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22 July 2013

Recovery – Last Wednesday I went back to the hospital for my one-week examination (for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, let’s just say I had some holes poked in me). My doctor had been called away because of a family emergency, so they asked me if I would be OK seeing a different doctor or if I wanted to reschedule. The fewer times I have to go to the hospital the better, so I agreed to see a different doctor.

“Apparently there is still some healing to do on the surface.”

The first thing he had me do was lie down and pull up my shirt. Then he took off my bandages and removed the sutures from the incisions. The rightmost minor incision hadn’t been sutured, and the doctor said it would heal without a scar. The other two minor incisions had a suture each, and I think there were two in my belly button (I didn’t actually look). I have to say, having the sutures removed—especially the sutures in my belly button—was probably the single most painful part of this whole ordeal. I expected it to be unpleasant, but it actually hurt a lot, and the pain lasted for quite some time after.

After cutting the sutures out with a chainsaw, the doctor disinfected the incisions and bandaged me up again. He told me that I could take the bandages off after three days. Overall he didn’t seem too concerned about anything—as I mentioned last time, apparently my procedure is a common one, and barring complications there’s not much to talk about. Still, for however common the procedure might be for the hospital staff, it’s still quite an adjustment for me. I had a list of five questions that I wanted to ask; instead of folding up a piece of paper and putting it in my pocket, I boiled each of the questions down to a key Chinese character and then made an acronym, which was fairly easy to remember.

The first question was just a clarification that I should not consume any alcohol while I was on the medication (which will last a month). I was pretty sure I knew that the answer would be “yes,” but I just wanted to confirm (the answer was indeed “yes”). The second question was whether there was anything specifically I needed to avoid other than just “fatty foods.” The doctor said no, and he added that I would be quite sensitive to fatty foods at first but it would get better as time went on. The third question was about bowel movements, but I will spare you the details. The fourth question was about when I could get back to jiujitsu and other forms of exercise; I was surprised when he said that, if I felt OK with it, I would probably be ready to go a month after surgery. Somehow I thought it would be longer than that. The fifth and final question was about when I could take an actual shower (I had been taking partial showers and washing myself with a washcloth because the nurse had told me to be extra careful not to get any water in the wounds). He looked surprised and said that the bandages were waterproof, and I could take a shower any time I wanted.

And that was about it. We had to run around the hospital for a bit taking care of various things—like an appointment for a one-year CT scan. I just laughed when they asked me whether I wanted to schedule for the morning or the afternoon one year from now. “How am I supposed to know?” I said. “What if I’m not in the country then?” They told me I could reschedule if necessary, so I told them to put me down for the morning. My reasoning is that you’re not supposed to eat for something like six to eight hours before the scan, so if I have it in the morning I can just get up, skip breakfast, and go get scanned. If I have it done in the afternoon then I probably won’t be able to eat for the whole day.

Saturday came, and I decided to take a shower before I took off the bandages—trying to take them off dry is quite painful, as they are very sticky. I started with the one that I thought would be in the best shape, and I was rather shocked to see this dark, wide slit filled with black stuff (presumably dried blood). I was so freaked out that I didn’t take any of the other bandages off. The shower I took this morning washed away the dried blood, leaving an open wound, and when I took off the topmost bandage I found another open wound that was leaking. Needless to say, I got freaked out again. Both of the wounds look like little alien mouths on my stomach. I can tell they are mostly healed on the inside because it doesn’t hurt to sit up or move anymore, but apparently there is still some healing to do on the surface. I cleaned and disinfected the wounds and then put normal bandages over them to prevent anything from getting inside. Hopefully enough air will get through that they will start to close up now.

I have not taken the bandage off my belly button yet. I know I need to, but to be honest I’m a little scared. After seeing what the other incisions look like, I don’t really want to see what my belly button looks like, because it’s going to be a lot worse—that’s where they pulled out my inflamed gallbladder. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after tomorrow... eventually I’m going to have to suck it up and take the bandage off.

But let us leave that bit of unpleasantness behind for the moment. I have been going through my photos from our recent trip to the UK, and I have already started working on an annotated photo journal of sorts. I didn’t actually keep a travel journal this time, so it’s just going to be a really long journal entry with a lot of photos. Actually, it’s going to be two entries—I have about fifty photos from London that I want to show you, plus about fifty photos from our travels outside of London. These will be accompanied by commentary, and I will also put the photos in Imagery galleries as well. I don’t know when I’ll finish these, but I hope to get the London entry out relatively soon, while my memory is still relatively fresh.

There’s a lot of other travel-related writing and photography to put up as well. Our trip to Cambodia last winter, for example. I have finished transcribing the travel journal I kept, so it is just a matter of choosing some photos to accompany the text (that will also have a companion Imagery gallery). Finally, there is our trip to China from a few years ago. I started transcribing that travel journal but haven’t finished yet—once the UK and Cambodia are posted, I will work on wrapping that up. With any luck, I will have all of that done by the end of the summer.

So, despite the little sucking alien mouths on my stomach (and the sarlacc that is most likely my belly button), I’m feeling pretty good. I’m looking forward to getting a lot done this summer (despite the surgery, I’ve already gotten a lot of work done), and getting stuff done always makes me feel good. Hopefully that will spill over into Liminality-related productivity as well.

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