Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Just don't let him see you cry

Each time a surgeon from the surgical ward passes me in the hallway of the hospital, he looks at me with a look like "wait... you look familiar... do you?... where do I know you from?", or, even more poignant are the ones I pass and they know *exactly* who I am and how they know me. It's like old home day over there, as I stay by the beside of my good friend, who just had really crappy surgery with an outlandishly unexpected result. She went in for surgery for some tumors (which she has had before, and it was benign. PLEASE GD it is again), and came out with more than the tumors taken out. It was shocking. And, as you can imagine, a bit close to home for me. Especially since her surgeon is... one that I have a six-year history with...........
yup. I am now seeing him multiple times a day. Twice now I have taken him aside, after his bedside visit with my friend, to ask him pointed questions about her surgery and exactly how did this happen. In today's conversation, there was a fine line between me asking about her situation, and me slipping into questions that were more about me than her. (was any of the tissue you excised necrotic? Why did you have to remove [body organs]? What did you do while trying to save it? Were the tumors surrounding [said body parts], or infiltrated into them?

Today I turned on my heels and walked away practically without saying goodbye. The conversation was too close to home. I kept saying to myself "don't let him see you cry". When I returned to my friend's bedside, and she had nodded off, I took the opportunity to cry big, full, heaving tears about this whole thing. Neither my friend, nor the surgeon saw that. It was a sort of cathartic, and private.

My friend- who had this insane thing happen to her- is not getting prophylactic antibiotics. When I asked the surgeon why, he said that they "dumped large amounts of antibiotics into her during the surgery. Big gun antibiotics, poured in from all directions", were pretty close to his exact words. Then he continued to say that I didn't have that; no antibiotics at my surgery, or after. He said that he made that choice because I was allergic to Penicillin.
In my head: um, yeah, I was only allergic to Penicillin at the time. Now, after it all, I have allergies to like ten more types, but at the time, just Penicillin. You should have tried harder, dude. You dropped the ball at my expense. I trusted you.

(readers- thought you'd find it interesting to know that I actually wrote three more paragraphs here, then edited them out. They will probably find their way into my book. I edited them out because my heart hurts tonight, and I was getting too carried away with painful details and trauma.)

The surgeon, bringing the conversation back to my initial surgery, when I was asking about the antibiotics on my friend's behalf, made me feel like a rape victim, talking to her perpetrator, and keeping up a normal demeanor anyway. I felt mocked and insignificant to him. Yes, those are strong words. This is strong stuff.

Yesterday when he popped in, he told me he had a story for me. Yes, it piqued my curiosity, of course. I walked out of the room with him and we talked in the corridor.

He had just been in America, to a surgeons conference. He told me of how he was on a panel of like eight others (maybe it wasn't eight, but the point was that it was a small panel of surgeons), all surgeons who have had patients with the outcome of NF.
He said that he was very relieved when the hour and a half was over. He told my story. (I'd actually like to hear him tell my story, and see how it differs from my experience).
Then he went on to tell me of the other crazy stories from other surgeons of their NF patients... most of whom got NF in a place different than the point of entry from their surgery. He said it was so bizarre to hear of these NF cases that didn't make logical sense. He went on to say that my case, well, that was logical. Hernia surgery leading to NF, spread throughout the region of the original surgery. As if he was writing off my case because the other ones were more bizarre and interesting. I know my feelings are writing this blog, not my logical brain, but these are the feelings that need a voice. This laptop contains the key to my voice.

I have spent many hours in the hospital these past few days. She has no family here, and is a single mom (her friend is taking care of her 3-year-old daughter). She needs a 'person', a protector, someone to be there when she opens her eyes after nodding off. I *know* how that feels.
Having lied in the same ward (multiple times), with the same hell of unexpectedly losing body parts (inner parts, in her case), it is just so close to home. It is a challenge for me, but I want to meet this challenge. This, too, is from God.

I will try to get others to take some shifts by her bedside. (there are certain nurses who you just *do not* let into her room). It is hard, though, because she isn't in my community of friends, and I don't know her friends. I want to ask her for the numbers of her closest friends (although nobody stopped by the entire two days I have been there). I will work this out, though. I need to protect myself, too. It's just that I am so caught up, because..... I *really* get it.

A teeny bit on my personal situation:

No headaches for 11 days now. No special reason why. Sometimes they are 2-3 weeks apart, so it's not an "out of the woods" thing, but I am awaiting a head MRI scan, and on Thursday of this week I'm going to an eye specialist to check on the pressure I feel in my eyes, the migraines, and all the stuff they check.

My hips are killing me. I don't think there is much I can do about it. They hurt when I sit too much stand too much, or walk too much. That leaves lying down. Yah.
I do not plan to go through with a hip transplant any time soon. It's not the time, I intuitively feel that. I also do not plan to do impingement surgery on the right hip until the situation gets too bad and is taking away a significant portion of my quality of life.

I see my friend and I remember it all. Surgery is SO AWFUL. Horrendous, actually. That is also why I have decided, without waffling at all, not to do the reconstruction surgery (although not the only reason for not doing it). I will not go under the knife unless it is truly unavoidable.

I am going to sleep. I had to write and write and write this evening. I had to let it all out.
Now hopefully my sleep will be peaceful.


  1. Sarah, you are a strong and true friend. I know she will appreciate you being there for her once she understands more of what happened. Prayers for you and your friend.

  2. You are an amazing friend. I hope she makes a full recovery.

  3. You amaze me more and more Sarah!

    1. I don't want the "you amaze me" stuff. I am just doing what is natural... that is also why I am a doula. Taking care of people in crisis I can do.
      On the other hand, I have to pull back a little. I have to take care of my kids, my house, myself. I am way tired, and had some crying bouts this morning trying to figure out if Hashem wants me to take care of my house or of my friend. I feel very torn, and I am not so awesome. I am not altruistic, just trying to do what I do well- helping women in crisis.

  4. Oh my - that sounds just way complicated.
    In real life it is already hard to feel yourself and not to be involved with others - this situation almost seems impossible.
    I hug you!

  5. Reading and drinking in your every word.

    Oh kind and compassionate soul, how wonderful that your friend gas you T her time of need and aloneness. I hope it will also contribute to your own healing and strengthening. This I so k ow - how strong you are. And capable and loving and beautiful. HaShem made no mistakes and was bountiful when you were born.

    You guys still New York bound at the end of November?

    Love, S

  6. I can't think of anything scarier than being in hospital...other than being in hospital alone! So I am sure your presence is greatly appreciated. But don't overdo it she must have some other contacts who can pitch in.Surgeons are a strange breed and unfortunately we need to deal with them when we are at our weakest. I had 3 types of antibiotics for a full 3 days in August and I too have a whole list of allergies...weird excuse.

  7. אשריך Tizki lemitzvot Sarah Kashin Klein, such an important and wonderful thing you're doing

  8. Dearest Sarah, may Hashem continue to give you the strength to do all the wonderful good deeds you do and want to do for others, both friends and family. Refuah shleima to all who need it! B'sorot tovot.