Science is weird.
I snort as I type this because science is amazing. And incredible. And lifesaving. But it is also weird as fuck.
I have so many half-written blog posts from the past month. I really hope that I can finish and share them because I enjoyed writing them. I just never finished. I suppose that’s another post entirely. I digress. March was almost as weird as science. I suppose March will always be this weird universal anniversary for us humans. We’ll reflect on a lot of things and try to remember what’s important and hopefully learn from our mistakes. I suspect in a few years, we’ll have an international holiday in March to commemorate the lives lost in 2020 and 2021 (and however long until the pandemic is truly over — because, reminder, it’s not over yet).
As we progress slowly but surely toward a worldwide reopening, and the apocalyptic fears draped with toilet paper move to the subset of our minds, I hope that we can make a new normal that factors in so much more of the things we took for granted in the Before Times. I hope.
But back to science.
Science. The people that brought you pasteurization and genetic sequencing and cloned sheep. The people that made your watermelon seedless and gave you 3,000 varieties of tomatoes to choose from. The people that make vaccines so we can live longer, healthier lives in bigger, global communities. Science is fucking wild, man.
We are all living, breathing examples of how science does wonderful, amazing, incredible things. From teeth that don’t fall out to treatments that can give us 3, 5, 20, 50, 80 more years of life. Beverly Cleary died last month at the age of 104. We should all be so lucky. As an aside, someone I know said to me, “Ugh who wants to live to be that old?” My immediate response without question or thought was me. I have a lot to do, and I’m not usually quick about any of it — I like to take my time and savor the moments…or I have undiagnosed ADHD and spend a lot of moments trying to remember what it was I started out doing in the first place…like this blog post about the wonders of science that took me three weeks to finish or the aforementioned unfinished blog posts, for example. I swear I have a point.
I had back surgery one month ago today. I’ll spare you the photos I’ve been taking of the progression (but I’m happy to share them with anyone who wants to see — so all you Curious Georges can feel free to message or email me and I’ll send you a picture of what I’ve been calling my second butt crack), but I will tell you about my incision.
*TW: BACK SURGERY, SCARS, AND STITCHES*
The surgeon cut into my back, moved my muscles and nerves out of the way and sliced off the herniated disc that has been causing me so much trouble for the past 6 years. The way I explained it to my niece and nephew makes the most sense to me: Imagine you have a bunch of little jelly donuts between your vertebrae. And one of your donuts popped and jelly was coming out the side. They went in, cleaned off the rogue jelly, and sewed the donut back up. They put my muscles and nerves back in place and then sewed up all the layers of my skin with something that can only be described as fishing line (these are allegedly dissolving stitches, but that has yet to be determined by my body — I’m just kidding guys. I trust science, and believe the doctors when they say these stitches will disappear in the void of my body), which was tied in two knots at the top and bottom of my scar. And just for good measure, they lathered the top of my skin in glue (I guess this is common practice), stuck an oversized bandaid on my back, and woke me up.
The entire procedure was less than 45 minutes. The waking me up part took a couple of hours. I think they were over-cautious with the anesthesia because of my past experience with surgery and anesthesia (I’m not mad about it). I woke up after some crazy-ass dreams I was having and I only wish I could remember the dreams.
*END SCAR AND STITCHES TALK TEMPORARILY*
I went into this procedure expecting to come out of it feeling an 11 on my stupid pain scale (the pain scale allegedly goes to 10, and is the stupidest thing ever. That’s another post, maybe). Since having surgery, I’m pretty sure the pain in my back and the radiating pain in my leg has been, at most, a 3 or 4, maybe and mostly, it’s at like a 1-2, again maybe. Again, the pain scale is bullshit. Suffice it to say, I’m in very little pain. I’ve been incredibly cautious for the last 4 weeks, sticking firmly to the rules of no bending, lifting, twisting, pushing, pulling, carrying anything more than a gallon of milk, etc. For the first two weeks, Brian even helped me get dressed every day. It’s been an adventure, for sure. /
*RESUME SCAR TALK (In case the squeamish are still here)*
At day 3, we were told to remove the bandage. I couldn’t wait. I had Brian take photos immediately. I impatiently motioned for my phone so I could see what it looked like. It was badass in all the ways scars are supposed to be, albeit a little fresher than I would have expected. There was a deep divot in the small of my back that I can only describe as a second ass crack, there were two bows of fishing line tied in knots coming out of each end of the line, and it was all covered in a glossy sheen of glue. It was awesome.
It also gave me the worst panic attack I think I’ve ever had. I didn’t realize it at first as a wave of crippling nausea washed over my entire body. Heat flooded every inch of my suddenly cold, clammy skin, sweat poured out of places I didn’t know could sweat. The room spun and I started hyperventilating. I also started crying, “oh god oh god, I’m going to throw up or die or both” in the most panicked sound, which sent Brian into panic mode trying to help me. This was his second experience that week with my intense waves of nausea (and come to think of it, maybe the first one was also a panic attack. Holy shit. Writing really is full of discovery. Will investigate these feelings and experiences further and report back at a later date). Anyways, eventually the panic attack subsided and I was able to look on my scar with awe and wonder, and am still baffled as to how that triggered such an intense reaction from someone who loves gross shit.
At my two week follow-up appointment, most of the glue had finally peeled off, and the nurse practitioner I saw cut the fishing line knots and bows down to below the nubs. The result of this can only be described in this way: Imagine, if you will, the plastic hang tag from a new shirt (or a thrifted shirt from Goodwill). You know how sometimes you clip it, but don’t get both sides, and there’s a little piece sticking into your back or neck or shoulder going poke poke poke? Yeah. That. Except the poke poke poke is happening inside the house. Or inside your body on the other side of your skin to be exact. It’s the weirdest damn thing. And it the past two weeks, the poke poke poke has definitely gotten less pokey, so I can only assume the fishing line stitches are finally dissipating.
I’ll have to ask the surgeon how long before they’re fully gone at my next appointment.
Science, man. What a wild ride.