Going Under the Knife

This is when things really started to happen, and if I thought I had been through some hoops before, I was sadly mistaken. The next few weeks and even couple of months would challenge me in ways I could never imagine. As I sit writing this now, I can look back at the surgery and recovery phases and find some things to laugh about, but I would be lying if I said I found humour in anything at the time. I could really laugh out loud while having the crap of my life after drinking Colyte, but laying in a hospital bed bleeding or rolling around in agony on my living room floor has no such fond memories. But damn it, everyone tells me my blog is funny so I'm feeling a little pressure here...

When I woke from my surgery I said, "Now I'm a semi-colon!" Ba da bum bum. I got a million of 'em. Try the veal. I'll be here all week. Unless I die.

It was an early start on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, with a 6:30am check-in to the surgery unit at Trillium Mississauga. I was miserable because I hadn't eaten any solid food since the previous Saturday and we walked past the in-hospital Tim Horton's on the way to check in. The smell of the baked goods and coffee made my knees weak and my mouth water, and I wanted to stuff a dozen doughnuts right down my throat. My surgery was at 8:30 and it was a weird, sort of floaty out of body feeling watching the second hand sweep ever so slowly around the clock. Lots of people coming and going, and family members lingering at the bedsides of their loved ones. Of course, Dale brought me to the hospital, but once she got me checked in, a kiss and a long look from the big brown eyes, and she was off to race back home to take Maddy to school. Nurses hustling around. Someone answer that goddamn phone please. I was left with my own thoughts, and not even a crappy magazine; I'd have settled for Cosmo Girl at that point. I remember thinking about how much the world has changed in my lifetime, but feeling as though it was still 1965 in that waiting area. Those same floor tiles in that beige colour with the pebbly bits in them (how do they make those anyway?), and the horrible non-colour of paint on the walls. Is it green, blue or beige, or some sort of wretched combination of all three? I guess it's too expensive to give the hospital a little makeover every five years, but hopefully they had upgraded all the important things.

The anesthetist came to see me. For hygiene reasons the OR staff have to wear something to contain their hair, and many of the doctors wear what look like doo-rags. Oh great, 'Lil Wayne is my anesthetist. He had a big wad of paper - let's get these people some iPads or something - and I signed a bunch of papers absolving him of responsibility if I died. I jest, but that's really the upshot of those waivers isn't it?

I was wheeled into the OR and there were no soothing words or a calming hand on my back this time. Fuck, I was nervous.

For about the tenth time that morning I was asked for my date of birth and what procedure I was having done, all part of the redundancy checks they do at the hospital. Good, good. Can't have me getting a leg amputated or something. I don't remember much else - the big operating room lights, machines hissing and beeping, the measured tones of the doctors and nurses as they spoke. And what the hell is that smell?

Grossness alert - graphic description of surgery to follow.

Over the next couple of hours I was sliced open from my navel down about six or seven inches, my guts pulled out like a magician's scarf (this would be an important point later), and the diseased section of my colon cut out plus a few inches on either side (what they call the margins), and the remaining ends stapled together. They would also take out a bunch of lymph nodes, because cancer is known to spread through your body via the limbic system. Stuff it all back in and staple me up. Lovely.

I awoke at about noon in the recovery area in the worst pain I had ever experienced, to that point, but that was quickly taken care of by the nursing staff. Zing! Can I get this stuff in a six pack? Kidding. I would be no fan of morphine within a day or two. I think I went right back to sleep and don't remember too much more about the recovery room. There are some vague memories of getting transferred into my bed in my room in the surgery ward, and Dale says she stayed with me in my room for a couple of hours but I don't remember. She and Madeline visited that evening but I don't remember too much about that either. There was a bright spot of news on this awful day: Dale's oldest sister had called her to announce she had gotten engaged over the weekend.

At this point I was still waiting for the phone in my room to be switched on and for the fabulous six inch TV to be activated. I believe it was made in Soviet Russia from old tractor parts and vodka bottles and was coal powered. I tried reading a few of the magazines I had brought but was exhausted after a single paragraph. I noticed the quadricep in my right leg was completely numb but didn't think anything of it at the time.

I've had a few surgeries over the years, and one thing in common with them all is that the day of the surgery usually isn't too bad in terms of dealing with pain. I guess you still have a lot of anesthetic in you or something - I don't know - but the worst pain and discomfort starts the day after. I was kind of feeling that way as I settled in to my room. Gee, this isn't too bad. Thankfully, Dale's benefit plan paid for a semi-private room, and we splurged for the upgrade to a private room. King of the cancerous castle. I got acquainted with the pain pump button you use to dose yourself with morphine if you start hurting, and tried to relax.

IV Pump / Instrument of Satan
Of course I had all kinds of tubes connected to me at this time, including one for my IV, which would deliver not only the morphine but also antibiotics and WD40 (kidding, it's D5W) which was important because I wasn't eating anything. The IV was connected to a little box that had a pump in it. Gone are the days of the IV gravity feed/drip and I guess the pump does a better job of controlling the flow. It's a little machine that plugs into the wall, and aside from it being a nuisance to have to get up and unplug it before I could go anywhere, it also made this annoying little noise every sixty seconds or so, about the time it would take me to drift off to sleep. I'd be awakened by it's little 'squee!' sound. I hated that fucking thing within a few hours. Did you see the movie Office Space? Remember that scene where they took the printer out into a field and beat the snot out of it with a baseball bat? Word. It also had an alarm built into it so that if it ran out of medication or it stopped pumping or something, the nurses could take action. Here was a classic case of the unintended consequences of technology. The darn thing would stop pumping all the time if I rolled over and pinched the tube or something, or sometimes the alarm went off for no reason at all. Result: the nursing staff ignore the alarms. They tune them out, and at any given time there are dozens of little alarms going off throughout the ward. Are we having fun yet? After a while I learned how to reset the little bitch myself.

The other thing connected to me was a catheter, which kind of surprised me when I first realized it was there. But if you think about it, I was in no condition to get up and go for a pee. I wouldn't have thought it possible for me to despise an inanimate object so much, but I am truly lost for words to describe my hatred for it. Aside from having this tube shoved into my John Thomas and up to my bladder, they had taped the lead to my hairy leg, to keep it from tugging I guess. This is not a good combination. Thankfully I only had it in for a couple days, by which point I was sure the tube had a covering of tree bark with vinegar as a lubricant. The only thing that was remotely amusing about the experience was the reaction of the nurses upon seeing that I was dutifully filling up the urine bag, as though I was a puppy who had peed on the newspaper for the first time. Who's a good boy? This would turn out to be the beginning of a very long trend in my recovery: genuine excitement about the most basic bodily functions. Over the next few days and weeks, every fart and tiny little turd would be reverently received like manna from heaven. I imagined my farts in little football jerseys getting hoisted onto people's shoulders while a marching band played, or turds in business suits parading down Fifth Avenue in a ticker tape parade, waving to the adoring crowds.

A complication of this very invasive surgery on my digestive system is that once the organ is manhandled (in this case my lower intestine), it basically shuts down, and getting the system started back up again is a very delicate and slow process. At that point in time, that meant I couldn't even have a drink of water, but got to suck on a tiny little sponge when my mouth was dry. In a few days I could have an ice cube!

So, with a grotesquely swollen belly with staples and a huge bandage on it, my wee sponges, chapstick, and a final 'squee!', I drifted off to sleep.


  1. I'm having flash backs to my Diverticulitis surgery about 15 years ago. Catheter and Colostomy are two words I never want to hear again. Had so much morphine I had a very clear conversation with Barb on one side of the bed and King Arthur and sword Excalibur on the other. It ended when Barb grabbed me and said "You're really stoned. Stop talking". I looked over for Arthur to get my back but he was gone... Really.

  2. Wow N. I had no idea you had bit through that. It sounds equally nasty when compared to my surgery. And I love's Barb's comment to you. Spoken like a true nurse.

  3. As a sign of gratitude for how my wife was saved from CANCER, i decided to reach out to those still suffering from this.
    My wife suffered cancer in the year 2013 and it was really tough and heartbreaking for me because she was my all and the symptoms were terrible, she always complain of abnormal vaginal bleeding, and she always have pain during sexual intercourse. . we tried various therapies prescribed by our neurologist but none could cure her. I searched for a cure and i saw a testimony by someone who was cured and so many other with similar body problem, and he left the contact of the doctor who had the cure to cancer . I never imagined cancer. has a natural cure not until i contacted him and he assured me my wife will be fine. I got the herbal medication he recommended and my wife used it and in one months time she was fully okay even up till this moment she is so full of life. cancer. has a cure and it is a herbal cure contact the doctor for more info on drwilliams098675@gmail.com on how to get the medication. Thanks for reading my testimony.

  4. I am Vera Jones, and I am base in USA...My life is back!!! After 1 years of broken marriage, my husband left me with two kids. I felt like my life was about to end i almost committed suicide, I was emotionally down for a very long time. Thanks to a spell caster
    called Dr Jack, which i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet, I came across allot of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb,how he cured them of HIV/AIDS and other sickness, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and so on. i also come across one particular testimony, it was about a woman called Sonia, she testified about how he brought back her Ex lover in less than 7 days, and at the end of her testimony she dropped Dr Jack's e-mail address. After reading all these, I decided to give it a try. I contacted him via email and explained my problem to him. In just 72 hours, my husband came back to me. We resolved our issues, and we are even happier than before Dr Jack, He is really a gifted man and i will not stop publishing him because he is a wonderful man... If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve all your problems for you. Try Dr Jack anytime, he might be the answer to your problems. contact the great Doctor through this mail: Morinjack67@gmail.com you can also follow him on instagram:Jacksolutiontemple and on whatsapp:+2348130935053

  5. I recently have some difficult conversations and I did what a lot of people do when they want to know how to do something. I googled it. I came across Dr Williams herbal medicine on YouTube so many people thanking him about his good work. I also have lungs cancer. I wasn’t running all over God’s creation with every man I could find but here I am. I have felt bad about myself for so many years now because of my cancer status. I obviously still have some self-accepting to do but I want to thank Dr Williams for everything he have done for my family ,after taking Dr Williams medicine i was completely free from lungs cancer within one month of usage, I think what you are doing is so admirable. you have helped me a lot! I want to definitely reach out to you and thank you for your amazing work. You are a good person, and an extremely talented man. You have helped millions with your herbs, and have really inspired me,and i pray you still continue doing the good work.you can also email him on drwilliams098675@gmail.com for help