July 01, 2013

The Hernia Hotel - Part III - Hasta la Vista, Baby!

And I walked

"A lack of exercise, extended sitting and bedrest will lengthen post-operative stiffness and discomfort," warns the Shouldice brochure.

And so, for the remainder of my stay at the HH, I walked.  Rain and mugginess be damned, I walked.  I roamed the halls of the clinic and every foot of the grounds. I peered in the pond down the road, explored the trails adjacent to the hospital and even tried to check out the golf course (I failed; I didn't want to climb through a hole in the fence).  I inspected every plant in the gardens, shuffled along the tree line and tried to walk my pain away, which wasn't too bad, all things considered.  I loved the walking.  What else did I have to do between mealtimes?

On one of my walks, I found myself swooning over the most heavenly and delicate scent.  It was this:

Japanese Tree Lilac - Syringa reticulata
I will be acquiring one of these trees for my yard.  The scent was completely delicious.  COMPLETELY.  If someone could bottle this exact scent, I would wear it as perfume for the rest of my life.  Dave at the Gardening Guru writes that "if you are adventurous [I most definitely am!], it [the tree] can be propagated by cuttings or by seed".  Funny how I had never noticed these trees before; on my walk to the grocery a few days ago, I realized that there is one on Elmwood!

Sunday, post-operative day 2

Clips out at 8:30am by the Stapler, with rapidfire precision.  No discomfort.  I initially worried that the incision might open when I laughed, which I do a lot, but Ratchet told me that the wound has three layers of protection -- dissolving stitches, catgut and wire sutures that hold the mesh in place.  I hope I have that right.  From Encyclopedia Brittanica - yes, I still love my encyclopediae - is a definition of catgut:  "tough cord made from the intestines of certain animals, particularly sheep, and used for surgical ligatures and sutures, for the strings of violins and related instruments, and for the strings of tennis rackets and archery bows. The ancient Egyptians and Babylonians and the later Greeks and Romans used the intestines of herbivorous animals for much the same purposes. The origin of the term catgut is obscure; it is not known if the intestines of cats were ever put to such uses".

My incision looked a bit scary.  I just measured it now and it's 3 and a quarter inches in length and runs down my right groin at a 35 degree angle.  On day 2, it was puffy and angry with lots of yellow and purplish bruising.  If it could talk, it would not have been a polite conversationalist.  The nurse said that it looked "pretty good", but I bet she says that to all the patients.  I would love to post a photo for all you fine folks, but you'll just have to use your imagination.  Today, one week post surgery, the bruising is almost gone, the wound is still on the swollen side but the incision is healing nicely.  It does feel numb when I touch it, which is a bit of an unsettling sensation. I am looking forward to a bath soon!

On the advice of Ratchet, I booked a massage with the RMT.  Sunday after lunch was the appointed hour.  At the risk of sounding negative, P's diatribe on children in daycare and her inability to zip that lip were unappreciated.  I mean, I am aware that I talk a lot, but I usually know when to shut up.

The 30 minutes of lymph node drainage and the ensuing "massage" down the front of my sternum, in which I thought my ziphoid process was being crushed, were both unpleasant and unnecessary. The "feathery" strokes around my incision were also puzzling; however, P redeemed herself with fifteen minutes of Swedish on my neck and shoulders at the end of our 45 min time slot.  I would not recommend the first part of the massage at all, but I do recommend P for the Swedish - she had very strong hands and her touch was formidable.  Just so you know, if you go for a 30 minute massage, you will not receive any Swedish; you need to book her for 45 minutes for that.  Book the Swedish only  - don't bother with the lymphatic baloney.

A lot of herniacs departed on Sunday.  I am sure that they had their real lives to get back to.  The surgeons recommended that we stay until Monday morning; obviously, I didn't leave early as I was on vacation.  As a sahm with a 7 and 9 yr old, I don't take enough time for myself (my fault entirely).  That is about to change.  Well probably not, but you know what I mean.  I loved my Shouldice stay.  I really did.  No cooking, cleaning, fighting, laundry and other forms of drudgery.  Just reading, writing, relaxation, gentle exercise, lots of laughter and good conversation and I EVEN GOT TO PLAY SCRABBLE, not once, but twice!  I also played snooker for the first time in about twenty years. 

My last night at the clinic was both fun and frustrating.  I saw a super moon, walked and laughed a lot and behaved badly - kidding!  Well, I'm not really kidding, the bad behaviour occurred when I tried to go to sleep and could not.  My roommate's snores rivalled a bullhorn and it made me completely CRAZY as I could not sleep at all.  I didn't have earplugs and the blanket over my head trick didn't work either. I tried making a lot of noise myself so as to awaken Snoring Beauty but this was also futile.  I briefly considered throwing projectiles at the dead weight in the bed next to me, but I couldn't do it.  I went to the nurses's station at twenty to 2 and begged for a sleeping pill and they wouldn't give me one because it was too late.  Horror!  The kind nurse took pity on me and offered me a bed directly beside the nurses station.  I finally fell asleep at around 2:30, but it was fitful.  I blame the super moon for everything that happened that evening -- the good and the bad.

Oh and I should also mention that there was a fire alarm the same night.  It wouldn't shut up; it drove me bonkers... I had to leave the building until it stopped (and I was in the middle of a game of Scrabble!)  The staff kept announcing on the p.a. that it was a false alarm but the ringing didn't cease until the fire department arrived.  To add insult to injury, the wretched air-con broke and didn't get fixed until the following day.

Day of Departure

The final checkup with a surgeon was at 9-ish.  I thought I would be seeing my surgeon - the wacky Dr. S - and it was with some disappointment that I greeted an unfamiliar face.  He whooshed in, said hi, told us to lie on the beds and pointed to me and said: "you listen to this too" (nothing if not efficient, I guess he doesn't like repeating himself).  He spoke VERY BRIEFLY on wound care, he checked our incisions and then he bolted to the next room.  Whoa!  These Doctors are FAST.  I didn't have any issues with this, but I am betting that there are some patients who had a lot of questions and wanted just a little bit more "care".

My mil came to pick me up around 9ish.  I visited the souvenir "shop" and bought a hat ($11) and a mug ($5).  I love me some kitsch.

And that my friends, is the end of my tale.

Today, it is ten days post-surgery and I am feeling FINE! I cooked a real dinner last night (oven roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and tomato and basil salad with balsamic vinaigrette - 9 out of 10 ;-) . I am no longer hobbling in pain; things are good.

Before I leave you, I want to write a couple of recommendations / areas in which the hospital could improve:

  • food - more fresh fruit and vegetables needed.  Some of the men also complained that portions were small.  
  • gift cabinet - is not open on Sunday.  A lot of people left early and many of them weren't happy that they couldn't purchase souvenirs.  I'm serious!
  • you should visit with your surgeon on the last day, not some nameless stranger.  I really thought that I would get a chance to talk to my surgeon.  I guess he was too busy operating on someone else.
My overall impression with the hospital is that it is a superb place to have one's hernia repaired.  I found the staff to be extremely helpful and happy; they did everything they could to make things the best that they could be.  The care I received was excellent; my only criticisms are above.  If you have a hernia, get thee to the Shouldice!!!

Leaving you with some fromage; I love this song.  Reminds me of my Grade 8 teacher - Ms. Pelletier - and "Beast" (her guitar).

Here's the official Shouldice website:  Shouldice


Okay, I'm still not done.  On a completely unrelated note, I received this letter in the mail on the Thursday that I arrived at Shouldice:

I AM SO PROUD!!!!!!!


I was just reading something on the Canada Writes website and they are trying to torture me:

Can you describe a couple of the entries that struck you as standouts?

I was drawn to three particular reflections about loss (or impending loss) not only because of the powerful emotions they invoked but also because of the insight they shared.

“Angus Gregor” is a mother’s heartbreaking account of her baby’s birth that starkly contrasts all normal expectations.

“Regrowth” relates the lingering effects of a father’s death. [this is my story!!!!]

The author of “Szeretlek” ponders multi-generational legacies over a lunch-hour visit with an ailing grandparent.