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Still Waters: Emerging from an alternate universe

Posted: Friday, Oct 18th, 2013

That is how it feels coming back into the “real world” after being in the hospital in Denver and slowly making my way back home. It’s like coming out of a dark Twilight Zone episode.

Most of you know I had major surgery on Sept. 19 at the University of Colorado Hospital where surgeon Dr. Gjados removed all but the literal tail end of my colon. My first colonoscopy early this year here in Alamosa, thanks again to John Sisneros for lining it up, led to another and another and another … and finally to the conclusion by Denver doctors that because of some rare and prolific polyps throughout my colon, tending to cancer and already showing cancer, the entire colon needed to be removed.

If I had known everything that was involved beforehand, I might have said “let’s take our chances with the polyps,” but mercifully I did not. The seven-hour surgery was the easy part, at least for me. I’m sure it wasn’t any fun for my family in the waiting room all those hours. I left my travel pillow and hand-held Yahtzee game for them but I doubt anybody rested much or played games. I know there was a lot of praying going on.

My recollections of the next 10 days in the hospital are a bit fuzzy, but I remember the comforting sound of family talking in the room, the Disney princess blanket over me that my big sister gave me for the occasion, my Mickey Mouse from my little friend Smiley and two stuffed animals from my little sister, an Alaskan wolf and a Dalmatian, just like my late Freckles.

I remember being hooked up so many drains and tubes and IV’s it was hard to move without being afraid of upsetting the balance of them all. One attachment to my finger monitored my oxygen and maybe other things, an IV provided medication, such as pain medicines, a catheter and another drain took care of other fluids and so on. Boy did it hurt like the dickens when they pulled that drain out!

And the constant Heparin shots (which my little sister Kristi and I called Nora Ephron shots because I couldn’t remember the real name — nobody got the joke) to keep the blood from clotting also hurt like the dickens. Some nurses were better at administering those than others. I still have some pretty purple bruises from all the poking.

I also have hard-to-find veins, so there was a lot of poking just to draw blood. Even the “pros” they called in had trouble. Once they even drew blood from my feet because they couldn’t find a vein in my arm! I was glad during my second stay in the hospital when they finally put in a picc line so they could draw blood from there. That was also the line they used to administer special nutritional fluids, since I was not in good shape when I went back the second time. But then they started poking my fingers to test my blood sugars! Gracious! I can’t imagine what diabetics go through every day, bless them!

For the complete article see the 10-18-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-18-2013 paper.

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