Monday, November 09, 2009

The Storm Before the Dawn

Pardon the break. In my experience, at least, a long run between blog entries is a product of either (a) too little happening or (b) too much. This would be a (b) break.
To be fair, it's not that a lot has's that a lot is about to.

My wife, Eva, is going in for some pretty major surgery a week Wednesday. The ablation she had back in May didn't take. The next step is a hysterectomy.

Now, hysterectomies in this latter age are not such of a much. Millions of women undergo them and six weeks later they're better than new. And while any surgery has attendant risks--people have died during tonsillectomies--a hysterectomy is pretty ho-hum as major surgeries go.

But there are issues.

The first is that Eva has not had children. This rules out a traditional vaginal hysterectomy. The second is her size, which may rule out a laparoscopic hysterectomy (one performed by remote control, as it were). They're going to try this first, but laparoscopic instruments are only so long. Accordingly, if this does not work, they must perform an omentectomy. The gentle way to describe this procedure: a long incision and removal of some or all of the fat pad surrounding the torso. That's the way I like to think of it. Sounds nice and clinical and safe, unlike, say, "open 'er up like a side of beef".

Wikipedia's description of a omentectomy seems quite benign: "the surgical removal of the omentum, a relatively simple procedure with no major side effects." Nice of them to put that right in the definition where I'm more likely to believe it. Most of the time. Ken, I tell myself, this is one case where you don't have to worry about your shitty peripheral vision. There are no major effects creeping in from the sides. So sayeth Wikipedia, and Wikipedia never lies. For long, anyway.

If the laparoscopy is successful, Eva will be home for dinner on Wednesday. If the omentectomy is necessary, she'll be hospitalized for three to five days. Or longer, if any back effects materialize. Back effects, the ones Wikipedia doesn't mention because apparently Wikipedia doesn't check its six. Infection is the big one. I mean, c'mon here, large parts of Eva that are not meant to be exposed to air are going to be exposed to air. And this being hospital air, there's just no telling what exotic things are floating around in it, waiting to make Eva's internal acquaintance. Howya doon, there, never seen you round these parts before. Howzabout I just settle in and proliferate a while?

There are a host--hell, a regiment--of other back effects, none of which has as yet announced itself in my brain. They're shadowy spectral wraiths, all the more ominous for lacking names. Like most of their kind, they own the nights.

Really, the emotional concoction here is complex and more than a little ugly. Fear is the prime component, of course, and fear in me breeds a number of base affects, irritability easily sparking into outright anger being the most common. A heady dose of guilt, as well: guilt because I have all this fear and it's not even me having the damned surgery. Oh, yeah, buddy, you think YOU'RE scared. What about your wife, huh? What about her? You have no right to be afraid. No right at all. How dare you. And so on: the end of that particular thought train is Admit it, you're just manufacturing this fear to get some attention of your own.

No, I'm not. While I'm nowhere near as scared as Eva must be, and indeed I can't even adequately imagine what Eva's going through, I am frightened. And I feel like a failure as a husband because I'm supposed to be Eva's rock in hard times. I'm not a rock. At this point I'm more like beach sand. More on this and its recent ripening into conflict in an upcoming post.

Mixed with the fear and the guilt is an unsteady hope. In talking about the upcoming surgery with Eva, I was surprised, shocked, stunned, to hear she was actually hoping like hell the laparoscopy would fail and they'd have to do the omentectomy. My mind reeled: given a choice between six hours in hospital, in-one-door-pull-it-out-and-out-the-other, and what could be six days in hospital, battling who knows what, well, my choice is clear, and so is hers...and they're the exact opposite.

So here's the argument for the omentectomy.

Eva is unlike most women her size in many respects. As I have mentioned more than once, there is a great deal of muscle under her flab and she is remarkably fit given her weight. She does have type II diabetes, a product of polycystic ovaries and their bastard offspring insulin resistance, but her sugars are usually in very good control. Her blood pressure and cholesterol are normal or better.
But Eva does share two characteristics with many other large women: she wants to lose weight...and she can't.
All too often I hear people--comics or would-be comics being painfully unfunny, most of them--telling fat people to "just lose weight, already." Because apparently it's that simple, and never mind that the diet industry makes billions every year. The problem is compounded with Eva: the above mentioned polycystic ovary syndrome and hormonal imbalances are largely (ha-ha) to blame. (Check out those symptoms. While not all PCOS-afflicted women have everything listed here, my wife does. In spades.) The hysterectomy should correct or at least ameliorate the hormonal issues and the omentectomy would help even more. It's not just that they'd be removing some thirty pounds--it's the immediate beneficial effect that Eva less those thirty pounds would experience. Her insulin resistance would abate, as would the PCOS, making it much easier for her to abate.

I suppose the cynic, reading this, will derive "instant tummy tuck" out of it, and that's fair as far as it goes. The truth is that Eva believes the benefits of an omentectomy are worth a week in hospital and an infection or three if it comes to that. Now that she's explained it to me, I've come around to her way of thinking...much as it pains me.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Good luck and best wishes to Eva and calm and stoic patience to you Ken.

My wife went through 2 C-sections to deliver our sons, and not a sign of infection at all. They opened my leg up for the Achilles and it healed quick and clean. Have faith! We've got some good pros in our region here.


Rocketstar said...

Wow, I hope all goes well for Eva, and for you to Ken ;o) At least you know the gov will pay the health bill and you don't have to worry like we woudl down here.

Ken Breadner said...

Catelli--thank you. We need all the positive stories we can get. 8-)
Rocket--you're not kidding. I just Googled 'bill for hysterectomy' and almost soiled myself.