Friday, October 16, 2009

Maggie Jochild to have Surgery Today

Maggie and Mary Jo Atkins Barnett, December 1956, at the British Embassy Christmas Party in Kolkata, India. photo from Meta Watershed,

Donations Still Needed

Maggie's surgery is scheduled for 7:30 am Central Time today (Friday.) It will last quite some time. I will likely speak with her for a minute or so, about 5:30 am just before she's taken to pre-op. If not, we talked at length Thursday.

For those of you new to the story, here is when Maggie was admitted to the hospital.

I hold Maggie's medical power-of-attorney, and also am acting as her attorney-in-fact. So first, before I get into reporting to y'all, I encourage everyone who has not yet made a donation or made a monthly subscription to Maggie, to please, please, PLEASE click on either the Donate button or a Subscribe button. If you're reading this on GNB, they're at the bottom of the post. If you're reading this at Meta Watershed, they're in the top right-corner of the page.

Maggie was in great shape on the phone. She's very much at peace with the surgery, very content that this is what is needed in her life right now. I am THRILLED at the hospital, the anesthesiology team in particular, and think the surgeon is probably pretty damn good, perhaps almost close to being as good as he thinks he is. *laughs* Mostly I'm glad she's in this hospital and not University hospital, as these folks are treating her like a real person and not like poor trash. What a gift it was to have University on ER diversion a few nights ago. Of such things lives are saved, no kidding.

One piece of really good news is due to the bowel being strangulated by the hernia, Maggie's accidentally lost a BUNCH of weight (87 pounds I think was the number) without noticing and is at her lowest weight in years; the bowel simply didn't absorb nutrition properly so its been having much the same impact as if she'd had one of those weight-loss bowel shortening procedures. Hot damn. The lower weight will make the surgery MUCH easier in oh so many many ways, from less need for blood, to faster surgical times (and thus less time under anesthesia), to faster healing times as there was (literally) less stomach to cut through, to making it easier for the surgeons to see the surgical field. Plus the less one weighs in general, the better one's vital signs and other critical internal health values are, both during and post-operatively. Shorter me: this is a good, good "bad" thing. Which obviously needs to be corrected as part of the surgery. But the weight loss is good for our team.

A doctor Maggie really likes and who likes her, whom she used to work for will be in the OR with her, will do a biopsy to make sure there's no cancer (we're not expecting any, but the doc is going to check.) The anesthesia folks will be watching like crazy, especially in the recovery room and the ICU -- she put the fear of God into them; she said his eyes got HUGE when she explained what happened last time with the anoxia -- so hopefully that'll go fine. I expect her to stay in the ICU for several days. She and I talked about what that is like, so she should be as prepared as one can be for that environment. *shudders* I don't like ICUs; the lights are always on, noise, lights and bells and buzzers. It's impossible to rest, however they are important and they do save lives. After she's done there she'll go to surgical step-down unit for another three to four days (I'm guessing) and then back to the surgical ward for another few days before being discharged. Again, the timing of all this is a guess and depends on how she does and how that hospital does stuff.

Mid-afternoon Thursday the nurse tried to put a NG tube -- that's a naso-gastric tube for those of you whom have never had one; it goes through your nose and into your stomach. You take it by quite literally swallowing the tube into your stomach, after it's through your nose, liberally lubricated. NOT fun and assured to trigger every bit of your gag reflex. I know this personally as part of paramedic training is practice inserting these through the nose and into each other's stomach, then inserting a big bolus of normal saline with a syringe down the tube into your classmate's stomach, then drawing it back out again, then removing the tube. And of course, having this done to you. As your classmate tells you "swallow, swallow, swallow, swallow" and shoves a fucking tube the size of the Lincoln Tunnel through your nose and down your throat. -- down into Maggie's stomach. "Swallow, swallow, swallow." Problem is, Maggie doesn't have a swallow reflex precisely. The nurse tried till the one nostril was all bloody. Then, check this, Maggie smiled, took the NG tube all lubed up, and put it down her own other nostril and right into her stomach. The nurse, Maggie reports, her jaw fell to the floor. By now Maggie's reputation on the surgical ward has magically changed from the fat broad to the women who put in her own NG tube. She says all afternoon long people were sticking their head in just to get a look at her, with awe on their expression. She says EVERYONE on the nursing staff is now in her corner. *grins*

Furthermore, the NG tube drained over 2 liters of bile and other gross stuff from her stomach, leaving her feeling really herself for the first time in perhaps a week. What with the hernia having strangled her bowel, everything was blocked all the way back up to her stomach, so anything that went in was just churning around and growing rancid. No wonder she was in so much pain. But now with all that crap out of there, and with the narcotics really taking hold, she's back to her normal self.

I and Maggie are both optimistic in a clear-headed way. That said, this is major abdominal surgery. It will go how it goes. Maggie is clear about that as am I. I am not saying prepare yourself for the worst, because I don't think that will happen, but at least take a moment and know that all outcomes are possible here both during and after surgery. Then breathe and expect that all will go well. That is what I believe, while knowing it is surgery and anything can happen. Life goes how it goes and we are not in control of anything. *breathes*

I will likely speak to Maggie just before she goes in to surgery and then not again till she's either in Recovery or the ICU. (It's possible I may not speak to her for a day or so depending on how she is doing.)

I will put up a new post as soon as I have word, even if it's just a flash update I send from my telephone. Meta Watershed readers: I am not set up to do a telephone update for you; I need to be on a computer and tomorrow I'll be out and about late afternoon Pacific Time. GNB is likely to have the first word, possibly by up to several hours if the word comes when I'm at my own doctor's visit late in the day. If word comes earlier then there won't be any difference and both sites will post more or less at the same time.

This procedure is what needs to happen now and it's happening in the best possible hospital in Austin with a brilliant medical team. I am content, and so is Maggie.

Finally, thank you to everyone whom has donated so far. Please... Maggie is going to be out of work at least two weeks, perhaps more. We need donations or if you will, subscriptions. Please... give generously.

Thank you everyone,

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Cross-posted at Meta Watershed and Group News Blog.