I've Dang-well Gone and Grown Accustomed to That Hospital Gown.

 

(note: this was written on Tuesday. I am posting it today. I could blame the delay on the continuous changing of diapers, the tedious job of watching and waiting for a certain two year old to poop on the potty, the mortgage renewal bank meetings, the ongoing onslaught of dirty dishes, or the dog. I think I will blame the dog).

 

I don’t know how to wear regular clothes anymore.

Today when I went to my oh-my-goodness-the-lymphocele-is-missing-now-what meeting* with Dr. Slice and Dice, I was expecting to go over the outcome of the recent nephrostogram x-ray, a post-lymphocele test I did to confirm that indeed, the urine was now making its way from my kidney and down the proper channel(s) into my bladder.**

The thing is, I knew the results already. Call me Sherlock Holmes, but it was a bit of a giveaway when a) immediately following the x-ray procedure, the radiologist removed his protective gear*** and then shared  the details of the x-ray on the big computer screen and b) into the testing room, I had carried a handwritten note from Dr. Slice and Dice (to be given to the radiologist) that explicitly stated: if the urine displays a correct pathway, this patient’s nephrostomy tube is to be capped. At the conclusion of the test, my neph tube was capped. I can therefore only conclude that either those radiologists have a strange fixation on capping neph tubes and did so randomly, or that they read the note, noticed that the urine was undoubtedly traveling down the right tube, and so disconnected the nephrostomy. I am leaning towards the latter.

This afternoon’s meeting with Dr. Slice and Dice then was a bit of a formality, although I went with the intention of discussing plans for the eventual removal of the part of the neph tube that yet poked out a few inches from my belly.**** In my mind, it would be in a few weeks, with possibly a local (anesthetic), or at least some good ol’ Ativan. Likewise, it would involve lying on an examination table, garbed in yet another lovely blue hospital gown and most likely sweating profusely despite being the room being cold. The usual stuff.

I was slightly taken aback then, after perusing the x-ray results this afternoon with Dr. Slice and Dice when he turned to me and declared: well, let’s take the tube out!

To which I rather unceremoniously retorted: today?!

You see, I’m not ready. Oh, I want to be rid of this tube! I have dreamed of being rid of this darn tube. But there’s something so final in it, so risky.  I was not prepared for such suddenness. Truth be told, one of the twenty-two or so thoughts to fly through my head at the time (besides my parking meter nearly being done, having the kiddo with me as well as needing to pick Sean up from work shortly) was: I can’t! I’m wearing laundry-day underwear.****

It was all too sudden. And I am not good with sudden, especially when it comes to medical procedures.

So here’s my confession: I am slightly unsure as to how to be outside of this recent health-care mess.***** I admit, although thankful that the lymphocele has disappeared, that I find myself reluctant to untie and finalize the step out of this hospital gown. This gown, well, it has (begrudgingly) become my normal. I understood who I was in it. It had become familiar.

And now. And now facing the removal of this hospital gown -- the one I have fought so hard not to be in- do I find myself (ashamedly) scared. I do not know what the upcoming normal looks like for me. I do not know how to wear ‘regular people’ clothes. I don't know.

 

*doctors like lots of meetings. I now suspect that it is a prerequisite to being a medical doctor.

**okay, only one channel: the not-so-fancy-but-oh-so-important ureter (FYI: if you are not a medically interesting person like I am***, you may have both of your kidneys. In that case, you will have two ureters leading to a happy and working bladder).

***euphemism for complicated.

***so the test is about to begin. I am laying on the x-ray table. I have a wonderfully revealing hospital gown in blue on, and a thin army-brown blanket covering my legs. I am cold but nervous, so I sweat anyway (welcome to anxiety 101 – the ability to sweat profusely despite being in conditions parallel to outside in the middle of January. In Winnipeg).There is a radiologist and two residents in the room, each perched over the examination table. Just before the dye is placed in the neph tube and the x-rays begin, the residents vanish. The radiologist, however, remains but turns to a table nearby and swiftly dons not one but two full-torso layers of heavy black protective wear. He then proceeds to place a similar safe-guard thing around his neck, which looks eerily similar to a clerical collar. Except an evil cleric, as this collar, too, is black and made of heavy materials that I imagine were found somewhere in post-war Soviet Union. He then places over-sized gloves on each hand. At this point, I can’t help think: what about me? If he is going through so much trouble in protecting himself from possible radiation, what am I being exposed to? Yikes. I want a heavy black clerical collar too!

****laundry-day underwear: those worn-out garments that only get used when all else is indisposed in a machine full of soap. It is implicitly understood that no one should see you in these underwear. You know what I mean.

*****this is not to say that all is peachy-keen with my health now. It is better but there's still the underlying kidney disease and the thank-you-tainted-blood-scandal hepatitis C to contend with. But I am at least used to those.