I kind of fell off the grid yesterday; I was hoping to have a new blog post every day through my surgery experience, but yesterday just got too busy, and pain meds have a way of making things seem not quite so important.
The day of the surgery, E and I got there right on time, and were shown in to the pre-op ward after a couple minutes. They had me change into everyone's favorite hospital garment, the backless gown, and put me into a bed with a thing they called a bear hugger. The bear hugger, oh my, what a wonderful invention! It's a heater and fan, connected by a duct to an inflatable blanket, which is lain over the top of the patient. It's like being in a warm and toasty cocoon.
A nurse came in and went over some more papers with me, which required a couple signatures. We then went over what was going to occur over the rest of the day. She then tried to start up my IV, but missed. She was so very apologetic, but I kept reassuring her that everyone has an off day. In reflection, I find it rather interesting that, even with scary stuff impending in my own life, I will take the time to reassure another person who's having trouble with something. I just like working with people, rather than against them.
The nurse left and E and I just sat and talked, and waited, and talked. She was just telling silly stories about her daughters and trying to keep my mind off the worry, and just keep me in good spirits. The nurse came back after a while to inform us that they were running a little behind, and that she would try to find Dr. Raphael and have him come talk to me before everything got started. More time passed, and the doctor came and visited with us for a few minutes. He's such a lovely person; he has such an easy manner, and it's very clear that he cares for his patients very much. I tend to not name full names or endorse people or businesses here in this blog, but I had such a wonderful experience with Dr. Raphael and his staff, I will not hesitate to recommend him.
Hospitals, in my fairly limited experience, seem to be places out of time. There are few clocks where patients can see them, and time just seems to stretch out into infinity sometimes. Even with that timelessness, I could tell that we had been waiting a long time. E just kept deflecting my attention and kept me smiling and laughing. I asked once what time it was, and she wouldn't tell me, which told me more than she probably meant to. Eventually, the anesthesiologist, Tracy, another super nice person with a great bedside manner, came in and we spoke briefly, and he set up my IV. He had three syringes, which he put into my IV in quick succession.
I continued to lie there, and suddenly noticed that my eyes were closed, and it was quite a struggle to get them to come open. I could hear E and another of the nurses talking, so I knew everything was going fine. They noticed that I was trying to get my eyes open, and reassured me that everything had gone very well, and that even the surgeon was surprised at how smoothly the procedure had gone. I was mildly amused that this newest experience with anesthesia mirrored my previous one - a chunk of time and awareness was simply edited out of my mind's record. Once I gained a little more of a handle on my surroundings, I noticed that I was dressed in my clothes again. E and the nurse were talking about supportive underwear, to keep gauze and body parts in place, which led to changing into the padded girdle that I've had for a while, sans pads. After that, we said our goodbyes and the nurse wheeled me out to the car.
The rest of the day was pretty mundane: I slept and went to the potty, and that was about it. The nurse called a couple times to make sure I was able to use the potty, since I wasn't able right before they wheeled me out. Apparently my ability to go was an indicator for how swollen I was inside. First try was a big bust, and second try wasn't a whole lot better, but once I was able, things went more or less on autopilot. Drink, doze, pee became my world. E had to help me up the first several times, but as the night wore on, I was able to make the trip under my own power the last couple of times.
The next morning arrived, and with it came the various prescriptions - anti-swelling, antibiotic, pain pills. A lot of them are uncoated and bitter as can be, but I suppose if they work, I can't really complain. We got all our things packed up and took care of our morning routines, and checked out of the hotel on the way to the first post-surgical appointment, at 9:45. The appointment was pretty simple; the nurse just wanted to hear how I was feeling, if I was going to the bathroom ok, how my pain and nausea levels had been, and things like that. She also checked out the incision sites, to make sure everything was secure. She also changed my gauze padding, and showed me how to do it properly. We set up my next follow-up appointment, in two weeks.
Once we got out onto the road, a feeling of nausea started slowly, and I hoped I could just ride it out, but I could tell that just wasn't going to happen. I took an anti-nausea pill, which acted pretty quickly, and made me feel a whole lot better. The rest of the drive went without incident; more of the drink, rest, pee from the previous night, punctuated with eating and other medications at strategic times.
We got back to C & E's by about 3pm, and I just parked myself on a recliner and rested some more. I surprised myself with how much dinner I ate. Recovery, it seems, takes a lot out of a person. Once we all called it quits for the night, C brought me and my car back to my place, and he stayed the night to make sure everything was ok.
Now it's just up to me to take care of myself, and rest, and recover. Nothing glamorous, but it's life.
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