The Little Sister

I'm a little sister.

I've taken my fair share of lumps, bumps, and bruises. (Well, let's see…there was an entire year that my older sister was obsessed with determining if I could break my arm in more weird and wonderful ways [falling from the monkey bars, having it run over by a Barbie Power Wheels…]) etc.

And while I would love to expound on all the divisive ways my older sister chose to torture me, I have to say that I have never, ever been so tortured as when I had to see her in pain.

I have a frequent flyers number for my hospital stays; I'm extremely familiar with IVs, blood tubes, and tourniquets.

But it is very rare that I am at the hospital with someone who isn't me.

Enter my sister's routine leg surgery to repair her ACL. All the sudden, she's this little person in a huge hospital bed with a hair net on, crying about how scared and overwhelmed she is.

I can honestly say that I've never felt more helpless. (Even when I was laying prostrate on the grass, waiting for that Barbie Power Wheels to run over my arm.) I couldn't do anything to help her pain or to alleviate her fear.

And then I thought, she must worry about me like this all of the time. And because I am the little sister, as you may also confirm if you also have a sibling, it took me until just now to put myself in her shoes in that way. (Hey, we mean well, but sometimes the younger ones can be a bit self-centered.) Especially if we have a sister as awesome as I do, who is always watching out for me.

So, if you have a sibling, try to give them a hug tonight. Remind them that there is no one like them in your life, and while it hasn't always been perfect between you two, you've got nothing but love for them.

Happy Anniversary, Gallbladder

I apologize for not posting last Wednesday or Thursday. I was unfortunately distracted by what normal people call a “life.” This is a topic that I would have talked about then. So, without further, ado…a blog post.

An Anatomy Lesson

Most people don’t know what a gallbladder is, let alone how it functions. But about 500,000 to 700,000 people will be told every year that theirs will have to come out (source.) Last year, I became one of the ranks of the happy, but slightly scarred people who live a day to day existence without their gallbladder.

Your gallbladder actually aids in fat digestion, which is primarily the liver’s job. The liver can do it by itself, but it could always use the help. Think of it like when your spouse/mom/dad tells you to set the table. They are probably fully capable of doing it themselves, but they’d love it if you would help them. Just be glad they don’t decide to cut you out when you stop pulling your own weight.

So, why did mine have to come out? Let’s rewind back to about 6 months earlier when I was eating gobs of Nutella because I was living in Ireland by my lonesome and was feeling especially homesick. I forwent the bread in this venture and took to eating the stuff right out of the jar. Comfort food is quite effective in relieving you of your fears and worries, and also of your internal organs. After a few days of bingeing on the popular hazelnut spread, I had what I now understand was a gallbladder attack in my friends’ bedroom. We Skyped their parents (not mine) and asked what we should do. They were insistent. I should go to the emergency room. I was also insistent. I would not go. I was loath to venture to a hospital in a foreign country for obvious reasons. So, I channelled my inner James Joyce and stiffened my upper lip. In a few hours, the pain eased.

A Day That Will Live in Inflamed Infamy

Then, on October 25, 2012, surgeons removed my inflamed gallbladder because it was being blocked by a gallstone that was the size of a golf ball. This made sense. I was in excruciating pain, and had been pumped full of Dilaudid, and had just started to feel as if I was floating.

A few hours earlier than this, I had been rolled into a ball on the floor, complaining of stomach pain. After an hour of this, I then found myself being rolled into a hospital by my college roommates. Apparently, I was interrupting their studying with my moans and crying. They stood in a semi-circle around me and looked on.

When the surgeon came in, he told me that I would be having surgery the next day. It might happen anywhere between 7am or 7pm. At this time, I can’t say that I was “with it.” So, I looked up at the surgeon with tears in my eyes and asked, “Can I go home?” He chuckled at me, something that I hear is rare at a hospital, and informed me that he would have to watch my condition over night. Simply put, I wasn’t going anywhere.

I spent a restless night being poked with needles. They took my blood and blood pressure about every 3 hours. The only solace I had was the fact that my best friend’s mom was doing the poking. She had heard through the grapevine that I was on the floor, and had made sure that she had fully monopolized me for her shift. To say that I was comforted by her, would be a horrible understatement. It would be like saying that Tom Hanks was merely comforted by Wilson in Castaway.

Hyper Hypochondriac

I’m a hypochondriac at the best of times. And I’m fairly certain every day that today will be my last day on Earth. So, you can begin to imagine my panic at being told that I would actually need surgery for what I thought might be another phantom pain. Coupled with the fact that I might go into surgery without anyone there to see me off into the great beyond, I was completely beside myself and a little to the left.

That is why you might think that having my boyfriend slip through the curtain around 6am made me sigh a heavy sigh of relief. Yes, you would think that if you didn’t know my boyfriend. My knight in shining armor came through the door after working a full shift at a bar, getting off at 3am, and driving 2 hours to my school. He promptly took the nearest chair, put his feet on my hospital bed, and said, “wake me up if you leave.” Chivalry may have taken a bigger hit than me that morning, but I was glad for his presence.

My family filed in not too long after that. The surgery itself was unremarkable, thank god. I only remember the nurse saying, “Do you feel sleepy yet, Bailey?” I replied, “no” and woke up in the recovery room without a gallbladder.

Even though my organ cut out early, I still feel whole. I’m happily down a gallbladder, and up a few small scars that make me feel a bit like a bad ass. Although I do have some trouble eating some fatty foods, it’s probably for the best that I don’t eat them. So, remember to look for blessings in disguise, and that everything is beneficial in moderation. Especially Nutella.