Checking into a hospital is a little similar to joining a cult. You're no longer in charge of your own destiny, and there's a new set of rules to follow with costumes to wear and procedures to learn. The cult will have you checking out tubes, wounds and stitches while you join an open discussion about your dressings. When you become sick or injured, what was once gross, can now be quite fascinating with a little help from the cult.
I don't want to gross anyone out so I won't go into too much detail, but you know when a magician begins pulling the scarves from his sleeve and they just keep coming and coming and coming? A similar thing happened to me today, but it wasn't my sleeve. I had no idea THAT was what "packing" was when everyone talked about removing the packing. Not a suitcase in sight.
The urology ward is much the same as the maternity ward. It's full of people without pants, people who have become used to displaying their bits and pieces on demand while discussing movements, bruising and stitches. People who have checked their dignity at the door, hoping they'll find it somewhere on the way out before re-entering the real world. Many of them won't, they'll learn to live with bags, clips and drains - this is my reality for the next six weeks. And now that I've visited the urology ward and heard the stories, I've realized six weeks isn't that long at all.
I've met many nurses on a two hourly schedule over the past few days. After four and half hours of surgery, "just here to take your obs" has arrived with the same regularity as a newborn screaming for a feed. Each nurse was fabulous at making me feel comfortable, and interested in how I came to be there. We've discussed family, travel, health, and whatever happened to be playing in the background on the telly. I've learnt that if you write a post about hanging on to your labia, you've made a nurse friend for life in the urology ward "we see people throwing them in the bin all the time in plastics, while in the room across the hall someone has used one to save their urethra".
It took some convincing but eventually the cult let me go. After a lengthy catheter demonstration and some "light" reading material was run through, I felt proficient enough in how to attach a catheter without causing myself some serious public embarrassment. Discussions were had, and eventually they unrolled the pressure stockings, pulled out the IV's and served me my last luke warm tea. Room 211 and I said goodbye.
It's done. The operation is over. Two major things happened this week; I woke up, and my children made it home from school safely without me.
We're over the scary bits and we're moving along, very tenderly, but we're moving along.