Not for the squeamish, don’t read if medical details bother you.
We left at 4:30 am to start driving to the hospital. A two hour drive. I wasn’t too nervous though, this felt right, like something I needed to do. Like my mom’s memorial service yesterday…but that’s a different story, though of course still fresh on my mind.
We make it to the hospital and it feels like a dream or a movie, not my life. Hubby accompanies me to the check-in counter and they hand him a pager and explain the codes, and how to get updates on my status from it and the many monitors in the area. It was like an odd airport, and I was the airplane being prepared for takeoff.
I was taken back to a little room, given a gown, asked for a urine sample (in case I got pregnant since the last one…ummm no) and then an IV was started. Right away I knew she missed, but she wanted to give it a moment. We watched the bruising grow, the pain get worse, and I was worried this wouldn’t be good enough for surgery. When I told the nurse she seemed annoyed or afraid or mad at herself for failing – all things I didn’t want to deal with, I only wanted a proper IV, no fault or blame. She got a different nurse to try my other arm. She went into the top of my hand, which hurt, and ballooned a little but she insisted it was good. OK.
I signed multiple consent forms, answered ridiculous questions a million times. Finally my surgeon appears at 8:00 am and says we will start at 8:30. Hmmm, I think, why did I need to be here 2 hours early to pee and get an IV? And I thought of the airport again, this must really be an airport, and I laughed to myself.
Finally transport came to wheel my bed away to OR. It was a long, wild ride over ramps, through buzzy locked double doors, past clusters of doctors talking and blocking the hallway reluctant to step aside, and finally I was tucked into bed parking space outside my OR doors. And left there alone. A long time. A really long time.
At last, after I counted all the tiles, tried some grounding games like listing types of flowers, candies, dogs, etc several hatted and masked people arrived to wheel me in.
This OR was straight from sci fi. I’d had c-sections with general anesthesia, but those rooms were junky and barren compared to this. I think I actually said something clever like “woah” when I first saw it all. One wall was an enormous display screen, like half a movie screen with my CT scans and x-rays on it, all moving as my surgeon prepared himself and his team. I’ve previously only seen this many computers at NASA, my airport thoughts quickly turned space station. So many lights, tools, tubes, hoses, trays…everything was either sterile white, stainless steel, or emerald green.
Now all of this could be worrisome, but I found it comforting. I was surrounded by a team of about a dozen brilliant people gathered just for me by my surgeon. Everyone was calm but excited, like I am before a big performance. I’m an interesting case, a challenge, and you could feel the buzz in the air as everyone prepared for me.
Two nurses got my attention and asked me to scootch over to the little operating table. I was surprised to find it had a comfy cushion on it for my back, a circular pillow for my neck. The table was super narrow, I barely fit on it, on my arms would dangle off. They attached side bars for my arms to rest on and strapped them there with soft Velcro.
Next my surgeon came over and gave me the warmest smile, said we were ready to start and everyone here was going to take very good care of me. Then the anesthetist came over and said he gave me something to relax and …. I don’t recall the end of his sentence. Everything got warm and slow and blurry and then my next memory is in the recovery room.