It's a strange thing, to hang around a hospital, hooked up to an IV, when you don't actually feel bad. But there I was, on the sixth floor of the Toronto General Hospital, awaiting surgery.
I went for what I thought was a mere consultation at 1:15 on Friday. The doctor examined me and my CT scans and told me to head downstairs to be admitted. "Your orbital bone is shattered," he said. "We're going to replace it with a titanium mesh. We'll make an incision in your eyelid and work in from there." He explained that the orbital bone is almost eggshell thin and can't be repaired. (The bone is just below the eye, and holds that orb in place. Without it, one's eyeball will slowly sink down and in, presumably really screwing up one's vision.) "We'll try to get you into the operating room tonight, or tomorrow morning," he told me as I packed up my bag.
The woman at the Admissions desk was a big, friendly Jamaican immigrant, who rolled her eyes when I told her no one upstairs had given me my admission papers (she had to call up to get them faxed down to her) and who laughed out loud when she asked if I wanted to declare a religion and I replied, "Absolutely not!"
Which didn't come on Friday, nor on Saturday.
Despite my lack of glasses, I did a lot of reading, a little writing (the results of which I hope to post shortly - meaning later today), and a lot of striding down the halls with my rolling pole holding the bag of saline solution.
I wasn't sure whether my insurance covered the cost of a semi-private room, so I opted for a bed in a ward, figuring I was only going to be in for a night in any event. As it turned out, though, I ended up in a semi-private space anyway, sharing it with a patient whose face looked a lot like Frankenstein's monster - a huge scar from ear to chin, and several more on his face.
Saturday night, we exchanged stories. "Face cancer," he said, and told me had been in the hospital for 6 weeks now.
It was about 3 in the morning and he had awoken me on his way to the bathroom we shared, stopping at the foot of my bed on his way back to his.
I told him my story, of how I had spent 30 seconds being pounded by a drunk, and then I must have blinked, because the next thing I knew, he was looming over me, fist cocked and aimed at my face.
My feet were trapped by my blankets, my left arm tied to the IV, and I close to freaked out.
Struggling to free my legs for a defensive kick at his chest, I shouted, "Fuck off!" and, happily, he did. "Sorry," he said, "sorry. I was just kidding."
Some joke. I told him I didn't think it was very funny and he went back to his bed while I calmed myself down.
After Saturday's anti-climactic waiting (I kept getting bumped by emergencies), Suday saw me bording a gurney and being wheeled down to the operating room.
I have to say that, throughout this ordeal, I have been pretty impressed with both the professionalism and the personalities of almost everyone who dealt with me. As a fer'instance, the anesthesiologists spent a good ten minutes questioning me about my medical history before admitting me to the OR itself.
Once there, I finally believed it was actually happening and found that I was, in fact, a little nervous. But - by god! - general anesthetics work fast! They hooked me up, placed the oxygen mask over my face and ... the next thing I knew, I was in another room entirely, groggy but coming back to consciousness fast.
Within an hour I was once more wandering around, waiting again. At first I felt almost ecstatic. I had a lot of energy, but not much to do with it, but wait for Laura to arrive and, by the time she did, I had fallen into a post-operative low that her arrival did little to alleviate.
I wanted to go home, but they wanted me to spend one more night for observation before letting me out.
Monday morning, after a quick examination by the surgeon, they did. And here I am. My face is still kind of numb, I'm still not allowed to blow my nose and I won't be able to get new glasses for a week or two, but the ordeal is over (or so I hope). And I think I'll be pretty again.