Back when Kendell had his hips replaced I had no idea that surgery was just the beginning. Our next medical adventure together was his aortic valve replacement 15 months later. Even then: aside from a still, small voice warning me that wasn't to be the end of our surgical experiences, I didn't think it would only take a mere 18 months before he'd be back in the O.R. again.
You know what they say about assumptions.
Still, when he woke up writhing in agony early Sunday morning (at 3:28 a.m., to be exact) I had a feeling. It took me another very long 11 hours (and the voices of two nurses, one friend, and one doctor added to my own) to convince him that yes, this was more than just a stomach bug. We made it to the E.R. with seconds to spare before he hyperventilated, terrifying me into my own irregular heart rhythm, and then was eventually diagnosed: he needed his gallbladder removed.
Now he's recuperating. Not nicely—he still can't eat anything because tomorrow they have to do a ERCP to remove the rest of the gallstones, which are stuck in his bile duct, so he's starving and thirsty. I keep telling him it's just extreme dieting but that doesn't make him feel any better.
Two friends have told me that they're certain I'll blog something clever about this surgery, but tonight I'm too exhausted for clever. What I do know is this: after his visitors left this evening, we sat in the dark and I held his hand and tried to ignore the ache in my back. He was peaceful and not in too much pain, so we talked and laughed a little and I tried to explain the grisly photos the doctor gave us only he kept falling in and out of sleep. I filled up, for a second, with something unexpected: happiness. Isn't that odd—right there in the hospital, a joy, quiet and gentle but joy nevertheless. We are old pros now at post-op misery, but it still surprises me how all of that can work together to make a tender moment I will hold on to like a shard of light whenever it gets dark.