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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Stitches and ...


Oooo-kayyy, it's Tuesday, seven days post-op. I have been living the life of Ms. Riley, lounging about eating semi-sweet Dove chocolates and souffl├Ęs and such, watching DVDs of Angels in America (better than good) and occasionally hobbling to the potty to empty the pee bag.

This morning, things changed. We got up fairly early and walked up to the clinic to have stitches and packing out.

Beloved checked out the artwork in the waiting room, whilst I checked out the latest in interior decorating ads, sitting a bit to one side to avoid putting my weight down in the middle.

Anne was concerned. "That's too nice a dress."

"What, I paid only ten dollars for it."

"Around here?"

"No, Ross for Less in Eugene."

"Well, we're going to be a little messy today."

I changed out of the dress and hopped onto the table. Bandages were ceremoniously and thoughtfully peeled -- ripped might be the better word -- away. The stitches and packing being drawn out were not especially painful, more ... odd ... than anything. Like being wormed. A cold drench followed by a warm drench provided the messiness. Betadine stains things.

Then Dr. Reed came in. "You're a bit swollen, so we're not pulling all the stitches today, sweetheart. Make an appointment at your clinic, soon as you get home. Right? Let's see what's going on here ... O.K., now this is a stent, we've ordered you some but you can take this one with you, but mail it back, please."

He asked Beloved, and to the best of my ability, me, to watch and understand the next part.

"You have a little lip, here, see, and so this goes in at a thirty degree angle, but only about this far. That's important. Really important. Because right through a very thin wall, just a skin, really, is your rectum, and if you manage to crash through here you will get a fistula and none of us is going to be happy."

He tilted the stent down.

"See how this is level with your back? It's parallel. Don't watch me, watch what I'm doing, dear."

I was trying to read lips. Not a good time to be deaf!

After a bit, he showed me the smooth plastic rod.

"See, we got all the way to here. That's not bad. If you work at it you can get maybe another two inches."

He looked at Beloved. "She's got to do this, five times a day, twenty minutes at a time. It's gonna hurt but she's got to stick to it, or things will close up and we'll all be right back where we started."

Anne added instructions for cleanliness, and provided us with an irrigation syringe, attachments, and recipes. We would need to stop by the pharmacy for ingredients: sterile jelly, Betadine solution.

Good-byes were clearly heartfelt and heartwarming. These are good people.

Back at our room, we both collapsed. Beloved had had a rougher morning than I, as I'm rather dramatic when in discomfort, and she had had to hold my trembling hand, not knowing that I wasn't really doing all that badly.

We sorted that out, and she encouraged me to change into a more expendable nightgown.

"Here's your stuff. If you do it twice before ten this evening, I gather that's a sufficient start."

"But, I'm sore now. How am I gonna do this?"

"Because you have to. You said so yourself."

I looked at her. No mercy. She tipped her head a little to the left and let her eyes twinkle.

"All the other girls who have ever had to do this are with you now. I know you're not going to let them down."

My first try: knees up, the way I had seen it in pictures of friends of mine -- two inches.

I logged on to Andrea James' definitive Web site (See link at bottom of blog page). We looked up Dilation and I read Beloved the advice there.

"She says try it legs down. And Kegel a few times first, get relaxed."

"OK. Here's Boyfriend, all clean. No hurry, you have all evening."

Legs down worked. Four and a half inches for twenty minutes.

Ouch ...


--risa b

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