Thursday, June 22, 2017

Surgery is Expensive. Also, I didn't Win the Lottery.

We didn't win the lottery. I say "we" because my brother, sister, myself, my mom and stepdad have an agreement that if any of us wins, we will all split the money. So when my sister and I drove out to California to visit my mom this past weekend, we bought tickets.

And now, here I lay in my bed with my little laptop tray, surrounded by sleeping dogs in my mess of a bedroom, checking lottery ticket numbers. In my pajamas. Could I BE more pathetic?

I was beginning to feel better from my surgery, but then I got this dry cough that may or may not be turning into a cold, and I feel kind of crappy.

So it's back to bed I go for a day or two. Maybe I was trying to do too much with my dog walks and road trips two weeks after my neck was sliced open.

Speaking of which, my scar is looking pretty good, except there's this little piece of suture sticking out and I have to tell you - I want to pull it so dang bad. It's all I can do to resist it. The sutures are supposed to just disintegrate on their own and they all have, except for this one little piece. It's like fishing line and I really just want to pull on it, but am afraid what I might dredge up. I mean, what's the other end attached to?

So for now, I'm resisting. Updates as they become available.

Aside from checking lottery numbers and refraining from unraveling myself, I managed to get a little paperwork done today. I went to my insurance company's website to check the status on my hospital claim. Do you want to know how much it was?

A hundred and nine thousand dollars.

Yes, I'm serious.

Do you want to know how much the hospital estimated it would be and what my copayment (which they made me pay the day before the surgery) was based upon?

Eighteen thousand dollars.

So here's a question - WTF???

Did they find six other people on which to perform the surgery and slap them all on my bill?

And guess what else? They don't automatically send you the itemized bill of all the charges. Oh no. You have to call and ask for it. So you can bet your patootie I did. Sure, the insurance company is paying for it, but damn. I'm insanely curious how they can justify that kind of cost AND how they can be THAT way off in their "estimate".

I'll be watching the mailbox for that puppy. Because apparently, I've got nothing better to do.

Speaking of doing things, I've suddenly begun getting "looking for sex" emails.  Like five a day. I didn't really get them before, so I'm not sure what's changed. I suspect nefarious activities on the part of the hospital. Based on your answers to their very personal pre-surgery questions, I bet they sell your email address to spammers.

Recouping from surgery gives one loads of time to concoct conspiracy theories, by the way.'ll be happy to know, that's all I got today.

Losing it,

Friday, June 16, 2017

What They Don't Tell You When You Have Surgery: A Post-Op Post

I had neck surgery about two weeks ago. The whole business of surgery is unsettling. You don't really know what goes on in that operating room when you're passed out from anesthesia.

Despite my trepidation though, I knew it was time to have surgery. I had a couple discs in my neck that had been causing me problems for a few years and it finally got bad enough that I felt like I didn't have much choice.

I never realized all the prep work that comes before a major surgery. The day before the procedure I had to pre-register at the hospital, fill out a bunch of papers, and have some blood drawn. The nurse handed me a bag containing six packages of giant, super-thick anti-bacterial wipes. I was to shower that night, wait two hours, wipe my whole body down with them, and wipe down again in the morning before we left for the hospital. Then she said, "They leave a sticky residue behind, but don't wash it off." 

If I had a nickel for every time I heard that.

After the explicit wipe-down instructions (there was even an accompanying handout with a drawing of a human body and numbers on all the body parts to make sure you don't miss any nooks or crannies.), the nurse asked me a bunch of questions and typed the answers into her computer.

"Have you had any prior surgeries?" she asked.
"Yes, breast implants 15 years ago," I answered,
"Any sexually transmitted diseases?" she countered.

I'm sure they ask that second question of everyone, but the fact that it flew out of her mouth right after my admitted boob job was a little disconcerting. I wanted to say (in my best English accent), "Well, that wood make me quite the accommodatin' lass, now woodnt' it?"


But I have a lousy English accent so I was only a riot in my head. Although Mr. Accommodated thought it was hilarious when I told him later.

The next morning we arrived at the hospital bright and early at 5:30 AM. I stripped down, changed into the gown, got into the bed, and awaited my fate.

If I had a nickel for every time...

Anyway, the anesthesiologist came in a short while later and introduced himself.

Talk about unsettling. The first thing I noticed was the size of the camera lens on his phone. It was huge. The guy was a serious Instagrammer or Snapchatter or whatever. Not something you want to see when you're about to be put under by the guy. I pictured shenanigans like this going on: (click the 4-arrow thingy in the bottom right to make the comic bigger)

Whatever went on during surgery, all I know is I woke up in recovery and wow, did my back hurt! They said it was due to how they positioned me on the table, but they did all that after they knocked me out so I had no idea what that position was. Again, unsettling.

I was on a morphine drip though, so I couldn't figure out why I would have pain anywhere in my body. I mean it's MORPHINE, for crying out loud. It was several hours later, after they had moved me to a room, when a CNA discovered that every time I pushed the button for the morphine, half of it was dripping on the damn floor and not into my body.

SON OF A.....!!

Turns out, the tip of the morphine tube was broken, so the IV line was leaking where it attached to the tube. Well, that explained why I still had pain.

Things looked up after they got that figured out.

But back to the things that go on in the operating room that you don't know about. I woke up to a spooge-like substance in my hair. Big, gnarly, gobs of Something-About-Mary dried spooge, in various spots, all over my hair.


Once again, I wondered - what the hell went on in that operating room?? Okay, so it probably wasn't the same substance as Mary's, but what did they do, run out of towels and use my head to wipe some sort of surgical gel off their hands?

I found out later it was glue to hold nerve sensors onto my scalp. Good to know, but they might have warned me about the aftereffects. It took my sister-in-law forever to comb it all out.

Fortunately, I only had to stay one night in the hospital. The nurses gave really good care and were wonderful, but I just wanted to be home in my own bed, where I have a say in what substances wind up in my hair.

While I was getting dressed and gathering up stuff from the room to leave, I was barfing from the pain pill I had taken earlier that morning. Apparently, I'm a light-weight when it comes to pills. I hoped that by the time I had to sit in the wheelchair and be wheeled out to the car, my nausea would have passed. No. As she pushed me through the halls towards the lobby, I barfed continuously into the little plastic bin the hospital always gives you to take home. Now I know what those are for.

As if that wasn't bad enough, when we got to the main lobby doors, she stopped pushing, thinking it would be easier for me to barf in a non-moving environment. She meant well, but it resulted in me sitting there, right smack in the middle of the main entryway to the hospital, retching and barfing my guts out into my little plastic bin, while people sidestepped around me.

I felt like a weird greeter, right out of American Horror Story.

I barfed all the way home (but at least I didn't wee-wee. Get it? Little piggies?)

Anyway, I'm doing much better now. I have to wear a lovely neck brace for at least 6 weeks which makes me itchy when my neck sweats, but I can deal with that temporarily. There are worse things, right?

I can't really sit at my desk comfortably, but Fred set me up with a computer tray thing, so now I can recline on my bed and type on my laptop for a few hours at a time without much discomfort. And I know it will get better over time. that I've filled you in on my little drama, I'm linking this up to Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop for the prompt: Write about something you learned in May. Because if I don't link up somewhere, nobody actually reads my shit.



Thursday, May 11, 2017

Three Things I Never Thought I'd Have to Do as a Parent

Being a parent is hard. Even if you go into it, expecting it to be hard... it's harder than you ever imagined.

Oh sure, there's joys and rewards and in the end, you wouldn't trade it for anything, blah, blah, blah. But there are some things you end up doing, as a parent, that you never, ever, EVER, thought you would have to do.

For instance:

1. Make your kid apologize to a neighbor for having dumped a bag of paper shreddings in their yard.

When Sissa was about 14 or so she had a friend over to spend the night. The next morning, there's a knock on our door and I find two cops standing there, with some paper shreddings in their hand. Apparently, she and her friend (who was moving away in a few weeks) wanted to do one last "epic" (her word) thing together and decided that sneaking out in the middle of the night to empty a bag of shredded paper she had found in my office, all over the neighbor's front yard, was just the parting exploit they needed.

How did the cops know the shreddings came from our house, you ask? They pieced some strips together and our address materialized before their eyes. FYI - shredding doesn't protect your personal information. At least not with teenagers in the house.

2.  Release a bunch of mice in an empty desert lot behind a Pet Smart.

I might get in trouble with PETA for this one, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Before we moved into our big house (the one where some kids broke in and had a rave. I'm thinking, Karma.), we we're living in a small rental house. For some reason that I don't remember (I'm sure some begging was involved) we agreed to buy a mouse who we named Harvey.

Harvey was fine alone, but for some reason we acquired two more mice, which were female. I think you see where this is going. 

We kept the female mice in a separate cage and the kids were under strict orders to not let them mingle. (Right about now, Fred is laughing hysterically at the words "strict orders".) 

Apparently, the kids threw a little mouse party in the empty bathtub and allowed the furry nymphos to frolic together. We all know what happens at mouse parties where booze and boy-girl shenanigans are allowed. Mouse babies. Lots. and lots. of mouse babies.

We gave some to Pet Smart and kept some for a while. But mice are stinky, even with regular cage-cleanings. When we bought our new house I was determined the mice would not be moving with us. 
We tried to give them to Pet Smart again, but this time they said they had too many mice already and wouldn't take them. 

So...somewhere in an empty lot behind a Pet Smart are a bunch of homeless mice, drinking Schlitz Malt Liquor and reminiscing about the orgy they once all had in a bathtub.

3.  Pick up your teenage daughter from a school yard in the middle of the night.

Yeah, it's the same daughter mentioned earlier. She was - I don't her teens - and had spent the night at a friend's house (a different friend) and the two of them and the friend's brother decided it would be fun to sneak out and go hang out in a nearby school yard. I'm sure the word "epic" was used.

The school police were patrolling the area and saw them and called us. They had tried to bring the kids back to the friend's house, but after banging on the door several times and ringing the doorbell, couldn't wake up the friend's parents. !!!!???

When Fred went to pick her up, he asked the police what the kids were doing when the police caught them. The cop chuckled and said, "Playing Duck Duck Goose."

I guess it could have been worse.

This list could go on, but really each of the things I thought I would never have to do as a parent, is a blog post all on its own. So I'm stopping at these three. Most things, over time, become a funny story even if they weren't funny at all at the time. Of course, there are also the things that are never funny. The things that keep you awake at night when you look back on them and are too hard and too personal to write about...

But this post isn't about those things. It's about the stuff that's funny later. I saw this on Facebook the other day and thought it sums up being a parent pretty good:

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms, or dads who are also moms. May all your bad parenting moments become funny anecdotes later and not actually screw up your kids.

How about you guys? Do you have any things you never thought you would have to do as a parent?


This post was brought to you by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop and her prompt: write a list of things you never thought you would do when you became a parent.

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