“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

I know it has been quiet around here.  There’s been a few distractions.

My husband had surgery last Thursday.  This is a man that has only once had something more involved than a bad cold in the thirty six years of his existence. 

The surgery was relatively minor.  By minor, I mean as minor as you can get when you make a four-inch incision in someones gut and sew 60-lb test fishing line through the muscles of your abdomen.  No, I am not kidding.  It was technically an outpatient procedure.


His surgery was scheduled at 11:30 am, which means that he needed to be there by 9:30 am to get prepped.  The medical definition of “prepped” means naked, in a silly and undersized gown in a shade of green nature never envisioned, a food-service disposable blue hairnet (which, on a bald man, is just an instrument of humiliation), and socks with treads on both sides, in case he should get the desire to unhinge his ankles and walk up the wall.  And, in my husband’s case, in a bed that was definitely not made for a man of his, um, grandeur.  His feet hung off the end about eight inches, open to the vagaries of every passing medical professional.

They took him up to the surgical holding area at around 10:00 am, an area which looks exactly like it sounds.  It’s an area where underdressed, anxious people lie in hospital beds like airplanes in hangars, waiting for their flight instructions to take off.  Except our airplane was grounded and nobody bothered to tell us.

11:30 comes and goes.  12:30 comes and goes.  So about this point, with about 2.5 hours in the holding area, I figure I had better go out to the waiting room to tell my mother-in-law that we haven’t been given a runway.  I go out and see my husband’s surgeon, deep in conversation with a tight knot of worried relatives, and things get a lot clearer.  My mother-in-law, bless her eavesdropping heart, tells me that there was some issue with the surgery ahead of Kris’s having to do with large livers.  Finally, at 1:40, over two hours past his scheduled time and 3.5 hours since we moved into holding, Kris moved into surgery.  My mother-in-law and I passed the next hour in the surgery waiting room, eating bad hospital food (why do hospital cafeterias have the greasiest food?), reading old magazines (her) and doing sudoku on the DS (me).

According to his surgeon, everything in his day seemed a bit more complicated than he had expected.  Not exactly a comforting statement to get from a medical professional.  He gave us the rundown on what to expect and the list of dos and don’ts that would rule Kris’s life (and, by extension, mine) for the rest of the summer.  He said that they would send for one of us to come back and join Kris in recovery as soon as he came out of anaesthesia.  This was at about 3:00 pm. 

Minutes, then ticked by.  Then hours. At 5:00 pm I asked the hostess (surgery waiting rooms have hostesses nowadays – little old ladies who keep track of who belongs to who, and glare at you when you push the envelope of the “snack food” allowances) if they could please call Recovery and find out why we had not been sent for yet.  There was a pause after she mentioned my husband’s name. She repeated it.  Another pause.  Then she handed the phone to me. “They want to speak with you.”  That.is.never.good.

“Mrs. Koenig? Yes.  Well, were having a bit of a hard time getting your husband to breathe.”

“Breathe? Um.  Do you mean he is not breathing?” (at this point I am not breathing).

“Well, no, he’s breathing, but he doesn’t seem to be getting enough oxygen.”

“Why exactly is that?” (still not breathing) 

“Well.  Um.  Do you want to come back here for a few minutes?”

 Well, hell yes, I want to come back.

The anaesthesiologist had asked us no less than five times if anyone in his family had trouble with general anaesthesia.  Nope.  Nobody.  That night, his mom would tell us that, as a matter of fact, she was unable to be woken after her last surgery, and had to be administered amphetamines to wake her up.  That is something that would have been nice to know BEFORE they gassed the crap out of my husband.

It would be inaccurate to say that Kris had no color.  He was uniformly a pale yellow.  Oddly, it popped into my mind that this was why I never let him dress in gold or green.  The nurse was telling him to cough.  He just kept murmering that he was sleepy and that he would work his way up to it.  His PulseOx meter would rise as she stirred him, and fall to alarm levels as he would fall back into slumber.  Apparently, he had been in too much pain to cough the gas out of his lungs, so basically the surgeon told the surgical nurse to dope him up on morphine and pester him until he coughed.  Now he was in less pain but sluggish from both the general AND the horse-dose of morphine it took to get him to cough.  The nurse was flabbergasted.  I rubbed his shoulders, put cold cloths on his head and we took turns yelling “Deep breaths! Deep breaths!” Every time he started fading out on us. 

“C’mon big man, deep breaths.”

“I’m so sleepy…  I just want to go to sleep.”

“Life’s tough.  Gotta breathe. BIG breaths, now…” 

 After my third round of “Breathe, baby, breathe”, it hit me.

One year ago, I was laying on a hospital bed in hard labor, with Kris sitting on the other side of the rail, putting cold clothes on my head, saying “Deep, cleansing breaths, deep cleansing breaths,” while I moaned and hit the button for the nice morphine lady.

Karma’s a bitch, isn’t it sweetie?

But, my husband gets the last laugh.  Both times I was the one who got to bring home a big baby.


June 26th, 2006 at 10:10 am
8 Responses to “Behold the power of Karma”
  1. 1
    Sarah Says:

    I’m glad to hear Moose was patched up properly. That had to be scary for you!

  2. 2
    Robbin Says:

    Thankfully, he made a rather abrupt turnaround. After fulfilling the recovery-room-nurses obsession with urination, they signed us out at about 10 pm.

    He’s walking around like a little old man right now, but he’s walking.

  3. 3
    Stephanie Says:

    What sort of surgery did he have? It couldn’t have been too serious since it was an outpatient surgery.

  4. 4
    Robbin Says:

    It was supposed to be an umbilical hernia repair, but they found another problem. He has a diastasis rectis – a separation of the midline abdominals. Normally, it’s relatively benign and they don’t need to fix it, but he developed an epigastric hernia as a result.

  5. 5
    Charles Says:

    Glad he pulled through with no overnight stay, even if it was with all the complications. Oh, also tell him that I feel for him on the hair-net thing. Every time I have to go into one of our operating rooms (even when it’s empty and not in use for the day) I have to put one on my freshly shaved head. I glare at the people every time the tell me to put one on and all they do is shrug and laugh at me. 🙁

    We’ll do our best to make it up for a relaxing visit sometime in the near future.

  6. 6
    Bambi Says:

    I am so glad he is okay…there are tears reading this. Brings back memories of not so long ago as I sat in the waiting room while someone was having outpatient surgery.
    And really what is with the waiting room having a hosstess?? Our waiting room also had a monitor hanging from the celling that looked like a flight list at the airport. Your loved one reduced to a number that had different codes next to it. Oh yay #63457 is out of surgery and in recovery.

  7. 7
    She2ila Says:

    That sounds just awful and very scary. I’m glad he’s better now. Hope you can keep him still enough to heal.


  8. 8
    Kat Says:

    Paul went through the same surgery almost five years ago. 2001 — the crazy year. Signed papers on this house a year ago last week… the week before, we went to Loch Bais Birthday Bash. Stopped at Natchitoches for a Shoney’s breakfast. I went to the restroom, came back and found out he’d drank the water. You know what they say about the water down there. I joked with him about it. That night in the hotel, he was hurtin’ something awful. Took off his shirt — and his innie had become an outie. He was diagnosed with an umbillical hernia the day we signed on the house.

    He had his surgery July 18th. I had my gall bladder attack at an event just over a week later and it was out August 17th.

    Busy, crazy year.

    Oh — and from our personal experience — he may want to, but he shouldn’t…. until the doc clears him. Paul still has a scar from that.