Funny thing happened on the way home from Church…

So this story really kinda started on Nov 27th, a Thursday. My wife, daughter and I were in Winnipeg to attend the Great Big Sea concert at the MTS Center. We’d been to two others. They are always a great time. Previously we’d seen them in smaller venues like the Burton Cummings and Pantages theaters. We were curious to see how they would bring their “in your kitchen” style concert to a larger venue.
We got to the city early, parked and went to the food court at Portage Place for a bite.
Normally, I’d do the burger or pizza thing, but nooooo, this time I wanted something different. Bad decision. I decided I’d try something at a Teriyaki place, you know, veggies, rice and white meat. Well, all was well until about half way through the first set. Stomach started feeling funny. Thank goodness for the intermission. Came out of the bathroom in time to hear some recorded music. Burning Ring of Fire….draw your own conclusions.
Second half of the concert starts and things are really rockin’. Great Big Sea has succeeded in getting everyone out of their seats and singing along like they usually do. Everyone was standing….except for me. Stabbing would be a good word to describe what was going in my tummy. Arlene and Jax really enjoyed the concert. Then it was time for the long long ride home. I never realized how long and bumpy the ride home from Winnipeg is until now.
Over the next couple of days my tummy settled but I had this annoying pain in the lower left of my abdomen.
I thought it was just an inflammation or something.
Our band was playing in Church on the 30th. Hauled my equipment in and didn’t notice much. Got through the morning, although the discomfort was getting worse.
After church I let the guys know I was going to the hospital. They were good enough to look after my stuff for me. Love those guys….always there for ya.
Anyway, I head off to emerg at BTHC expecting to get some meds to deal with an inflammation down below. Low and behold, it’s my regular Dr covering. He takes a look and says, “I think you have a hernia.” Say what? No no I say, it’s just an inflammation. Had it about 6 months ago. Pills will fix it up.
“No, I don’t think so.” as he pokes me and there’s a noticable looseness to the area….I mean more than usual.
“I think you have a hernia. Come back tomorrow to see Dr Jacob.” he says.
Well, I know what that means. Possible surgery. So I decide to start fasting that evening just to be safe.
Early next morning, I’m back at ACC to see Jacob. After the exam, it’s not just one but TWO hernias.
So, Monday, Dec 1/08 I start to prep for surgery. By 3 pm they come and get me. Under the knife I go.
You know, as nervous as one can get, there’s really nothing you can do in these situations. You give up complete control to the people around you. I suppose it’s at these vulnerable moments that we also give ourselves over to God. Something we should be doing daily anyway, but these types of experiences seem to bring that point home in a big way. I’ve had some dozen procedures done, some going under, some spinal. I decided to go under with this one. It’s a weird feeling when they put the mask on and then, it’s black.
Sometimes you wake up like it’s from a nap…sometimes not. This was somewhere in between. Lots of shaking and of course pain from the incisions. Nice thing is they have a nurse right beside you to take care of the pain right away.
It’s not long and you’re back in your room. The next couple of days are a bit of a blur. I had an unexplained fever that they kept monitoring. Good news is I’m in a place where they can get on top of it right away.
I do remember one evening in particular, I had orders that I wanted family only as visitors. I was pretty wiped and feeling ugly. It’s pretty much true what they say about your dignity going out the door when you enter the hospital. What with the gowns with the open backs, pj’s and robes that don’t really fit a guy my size and such. Add to that the fact you have to drop your pants for everyone that wants to check the dressings and you get my drift.
Anyway, I was settling in to a nice nap in the evening when I hear some shuffling outside my door. Next thing I know, I’m startled into conciensness by a group of about 30 dueks standing outside my door singing to the person next door. Their hearts were in the right place, just wish I could’ve continued my nap. I don’t sleep well in the hospital. Curse of being a light sleeper.
Luckily my boss shows up with a Tims for a visit. We closed the door to help muffle the sound. He said it was tough coming through that crowd…lol.
Unfortunately, I had a hard time with the Tims and couldn’t eat the snacks. My stomach had been feeling iffy for a couple days already.
Now, when you go in, as much as everyone trys, things don’t always go quite as planned. For whatever reason, I was on a full diet right after surgery. That doesn’t usually happen for me. See, when they put you under, your whole system kinda slows down and usually takes a couple of days to get started again if you know what I mean. So instead of the usual liquids, I was cramming food down in my gut with no place to go. The receiving was happening, but shipping had gone on strike. So my stomach became storage. By Wednesday, I had been feeling pretty good. Fever was still there, but I was starting to come around, or so I thought. Everything was progressing tickety boo until Thursday supper. That was when I had something breaded. Think it was veal. Now let me say this, the food so far hadn’t been bad. Sommaborscht, Goulash, Taco Soup and Verenki. All good stuff, the problem was my stomach wasn’t processing as fast as I was sending. So after the veal, I started to feel real bad. Stomach was hurting, fever started to spike, breath was short. I tried walking it off as had been suggested over and over by one nurse in particular. No good.
They finally brought the on call Dr up for a look. He said my stomach was pressing on my lungs and I couldn’t breath properly. The fix…..a tube up the nose and down the throat into my gut to suck it out. I looked at him and said, “Say what!!?”.
Things happened pretty fast from then on. They brought the biggest hose/tube they could find and proceeded to stick it up my nose all the while forcing me to drink so that my swallowing would take the tube to the right spot.
Now I’ve gotta tell you, I hate having anything at the back of my throat. This IS one of my biggest fears. I’m not going to lie, for as much as they all said it went well, I hated it. And as much as they tell you, you’ll get used to the tube back there….you don’t. Now having said all that, I know it had to be done. Immediatly stuff started coming out, which in turn took pressure off my breathing. The nurses tried their very best to make me comfortable.
It took a few shots of morphine and whatever else they could give me but I finally settled and grabbed a couple hrs of sleep.
By morning I was ready to pull the tube out myself. Fortunately, I didn’t have to. They did it first thing. Then we started from scratch with a liquid diet, working our way to solids.
Friday night, some of my friends from the band I play in came for a visit. It was good to share some laughs together. Laughter can go a long way towards the healing process.
When they left, one of my brother’s showed up. He works night shift at BTHC in maintenance. Had a good visit with him. I don’t get to see him enough.
Although I was tired, I still had trouble sleeping. Catching only an hour here and there. It wears on you after a while.
Saturday morning was a bit of a…well let’s just say it was weird. It started off with a new roomie. Twenty something with not a whole lot of respect for anyone or anything. His parents seemed nice, he on the other hand.
When you share a hospital room, you try as best you can to not bother the person next to you. At least that’s been my experience. Everyone’s there to rest and get ready to go home again. This guy…not so much. He made enough cell calls to kill his phone using some of the most profane language in the book. Then it was getting a TV and turning the volume up. And after being asked to turn it down, still kept it up…..all night long.
My expectation is not that he have the same morals, beliefs etc. However, I do expect some respect for where you are in relation to others and especially for those taking care of you. I felt particularly bad for the nurses. I’m sure they’ve seen it all before.
Needless to say, not much sleep that night.
Next day I spent as much time as possible outside my room. It was during this time I met someone from our church, Mr Unrau. He’s one of our greeters. He asked how things were going and after I shared my frustration, he gently reminded me that sometimes God brings people across our paths for a reason. I knew he was right and began asking what the test was this time. Hebrews 13:2 reminds us to show kindness to others for by doing so,we have done so to angels without knowing it. Could this guy be an angel? Guess it didn’t matter, the principal is the same. It’s just not always easy to do.
Saturday afternoon I really wanted to go home. However, the fevers were still showing up and they wanted to be careful. I was pretty bummed. I had a full on pity party going by then. We’d missed the company Christmas outing at Celebrations with a night’s stay at Canad Inns, I hadn’t slept much in the past 3 days and was really turning into a cranky pants.
That night as the noise continued in my room, I finally found refuge in a visitors lounge upstairs. Not sure if anyone knew I was there, they most likely did, but they left me alone. I pulled a couple of comfy chairs together and finally relaxed. It was dark, quiet and the right coolness for sleeping.
Finally, Sunday morning, they let me go. I couldn’t pack fast enough.
I’m resting at home now, sleeping in my own bed, resting on my own couch being very thankful for the people around me.
I must be getting better, ’cause I’m getting to the point where I think it’s taking too long to recover. Still fighting some temps (part of the deal was to track it every 4 hrs) and discomfort.
So as I look back, although not everything went exactly as planned, I realize they rarely do. It’s how you deal with those outside the box events that bear the fruit.
You just can’t control every detail. I gotta admit, some of my fruit wasn’t very good. I’m really happy I have very gracious people around me to keep me in line. The foremost of whom is my wife Arlene.
Hopefully, I’ve learned something and can move forward from here….

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