For Halloween this year I decided to go all out and have my throat cut, or as the surgeons call it, have a parathyroidectomy.
As much fun as this seems to be I would probably not recommend it to anyone else. At least not as a fun halloween-thing…
Seriously, for some reason one of my parathyroid glands (4 rice grained sized little buggers behind your thyroid gland) started to misbehave. It decided that it alone was responsible for supplying the world with calcium, and that my blood was the medium to use. It grew big and knocked the poor other 3 parathyroids out and started its evil quest for calcium domination. It sucked calcium out of my bones and food and everything it could think of and proceeded to dump it in my blood, thinking it would be richly rewarded. But despite its efforts nothing nice was coming its way. The job description for 1 of 4 parathyroid glands did NOT say anything about rewards being greater the more you work… So ultimately I had to let it go. Sad, sure, but it was causing disgruntlement in the workplace and the other employees were just sleeping on the job.
Thus, on October 31 I got on a train and went to the Uppsala University hospital.
I arrived, had no idea where to go, was directed and shoved into an elevator (I happen to not go on elevators since they are AAAAAAAAH!) and there wasn’t really any way of backing out.
I ended up on floor 6, ward 90c and some nice people showed me to room 12.
There I started to unpack. A student nurse came in to take the regular tests; blood, pulse, blood pressure, oxygen saturation. Pulse was 96 and BP VERY HIGH. For some reason I have never been in the slightest bit fond of hospitals, which might reflect negatively on my pulse and BP…
I then proceeded to introduce myself to my roommate. She had a name, but will hereafter be referred to as THE ROOMMATE FROM HELL, or TRFH, for short. TRFH, I quickly found out, liked to talk about death, disease and death. And not much else. I, however, am not as fond of conversations about those particular subjects since they tend to stress me the hell out, so I figured this was going to be a long 3 days…
My proper nurse (not proper as opposed to some sort of sluttyness of the student nurse, but proper as in registered…) came in and introduced herself and told me roughly what was going to happen. I received said information without breaking into hysterics and managed to pull off the “I’m-a -40-year-old-hedgehog-of-the-world-and-I’m-not-fazed-by-such-trifling-matters-as-throat-cutting”-act.
The day proceeded with me escaping to the tiny square outside the hospital where smoking was allowed many, many times. Mostly just to escape having death-talks with TRFH. The horror of the elevator paled in comparison to the alternative of staying in my room with HER!
At the smoking area I met a man around the age of 45 that for some reason seemed to become infatuated with me. He had forgotten his cigarettes and I provided and that seemed to have done the trick… He kept sitting very close to me at all times, talking and talking. He waited for hours in the downstairs waiting area and every time I came down he FLEW up, smiling and talking like I was some goddess that had descended upon the earth. Very strange situation, but he was sweet and nice and it was fun having someone to talk to.
I met with my surgeon who performed another ultrasound on my neck and for some reason my glands were very cooperative this time and clearly showed themselves. The Weird one was marked on my neck with pen in a scary pattern that looked almost swastika-like.
I met with an anesthesiologist in the afternoon and after that I was free to roam around, which I most certainly did! I went to Uppsala Castle and saw a bunny and stuff.
Night came and since I hadn’t slept the night before I was holding out high hopes for sleep. Before going to bed however I was forced to shower and wash my whole self with this godawful thing called chlorhexidine. A mean, mean type of soap that my skin and hair really didn’t agree with. I then put on my hospital clothes and my perky, blue plastic foot covers and went to bed.
That’s when the real nightmare began.
I started to drift off to sleep but was brutally interrupted by a sound from some sort of horror movie. I quickly identified the sound as coming from TRFH’s bed. It turned out to be a version of this horrible thing called snoring, but a previously virtually undiscovered form that up until this moment had only been heard from people in horror movies choking on their own blood.
Being somewhat saintly in my nature (shut up!) I decided against killing and instead gave sleeping another try. The pillow I had been given was apparently of some kind of unknown material that reminded me of rubber and air at the same time and any attempt to actually lie on it resulted in a balloon in the back of it and a thin, ski slope-like thing under your neck with absolutely zero support. Still, I made a wholehearted attempt at going to sleep, but alas it proved futile.
I exited my room and started wandering the corridor in search of a night nurse that could provide me with ear plugs. I was successful in my endeavor but even ear plugs it turned out, could do nothing to block out the sounds of ultimate horror coming from the other bed.
I ended up reading through the night. Not being allowed to eat or drink or smoke, there really wasn’t much else to do.
Morning eventually came. My OR appointment was at 7.30 am and at 6.30 I went in to wash once again in that horrible substance.
Now I was in my surgery clothes. You know the ones, the sexy, loose stockings, the robe with an opening in the back, gigantic, uhm…panties? Shorts? Pantalettes? Too bad you can’t take that stuff home with you…
A nurse handed me pain killers and some lovely drug within the benzo family that actually worked a little on me. I wasn’t stoned but I wasn’t hysterical either. I was….mellow, I would say.
A person rolled me down to the OR, I got on the table, and by table I mean strange airplane-like contraption with two inverted V’s on it. One V was to go under my neck and my head was supposed to be outside this thingamagig. My arms went into the “wings” sticking out and the other V was for my knees.
Electrodes were placed on my chest in all sorts of places. I got one of those venous catheters in my hand and various things were injected. “This will make you warm but not uncomfortable”, “This will do this” and “this will do that”. I think there were at least 3 nurse anesthetists in the room and then there was a German guy coming in that apparently was the actual anesthetist. He introduced himself and said things but he had such a weird accent I didn’t understand much. He held a mask over my face, not touching me though. I have no idea what was in the mask, probably oxygen, or possibly mustard gas, I can’t be sure.
I think at some point I heard someone mention injecting the general anesthesia and then I was out.
I came to in the recovery room. Apparently before I was properly awake I asked how everything went, if they found the little workaholic parathyroid. The strange part is that I did that in English… Apparently my subconscious now thinks English is my first language… Embarrassing!
I kept hearing alarms go off every few minutes. After a while I was able to realize there was a correlation between the alarm and the thing squeezing my arm every few minutes.. Of course it had to be me and my BP setting off the alarm! My BP kept being 200/120 and that was a bit too much the machine felt, thus alerting the staff to the situation. I was given blood pressure lowering meds and that got it down to 180, but they still kept me in that recovery room for 2 hours. Very unnecessary I thought, since I was dying to drink something. Instead I got this q-tip like thing dipped in water that was utterly unsatisfactory!
Eventually I got back up to my room. I drifted in and out of, not really sleep, but slumber, I would say, for the whole afternoon.
At 6 pm I was fully awake and my BP was still through the roof. No one seemed to be able to figure out why it was though.
Another sleepless night followed where I was sitting in the corridor, curled up under a blanket with tingles and numbness in my arms, legs and face, obviously a sign of dropping calcium levels. I was given meds for it but it never really went away properly.
I kept reading gossip magazines I found, that’s how desperate I was! I now know everything about the Swedish Crown Princess and her kid I never wanted to know!
New patients were coming in, possibly from the ER and between that and gossip, somehow the night passed.
At 7 am I went into “I-need-to-fake-normalcy-if-it-kills-me-so-I-can-go-home-today-because-I-can’t-take-another-night-in-this-place”-mode and managed to get dressed in my own clothes and stagger down to the smoking area, even though I felt like I was just a head spinning and floating around…
My faithful admirer had left the hospital and instead I found myself chatting with a VERY butch lesbian woman with very thin hair.
Back in my room there was a seemingly endless waiting for test results they took in the morning to come back. The surgeon came in to check on me and tell me my thing weighed 300 something mg and that she would contact me in 4-5 weeks when it had been biopsied.
Calcium and ionized calcium tests came back OK. I was given permission to go home!!! Praise the Lord!!!!!!
5 days post-op I can still feel my BP being high, and I’m still dizzy and tingly, but I suppose that will wear off after some time. At least I hope so.
The scar still feels weird, but not AS weird. I find myself touching it all the time to make sure that it’s still closed and the tape is still there. The blue and purple around the cut has started to turn more green and yellow.
Thank God for computers to distract a stressed out nervous hedgehog like myself!
Found an article from a Swedish newspaper about an unknown beast that has been killing and mutilating 60-70 sheep lately in the south of Sweden. The experts say dog, the sheep owners think wolf and the tracks say with 80% certainty that it’s canine. Seems a bit much with 70 sheep in such a short time, but it could happen. Should it turn out to be something more interesting than a wolf or a dog you can bet I’m gonna write about it!
For now, toodles!