Tuesday, November 9, 2010

5 Things You Need To Know About Having Your Gallbladder Removed

"Well, young lady," the doctor said, giving his head a slight shake (the better to send his luxurious hair cascading over his left temple) "You’re in fine physical health, you're absolutely gorgeous, and I think you and I would make beautiful children together. Let's get married."


What he really said was "You need to have your gallbladder out." (And he didn't quite look as good as Dr. McDreamy)

Woo. Hoo.

By the way, the next time you catch yourself thinking "Man, I would give anything to get a full week off of work this year," be careful that God doesn't hear you or he might just say "Ok, how about an internal organ?"

Really honestly, however, I think this is the best thing that could have happened to me. I needed to have the gallbladder out, and I really really really needed some time to rest and recharge.

Something I realized as I went through the process (and I'm fine now, thanks for asking!) is that there are things that you might not know will happen when you go to get your gallbladder removed. Or for most any surgery, in fact. So I thought I would share these things, in case it helps you:

1. Don't pee before you get there. 
I repeat. Do. Not. Pee. They will ask you to pee in a cup so they can check something. Maybe it's a quick pregnancy test, I don't know. All I know is I signed in, used the bathroom, got called right away to go to a room to get prepped, and was given a cup. And what kills me is the woman who signed me in told me where the bathroom was when I asked. She could've said "you know, you're gonna have to pee in a cup in like 10 minutes." Oh, and don't forget no food or water after midnight, so squeezing out a few more drops (and getting them into the cup) when you've pretty well peed out your last bit of liquid is not that easy!

2. Shave your legs. 
Unless you don't care if people see/touch your legs when they're all stubbly. Because they will put these amazing wonderful plug-in wraps on your legs that will keep your blood flowing and feels like a wonderful little massage every few minutes. Which, of course, means that they will be touching your legs! So be forewarned. (Besides, you soooo won't want to take a shower or shave for a few days after the surgery anyway, so you may as well start fresh.)

3. Have your driver on call all day. 
I was told that I would be out of there by 3pm at the latest after my 9:45am surgery. Right. First off, they didn't even start the surgery until 11am (which is crazy, since I was only the 2nd surgery of the day) Then, if you have any sort of nausea afterwards, they will give you medication that will knock you out again. I didn't leave until 6:30pm! Thank goodness my mom, who was coming from 45 minutes away, stayed at home until about 5:30 and then just took it upon herself to start driving in, so she actually got there right as I was getting dressed to leave. But seriously, if she'd come in at 3pm like I'd been told, she'd have been b.o.r.e.d.

4. Find a doctor who has more fun in the surgery than the office. 
Ok that may sound weird, but my doctor seemed a bit abrupt and not in the best of moods when I first met him in the office. But when he walked in before the surgery, he was like a whole new person. He practically bounced in, gave me a big smile, stretched his arms and cracked his knuckles and said "Ok, we've warmed up on one, now we're ready for you. let's do this!" and I suddenly realized here is a surgeon who really enjoys his job. I like the idea of a doctor who is excited about doing a good surgery cutting me open, not just some guy who can be personable in the office but may or may not get jazzed up about removing organs. As long as you know he's professional, take the first guy!

5. Do NOT make a post-surgery to-do list. 
I don't care what you think you're going to be able to do. You most likely will not be able to or interested in doing it. Now I know there are some people who are more stubborn than me, or who may feel the pressure to be constantly "productive" out there, so if you manage to sort your entire photo collection 2 days after a surgery, well then good for you. But as for me, all I know is that in 12 days I didn't do a single thing besides re-read the Harry Potter collection. Now, that's no small shakes given that all 7 books must be at least 3,000 pages. But seriously, I did nothing else. I slept, I watched some TV, I slept some more, and I read. That's it. And you know what? I'm glad. Because by the end of my time off, I was rested, relaxed, and rejuvenated. I'm not quite yet back up to 100%, but I think having the time off (and the gallbladder removed) was exactly what I needed to take a big step towards a more healthy lifestyle. Booyah.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Oh Where... is My Camera?

If my camera worked under water, this is what the photos it took would look like.

Yes, it is true... my camera is lost to Davy Jones' Locker. Well... assuming that Davy Jones has a locker at the bottom of Lake Geneva, IL, anyway. 

So here's what happened: I was at a women's retreat, learning about how to worship God fully. During the afternoon break, a friend and I decided to walk to the lake, taking pictures along the way. It was a beautiful fall day, and my photos were amazing. I had a great eye that day, and was catching moments of beauty all over the place. I even remember saying "This is the best photo I've taken!" after taking a shot of a canoe at the edge of the lake. The funny thing is a voice whispered in my ear "That's prideful, you shouldn't say that!" so I tried to amend it to "This is the best photo I've taken today!" Not that my friend would have cared I'm sure, but I felt like someone was telling me "Oooh, you shouldn't be so proud of what you're doing, that's bad." 

And then 5 minutes later, right as we were getting into a paddle boat for a quick ride, I lost my camera. It was  a nice pocket-sized camera, so of course it was in my pocket. In its case, in my pocket, clipped to my jeans, to be exact. And yet, just when I was stepping into the boat it popped out--the whole case--and bloop! it fell right into the water. 

And I mean it when I say bloop! It was a nice loud, satisfying sound, the kind of noise that a medium-to-large sized stone would make when you drop it into water. Or, say, a camera in its case. Oh, and I also had my spare battery and about 4 SD memory cards in there.

So my first reaction was to swear. And my second was to stare into the water and flutter my hands. You know what I mean, right, that rapid flexing of the wrist that shows how incompetent you really are but somehow we just have to do it? As if fluttering my hands at the lake would make it regurgitate my camera dry and perfect. Yeah, right.

What really happened is I called our on-site manager, Joel, who came over right away and spent 45 minutes trying to find the camera. Because here's the thing: even though it only dropped right off the pier, the bottom of the lake wasn't a nice clear pebbly bottom. Oh no, the bottom of the lake was about 5 feet of mud, plants, and more mud. So every time we swept a rake through the water trying to catch the camera, we'd have to wait 10-15 minutes for the water to clear enough to look for it.

I'm sure you're hoping that I found it. I was hoping that I'd find it, because there's a chance that my warrantee may have covered water damage, but replacing a disappeared camera? Yeah, not so sure about that one. 

The 45 minutes Joel spent trying to find my camera were amazing, and terrible. I say terrible because--well, you know why, duh. I spent pretty much the whole time crying. That camera was like my baby, it was like my left hand. I'm sure you understand, if you're a fan of photography. It may not have been a professional-grade camera, but I believe I've taken more than my fair share of beautiful photos. See my previous post about things I see on the way to the train for a few shots that I took a week before the retreat to see just how much I was in love with finding the beautiful--the extraordinary, if you will--in the ordinary.

But back to those 45 minutes. Why were they amazing, you might be wondering. They were amazing because I have never had people I didn't know rally around me so much. Not only did Joel faithfully spend a full 45 minutes trying to find the camera, but a group of people, who had been intrigued as to why two people kept staring off the pier, came over and started looking for the camera themselves. Two of them even flopped down on their bellies and stuck their faces into the water in an attempt to see better. We're talking October, cold water!

Then all of a sudden I knew it was over. I was done. I couldn't ask Joel to stay away from all the other teams that were staying at the conference center for any longer. The camera, which likely was only about 6 inches away from where we were looking the whole time, was lost. Joel drove me back to our meeting room, where the session I was supposed to lead was just wrapping up. I felt like a failure. I had lost about $537 worth of camera stuff, not to mention the pictures I'd taken that day, and I'd missed the chance to continue my leadership development by leading a personal testimony session at the retreat. 

And yet.

And yet, I felt peace. I felt comfort. I felt God saying "I know the pain you are feeling." The speaker who did our morning and afternoon sessions spoke about how everything we do should be worship to God, and that we should give Him our all, our everything. When I walked back into the meeting room, we sang "I'm giving you everything I am, and everything I have," and I thought "God, I just gave you my camera." 

I will admit, I cried when I thought that.

But then something else the speaker said came back to me. She'd talked about how when we do good deeds on earth, we build up for ourselves treasures in heaven. But she doesn't think we're going to get to heaven and sit happily on our pile of gold. No, once we see God in His full glory, we'll be so overwhelmed that we will throw down our treasures before Him, because nothing on earth or in Heaven is as amazing, as fantastic, as holy, as praise-worthy as God. And it will give us no more pleasure than to cast our crowns down before Him as an expression of how His love is all that matters, His glory unapproachable. So next to all of that, what value my camera? And what helpful part does bitterness or anger play in getting over its loss? None, to both.

I will admit, when people prayed for me that the camera would be returned to me two-fold (as in, twice as good, not twice as many) I had an internal battle. Because getting a camera twice as nice as that one would be awesome. But I can't expect it, right? So would thinking about getting a new camera ruin my chances of actually getting one? And while we're at it, did I lose my camera because I had those prideful thoughts earlier?

My goodness, it's amazing how evil that thought was. Was losing the camera somehow connected to my pride?

I don't think so at all. I think if anyone had tried to find exactly the right way for me to doubt myself, and doubt God's sovereignty, that is the way to do it. Which is precisely why I do not believe it. I do not believe that losing my camera was God's way of getting back at me, and I do not believe that it happened without his knowledge. What I do believe is that He will, and has already, work this out for good. I mean, He already helped me to not tie up my entire sense of well-being with a physical object. He helped me to accept that sometimes things happen, and we can't live in the past, wishing we could turn time back to about 5 seconds before the accident, but that we have to move on.

I'm not really sure what "moving on" will look like, but I know one thing, God spoke to me very clearly that weekend about my writing. If a picture is worth a thousand words, and I can take 300 pictures in about an hour, I've got a lot of writing to do. Maybe that's why I'm not encumbered with a camera right now. 

Well, that's 1400 words down. Stay tuned for more tomorrow.