Surgery: A Big Adventure

I must admit that surgery was quite an adventure, but one that I do not look forward to ever having to experience again.  I have heard from lots of people who have had surgery, and read about it some, but nothing quite prepares one for the actual experience.  Monday started at 2AM with a mandated shower and double wipe down with a MRSA disinfectant, along with no food or fluid.  Report in time was at 5:30 but, being who I am, I got there at 4:50 and got to wait around for someone to show up and check me in.  Highlights of the pre-op experience included the poofy robe and winning the blood pressure contest.  Because of the length of the surgery I got to wear a warming robe.  It has a hose that connects to it and circulates warm or cold air through the body of the robe.  Made me look kind of chunky but it was warm.  Blood pressure was a bit of a problem throughout this whole process.  It started off low (somewhere in the neighborhood of 110/55) and never got higher.  That was impressive to the folks checking me in but in the hours and days after surgery when it was dropping to 95/39 it got me a little extra attention.

I remember pretty well everything through the pre-op, getting wheeled into the OR and shifting from the bed to the operating table and meeting the OR staff.  The next thing I remember though was being woke up in recovery, about 3 hours later.  Apart from not getting a room until after nearly 8 hours in the recovery room, and a short drop in blood pressure and pulse as well as some intense pain, the recovery room was pleasant.  I got to know my recovery room nurse and had visits from Sue, the Dr. and the Anesthesiologist and got to listen to folks talk about me.  I was supposed to be a really easy case but the one incident I had seemed to have changed that.  According to my anesthesiologist it was because I was ‘too’ healthy.  With my blood pressure and pulse normally pretty low, it didn’t take much of a drop to push me into the danger zone.

The original plan was for me to stay in the hospital through mid-day on Wednesday.  And up though most of Tuesday everything seemed to be OK.  But the catheter seemed to have other plans.  We noticed mid day on Tuesday that it was not draining correctly and the drain line from the incision site was draining way too much.  Tuesday night was long and painful and had the Dr’s and nurses puzzled.  Finally, midday Wednesday it just started working on its own and so far has continued to do so.  I have it for two weeks so have to keep a pretty close eye on it.

Throughout this process my swing and graveyard nurses were great, especially the angel who cared for me from midnight to 8; I’ll never forget Nina.  My day shift nurse was nice enough but she seemed a bit distracted.  I would have guessed that she was new on the job but apparently was not.  I found it both funny and scary that I had to help her with her duties and give advice on my care, including having to remind her to take out my IV line after she had discharged me.

In the back of my mind I knew that modesty was not a high priority for a hospital.  But I never fully appreciated just what it would be like.  The experience of having a seemingly endless succession of doctors, nurses and CNA’s poking around in places that are generally off limits to other people was very interesting.  I am very thankful indeed that they were able to do what they needed to, but am also thankful that I do not have any kind of social relationship with any of them.  Not sure how I would handle that.

Now, other than taking it easy at home for a while and letting everything heal up, the next step is a trip back to the doctor to check up on how things are and to get a pathology report.  That is currently scheduled for next Tuesday afternoon, my 10th appointment in this whole process.

God is good.  And I am thankful to all the friends and family who have prayed for me through this whole process.  I am especially thankful for Jon and Bonnie spending the surgery day with Sue in the waiting room.

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