Thursday I had the feeding tube put in, which meant one full day of no food or drink of any kind for almost 20 hours before the procedure, followed by about an hour and a half surgery (under general anesthesia), and waking up in the recovery room hungry, thirsty, in pain and more than a little confused about what exactly had just happened to my stomach muscles.
Steve met me back at my room and stayed with me for a bit, and I was so grateful he was there because the after effects of the procedure were WAY more painful than I had anticipated. The doctors told me to expect to be "uncomfortable", but these felt like labor pains - contractions that ripped across my abdomen every few minutes. It makes sense, I guess, because to insert the tube, they have to cut through stomach muscles and into your actual abdomen, then stitch in three "tacks" that hold the tube in place for a couple of weeks until scar tissue forms and the tacks can be removed. I'll spare you the pictures, but the pain was much worse than anything I was emotionally prepared for.
As Steve left to go home that night, I thought about the next day with some trepidation. We didn't expect this surgery to be that big of a deal, so nobody was scheduled to come see me until my brother was going to pick me up after radiation treatment later that afternoon. In the morning we thought there would be people training me on the use of the feeding tube, but this turned out not to be the case - the training would happen when a Visiting Nurse came to see me at home that night.
All that would happen during the day was that nurses would periodically check my vitals and the "button" site. They wouldn't even tell me when I was scheduled to be released, but assured me it would not be until much later that afternoon or early evening.
By 10am yesterday morning, I was a wreck. I hadn't slept much at all the night before, and my mind was racing with all sorts of awfulizing thoughts. The combination of lonely, scared and in pain had reduced me to silent tears that I would sneakily wipe away whenever the nurses came in to check vitals or something.
So there I was, sniffling away, feeling sorry for myself, wishing I could call someone and chat, but my cell phone battery was lower-than-low and I needed to save the juice, when "BINK" - my cell phone chirped at me that it had a text.
It was from Heather. "Check your email," it said, simply.
Thankfully, I had brought my Kindle Fire with me, so I clicked on her email, opened the attachment, and found this:
Operation Spiritual Airlift from Heather King on Vimeo.
Even though we are separated by many miles - from coast to the coast - my amazing friends got together and showed me that I'm never truly alone. Suddenly, I wasn't scared anymore. They reached through the pixelated miles and gave me a virtual hug that made my spirit soar.
Thank you, Heather (click on the link to her blog to read about what gave her the idea to do the video, which involves a little connection I have with her daughter Elsie Jane), Lisa (from Smacksy), Maggie (from Maggie, Dammit), Eileen (from Calandro Clan), Becky (from The Tales of Married Mikkimoto), Ann (from Ann's Rants), Jessica Bern (from Bern This), and Lee (from so many things I linked to her Twitter account). And, as I understand it, Lee's fabulous husband for his editing talents.
Consider Operation Spiritual Airlift to be a roaring success - just when my spirit was about as low as it has been through this whole journey, there you guys were. JUST EXACTLY when I needed you.
Words fall so short for how much you all mean to me, but I did manage to take this pic from the hospital yesterday -- that smile on my face? You put it there: