Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughts Before Going Under

Tomorrow I take my first trip to the operating room in 28 years. My uterus will be scraped clean of its lining and golf-ball sized growth of placental tissue. This will (most likely) happen while I'm unconscious.

I am not excited about the "unconscious" part. I'm not excited about any of it, really, as needing this D&C feels like having to work through March's miscarriage yet again, almost exactly three months after the fact. My mind keeps shouting, I'm supposed to be healed up now, not re-starting recovery! (I'm supposed to be pregnant now!) But it's the likelihood of general anesthesia that's really making me run panicked circles around the inside of my mind.

When my doctor told me that he prefers to do the procedure with patients under general anesthesia, I almost said, Of course you do. Working with people's insides is way easier when they're unconscious! But there's a psychological and, dare I say, spiritual component to all of this as well. Namely, I'm going to be present for the procedure, whether or not I'm awake.

Even if I don't remember the D&C, my body will know what happened. (Bodies always know.) And, of course, right now, my mind knows that when they scoop out my uterine contents, they're going in through my vagina. Let me say this another way: tomorrow, some people I don't know are going to put me to sleep and do things to me through my vagina.

This is why they tell you not to leave your drink unattended at a college party—so someone doesn't drug you to sleep and do things to you through your vagina!

Now, I would much rather the doctors and nurses get to my uterus that way than, say, slice through my abs. But still. I can count on one slightly mutated hand the number of people I've let inside my vagina, and I've always been conscious when they were in there. While I realize this D&C is a completely routine, probably boring thing for my doctor to be doing, it's my body's first time.

I'm tempted to ask, when I check in tomorrow, if the D&C can be done with a spinal block or epidural anesthesia instead. But neither of those things sounds like any fun, either (and the potential side-effects sound God-awful). And I have to admit that as much as I want to be awake for the procedure so I can experience it, the cost in that scenario is having to experience it.

Oh, holy hell...

* * *

I've had general anesthesia once before, when I had all four wisdom teeth removed on my 24th birthday. (Best. Party. Ever! Woo!) I had absolutely no desire to experience that procedure, as I am completely squeamish about anything medical happening in or around my mouth. Trips to the dentist are light-years ahead of gynecological exams for me in terms of discomfort and humiliation.

Fortunately, my recovery from the wisdom-teeth-removal—both the anesthesia and the actual tooth-yanking—was completely trivial. I don't think I took any of the mega-strength pain meds they prescribed me, and I felt more or less like myself right away.

If my pattern holds true, and dental stuff really is worse than gynecological nonsense, the D&C recovery should be a fucking cakewalk.

* * *

Rob cannot wrap his mind around why I would want to be conscious for the procedure. I tired to explain it to him in terms of "psychological fallout," but he just shrugged.

I guess I feel about it very much the way I did about Westley's birth. I wanted to give birth without drugs and with as little intervention as possible because I believed it was the best option for my baby, but also because I wanted to have the experience. Birth was a great mystery to me, and while I wasn't happy with the pain I discovered, I certainly wouldn't say I made a mistake.

The more I think about what's gone on this Spring, the more I believe this wild roller-coaster of loss and healing is also not a mistake. That there is something in this pain that is ultimately going to serve me, build my character, make me more...something.

That this crack that feels impossibly huge is going to let in impossible amounts of light.


1 comment:

Allison the Meep said...

I'll be thinking of you tomorrow.

I understand why you would want to be awake. I think if it were me, I would want that too. As a way of experiencing what my body was going through, and as a kind of goodbye. The beginning of healing.