Chapter 17 – Bag and Baggage

Chapter 17 – Bag and Baggage

May 26

Sunday. Great day. Quiet day. Free day. Free of fog and obfuscation.

Managed to sleep through the night without a pain pill, which was nice, since I’ve been living in a weird La La Land created by some form of morphine. And while the otherworldliness of the dreams I have had might make for some interesting artwork, the rest of the side effects needed to be gone.

The result is I’m a little tired and feeling the effects of not enough sleep. But much more clearheaded … at least as much as is possible for me to be clearheaded … and much more aware of surroundings and all the various bits of my body that hurt.

Oh joy.

The most evident physical aspect of all of the big ass operation is that I have two four-foot-long tubes draining urine out of my body into bags that I cart around. And as I’m trying not to use a walker anymore, it means I have to be aware of the baggage and pick it up before I leave my perch to do something.

Oops!!! Watch out for that urine line. What a drag. Literally. They weigh a ton and as I am not supposed to carry heavy weights … well … I am just saying …

But they are a temporary handicap on the road to recovery. In fact, I would venture to guess that a much longer-term issue will be the residue of tape that currently covers large areas where bandages have lived and died to protect various parts and bibs and bobs of my anatomy. I am beginning to stick to the wall when I lean hard. Not a bad thing as it brings some stability to my morning ablutions.

Thursday, I had a bit of a setback and some depletion of energy as I came off the meds. The lack of sleep caught up with me. So, will finish this update with the very latest … I went to the doctor yesterday and had the tubes and bags removed.

Hooray! What a relief! However, now I have to start using the catheter to pee.


Talk about a walk on the weird side! One supposes it becomes a habit. But not so far.

Life is so strange … I sit here with the timer on to remind me to pee, because the Indiana pouch just collects, and has no notification system in place to remind me. Cooks might use a timer in producing a great meal, and athletes to measure their accomplishments, but I use it for …

Ah, well, we take what life has to offer, and in my case … go with the flow.


This period … directly after I came home from the hospital is still a bit of a blur.

Dottie brought me home from the hospital and arranged to stay with me for the first week. I was set up in the back bedroom on the daybed. She had found a walker for me to use, as well as a couple of washable absorbent bed pads for the bed and for the big chair in the living room. We located my mother’s old picker-upper-tool for me to use, and a bell for me to ring if I needed help.

Dottie cooked and cleaned and answered the door, and in general was my guardian angel. When she had to be away for any reason, Jan or Janet or Nancy would come and babysit for a couple of hours.

The visiting nurse also came and established a regular routine for home care. Initially it was a bit dicey, getting them organized, but in the end, I was able to rely on their presence once a day. The nurse was really a great help in educating me about wound care and dealing with the new plumbing.

So, I was well cared for and getting stronger every day. I was also able to reduce and eventually eliminate the pain medications that were causing me to be woozy and tired. What a relief that was.

A more pressing problem became getting out of bed. I could push myself up from a chair or swing around to get out of a car, but I was unable to get up from bed without someone’s arm to hang onto and pull against. My abdominal muscles simply would not lift me from a prone position. They had been cut by the incisions for the surgery and were not able to contract correctly. Totally useless … and after all those hundreds and thousands of sit ups … what a ripoff! It meant that Dottie would have to get up in the middle of the night if I needed to use the bathroom, or take a pill. Needless to say, it became a drag and very frustrating for both of us.

I finally came up with a workable solution in the form of a very, very, very long rope … composed of all my leftover sashes and ties, strung together and looped over the arm of my treadmill. With the two free ends and a lot of extra length lying on the bed next to my hands I was able to pull myself into and upright position. The treadmill sat opposite my bed and was heavy enough that I could pull against it with my full weight, and thus lever myself up. Eureka! It worked like a charm!

Free at last, Dottie was able to leave and return home to her very tolerant hubby, and I was able to get up at night to raid the fridge if I felt like it, with no one the wiser. Just like old times.

The second part of the deal was that my dear neighbor Nancy was to check with me every morning to make sure something dire had not happened overnight. She also came each evening to help with whatever I was unable to do through the day … including opening up the bottom freezer compartment of my fridge. I did not have enough strength to bend and pull … again those eff-ing abdominals would not function. So, every evening she would come over and open my freezer, get out whatever I might need, including ice cream. She would most often bring some dinner as well. We would catch up on any news of the day. She would then take away anything that needed laundering, and come back with the clean clothes in the morning. What a trouper.

In fact, all my friends were really wonderful throughout this ordeal. I cannot even imagine what my life would have been like had I not had all those helping hands on deck. What an amazing army of care they proved to be.

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