Reality. There’s nothing like flat lining on the operating table, hello reality check. “She’s back, we got sinus rhythm.” It’s like a damn episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Strapped down, flat on my back, looking around like a dumbass, as if I could really see anything around me. Shit, they’re talking about me. Confused momentarily, what the fuck just happened. 5, I think 5 anyway, different faces crowded over top of me asking millions of questions going a mile a minute. Now it’s flooding back to me, I was feeling faint, clammy, cold as hell & knew I was getting ready to code. Trying with everything in me to talk, but I couldn’t get a word out. And there it was, my life flashed before my eyes, another fucking reality check.
Here I am, 2 months post surgery & I’m still struggling to talk about it. You’d think I’d be a pro at it by now, I mean talking about it should be easier than going through the surgery itself, right. I don’t know what it is about this particular surgery that I suppressed so much. I’ve had over 20 of them in just a short amount of time, I’m fluent with the language of cardiac, I’ve recovered each time, I’ve coded on the operating table before, but I can’t pin point what’s got me avoiding the discussion of this particular one. It’s like writers block, but also pertains to speaking. I mean fuck, it shouldn’t be this difficult should it.
Travel to Pennsylvania from Florida during a global pandemic, 5 days after my daughters 15th birthday/Thanksgiving & right before Christmas they said, for heart surgery. Not just any particular heart surgery, but an invasive heart surgery operating on the wall that separates the left and right ventricle. I’m going to try to break this down to understand easier. Believe me, when I was first trying to understand it I constantly had what the fuck moments. There’s 2 ventricles that helps pump the blood/oxygen throughout the body. In between those two ventricles there’s a wall that essentially connects them. My heart was, well like fucking usual still is, have electrical currents originating deep within that wall that shouldn’t be occurring. They’re occurring so deep within the muscle that I have to travel to the best cardiologist, because the hospitals around here are no longer equipped to do the surgery. Great, right, fucking hell.
Heard of Covid? Well I live in Florida, so others seem to think we have no idea what Covid is, but reality is we do. Anyway, we’re open so traveling to a state that is under a hard lock down was an experience in itself. When I say locked down, I mean the hospital food was the best food I had while up in Pennsylvania. Wait, I take that back I managed to score a bombass steak when I was released. Aside from that the only food options were Wawa. Businesses were shut down, Campus closed, homeless on every corner, some corners had multiple homeless people, trash blew along the streets, depressing was an understatement.
Visitors in the hospital? Ha, that’s a funny one. Having to be in the hospital for any circumstance is shitty, but being in there during Covid times is nearly an unbearable experience. Let me preface with this, the staff was top notch, from the janitorial staff to my surgeons. Hospital settings are depressing, but prepping for a heart surgery unable to see your hospitals staffs smiles, laughter, or even joy in their eyes just makes for an uneasy preparation. Covered from head to toe in scrubs, masks, hats, listening for the moments of laughter and jokes made the stay easier. Covid times mean absolutely no visitors, no matter the circumstances.
The surgery was anything but easy. It was daunting and long, I laid there listening for the doctors to say anything positive, just one positive thing but it felt as if it was never coming. Constantly given the “good, good” medicine to ease the pain. Hours passed by, so I had thought. Finally they gave me enough medicine that put me in a light sleep, just enough to where I could hear them. I just couldn’t speak and the pain was tolerable, but my body quickly went limp and all control was lost.
The burn, god, the burning, tears flowed down my cheeks uncontrollably, couldn’t breath, fingers clenched the blanket beneath them. Just a little longer Jess the surgeon would say. You can do this I kept trying to convince myself. The more the tears flowed, the more I would clench. The burning that was going on inside my heart was pain I’ve never felt before, it was complete hell, but I had to do it. Seconds turned into minutes. Let me put this is perspective I’m use to several 15-30 second ablations multiple times over the course of several hours. This was that, along with ablating areas for 2 & 3 minutes at a time. When I use the term ablation(ing) it literally means burning the hell out of the heart muscle. It absolutely killed me feeling that pain.
Done, oh my god, the words I longed for. Another surgery in the books, now to the easy part. Recovery, get me the hell out of this room. The room they tortured my heart. Literally. Vulnerable, helpless, & all I wanted to do was continue to lie their long enough to catch my breath before calling anyone with an update. Selfish of me yes, but my body just went through hell and back and I just simply needed a moment to myself.
Now we’re on the 10th hour or so, lying flat on my back unable to move just thinking about life. So many thoughts, thoughts that even made me wonder where the hell they came from. You know, in life we often wonder how we got to where we’re at, some aren’t where they want to be, some are struggling so much they feel like their life is slipping away, some are simply just getting by.
With every surgery, & keep in mind I’ve had my fair share of them, I know the risk. Hell there’s a daily risk with my illness. My surgeries aren’t easy, they’re not everyday routine surgeries for the physicians, they’re not mentally or physically easy on me or my girls/family/friends, but they are part of my life and will continue to be a part of my life for the rest of my life. I am a survivor!Anyone reading this know you are a survivor, for whatever trauma you’ve experienced in life. It is okay to feel overwhelmed, scared, upset, or any other feeling you might have. Life is scary, it’s full of surprises but you have the strength to keep fighting the great fight because you are full of greatness!