue.
A visit to InstaCare, a few blood draws, an ultrasound, and two new friends later we knew what the culprit was. No, I was not pregnant. My gall bladder, Gilbert, decided that he hated me being stressed and was being defective. Happy gall stone.
One trip to the general surgeon later it was official- I was getting my gall bladder out. While it wasn't completely defective they said it should cure the illusive stomach pain I have had since high school and that I would never have to experience the pain I had the week before. I was sold. (oh and something about not getting pancreatitis)... despite the fact that I then bawled in his office. Lots of tears and a pep talk from the surgeon about all things happening in my life later I had the date set.
The day came for surgery and I was terrified. This is the girl who passed out in the 8th grade when she got her finger pricked and now someone what going to cut me open and remove an organ... I was not okay. My wonderful Mom came in from Chicago and was there with me as I nervously cracked jokes. I became good friends with the nurse as she helped to get everything set for surgery. We had talked the day before and she had told me everything I had to do to prep, and we had become instant best friends (despite the fact I can no longer remember her name). She tried to put the IV in, I slightly freaked out. She tried again. I freaked out internally. Poke. Instant Ellie overheating (as customary whenever she gets pricked)... I told the nurse this and she instantly rectified the situation by sticking a fan on me. I told her this happened whenever I donated blood. To which she gave me a very long lecture about how I shouldn't donate blood and taking care of myself first.
The anasteologist came in and asked if I had any questions, and informed me that I would be in more pain than I thought. I didn't appreciate the warning.
I remember them wheeling me back and going through the double doors and thinking this is what it is like in the movies- I then remember going into the operating room, at which point I was terrified inside, naturally jokes insued. I started talking to the anesteologist while he was doing something at which point I asked if he was giving me the stuff to knock me out- he said yes, and I asked if this was where I start counting backwards. He chuckled and told me I wouldn't get very far... I remember saying 10, and after than it all went black.
I woke up groggy in a post op room. I tried so hard to stay awake but just couldn't do it. I knew that my mom was waiting for me in the other room and they wouldnt take me there until I could stay awake, but no matter how hard I tried I just kept falling asleep. Eventually I made it there and had the same problem staying awake with my mom as I had before. We had been quite excited to see me on drugs, and we were both very let down as I knew exactly what was going on and was just tired.
After what seemed like forever of me trying to fight off sleep they wheeled me to the car. the car ride was short. 4 blocks to be exact. and I was home. and extremely grateful to live in an apartment complex with an elevator. I made it successfully in and out of the car, but didn't quite make it to the elevator before throwing up in a grate on the floor. (I feel like this is a college rite of passage if you aren't LDS, so I can officially check it off... even though I am graduated... and LDS)
That day was full of visitors, sleep, and a lot of netflix. Eating and I were not friends. I officially had no saliva (thank you drugs) which makes eating surprisingly disgusting. I remember my mom running to the store and asking if I needed anything and the only thing i asked for was saliva. She brought home dry mouth rinse. saint. short walks around the apartment complex were required to help with post op recovery. I remember slowly making the lap around the second floor accompanied by friends who could have lapped me fifty times by the time we finished. I felt so loved having them there with me. Despite feeling so alone when my gall bladder started freaking out, sitting in instacare so far from home- I now knew how very un-alone I was. Our landlord Terry saw us slowly making the loop and inquired what was going on- later he told me he told his wife about how kind everyone was. (that was the start of a great friendship with Terry... note to self: if you ever want to have a great relationship with your landlord, have surgery, he will love you the whole year). The love didn't stop with just friends visiting. Flowers from work, balloons, chocolate, magnum bars (that i couldnt eat)... and even a personal Jamba Juice drop off from the kids of co-worker who was out of town. I am so blessed!
I remember being told that recovery was a week, so I was determined to be back to work before then. I tried cutting the pain meds pretty quick (this whole fear of becoming addicted thing is real), but with no avail. I would go off of them and then end up in constant tears... (note- i am a whimp)... I went back to work on monday but ended up coming home early. Tuesday I went into work with some pain meds and was able to make it the whole day... Wednesday was a repeat of Monday. Thursday we had a kickball game that I went to in thoughts that I would simply cheer the team on. And maybe kick. We were short on girls so "just kicking" turned into "shuffling" around the bases while holding my stomach. I scored more runs in that game than ever before and I am certain this had to do with the fact that they were scared to pelt me with the ball.
The next day I went in for the post op check up distraught that it was over a week and I was still in pain. The doctor asked how I was doing and I explained that I knew recovery was a week but that I still hurt. He looked at me quizzically and asked who told me that. I informed him that he did- to which he set the record straight that recovery was in fact 4-6 weeks, and that people regain normally activity after a week.
The next few weeks went by fairly quickly (at least looking back). My mom left. The stabbing pain became a dull ache, and eventually I was able to eat normal food again. And now all that remain are four small scars on my abdomen. (and the whole missing an organ thing...) The whole experience taught me a lot though... 1. I am surrounded by people who care about me. 2. That you shouldn't push yourself harder than you can just because you think other people heal faster 3. That I really really really love hamburgers