In May of 2011, I woke up in the middle of the night with a pain in my chest so strong that I thought I was having a heart attack. Sara's dad had had a heart attack a few years ago so I didn't want to alarm her by telling her what I thought. With both girls sleeping, someone had to stay home, so I drove myself to the emergency room at 4am.
When you go into the emergency room claiming to have chest pains, they let you in pretty quickly. They did a complete work-up and determined that no, I was not having a heart attack. It was incredible heartburn, overactive digestion and excessive gas build up causing pressure on my diaphragm and chest.
I followed up with a gastroenterologist at the beginning of June and he did a sonogram of my gallbladder and an upper GI scope. The scope came back with some inflammation but nothing to be worried about. The sonogram showed that I had gallstones and he recommended that I get my gallbladder removed.
As with everything else important in my life, I put it off. I had two more attacks over the course of the summer, but since I knew what was wrong, I was able to soldier through and be done. I watched what I ate. In early January, I had another attack that wasn't as painful, but lasted for almost 9 hours, at which point I again drove myself to the hospital. They gave me pain medicine and did another sonogram of my gallbladder finding excessive stones.
On January 20th, I returned to hospital, as an outpatient this time, to have my gallbladder removed.
In the days leading up to the surgery, lots of people told me how they had had theirs out and that it was a common procedure. They asked if I was nervous, and to be completely honest, I wasn't.
On the day of my surgery, as I lay on the bed in the waiting room, my cold, unshaved butt free to the elements, an odd sense of calm overcame me.
I would like to write something poetic here but the words are escaping me. Suffice to say, I had accepted that I would not be waking up from the surgery.
It was an odd feeling, both tightening and free at the same time. I had no fear for myself. I didn't worry about what it would feel like, or where, if anywhere, I was going to go. I don't often think about the afterlife and I didn't find myself doing it then. I didn't worry about pain because I knew I was going to be sedated.
I worried about Sara. I worried not about how she would pay the bills, but about how she would heal. I knew that she would because she is the strongest person I know. She would be devastated, but she would be able to move on.
I worried about the girls. They are both young enough that they wouldn't be scarred for life with memories of me. Harper would soon lose them all and they would have pictures. Sara would be an excellent mother with or without my help. The girls would grow up strong and smart and happy.
I was sad that I wouldn't see them again, but not depressed.
Needless to say, I was surprised to find myself in the recovery room. The drugs kept me from feeling anything about it for a while. After the drugs wore off, the pain kept me from thinking about it. Now that the drugs have run out and the pain is mostly gone, I find myself more and more considering the fact that I had accepted that I was going to die.
I know this is an odd way to jump back into the blog after a month, but there it is.