Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Day of Surgery... and the OTHER Day of Surgery

The day before surgery…  January 21, 2013.  I am on a treadmill in a cardiologist’s office sweating my ass off trying to jog for eight or more minutes while this devil in nurse’s clothing kept raising the angle of the treadmill so I was running up a steeper and steeper hill.  I barely made eight minutes. I mean come on lady! I'm still a 300 pound man who did very, VERY little exercising even though I used to be an athlete... albeit that was 30 years ago. It is understandable why they had to check this, but I was NOT ready or in shape for it.  I did pass and cleared for the surgery but I felt like crap afterward.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013… Surgery day.  We hit the hospital at 5:00am to register.  I am a wreck inside, but I can’t show that.  I want to be strong and show Lea Ann, and everyone else, that I am stronger than this thing.  I can’t let them see how much I am shaking.  How much I am afraid that this may be the last day I see on this Earth.  How afraid I am, period.  I can’t let anyone see that.  I can’t.  I won’t.  I guess that is still denial.  I get taken back into pre-op and Lea Ann is allowed to come with me.  I am very grateful for that.  I am clinging to her mentally more than I have ever clinged to anyone before in my life.  I smile and make jokes and try to lighten the mood in the pre-op room as I get changed into my gown.  The nurse comes in and starts my IV and starts a saline drip to hydrate me a bit more.  She also mentions the doctor was running late because he had a late surgery the night before.  It is now about 7:00 and my surgery was slated to start in less than an hour.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  8:30…  8:45.  The nurse comes in all apologetic and states that the doctor has canceled the surgery for today and rescheduled it for Friday, January 25, because he was just too tired to be sharp for mine.  Looking back, I am glad he decided to wait so he would be on point for me, but cancel it BEFORE the person is lying in the pre-op room with an IV coming out of his arm for three hours!  I was absolutely livid and pretty much out of my mind.  I was not very nice to the nurse even though it was not her fault.  I regret that. I was not nice to anyone. I regret that too.  They took the IV out and I could not get out of there fast enough.  I actually tore off the wrist bands with my hand.  I’ve not been able to do that before or since.  Later they said they were surprised I even came back.  Honestly, I am too but we were in too deep and too far to start all over again someplace else.  Not to mention the fact that we had already paid our co-pay and I doubted we could or would ever get it back.  Later that day, the doctor called and tried to explain and he heard about it.  He understood, but he also made is stance clear.  This was NOT something that he felt he could do if he was fuzzy or tired at all.  It was an eight to ten hour surgery and he wanted to be totally focused and ready for it.  I understood the why’s, but I was still pissed.  So was Lea Ann.

Friday, January 25, 2013… 5:00am again.  Rescheduled surgery day.  Sitting in the same waiting room seeing the same people and feeling the same feelings I had felt three days ago, but now there was a layer of anger and resentment on top of all that.  I fully expected to be put off again.  If it had happened again, I would not have gone back and might have thought about legal action against the hospital.  Again, we are ushered back into pre-op and I get all gowned up again and they start the IV again.  Again it is 7:00 or so and the nurse comes in again…  I start to see red.  She says the doctor had just arrived and he would be in to talk to us in a little while.  Ok, now I am not so mad.  That anger is getting quickly replaced again by worry about the surgery.  I have gone from angry to scared in the space of about two minutes.  The doctor comes in, apologizes again.  I tell him how angry I was.  He makes me a deal.  Once I get through surgery, he will give me one shot at him.  My initial thought is, “right, I’ll be in no shape to take a shot at anyone.  He knows he’s safe,” but I say ok, smile and shake on it.  I know it will never come to pass.  He talks about what will be happen.  Talks about how I will have incisions on my chest to “loosen everything” AND on my back to remove those loosened parts.  Talks about having to deflate a lung to get the parts out.  At least they will not be cracking my chest, it is all coming out between the ribs.  He also talks about how often Lea Ann will be getting updates and all, then he leaves.  It sounds very in depth and very detailed and I am worried yet again that I won’t be strong enough to make it through.  Lea Ann seems to get this feeling from me and leans down, kisses me, tells me it will all be OK and that she will be here when I get out of surgery.  I make her promise and kiss her back.  I feel a little better.  The anesthesiologist comes in next and explains what will be happening to me and what to expect when I come out.  Basically, I will be a mass of IVs and tubes coming in and out and I will NOT be able to talk.  I will be intubated so they can help me breathe while in surgery due to the deflated lung.  Makes sense, but I don’t like the sound of it.  I am not one that handles being that… exposed…  that vulnerable.  Part of me still doesn’t believe it.  I am getting ready to go into major surgery and I am STILL denying the issue.  How stupid am I?  They tell us that it is time to go to the OR.  Lea Ann leans down to kiss me again and tries to smile and reassure me, but I see the tears.  She is as scared as I am.  I have tears too that I’m trying to hold back, but I can’t remember if I was able to or not.  Probably not.  I smile back and tell her I will see her in a little while.  They then start to wheel me into the operating room, and I am laughing because they are having to use my feet to move things out of the way because my feet are hanging off the end of the gurney.  Once in the operating room, I move onto the operating table.  The anesthesiologist says he is giving me something through the IV for nausea because general anesthetic makes me sick, and also something to relax me a little.  A little?  I would not have been scared of a tornado at that point.  I remember being dizzy and buzz-headed and fuzzy thinking, but I still remember most of it.  Then he said he was going to put me out.  They put the oxygen mask over my face and I felt a cool sting in the shoulder of the arm where the IV was…  and that is the last thing I remember for a couple of days.

Hope everyone is enjoying the read.  Please check back later this weekend for the next installment!  :)