The Story I Don’t Want To Tell You (About My Cancer) – Part II: The Surgery

The thought of someone slicing into my body is not as alarming as it probably should be. Yes, it’s going to be on my butt, and yes, it’s going to hurt to sit afterwards, and yes, it’s going to be a pain in the ass (quite literally) to go to the bathroom for a while, but my Inner Optimist is of the belief that the aftermath will be an improvement over the before-math, and so, clearly, the math is working for me!

The morning of my surgery, I am calm and envisioning a great outcome. I’m poked and prepared for an IV drip. They take my vitals; all good. I sign the necessary permissions, releases, and disclosures. I get into my utterly un-stylish gown. None of this is disquieting. I plug myself into my iPhone for some Enya while I wait.

I’m eventually wheeled into a very spacious O.R. There’s enough room for a DJ in one corner, cash bar in the other, and a small dance floor. It’s not exactly a party atmosphere, although everyone in the room, including my sweet and badass G.I. surgeon, is upbeat and positive.

They verify who I am – name, date of birth – and why I’m there – hemorrhoid removal and biopsy. I wonder, since they are asking me these questions, how many times a year the wrong surgery gets performed on an unsuspecting patient. Please, just remove that hemorrhoid or whatever the hell that is.

Because of the locus of my surgery, they settle me onto my belly with my head turned to one side. My arms are out at my sides, and I am attached to an IV drip of something yummy. Probably valium. The table is folded at my hips and my rear end is conveniently (for the surgeon) pointed towards the bright lights in the ceiling. It is a position that makes sense and is currently comfortable, but it is going to be a source of trouble later.

Fewer than five breaths of the anesthetic and I’m out.

I wake up to someone instructing me to take slow, deep breaths. I comply. I am grateful to be conscious, to be back with the living. I made it. Hopefully, they got what they needed to get and none of it is cancer.

I am in a private recovery room and am lying on my back. I expect pain, but so far so good. Yummy drugs again, no doubt.

And then I attempt to move; a gentle scooch or roll to my side, nothing quite as complex as sitting up. There is an enormous slam of pain that causes me to see stars. [Yes, that’s a real thing.] I’m confused by where the pain is. Not my butt. Not my butt? No, my lower back. Right where my tramp tattoo would be if I had one. Somehow I’ve managed to throw out my back. Except all I’ve done between (a) pre-surgery and (b) post-surgery is lie down. With my butt up in the air. For almost two hours.

Bingo.

This is not the first time my back has been “thrown out.” Even though I was unconscious at the time, I know exactly what happened. Due to the marvelous effects of anesthesia, my muscles completely relax. All of them. In my jack-knifed position, gravity does its thing and pulls my lower half away from my upper half at the sacroiliac joint. After surgery is complete, I am rolled over onto my back and laid FLAT as a board onto a gurney. Because I am unconscious during all of this, I cannot say to someone, “Uh, my back’s feeling kind of wonky, so let’s take this slow,” giving myself the opportunity to brace my torso and large leg muscles to compensate for the lack of strength and control in my lower back.

What was supposed to be an outpatient procedure, now involves staying overnight and getting LOTS of opioids for the various post-op pains I am now experiencing below the belt.

And for those of you who’ve been paying attention to the new television ads for something called “O.I.C.,” you can probably name one of the most troubling Opioid-Induced side effects. Hint: it starts with a “C”. Yep, you got it: Constipation. Severe constipation after asshole surgery. Are ya feelin’ me?

I think to myself, “Hemorrhoid used to be my least favorite word in the world. Now constipation is vying for first place.”

NEXT: Part III: Post-Op

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