The procedure went very well.
Let’s cut (pun intended) to the chase: They tell me procedure went very well.
Now keep reading if you want all the gory details. The rest of you, feel free to move along on your busy day.
Mom and I arrived a bit after 7 am yesterday and checked in smoothly. I found out later the front desk guy used to work at Disneyland, and I believe it. He was so friendly, not just getting us to the right place but joking and putting us at ease, not a trivial task when Mom and I were both feeling really anxious.
The hospital is literally brand-new — they just moved in last Sunday. That means things are absurdly clean. You get the feeling they just unwrapped the plastic on everything. But that also means that all the staff working here are still figuring out where things are and processes that work in the new space.
Even so, we didn’t have to wait that long. Mom read a Psalm aloud and we read our books. It was later than we were originally told, but not much after 8:30 a pre-op nurse retrieved me. I won’t say Mom and I didn’t tear up — we both did, and not for the last time.
The pre-op nurse put in an IV (I really hate IVs), got me changed into a one-size-fits-none gown and super stylish tube socks with grippy bits on both sides, and shaved what needed shaving. She did a dementia test (standard procedure) that involved spelling the word world out loud forwards and backwards. I think I failed to spell it backwards. Darn. She also asked the current date, and I hesitated because for the last two days everyone’s asked my date of birth, so that’s what’s top of mind. So tricky.
I also saw the surgeon and and his fellow, briefly greeted the rest of the surgical team (which was huge and included one medical student), and met the anesthesiologists. Everyone seemed competent and confident.
Then Mom came in and we got to chat for a while until the OR nurse came to take me away. More tears!
I’ve never been in an OR before. Thanks to the anesthesia, I don’t remember a lot of it, but I got the impression of one skinny gurney and a ton of lights, equipment, people, and tile. Also, I noticed devices made by Stryker and Medtronic, both companies my Dad has worked for.
It was 10:12 am when they rolled me in.
After that, I remember snatches of Mom pushing for us to get the corner room (she succeeded) and people asking me about my pain and giving me drugs.
That’s it until I woke up for real at about 4:00 pm. Our sixth-floor corner room has automatic blinds outside that shut when it’s sunny. It helps regulate the heat in the building, which is cool (see what I did there?), but means I didn’t actually get to see what everyone assured me was a spectacular view. Eventually around sunset they opened and I got a glimpse of mountains.
The surgeon and his team came in and immediately took me off total bed rest. No laying flat for 18 hours, hooray! But he also wanted me to sit up, which proved deeply unpleasant even with drugs. He gave us some instructions and I guess I may be discharged this afternoon. We’ll see.
We ordered food. I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since 8 pm the night before, but I wasn’t really hungry, either. Very thirsty, though — my mouth still feels extra dry even now, after sipping steadily. Mom seemed to enjoy her food, though.
She went back to the hotel and hopefully has slept a lot more than I have. So far I believe I’ve gotten an hour of sleep straight. The room is actually super quiet, or was after the nurse turned the low heart rate warning down. My heart rate kept dipping to 44-45 bpm, slow for me but not surprising given my level of fitness. Dad has the same problem.
No, I kept waking up because I had to pee — and peeing is a real ordeal. I have to call a medical assistant to unhook me from the two shin cuffs that have been constantly inflating and deflating all night to keep my blood flowing, plus any IVs, and of course the super bossy vital signs monitor. Everything beeps.
So they have to unhook me and then I have to carefully shuffle like six steps to the private en-suite bathroom, gingerly sit, wait for a million years, and finally trickle out a tiny bit.
I’m guessing this is such an ordeal because the incision in my abdomen stretches from my belly button to my groin. It’s BIG and pretty jagged in shape. No little tiny laproscopic slice here. Everything is swollen down there and all my normal digestive functions (to put it delicately) have been disrupted.
So I feel all bloated and kinda nasty from that. Plus opiates (they’re giving me Norco) bind a body up, too. But I was able to use Tylenol last time I needed pain meds, and I get to preview being like 80 years old by taking some Miralax to move things along. Next thing you know I’ll be like Irish 139 bean soup — add one more bean and it’s “too farty.”
If nothing else, I’m having a ton of new experiences.
I’ll keep you all updated!