Tag Archives: Surgery

You Make Me Feel….like an idiot….

Last week I had to spend 8 hours in the hospital waiting for my brother-in-law to come out of emergency surgery. All went well, in fact, so well, that they sent him straight home. Because he had been without food or drink for 24 hours, I decided to  go get him dinner and bring it to the rehab center. I didn’t trust that at 7:00 P.M. they would provide a nutritious meal, or any meal for that matter, because, you know, “the kitchen is closed.”

When I arrived at the rehab center with his hoagie, chips and root beer (okay, not so nutritious, but he was hungry and I was tired), there was a tray being delivered to his room. It contained one pathetic grilled cheese sandwich. That’s it, not even chips or a pickle, after no food for 24 hours. There wasn’t even a picture of Donald Trump or Jesus burned into the grilled cheese, and yet we were to believe that it was a miracle he had a sandwich from the kitchen at this hour!

The next day, I was exhausted. i just wanted to stay at home and work on my computer, sit on my deck, read a book and be left alone. As I was enjoying my solitude, I decided to play some music while I cleaned up the house.

I could not get the BOSE to turn on. The only way the BOSE radio and CD player works is with a remote control. The old BOSE, which died and they so thoughtfully replaced for a mere $250, had buttons on the unit and a remote. But someone in design thought, “Hey what do we need those buttons for? We have a remote!”

I’ll tell you what they need those buttons for.

So this remote which is the size and thickness of a credit card, does not work. No matter how many times or how hard I press those buttons nothing is happening. In my infinite wisdom, I decide : “Oh I’ll just put in a CD. I don’t need to listen to the radio.”

So in goes, Carole King’s amazing album from 1971: Tapestry.

I cant’ turn the volume up to drown out my warbling, because, you know, the buttons don’t work. So I sing softly, so I can hear Carole.

Three hours later I want to kill Carole. The earth has moved and everyone is so far away, but I can’t turn off the damn BOSE, because, you know the buttons don’t work.

I finally discover with a magnifying glass, in that credit-card-sized remote is a teeny, tiny place for a battery, which I do manage to purchase after going to three different stores.

It never occurred to me I could pull the plug, it was too late baby, for that.

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski


Mothers and Daughters…..Part 131

My daughters have come from far away cities to visit for a few days. It has made me reflect on Mothers and Daughters. I could do entire blog just about Mothers and Daughters….daily.

Last week as we were leaving the rehab center where my brother-in-law would be departing for surgery never to return, Mom and I began to take the few personal belongings from his room.

As we were leaving, my Mom picked up the three little mylar ballons each on its own stick, that people had given my BIL for his birthday the month before. I thought she was going to throw them in the trash. But she clutched them to her bosom like she had just discovered a new grandchild.

“What are you going to do with those,” I asked, ok accusingly. I asked accusingly. The whole point of this exercise was to leave behind the crap and just take what was absolutely necessary.

“Well, they’re his. I don’t want to leave them behind,” she said by way of obvious explanation to her idiot daughter.

So I turned to my BIL:

“Do you REALLY want these crappy balloons?” I asked. Ok, I asked sarcastically.

“What balloons?” said the guy in rehab who was getting ready for surgery and clearly was not in a festive mood.

“Ugh. Mom, throw that crap away. What does he need it for?” I asked her.

“Well, I could give them to other people with birthdays. Like Jeannie, it’s her birthday soon. I could give her one.” said my Mom innocently.

With that the guy in the bed pipes up, “Yeah, give one to Jeannie and tell her it’s from me and Happy Birthday.”

So home with us the balloons go.

This is the same woman who three days later calls me and says:

“Okay, I’ve cleaned out all of your BIL’s clothing from his dresser, and gave away everything he’ll never wear. I took all his medical supplies and meds and stored them in my house until we figure out what to keep in his new apartment. And I’m going to start taking pictures off the walls next week.”

“MOM!,” I said with the crazy attitude that every daughter wants to say to her mother every time they talk.

cell“What are you doing? We don’t even have a place for him to live yet after surgery. If we can’t get arrangements made, he may have to go back to his apartment temporarily. Let’s not make it look like a prison cell. There’s plenty of time to throw things away.”

Of course, I’m thinking, “at least he’ll have some nice balloons to look at, wherever he goes.”

“You Just have to Laugh….”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski



I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake… Lewis Black

My friend needed a companion to take her for eye surgery in the city.  It necessitated an overnight stay at the Sheraton because she had to return early the next day for a post-surgical check.

I slept on her very comfortable sofa the night before as we had a 4:00 AM alarm. As is the custom, no one really slept the night before, in spite of a few glasses of wine, for fear that we would miss our window of opportunity to get into the city by 6:00 AM.

The surgical waiting area was a beehive of activity. They took my friend back to ‘get ready’ 2 hours later. This was the Ford factory of eye surgery. Without coffee.

Yes. I said without coffee.

This place had at least 25 people waiting when we arrived before 6:00 AM. These numbers kept multiplying like rabbits every five minutes. Half of us were not having surgery, didn’t need to be fasting, and there wasn’t even a waft of coffee in this hospital.

Since none of the patients could eat or drink since midnight, I didn’t want to start a lack-of-food-fight, so I waited until my patient went back to the mysterious green room of surgery and politely asked,

“Um… is there some place I can get coffee?”

Which probably sounded like: “Um…s’ere smplc ickan goot COFFEE?” as I was stuffing a power bar in my mouth that I found in the bottom of my purse and waited two hours to eat so as not to offend my friend. I was done worrying about these other starving people.

“Coffee?” said the attendant.

“Oh yeah, go back down through the maze and walk about 5 miles through the next two buildings to the cafeteria. She really, truly said “5 miles.”  I don’t know if she wanted to save all the coffee for herself, but 5 miles would not daunt me.

As I turned the 13th corner and saw the Starbucks sign greeting all who entered the cafeteria, it was just like in the movies. Angels were singing, everyone around was smiling, a welcoming white light beckoned all to the green mermaid.

As it turned out, I waited another 3 hours for my friend to be finished, so that one Venti barely covered the trek.

We were both exhausted by the time we checked into the Sheraton. We decadently ordered room service of  Greek omelets and fruit salad which were only $7.95 each. We didn’t have high hopes for cheap room service but we were too pooped to venture out. My power bar had long worn off and my surgical companion was starving by now. Surprisingly, our meals were pretty magnificent. Yay, Sheraton Hotels!

And then we slept like the dead.

The ordeal was more draining than we realized. Since room service was so cheap we sprung for a movie…not cheap…and watched Birdman. Yowsa! That film had us talking for hours, so much so that we just went back to sleep early.

My friend slept well, but me, not so much. Again, I was worried that we would miss our appointment, even though we were 2 minutes away. The weather people were calling for possible snow, and I wanted to get her home safe and sound, with attendant groceries in case she would be snowed in for a few days.

I guess I was tired. I’m sure I was distracted. I am absolutely certain coffee deprivation was to blame.

I was so pleased with our ability to get packed and check out and be on our way. The weather system wasn’t going to happen at least until the afternoon and we were rocking our schedule. We hopped into my car in the parking garage. The place was almost empty of cars, which was the opposite of when we had parked the afternoon before.

I got my eye-patched friend situated in the car, threw my bags in, got out my parking pass, and promptly backed out so close to the cement column that the crushing sound of my side view mirror against my door reminded me of the trash compactors of old. I could only pull forward to stop the insanity. There dangled my mirror, limp, lifeless, devoid of plastic protection, crushed.

Wounded  because of coffee
Wounded because of coffee

At the hospital, my friend asked for extra surgical tape to help her driver  fashion a splint for my crushed mirror. I devised a solution that angled the mirror into the driver’s side window so it wouldn’t bang against the door. We drove home in 28 degree weather on the expressway with our hats and gloves on, and the window open.

The high tech side view mirror flashed a big yellow blinker right in my face every time I wanted to turn left or merge. I was blinded by the flash as well as  by the fact that I didn’t realize how highly trained I was to use that mirror to merge. It was scary, dangerous driving.

My friend sat next to me with her big, huge surgical sunglasses on, trying to help so that we didn’t have yet another accident and said:

“Wow, this is the blind leading the blind.”

“You just have to Laugh….”

©2015 Cathy Sikorski

Pizza, Pizza……………

Arising at 4 A.M. to get to my brother-in-law’s apartment before the ambulance transport so that I could quickly give him his medications before surgery, as archly instructed by the hospital staff, may have fuzzed up my mind. I’m pretty certain this was the conversation I overheard while watching and waiting for three hours before they took him into surgery:

Nurse on phone: “Yes, those were the instructions. Yes, no food or drink after 8:00 P.M.  last night.  Well, I will have to call the doctor and see if they still want  you to come in.”

Nurse on phone to Doctor:  “Your surgery for 8 AM just called. She wanted to know if she should still come in if she had pizza for breakfast.”

Nurse back on phone to patient: “The doctor says he wants you to still come in. You won’t be his first surgery, but he wants you to come in and see if he can fit you in. What? What’s that? Okay. Well, I will inform the doctor of that, but you still need to come in.”

Take with Pills in AM
Take with Pills in AM

Nurse to any other nurse who will listen: “So she just told me that she also took some opiates and some alcohol this morning too. I don’t know if that was while she was waiting for me to get back to her, or if  she forgot to tell me the first time.”

A different nurse to my brother-in-law, who has a rash around his lips from no liquid for  the last 15 hours, is starving, and has a second nurse stabbing him all over the place trying to get the IV line in so they can administer drugs to make him happy: “Your surgery has just been moved up, lucky for you the first patient had pizza.”

“Oh yeah,” says my brother-in-law, “I was feeling all kinds of lucky today.”

To their credit, not one nurse ever violated HIPPA by revealing the name of the pizza-eating, opiate-taking, breakfast-of-champions alcohol-drinking patient who cleared the way for everyone to move up the line.

“You just have to Laugh…..”

©2014 Cathy Sikorski




Caregiving…It’s ra…..dic…u….lous

Caregivers are known for not taking care of themselves. I have let this stiff neck of mine haunt me for about 10 months. It took me at least 3 months to get myself to the chiropractor (who is my dear brother-in-law and treats me any time day or night, so here’s a shoutout to Yucha Chiropractic).

He tried tirelessly to get my neck to turn left and right. Because I had waited so long, my arms  tingled and it felt like hot pokers travelling along my triceps. This made removing T-shirts, sports bras and getting coffee cups out of the cabinet a Herculean task. Now, I don’t mind skipping the gym because of inappropriate clothing, but don’t mess with my morning coffee.

After serious chiropractic care and therapy, dressing, bathing and coffeeing were markedly improved. My neck was still stiff. Big deal. I taught myself to turn my entire body when merging into highway traffic. I made my workout buddy always take the elliptical to the left because that hurt less to turn and chat. I learned to sleep on my back because if I tried to sleep on my stomach, I had to keep my head lifted. My husband got spooked every time he turned towards me to see the Sphinx lying in wait.

So truthfully this wasn’t working. Six months go by, after I have an MRI, where I totally freak out on Brenda, the tech, and make her take me out of the MRI machine three times during a hellacious hot flash which turns into a panic attack. This is new to me. I believe I could watch my own open heart surgery and not freak out. Menopause and a stiffy (not that kind, you naughty reader). Ugh. So fun.

My chiro suggests a pain doctor. I finally get in to see him after a three month wait (no, I don’t go to the VA hospital, nor do I live in Canada). He says, “yep, you are a great candidate for cortisone shots.” Yay.

Shots were administered yesterday. It’s a mini-surgery. I warned them that I freaked out in the MRI, and they kindly called in a prescription for valium.  MRI freak outs surprise you with added benefits.

Post surgery on way to lunch…yea, I made my husband take me out for lunch. Even mini-surgery qualifies for staying out of the kitchen… I was turning my head like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. At least that’s how it felt. The nurse warned me that between the valium and lidocaine this could be a false positive.

After a night’s rest, it’s a bit painful, but I seem to remember sleeping on both sides last night, so that’s an improvement. It’s far from perfect, there is still pain, but they told me to wait a week to see what happens.

In the meantime, I read my MRI report.  I suffer from ridiculitis. Of course I do. I think the MRI doctor must have read these blogs.  Ok it’s radiculitis….but that just means I’m a humorist who cheers for myself…Rah Rah.

“You just have to Laugh…..”

©Cathy Sikorski