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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Preparing for Surgery

They call me..."Butthead"...

I was 12 when I had surgery for the first time. It was the 4th of July and I was spending the holiday celebrating at my dad's house. Despite the fact that we lived in the Pacific Northwest, it had been a very dry summer.

My dad was having a party that day so the house was full of people, inside and out. Air conditioning is not something people living in Western Washington typically have so every door and window was open to keep the air flowing through the house. Running around barefoot, all the kids were running in and out of those doors all day long and more particularly the sliding glass door in the middle of the house leading to the main party area outside. I was quite good at running up those three little steps and leaping into the house before making a quick dash down the hallway.

The 4th of July was one of my dad's favorite holidays and would spend hundreds of dollars on fireworks. He loved putting on a good show and would carefully plan the "launch sequence". The kids always got to light the Bottle Rockets, Firecrackers, Flowers, Bumble Bees, Smoke Bombs, and of course, every little girls favorite, Sparklers.

As guests were preparing for the "big show", my brother and I were busy firing off Bottle Rockets. My dad's house was in the middle of 19-acres of what used to be strawberry fields and with the unusually dry summer, our rockets were starting small fires in the fields. Being prepared, we had our water hose but the hose would only reach so far. My brother and his friends would run out the field and stomp out any little fire that had been sparked. I wanted to do this also but I didn't have my shoes on. Knowing that the big fireworks were about to start I figured I should get them on just in case they needed me to help stomp them out (I was such a tom-boy).

Now...that sliding glass door I had been running in and out of had been wide open ALL day long so as I was running full speed ahead it didn't occur to me to stop and check to make sure it was actually open. I hit that first step with my right foot and took one giant leap "into the house" thinking I was going to land on my left. You can imagine my surprise when I was "slowed down" by that glass door that someone had closed. I actually made it into the house but was on my knees staring at the back of the couch. The only thing I was thinking was "Oh crap. I am going to get in SO much trouble". That was all I could think of until I overheard my grandpa say "she's bleeding". At that point, I looked down and saw this puddle of blood that was growing larger and larger and I had no idea where it was spewing from.

After I was pulled out of the window (I was about half way in the house as my left leg was stuck in the glass that was left in the frame), I was placed in a lawn chair and my step-mom was holding a towel over my forehead. I still had no idea just how badly I was cut but figured it couldn't have been that bad because I didn't feel any pain. I was more concerned about how much trouble I was going to get in for breaking the window.

I arrived at the hospital and watched as doctors came in and out of my room. They would come in and look at my head, talk amongst themselves, and leave. The next thing I knew a doctor came in, introduced himself to me, and told me that I had to have an operation. They told me that I had a big cut on my head that needed to be closed but it was too big for stitches. They needed to take skin from another part of my body to "patch" up the hole. Well, I tell you what...I was not about to have an operation. No way, no how, not me. Needless to say...I didn't win that battle and I ended up having a skin graft that night.

Now...the skin on your forehead is a little different than the skin on your leg or your arm so they took two patches of skin from my left cheek and I am not talking about the cheek on my face. They told me that they wanted to take it from a place that would not be visible when I wore a bathing suit. They said that the grafted skin was only temporary until my new skin grew in below it. Whatever! No matter how many times they explained, it didn't stop my beloved brother from calling me...."Butthead".


I have had several surgeries since that first one in 1986 including a c-section, oral surgery to remove my wisdom teeth, exploratory surgery, hysterectomy, gall bladder removal, and knee surgery. Needless to say, I am no stranger to surgery and am not nervous about this procedure I am having on the 24th.  What I don't like is - the anesthesia. I don't react well when coming out from it. I always wake up a little paranoid and feel like I am having an out of body experience. Kind of like when my friend had a bad acid trip in high school...

Anyway - I had to go through several labs before I could get medical clearance (abdominal ultrasound, chest x-ray, upper GI, echocardiogram, treadmill stress test, and tons of blood work). I also had to submit an Advanced Directive and Durable Power of Attorney, a standard procedure in case something happens and I can't make my own medical decision. After I completed those documents, I decided I should update my will since I hadn't updated it since I had my hysterectomy in 2002. I was married now so I figured I should include my husband in it.

Before I started designating my belongings, I asked my son if there was anything I had that he would like to have. At first he said no. After I told him that he was already getting my car he started listing all kinds of things, which turned out to be very sentimental. In addition to my laptop, cell phone, iPad, iPod, etc., his list included the Christmas decorations (we have been decorating the house together since he was old enough to place an ornament on the tree), all my cookbooks, my rings so he could wear them around his neck, all of the family pictures, the cat, and a recording of my voice so he could play it every day [insert weepy eyes and a sniff, sniff here]. I love that kid.

So as I have been preparing for surgery, I not only did a little emotional housekeeping, I learned a little more about the character of my son.


  1. I enjoy read your blogs! How funny that the will thingy brought out the soft side of your son. Sometimes I don't think kids realize the seriousness of any operation. But how heart warming that must have felt for you to hear him say those things. You're going to be just fine and things will be smooth sailing! :)

  2. How I enjoyed this history,Dawn! Very sweet revelations about our Taylor as well...!! You'll be fine...but good conversations to have...xoxo Aunti Joni : )

  3. OMG....I totally remember the sliding glass door incident. Crazy to remember stuff feeling like it was yesterday but really it's been 25 years....Unbelievable!


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