Because screaming into my pillow is not enough…


With an actual update, and not one of those silly “here’s an old draft I found, read it” updates, but a REAL update because I just re-watched Episode 1 of Season 1 of that New BBC Sherlock Holmes show, and Dr. Watson was writing, or supposedly writing a blog, to help deal with his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the War.

And so anyways, because my daily struggle with life seems like a war, I’m gonna write about it. And I am so totally, like, gonna use as much bad English as I wants to. Ending that now.

Today was my 1 month check-up for my surgery to repair my Chiari Malformation, which I had on Monday, September 17th, from 4:30 to 10pm. [If my writing confuses you, it is because it confuses me as well, what with the two medications I’m taking for pain and muscle spasms.] The surgery was supposed to start at…well they actually never had a definite time, but they had me in there at 11am and then I sat around in a hospital gown waiting with my parents in a little -waiting room- for an hour, as I saw nurses and doctors attending to other patients in the pre-op room- and then there was an entertaining moment when an hour into waiting I saw my 35 year old male neurosurgeon looking around at all the nurses in the hallway like he was lost and waiting for something to happen. Oh pre-surgery, the glory Days.

Anyway, eventually they rolled me away to my doom, I mean, to the operating room, and the rest is history.

History that you don’t actually know, but this blog is supposed to be about today, so I’m going to talk about today again.

Today I went to my 10am appointment, waking up at 8:18 after getting 7 hours of sleep when my healing body wanted 12, and then the Doctor’s assistant asked me questions and I asked him questions and he looked at my scar on the back of the neck and said it looked good, and then my Doctor came in wearing a fancy “I’m a neurosurgeon and can afford this suit, but I don’t need to wear a white lab coat for this appointment,” suit, and then he asked me questions and I asked him questions, and he looked at the back of my head and said it looked good. AND THEN HE CALLED ME SKINNY!

I am a girl, so like, one of the highest compliments a self-conscience girl can receive from a non-relative and a non-sarcastic being, is something about how skinny they are like the models we all see on television and hate and gripe about how obnoxiously and unhealthily skinny they are, and then secretly hope we can lose a few more pounds to look only a little less like ourselves and more like them.
This “compliment”, as I immediately took it to be, was of course in reference to the fact that the sore spots on and around my neck were probably not cancerous tumors (not that I REALLY thought they were…) but merely a result of the surgery and a part of the body’s natural healing process and that because, in his words, “you are skinny and so you can feel these bones here,” which I actually knew that the bones in my back were bones, and wasn’t actually at all what I was referring to when I was asking him about the cancerous cists I thought I had, but at any rate, I don’t have cancer and a guy called me Skinny!

Then the doctor asked to see me walk, except “No, not into walls”, I made him clarify (it was a really small room and there were already 4 people in it…plus I am fairly tall, I was only able to probably take five steps in either direction before hitting a wall) and basically they rushed me out of that room as quickly as possible. Actually, Doctor fancy suit left first, and his assistant stayed to help make sure we got a refill of my muscle relaxants (AKA: the I don’t have agonizing muscle spasms like Junior year of highschool, except in my neck, medicine) and my Mom and I finally left to go downstairs to pick up the prescription.

Once I was safely out of the neurology department I gleefully shared with my Mother “He called me Skinny! I’m Skinny! I’ve never been called Skinny before!” and she swiftly retorted back, “Well, you’re not skinny. I mean, you’re perfectly healthy looking.” Then I just stared at her with my mouth agape as we walked toward the elevator and then gloomily said “MOM —dramatic pause— you can’t, I mean, you don’t take away the fact that for the first time in my life somebody called me Skinny, like for real Skinny.” Then as we got into the elevator, after kindly waiting for a woman slightly older than my Mother, pushing a woman older than herself in a wheelchair, I took up the conversation again. “You just don’t call a girl not-skinny, not once she’s been called that, you don’t take away the compliment!” Then my Mom replied “But you’re not Skinny! Candice (my beautiful much skinnier than me, and probably one who actually deserves the title of Skinny, sister-in-law) is skinny! You’re just healthy.” Yet again I had to explain to my Mom that she was wrong and a guy said I was skinny (a Doctor no less) and thus I was skinny, and by default Candice was simply Super Skinny, and I was Skinny.

At this point we had left the elevator and the two elder women who were laughing at my insistence that you do not tell a woman she is not skinny, and my Mom decided to let the girl who had brain surgery and was on pain meds win, and we marched to the pharmacy.

I was rather tired by this point, I mean, I had walked those whole 10 steps in the Doctor’s office earlier, and then I had an entire debate defending my right to be called skinny, and so I elected to sit and wait for my name to pop up on the bulletin board for filled prescriptions ready to be picked up – and after making sure that this was the correct way of doing things- my mom joined me.
Several minutes passed and I got bored, so after inquiring about the time, it was 10:33 – they really pushed us out of that 10am appointment- I decided it was a good time to take my gel pills which, to nicely put it, help with my digestion, and popped one of the two I was about to take into my mouth, and attempted to swallow it with a slug of water.

I failed. Or my throat failed. Or the pill failed. Or the muscles or the mucus or the everything in my neck that had gone through surgery a month and a day before failed, and I wound up with a VERY slowly dissolving gel capsule stuck in my throat. It pretty quickly opened up though, and so as I started gagging I hurriedly insisted that I needed to go to the bathroom, and my Mother and I rushed to the one that was luckily only steps away, and I tried to gargle and cough and dislodge the horrible pill from the back of my throat, and only succeeded in throwing up, for the first time in 15 years.

I did not realize or recall how unpleasant an experience this “emptying the contents of your stomach” was. [Disclaimer, I don’t think my article gets any more disgusting from here on out, so if you’ve gotten this far, I apologize for not warning you sooner about its potentially disturbing contents] I also did not imagine how much more horrible it would be do to the fact that I was only 1 month recovering from a surgery which, in the first 5 days after which I spent lying in a hospital bed, the next 4 were spent lying in that same bed and occasionally taking a few steps around the neurosurgery recovery ward (quite an interesting place), and the following time up to this moment was spent in getting me to a point where I can walk around my neighborhood for 15 minutes or so, and then turn my head a little in all directions, and only be in minimally agonizing pain and shake from weakness. I am still warned not to bend over for the next 3 months, or lift more than 10 pounds or a gallon of milk for the next 3 months, and basically do nothing to strain my neck or brain for the next 3 months {all the 3 months minus the one I already spent recovering}.                 And here I was, kneeling on the floor of a hospital bathroom 1 month after surgery, and painfully attempting to keep my neck in a position where I did not cause excess pressure to my skull which might cause my brain to herniate. It’s a horrible word, isn’t it? You don’t even want to know what that means when your brain does it. [My Dear Disclaimer readers, I’m sorry if I actually did get worse…I didn’t think I would]

SO, after maybe 20 minutes of coughing up my oatmeal and brown sugar and grape breakfast, plus a juice box, and attempting, hoping the pill would come out of my throat, I finally was able to stand up -with the aide of my trusty black cane (I shall name him Sparky)- and feebly hobbled out to the valet parking with my Mom, and got into the car with my trash bag -from the kind cleaning lady-, and pile of napkins and water bottle, and desperately hoped the pill would dissolve away so I could swallow without pain again.

Despite the Icee, the crushed ice and Sprite, the milkshake, the hot tea, the chocolate frostee, the bites of raspberry pastry, the salt water gargle, the continued coughing, and a quick intercession through St. Blaise, the pill remained.

We called the doctor. The results were fruitless. Meanwhile, it was 6 in the evening, the pill had been stuck painfully in my throat for 8 hours, and I had been terrified to take any of my other pain pills or medication that I needed every 4 and 8 hours, and my neck pain and unhappy mood were rapidly increasing. I was also starving, because after consuming no more than a spoonful or gulp of the foods I listed earlier and learning they did not help, I had eaten nothing.

At this point, I picked up one of the pillows surrounding me, held it to my face, and screamed. I put it down a moment and got a gasp of air, and then picked it up and screamed into it again. Then I sobbed into it. Then I screamed and sobbed into it.

Then two little child arms, and two little child feet climbed onto me, pulled my pillow up to look at my face, and then laughed and smiled and said “What are you doing Aunt Catherine?” in an adorable 2 year old little girl voice, “Screaming,” I said, “Do it again” she said, beaming. I couldn’t, not really, but I picked up the pillow and half-heartedly shouted into it, and when I put it down she leaned on it and me, and then she got up and walked away.

Later I had finished screaming and had moved onto sulking and staring at fixed spots on the walls or floor and muttering to myself.

My little niece saw me again just as she was exiting the kitchen with a juice box. “What’s wrong Aunt Catherine?”, she asked, with genuine concern “My neck hurts Adeline,” I replied, because almost no part of it didn’t hurt, with all of my hacking and coughing I had done throughout the day. “I know how to make you feel better!” She exclaimed, as she tried to get the straw off and open, “Okay, how Adeline?” she was distracted by her straw and didn’t hear me. “How about I open your juice box and then you tell me how you can make me feel better, okay?” She agreed and walked over to me, handed me the juice box, I opened the straw for her and put it in the box and handed it to her, and then she started to walk away. “Wait Adeline, how are you going to make me feel better?” She put her juice box down on the little table next to mine, and then walked over to me, half crawled on me, and gave me a hug.

My throat still had a pill lodged in it, my neck muscles on both sides were still aching with pain, and I still hadn’t gotten any of my pain medicine or muscle relaxants, or food despite my hunger; and yet I said out loud “Thank you Adeline, you did make me feel better.” And she did.


About writingcatherine

This started as a documentation of my adventures in Europe...but hey, life's an adventure in itself.
This entry was posted in The Surgery Story - Chiari Malformation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Because screaming into my pillow is not enough…

  1. Jeff says:

    You’re awesome Catherine. I am in love with you. Marry me. Oh my goodness. Please. Marry me.

  2. Jenelle says:


  3. Jake says:

    Marry ME instead. Those other guys are losers.

  4. Pingback: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TOOOOO MEEEEE!!!! | writingcatherine

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s