Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Surgery Day-Time to Go Under

I waited in the "holding pen" outside the operating rooms for awhile before anything new happened.  It was pretty quiet excpet for the occasional murmur of a patient to their family member or when my IV would start to beep. I figured out quickly if I put my arm on my stomach vs flat on my side it would do that and the whole room of blurry faces would look at me. About 10 minutes after my purple porters left, another pair of purple porters brought in a patient (in a bed!), maybe a bit younger than me who was sobbing and quite distraught. I assume because of her emotional state, she had two family members with her. It definitely changed the mood of the room as people around them struggled to not look. Everyone got a lot more quiet. I realized in looking around that aside from the man who questioned my bed arrival, everyone else in the room had a spouse, a mother or a daughter with them. It made me feel lonely and I was kind of mad at myself for not insisting Christian be there or asking my Mom to find a way to fly out for the week.

It seemed like 7:30 was the magic time as suddenly it stopped being a room full of patients waiting and became a frenzy of surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses rotating in and out. It was a little weird to me that I could listen in and know exactly what everyone else in the room was having done, from gall bladder removal to tendinitis repair. I knew peoples' names, dates of birth and in most cases, the names of the people with them - not something you are used to in this day of privacy sensitivity. I guess they assume whatever drugs you'll get will make you forget what you heard?

My anesthesiologist came along first. She had a series of routine questions-some pertaining to the anesthesia and some of the standard health ones I've been asked a trillion times. She at least had a sense of humour to acknowledge that. She asked me what I was having done. I kind of giggled because I knew I probably wasn't supposed to say out loud what it was and that she wasn't supposed to ask. It actually felt good to say it out loud instead of being the dirty secret it had been for the last 24 hours. No sooner did she go than I saw a vaguely familiar blurred face. It was Dr Y. He just came over, patted my hand and said hello. Thankfully no more questions. He asked if I had any - of course I didn't so he patted my arm again and told me he'd see me in there. A  little while later an OR nurse came to introduce herself. She apparently knew the top-secret-drill so she pointed to a document on a clip board and said "is this what you are having done" and raised a finger to her lips as though to remind me it was a secret. I laughed and said "I guess so but I have no idea what you are holding up". She pointed again at one line-the document somewhat resembled the consent form I signed the day before but I still couldn't tell what she was pointing to. I explained I was as blind as a bat without my glasses or contacts. She got a little was kind of like watching an odd game of charades - I could tell she wanted to blurt it out but couldn't. She thrust the clipboard right in my face and I said yes, that's what I'm doing. She sighed with relief. Who knew my crappy vision could almost wreck the whole anonymity scheme!

The nurse started to push my tank of a bed towards the hallway leading to the OR. I think the bed and I weighed about 4 times what she did.  She got some help from another worker and pushed me the last 10 ft to the outside of the OR. We quickly all realized (at about the same moment) the new beds from McCaig are too wide to negotiate the sharp turn from the hallway into the OR door. Bump bump bump we went against the door frame. The anesthesiologist looked on curiously from the room. "You know..." I started. The nurse finished my thought "You could maybe get out of the bed and walk into the OR?". The anesthesiologist laughed and said "she's the healthiest patient in the hospital right now - I think she can". So that's exactly what we did. Bum hanging out and all with the IV in tow, I jumped off the bed, walked 8 ft and climbed onto the operating table.

I settled in an looked around.  I was surprised how small the room was and how much "stuff" was in it. Carts of supplies, a ton of just seemed cluttered. I watched people buzz around me, checking wires, hooking me up to machines. They had to start an new IV as the other one had failed so they set to work on that. They seemed anxious to have Dr. Y come back and do some kind of protocol briefing speech about what we were all doing there. Suddenly he appeared, did the speech, pulled my gown over a bit and drew a mark on the left side of the abdomen-either a smiley or a Y, they weren't sure.

The anesthesiologist let me know she'd be giving me stuff to make me relax in a couple of minutes. And that is when I panicked. A little part of me wanted to stand up and run out of there. What the hell was I doing? What was I thinking? I was scared, I was worried and suddenly very uncertain of my choice. I took a few deep breaths and tried to remind myself that this was a good thing and that I would be fine. And that whatever was going to happen, would. I had to trust these people. She put the mask over my face and told me to breath normally. I waited a few minutes for the part where I was supposed to count to 100 - it didn't come.

I don't even remember falling asleep.


  1. How do they decide whether to take the right or left?

  2. Whichever one is the least tricky to get our based on veins and artery numbers-assuming both kidneys function the same. When all things are equal they take the left as its easier and they can do it via scope instead of open surgery.