Welcome to the CONCLUSION of Don’t F*$% With the Pancreas-The New York Edition. Truth be told, I still have a ways to go on this story, but I have to finish it today. Must. Therefore, I have chained myself to a chair in the lobby of the theater with a bag of fudge (dark chocolate and chocolate peanut butter) and a diet coke as sustenance until I’ve written the last word. Go get yourself some snacks and let’s do this. This blogisode is brought to you by pure work ethic (because I'd rather be at the pool), which is NOT something I had as a high school student, but something I discovered as an adult. And Vermont fudge and diet coke. And whatever snack you are currently enjoying.
This blogisode is NOT being brought to you by the managing director of The Weston Playhouse, Stuart Duke; who is talking and talking to me while I try to work because he thinks it’s hilarious to try to distract me. Stuart Duke might be a delinquint, but he does have a very cute dog named Sophie, so that redeems him. And cute children who like my children.
Enough hijinks! On with the show. I have 64% of my battery left and 91 minutes until I pick Beatrix up from camp. GO!
We left off with me attempting to sleep off my zombie-like disposition. I watched episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show from 11pm until I finally fell asleep at about 2am. By the way, if you are looking for good go-to-sleep TV, The Dick Van Dyke Show is perfect. It’s in soothing black and white, it’s innocent but still clever, Laura and Rob do some dance numbers. All in all good stuff. The little kid who plays Ritchie yells all his lines, but other than that it’s perfect TV. I did end up getting up with Beatrix from 5-6 am for medicine, so Charlotte got herself up, dressed and to school while I slept in a little, as per Rob Meffe’s instructions.
Charlotte and Rob had started an early morning texting routine while he was in the hospital. Rob, who wasn’t sleeping for more than a three hour stretch at a time, would watch the clock for hours until he knew Charlotte was up, and then they would text until it was time for her to get dressed for school. Cute, right? Just wait.
I slept until 9:52am. I know this because I woke up, looked at the clock and freaked out that I’d slept so long. I reached for my phone to call Rob and found the following note, which was folded over numerous times and scotch taped to my cell phone:
It’s from Charlotte and here’s what it says in case you can’t read it.
I was texting with Dad this morning (around 7:20am) and he said he was fine, that sorta thing. The, around 7:30am Dad told me they were going to take him down to do the surgery in a minute !! (editor’s note: the exclamation points make a smiley face). He wanted me to tell you so that if you try to contact him (editor’s note: the mother corrected the spelling of contact) or get to the hospital early you would know what was going on.
I <3 you! (editor’s note: it’s a heart). I’m not worried at all. (editor’s note: and then the word’s “You shouldn’t be” are written and scratched out).
I was then rushed to the hospital because I was having a heart attack.
I leapt from my bed in a panic, checked my text messages and saw this one from Rob.
7:30am: There’s been a change of plans and I’m going into surgery now. I’ll let you know when I am done.
Like it was no big deal. Just a run of the mill text message…Going into surgery. I’ll bring home some milk on the way home. Oh, and will you DVR the game?
After an entire week of managing to be everywhere at once, I’d slept through the big event.
I check the clock again. 9:52am. That was 2 hours and 22 minutes ago. I couldn't BELIEVE he hadn't had Charlotte wake me up. What is WRONG with him? I’m such a chicken about everything, I make Rob go with me to have my teeth cleaned. But here he is, going into surgery without me there. Shit, shit. shit.
I send a text message back (as if he’s going to get it and not under general anesthesia) and jump into clothes.
9:53am: I will be there in 10 minutes.
Since I wasn’t there while he was waiting in pre-op, I was bound and determined to be there by the time he got out. I flew out to the livingroom, saw that Maryday was up with all the kids and barked something like:
“Rob. Surgery. Now.”
And she said something like:
“Nice job sleeping through it, lazy ass.”
Or then again, maybe that was in my head and she actually said something supportive like:
“He’ll be fine, there’s nothing you could have done anyway.”
I jumped in a *Gypsy cab (*what we call the private taxi and limousine services in New York, the ones that aren’t the “yellow” cabs.
Gypsy cabs are usually through a neighborhood service, but it feels like you are driving in someone’s personal car. It can be kinda creepy, especially since you have to negotiate the fare directly with the driver).
I get a guy who’s about 25 years old, wearing a Yankees baseball jersey and sucking a red lollipop. He’s blasting a top 40 Latin Station.
“Where you wanna go, Mommy?”
“Lenox Hill Hospital and I’ll pay you $30 to get me there as fast as possible. Have you driven on the FDR today? Is it backed up? Should we take the West Side Highway?” I’m a total back seat driver in a cab. I’ll admit it.
“It’s $40 Mommy, and I haven’t heard about traffic.”
“$35 and take the FDR. I’m going to be on the phone, so can you turn the music down?”
I called all the people I had to call about Rob, updated my Facebook status to tell everyone else (boy-oh-boy does Facebook come in handy in times like this), and realized the lollipop guy had missed the exit and was heading into major downtown traffic. I won’t get all bogged down in the story telling of this, but my guess is that the guy had a few good stories about the lunatic lady he drove to Lenox Hill that day. Ultimately we ended up on good terms and he told me to tell my Man to get better and he gave me his card so our kids could have a play date.
New Yorkers are nice.
Vitals check--52% battery, 46 minutes until camp gets out. This is like an episode of 24. How are your snacks? After three bites, I’m sick of the fudge and ready to switch to savory.
I run into Lenox Hill, find out where surgery is and curse to myself as someone gets in the elevator and pushes every button between 1 and 10 (the floor I was going to). As I approached the desk at Surgery, my phone rang. A man with a deep accent said, “Mrs. Meffy? This is Dr. (I forget his name). I am just out of surgery with your husband and he insisted we call you right away. He said you were sleeping in today (Fantastic. I’m thrilled to be the lazy wife). Your husband is doing great, can I tell you about his surgery now? Are you somewhere you can talk?”
I was anxious to redeem myself, so I said very calmly, “Oh yes, Doctor. I’m in the surgical waiting room. This is a fine time to talk.” I’m just sitting here eating bon-bons waiting on all of you slow pokes. Redeemed.
“Very good. I’ll be right out.”
The doctor comes out and takes me into a consultation room. He sits down and pulls out a picture and puts it in front of me, saying very matter of factly, “Here are some pictures.”
Pictures? What are you talking about with these pictures? Doesn’t he know I am Sharon
Wheatley—non-medical and squeamish? Why do we have to look at these disgusting pictures? After he explains everything (basically, they take your gallbladder out through your belly button, which sounds worse than having a baby), and tells me that Rob is in great shape, he asks me if I have any questions.
I do have a question. “Do you show surgery pictures to everyone?”
He furrows his brow and says, “No, not at all, but your husband begged me for pictures. I thought they were for you.”
I reach over and turn the disgusting blood and guts picture over so it is face down on the table. “No. The pictures are for my freak husband. He’ll probably want to frame them.”
The doctor shook his head and said, “Your husband was very insistent. He actually wanted me to save the gallbladder so he could see it, but the board of health forbids it. I just took pictures.”
Thank god the board of health prohibits them from saving body parts, or that is what would have greeted me on the surgical consult table. Rob probably would have wanted to bronze his gallbladder like baby shoes. I took the pictures, shoved them in my bag and waited to see Rob.
After a few minutes, I was taken into recovery. Rob does not have much memory of this, but I remember it perfectly and will share it with all of you. When I walked in, the nurse who was taking care of Rob greeted me with, “Oh my goodness have we been hearing about you! You must be Sharon! He has been asking for someone to call you every few minutes since he woke up.” She walks over to Rob and says, “Look who’s here, handsome!” She tells me, “We all think he has the most beautiful blue eyes!” (I am used to women, especially older women…and while we’re at it, gay men…fawning over Rob, so this wasn’t a big surprise.)
Rob opens his eyes and says, “You made it!”
I show him the gory pictures. He was ecstatic. He wants details of what was what. I tell him to Google it and put the pictures away before I gag.
The flirty nurse then tells me that Rob has been telling them how wonderful I am ever since he came out of surgery. “Such a nice couple you two make! So happy!”
I now have a prescription for the anesthesia/love potion to use at home anytime Rob becomes disgruntled with me.
A few minutes later Rob asked me to put on his glasses because he “couldn’t see a thing” which proves that he was whacked out of his mind AND blind, thereby negating all the flowery language about me. I was just another dancing pink hippo to him, but it was fun while it lasted. (Just as a side bar, I had to have surgery a few years ago, and was put under with one of those “twilight” anestethias. When I woke up, the nurses all told me what a beautiful singing voice I had. Because….I….was….SINGING….during my surgery. AND, (allegedly) I told them all the Broadway shows I’d been in. So…under anesthetic I sing and give my resume. Rob thought this was hilarious. I thought it was mortifying!!!)
Rob was moved back to his room and enjoyed his first meal in 6 days, chicken broth and tea. It was delicious. Interestingly, he didn’t want a diet coke (not that I would have given him one anyway). He slept on and off for the rest of the day and I went home around 11pm.
Beatrix was still 102, and Rob was going to be released the next day. There was little to do except pray that Beatrix wasn’t contagious to Rob and get things ready for the big homecoming. Everyone was excited, especially Rob. He was pretty wiped out after his surgery, but all the pancreas numbers were down and the release papers were signed. He was prescribed a “low fat” diet and told there was a nominal chance that there might be a stone or some sludge left in the bile duct, but the odds were in his favor that all had been cleared out.
Saturday afternoon, after 6 days in the hospital, Rob was finally sent home. Two hours after Rob returned home, Beatrix’s temperature broke.
Like E.T. and Eliott, the healing happened at the same time.
Medicine is all about the odds, Rob later said. The odds were no stone would escape from his gallbladder and clog up his bile duct causing acute pancreatitis. The odds were that all the stones and sludge were out and this would never be an issue again. Based on how the odds have fallen with Rob this year, I don’t think he should buy a lottery ticket or head to a craps table.
I will say, I learned a lot about how to be a patient from Rob during all of this. He was kind, unemotional and patient. He listened to his doctors and concentrated on getting better without causing a lot of drama. As the “caretaker” of him, he made my job easy, and I am forever grateful. I also learned that Rob and I probably need to spend some more time alone together if we both were a little sorry to see him leave the hospital and have our “alone” time come to an end. I’d like to put it out there—to the universe—that I don’t want any more date nights with Rob at Lenox Hill or any other hospital, thank you very much. Maybe dinner and a movie, okay?