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Staying Positive

Keeping my chin up inside the medical vortex

April 2024

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Columnist

I hope you will all allow me to bother you yet again with my medical burdens. Because this — April — is the month. The big month. I have my first heart surgery on April 9.

The second comes after I heal from the first. And then, I pray I will be done!

My life for the past few months has been nothing more than trips to one doctor or specialist or another. Turns out, after major surgery, you can’t go to the dentist for a while, or the dermatologist, or who knows who else. You’re supposed to stay home and rest. I hope I can do that. You’re not supposed to drive either. I don’t know how I am going to do that.

I have relied on the goodwill and kindness of many of my friends who have been amenable to driving me to Charlottesville, a trip of two hours each way on a good, non-foggy day.

God bless them!

I should only be in the hospital for one night. I pray that is the case. (Can you tell I’ve been doing more praying than usual?) That means I’ll need a person to drive me over and dump me at the front door, and probably another person to drive over and pick up what’s left of me the next day.

To get home, I think I will be relying on the kindness of a stranger; a man who is part of a club in Clifton Forge that does good deeds like driving the infirm to and from hospitals. I’m hoping we will forge some sort of friendship or camaraderie in the car. Or else, I may just be snoozing after my ordeal. This fellow was once an EMT and a firefighter, so I should be in good hands if anything dire occurs. God bless him, already!

It seems to have taken longer than I thought for all the medical hoops to be leaped through to get to the actual surgery. I have had an MRI — akin to being shoved into an industrial clothes dryer, complete with fire-engine sirens. I’ve had maybe seven — maybe eight? — CT scans. There’s not a part of me that some machine or other doesn’t know all about. I even had that nuclear stress test, which was almost my undoing. I would not be surprised to learn that I now really do glow in the dark!

My blood has been drawn countless times. For many, this is easy, but not for me. I have “puny veins,” as one phlebotomist described. It can take five or six “sticks” to find something that flows usefully. Two fellows took so many stabs at me last week that I now have a black bruise that is 3-by-4 inches in size. This type of thing makes me mad. I must endeavor to be calm, but being calm is rather out of the question for me right now. I am stressed. I am anxious. I am scared. I am clueless about what may be ahead. These medical professionals have a tendency to spring painful or scary surprises on you.

On the plus side: I have a cardiac surgeon and a team that I like. They are cheerful and upbeat. I have a vascular surgeon who is also friendly and kind. There’s also a spare cardiologist floating around who is an absolute hunk — nice and tall and very handsome. At least I’ll have him to gaze at as they wheel me into the surgical suite. Another plus: The stress has caused me to lose 50 pounds. I will look ravishing in my droopy hospital gown, I am sure. So, I am focusing on the positives, and I will try to keep calm and turn over control of myself to the professionals. Wish me luck, folks!

To order a copy of Margo’s “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Mon.-Wed., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., or email [email protected].