Good To See You, Again

With some thoughts of fear, the unknown, finality and a possible regret, I headed to bed by 10:00 PM. I love my sleep and instinctively knew Tuesday night (the 17) would take me over an hour to at least get to the doors of La La Land. My brain was swirling with anticipation, fear and trying desperately to imagine how the whole procedure would go down.

Surprisingly I was up earlier than thought. I’ll do this when I’m anxious the night before. I’m the kind that wants something done, and done now. Impatience runs throughout my bones. Within 20 minutes we were driving down the highway to St. Catharines General Hospital to finally get my dentures and partials done. The little yellow container holding the dentures and partials sat atop my lap with an envelope of paperwork to be handed in upon arrival. I felt somewhat calm at this point. Perhaps thinking that this was it. All will soon be over and I’ll be back to my old smile, and the ability to chomp on good food again without having to gnaw away for half an hour after each bite!!

Arriving at the Outpatient Service we were escorted by a lovely volunteer to the patient bed area and were greeted by a very attentive nurse who kicked Nat out until I was settled. He toddled off to the waiting room as I began the usual ordeal of donning those wonderfully designed hospital gowns (“just strip down to your undies”), blood pressure, diabetes check, temperature, heart rate, etc., etc. More questions asked that had been asked a hundred times before with every appointment I’ve had during this entire ordeal. I could almost answer them by memory. At least I was ready for them and had made numerous copies of my medical record, lovingly done by my GP who is very efficient, along with numerous copies of my medicines. Always helps a great deal to be pre-prepared with such things, especially when your memory is fading and you look to the ceiling for answers!

Nat was soon summoned by my bedside as we waited for 10:45 AM – my procedure time. We didn’t have a whole lot of talking to do but watched as the rest of the nursing staff settled in all of the new patients coming in for whatever procedure they were having done. Even one older lady saying she’d never had an operation in her whole life. What a treat that must have been!! Nat and I also couldn’t get over the attentiveness of the nursing staff and the efficiency of which they were running the Outpatient Service. They were friendly, informative and certainly knew their jobs. As I’m a difficult one to get an Intravenous hook-up, they immediately called for the Charge Nurse who was a real pro at such things. They were right. She was very good and not even a bruise afterward once it was removed!!

Just prior to that, the Anesthesiologist dropped by to check on my meds (what I had taken and what I had not). He sounded Russion or Ukranian and was in a great mood. We had a couple of laughs – which is always useful when you know this man is going to knock you out!!

The time soon came and I was ushered a short distance down to the Operating Room previously booked by my Dental Surgeon – Dr. Carriero. Everyone in the room greeted me like an old friend – that’s always a relaxing way to go – and after trying to get the old broad switched over to the thinnest operating table you can imagine – I was soon off to La La Land. I was a bit surprised, however, to see that they still use a small amount of gas through a mask, instead of a direct injection into the Intravenous. Cool!!

As soon as I was off and out of it, I found myself struggling to wake up in the Recovery Room. Nurses were talking to me as my eyes were trying to focus and find out whether they were talking to me or someone else. Within several minutes I began to focus and felt like I had been punched in the mouth along with inheriting a whole lot of teeth. At least now I told myself – It Was Finally Over.

After 3/4 hour in Recovery I was ushered back to the Outpatient Room to check my vitals again, make sure I could walk without looking drunk and finally put my clothes back on. Nat went for the wheelchair (hospital policy – no walking out the door) and we were soon off and headed for home. Blessed, blessed home!!

Nat said he was surprised how well I took the entire thing – the swelling, the bruised cheek, the little black dot on my right cheek that wasn’t there prior and even the pain. I reminded him what the Anesthesiologist said – “I should write a book” about all of the things this old body has been through since the age of 3. My body has been brainwashed into doing what I’m told when it comes to surgeries, medical tests, etc. I’ve also developed a large intolerance to pain. This 69 year old piece of skin, bone, muscle mass and organs has been poked, prodded, pricked, along with one organ going out and another replacing, that it’s become my fortess for such things. When your life has been in and out of hospitals so much as mine, you begin to develop (as they say) “a thick skin”.

The rest of the day was naturally spent quietly in the living room – ice packs on the cheeks to keep any swelling down – and wriggling my tongue around the inside of my mouth to see if I could check things out. I finally took a look in a mirror and wondered “what’s the other guy look like”. Looking like I had been punched in the mouth with a good left hook I returned to my recliner and tried to block the image out. However, I did tell myself, this too will subside as the days go on. It’s the eating that will be the bain of my existence – only being able to eat soft foods (Jello, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, ice cream, soup, well-cooked pastas, etc.) – for the next week. God, I’m going to miss the meat, fresh breaded haddock, french fries and maybe a bag of Cracker Jacks once in awhile. This too, Twila, shall pass as the days go on.

This whole procedure, to my way of thinking, should now be my last visit to any hospital for any other purpose, except for transplant check-ups, for quite some time. I’ve endured numerous childhood surgeries and tests, kidney dialysis (home and hospital), fluid around the lungs, the kidney transplant, a few rejection visits, my native kidneys removed, a large polyp removed, my cataracts removed, and now my new teeth. I can pretty much state a good part of my body has endured more than its share. Now that I feel so much like my old self (whatever that is – maybe in my 30’s, the best years I’ve had without any medical procedures) hopefully I can now say to myself, with my new best smile – Good to see you, again.

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Tomorrow – A Changed Woman??

Since my last posting, our lives have been sincerely quiet. Most days we were either driving around picking up items at WalMart, relaxing with our crosswords or iPad games, and Nat playing golf three times a week (despite the horrid heat). Most afternoons I was afforded the pleasure of a lovely afternoon nap. Yes, my body is finally catching up with my actual age!!

I had my annual visit at St. Joseph’s Health Centre and everything was great. The Doc was especially pleased that I’ve managed to keep the same weight for over a year now. From what I was told, that is usually unexpected. So I was pleased with myself, too. We then proceeded with our usual routine on the way home – lunch at The Gateway Centre in Grimsby.

We also took time to to visit the Outlet Mall of Niagara as we’d be driving by on our way home. As Nat gave me a gift card for Van Heusen for Christmas, I was anxious to see what was new and exciting to buy. I found 2 pair of regular pants, one pair of cropped pants and a bra. Paying a little extra after using my gift card was a small price for what I had found. I love everything I bought. My next visit, I’ll now have enough store credit points for another possible good buying spree.

July came in quietly with my usual monthly lunch with Michele. I tried something different this time at Swiss Chalet – the Crispy Chicken – but with what is left of my teeth, the meal was very difficult to finish. The chicken certainly was crispy, to the point where I had a hard time even cutting into the meat. The whole meal fell apart and after managing to eat about a quarter of my lunch, the rest was packed up in a doggy bag for sandwiches the next day. The discussion of the month was mostly my dental procedure a couple of weeks away. Michele was very re-assuring in her advice and help, but the jitters were just about starting to set in. This is unusual for me, as I’ve had so many operations, my mind goes blank on the days prior and I just do what I’m told.

The time had now come for my Pre-Operative appointment on Friday the 6th. We had to be there for 9:00 am and were taken in without much of a wait time. The pre-op itself, however, was a bit lengthy and more extensive than thought. With my medical history being what it is, the whole pre-op team pretty much covered everything, despite the fact I was only going in to have teeth removed. The Anesthesiologist took one look at the medical summary sent in by my GP and knew right away what I have been through. He pretty much agreed that I have become a “professional patient”. He really had no questions and neither did I. We both knew the whole scenario.

One appointment this month saw Nat finally going in for a re-working of his hearing aid. He’s been having trouble hearing in noisy settings, and certain TV shows with a lot of background music. The aids have now been adjusted to a better setting but it’s still difficult hearing certain conversations such as quiet British voices, but he realizes that it’s also just as hard for a normal hearing person. Even I have the volume up high while watching some British (and even American) shows with quiet voices and a lot of background noise. Why on earth they have to have background music playing while a conversation is going on, is beyond me!!!!!!

We were also lucky that our dearly loved brother-in-law, Daryl, was willing to take an old Rubbermaid storage bench off our hands. Nat has been pushing this thing around his shed for some time, as it’s no longer needed, and finally decided to give it away to anyone who would take it. Daryl came by in his work van and even picked up an office chair (also no longer in use) for his son, Zach, who was using a chair that was on its last legs – literally!! It was a smalll, but nice, break in our boring day to see and have a laugh or two with Daryl.

Four days ago, we also took some time to visit our good friends and former neighours in St. Catharines. The husband was fighting cancer and is now doing pretty good. We think about them almost daily and wanted to see them before I possibly become an old grouch after my teeth are removed. They, too, were worried about me – which is what I adore about them both – so we wanted to see how they doing. The visit, as usual, was fun and we love them dearly. Nat will call them shortly after my surgery to update them on the results.

This is now the final posting before my surgery tomorrow. Despite being re-assured by Michele that the healing process is not long at all, I’m still very apprehensive about the whole matter. Anything to do with my ears, eyes, nose and mouth are strictly off limits unless absolutely necessary. The cataracts on my eyes were bad enough but as my eyesight was getting foggier by the day, I knew it was a necessity. Plus now that enjoying good meals is getting rougher and tougher by the day, I had to face facts and admit to getting my teeth fixed. From November of 2017 it’s been a long, ongoing process that’s been frustrating, surprising and somewhat painful at times, but my head was telling my heart to smarten up and get things done now before it’s too late. If you enjoy eating good meals and smiling often, your teeth play the only role.

Tonight, as Nat and I try and watch TV, we’ll still each be wondering silently to ourselves what tomorrow will bring and worry about how each other is doing during the whole process. I’ll have to be up with the roosters in the morning, but a small price to pay to at least have the procedure in the morning. Hopefully I’ll be home shortly after lunch with Jello in the fridge waiting to be sucked back whenever. I truly hope I won’t have to be a gummer.