Adventures in Anesthesia: The Urination Proclamation


A few weeks ago I underwent abdominal surgery. If you’ve ever had surgery, the first thing you notice is how many times the nurses and doctors ask you what you’re getting done.  Apparently, this is their safeguard protocol in case you’re there to have a tonsillectomy and instead end up with one less testicle. I’m not sure why they insist on asking the patient at all. Wouldn’t they have learned to write this crucial information down somewhere? Maybe jot it on a post-it note:


So there I was in pre-op, all splayed out in a johnny while an RN tried to start an IV.

“And what are you here for?” she asked. I had already been asked this by nearly everyone else in the hospital at this point, including the janitor, and my response was the same every time: “Why, a tummy tuck and boob job, of course!” (The janitor seemed to think this was a good idea.)

Some nurses have a sense of humor, but this time the joke fell flat. Maybe she’s heard this one before? She jammed the needle harder into the top of my hand. “OK, I’m kidding,” I winced. “I’m really here to have a hysterectomy. Yay. She’s removing all my endo and an ovary.”

“Which one?” she asked.

“Well… I only have one ovary left…so, I would say the one that’s still there. Tell you what — if they don’t see an ovary, then don’t take it out. If they do see one, take it out.”

Again, nothing but a solemn glare from Nurse Ratched.

She left the room. “Tough crowd,” I whispered to my husband.

A few minutes before surgery, my surgeon breezed into the room. She thought my tummy tuck joke was funny, but I noticed she didn’t actually agree to do it, so my hopes were crushed once again. Then she lifted my hospital gown and drew a circle over my left ovary.

Great, the success of my operation depends on a Sharpie.

I kissed my husband goodbye and reminded him that I might very well die on the operating table, but not to worry. Did he have my living will? Did he know how to make the kids breakfast? Did he know the Netflix password?

They wheeled me into the OR, and the last thing I remember is looking up at a large bright light, just like in the movies. The anesthesia kicked in and I drifted into a painless deep sleep thinking (and probably saying out loud to the surgical nurse) “Tummmmy tuuuuuuucccccckkkk…don’t forget it’s the only ovary there….no, no, no! Don’t take out my testicle!…just a nice tuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmy tuuuuuuck….”

My three hour surgery was over. After a strange block of timeless time, I started to drift back to the land of the living. I was doped up to my eyeballs on fentanyl so the pain was thankfully absent. But I had this horrible crushing sensation that my bladder was full and about to explode. It was unbelievably uncomfortable. The kind of urgency you feel when you’re stuck in traffic for hours after consuming a 64 ounce Big Gulp and you want to say “fuck it” and urinate into the nearest receptacle.

Before I go any further, I have to explain that Maine women are a unique independent breed. We tend to be strong, stodgy, stubborn and stupid. My grandmother lived to 100 and she used to take my brother’s dirt bike for a spin well into her nineties. My mother still moves heavy furniture around and she’s 82. I once mowed the lawn with a push mower while 9 months pregnant. After the baby popped out, I scooped him up and continued mowing. We don’t need no help, dammit! We’re built like tanks and can power on through anything.

Except holding in our pee.

There I was in recovery, drifting in and out of consciousness, alternating between yelling that I had to go pee and drooling helplessly all over my gown. I faintly overheard an RN telling my husband I needed to sleep. Sleep? My bladder is burning hot and bursting and she wants me to sleep?! After pleading, “I gotta go pee! Please let me pee!” a thousand times in a half hour, I had had enough. Goddammit, I’m going to find that janitor! He’ll let me pee!

“It’s just your bladder having spasms, dear,” Nurse Ratched kept insisting. “You don’t have to pee. It’ll go away in a few minutes.”

Of course, the nurse probably insisted I remain lying down so I wouldn’t hurt myself. Maybe this is because I just had major surgery. And okay, in my drugged-up haze I thought my husband was Sting and the nurses giant pesky bumblebees flitting about my consciousness. But at this point, deep in agony, I was unstoppable. The sweet relief of urination was within my grasp.

I swung my feet over the edge of the bed and things began to spin. For a few moments the entire room seemed to disappear into a milky white fog. I didn’t know where my feet were. When I reached up to scratch my head, my hand moved across my field of vision like it was encased in syrup. Where was my head? Who’s hand is this? Help me, Sting!

“I can’t find my head,” I slurred to my husband as he tried to steady me. An RN and a CNA magically appeared by my other side. Ugh, Nurse Ratched! NO! You will not stop me, devil woman! I plodded forward a step only to be snagged on something. I tugged at the annoying IV line, oblivious to what the hell it was and why it was holding me back. Am I in the jungle? Is this a snake?

Before I knew it I was out in the hallway/jungle with two nurses and my husband all trying to hold onto me. They were talking to me, but my brain concentrated only on the excruciating bladder cramps. My untied johnny hung loose in the front, leaving my ass to flap in the cold breeze. I shuffled along like a tranquilized bear, occasionally pausing to try and brush off Sting and the bumblebees.  “I GOTTA GO PEE!” I hollered at random patients and nurses in the hall.

I finally made it to what I judged to be an adequate hole in the ground by the bamboo trees, grabbed onto someone’s arm, sat down and let it go.

Into the toilet, of course. I’m not an animal.

And Nurse Ratched was right. False alarm. I didn’t have to go after all. Maddening.

Still ranting to no one in particular, “Why won’t they let me pee?!” they led me back to my bed. I repeated this charade at least three more times (that I remember), each time getting angrier and louder. I was in recovery for a very long time. My surgery was at noon and I didn’t get permission to leave until 8 pm. I was close to being admitted overnight, but I think the nurses for some reason were happy to see me go.

Later on, when I was a bit more lucid and back to my normal sweet self, my husband told me how funny it was when I shoved the nurses aside and dragged my IV down the hall while almost completely naked to go to the bathroom, when I didn’t actually have to go at all.

“Yeah, that must have been something,” I said, mortified at the thought.

I faintly remember after I was discharged, I continued to whine about peeing while the nurse wheeled me (hurriedly) out to our car. I think I might have grabbed her hand to pet it like she was a kitten, and told her that she was very nice but kind of mean, too.

I blame the fentanyl.


Thanks for all the well-wishes. My surgery was a big success. All went perfectly and I didn’t die. I feel wonderful. Back to blogging!










90 thoughts on “Adventures in Anesthesia: The Urination Proclamation

  1. Thank you for making it out the other side of the surgery and for keeping telling us funny stories in which you sacrifice your dignity just so we can keep splattering tea (or coffee) over our keyboards.

  2. I get this 100%. My hysterectomy was preformed by a robot. That is, until it was time to close. Something went wrong – I sprung a leak – and the doctor had to come out from behind the monitor and stitch me up by hand. At my one month follow up appointment, she wrote a prescription for no sex for SIX MORE WEEKS addressed to “To Whom It May Concern.” Yeah, she had a sense of humor. My husband didn’t think it was so funny.

    1. I also sprung a leak from one of my incisions while in recovery. My gown kept getting soaked and the RN was like, what the hell? I thought I was peeing on myself. Ha! Turns out it was from the incision (??) She said the doc pumped my abdomen full of fluids during surgery. (I have no clue if this is accurate or if this is just another hallucination I had…)

      Also, I had to laugh at the no sex prescription. Nurse Ratched said this to my husband before surgery, “Now don’t you go sticking anything in her vagina for 6 weeks after, you hear me?” We both had a good laugh at that. RNs are nothing if not blunt. (I suppose I am, too. haha!) And at my 2 week post-op the doc said, “no sex for 6 to 8 weeks”. I’m like, I get it, I get it! Jeez, what am I a nymphomaniac now?

    2. performed not pre-formed. I think they took out part of my brain. If I’d only had a Sharpie!

      Insurance totally covers the no sex script. Of course, the side effects can cause headaches, insomnia, and permanent loss of spouse.

  3. Congratulations! Been thinking about you, and I’m glad the surgery went well. And I thought your jokes about the tummy tuck and boob job were hilarious. Nurse Ratched must have had a humor-ectomy before you checked in.

  4. CassieW

    Hilarious! Glad your surgery went well. I had the opposite experience after childbirth. The nurses told me I had to go pee before I could get moved to mother/baby. I was convinced I didn’t have to and was rather annoyed I was still stuck in the delivery room (even though my stubbornness was clearly to blame, not the nurses). Welp, epidurals do a funny thing. Turns out, I DID have to go and proceeded to exclaim, “Woah, I guess I DID have to pee!” With the door open. And 12 other people in the room.

    1. Eh, that’s fairly typical for me. She said it would take 2 hours, but I had a feeling it would be longer. She gave me four incisions, took out the various womanly parts, cleaned out the endo lesions and adhesions, then had to take apart my intestines because they were being strangled by excess scar tissue and cut all that out. She said that was the worst part. No resection though, thank god!

    1. Thanks! Instant menopause is amazing so far. No hot flashes, nothing. I think I was close to menopause anyway. As a matter of fact, I feel better than I’ve felt in decades. I feel like I’ve got my life back. My doc said it looked like I was glowing at the post-op appointment.

  5. I’m re-wishing you a speedy recovery and re-blogging this to my blog if it’s okay with you?
    I really needed to laugh. Thankyou.
    I’ve had my own feminine issues that I’ve been avoiding like the surgery that took my cervix, and the doc who took it…as I said “Sorry I didn’t have time to trim my bushes down there, as I’ve been afraid that I might be dying of cancer of the crotch.” Not my best moment obviously. And I noted to myself that she was laughing as I nodded off…then woke up wondering if she had clipped off any of my bits while chuckling with a laser in her hand.

  6. Kim

    I woulda laughed. That’s funny! And I’m glad these tough Maine qualities transferred to me in Florida! I can’t imagine being any other way (Although I did pick up some princess qualities, too. We can blame my dad, the non-Mainer). I like that your grandma rode your brother’s dirt bike well into her 90s. That’s rather awesome! Glad you’re doing well!

    1. Thanks, Kim. My gram was pretty amazing. She used to deliver Meals on Wheels to people a decade younger than her. Whenever I went for walks with her, I could never keep up and I was in my teens and she was in her 80s.

          1. There was a time when I would buy anything he put out. Around the World in a Day, Parade, Sign o’ the Times, Lovesexy, Batman. Then I kind of bailed out. But he was a big deal to me for a little while.

  7. Yeah!!! Whoo Hoo!! Miss Darlinski is back from the other side, and even better than before!

    I think the question on every one’s mind is, did you know it was spelled “Ratched”? Did you first spell it as “Ratchet” as in: a mechanism that consists of a bar or wheel having inclined teeth into which a pawl drops so that motion can be imparted to the wheel or bar, governed, or prevented and that is used in a hand tool (as a wrench or screwdriver) to allow effective motion in one direction only….but then you thought that might not be right, so you looked it up online just to be sure?

    1. You know me all too well. That’s exactly what I did! I usually have to look up many words after I write a post (for spelling and definition) and I was kinda ticked it wasn’t spelled Ratchet.

  8. Ok you made me laugh till I had to make a dash to the bathroom to pee, just thought I would share that. I also get annoyed when they ask over and over what I am having done and some nurses have zero sense of humour

  9. I had foot surgery a few years ago, and they actually DID write on my body with sharpie to say “This foot” and “not this foot.” It was both reassuring and not reassuring at the same time.

    And am I the only one who actually started to question what surgery I was in for? After repeating it so many times, the words lost all meaning. After awhile, someone would ask what surgery I was having, and I’d go, “Uhhh….foot surgery? I think?”

    1. Exactly! I had my right ovary removed about 15 years ago and they had asked me so many flipping times which one, so at one point I was questioning it myself. I think they’re just trying to confuse me so I won’t file a malpractice lawsuit later.

  10. No video of all this? Tell your husband he missed out on the blackmail opportunity of a lifetime. Did they let you keep the spent ovary? You can turn it into a key fob. It’s nice to see you again. I’m glad you’re well. Hope they didn’t leave nuthin’ inside. That happens, you know.

    I had an appendectomy and before going under I told them to please remove whatever it is that’s causing me to break wind in public. OR humor. My surgeon was HOT.

  11. That was funny when you’re worried about if your husband knew the netflix password. I guess if you did not make it out into the jungle, your family would, at least, have something to watch.
    Glad you made it out. Speedy recovery!

  12. Pingback: Adventures in Anesthesia: The Urination Proclamation | Little Bits of Heaven

  13. “The kind of urgency you feel when you’re stuck in traffic for hours after consuming a 64 ounce Big Gulp and you want to say “fuck it” and urinate into the nearest receptacle.” Bwahahahahahaa! Oh this post gave me a good laugh, you are one funny lady with an amazing ability to write! Oh, the hilarity of this post, good job!!!!

  14. Hooray for a successful surgery and so many unsuccessful pee attempts, post-surgery! So happy to hear that you are well, Darla. I was thinking about you tons. xoxo

  15. First, congrats on a successful surgery and well wishes towards a steady recovery. Having recently endured the same “ordeal” and listening to my beloved husband’s recount of my time in recovery, I’m thinking that blurting out of random factoids and repeating declarations of love are all side effects from the heavy, glorious drugs! I even accused my nurse of allowing swarms of bees into the hospital room just to sting my belly, face and arms! How odd…but it does get better. Have a wonderful day, and welcome back to blogging.
    Blessings, Crystal

  16. lizaevette

    This was so funny. I couldn’t stop laughing and now I have to pee. None of my surgeries have been this interesting. Thanks so much for sharing. Love it!

  17. Haha, I laughed and winced all at the same time! Not in the same league of course but the peeing thing reminded me of after I had my daughter, I couldn’t pee for 24 hours, I don’t mean I wasn’t allowed, I mean I physically couldn’t, and they would let me get to absolute full bursting pain point before putting a catheter in to relieve me of my urine (apparently they wanted me to keep trying to go without intervention so it was always a last resort). I remember thinking at the time that once I was over that, I would always be grateful for the ability to pee without assistance. I forget to be grateful for that sometimes, but thankfully you’ve reminded me to be.

    Hey, glad you’re out the other side and recovering! 🙂

  18. You have clearly made it ‘to the other side.’ Glad all went well and that you are already making fun of Mr. Pain, who clearly needs to be made fun of.

  19. Glad your surgery went well and you didn’t die. I would not have been happy with you otherwise.
    In all seriousness, glad you’re feeling better! 🙂

  20. Glad your surgery went well — I hope you’re on the fast road to recovery.

    Also glad that you have your priorities straight — by passing on the Netflix password. 😀 And thanks for sharing the details in this post… I’m sitting here giggling. 🙂

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