Saturday, November 22, 2003

Details of My Surgery and Hospital Stay

Here are the details of my day of surgery and recovery – at least as much as I can remember.

My procedure was scheduled for 11:15 and I was supposed to arrive at the hospital at 9:45. We got there at 9:30 and checked in. Around 9:40 I was shown to a hospital room and changed into a gown. Had to sign the obligatory HIPAA privacy form and a few other papers. My parents came by to wish me well. I was told I would be taken from there to the surgical holding area to meet the anesthesiologist and get an IV put in. 11:15 came and went.

At 12:15, they wheeled me to the holding area and I said good-bye to my wife. It seems like I was in there for quite a while in advance of moving to the operating room. I met the doctor that would be assisting and the anesthesiologist. The nurse had a hard time getting the IV into my left hand and tried again on the right. She said I had tough valves – someone else helped her. She also said that they would be inserting a breathing tube that also had nerve sensors to be used during the procedure. This would be in addition to other nerve sensors for my face. They also had an antibiotic for coverage of my mitral valve prolapse. Everyone seemed to think this was a good idea – I’m glad I remember to bring it up with the doctor and the hospital.

The anesthesiologist told me that he would give me something for nausea and then gave me a shot to relax and they wheeled me into the operating room. I was trying to relax, so I don’t remember everything in here. It seemed like they did a lot of moving me around and securing my arms to the side. They kept poking and pushing me. Again, I’m actually trying not to concentrate, so I don’t remember much. Then came the face mask. “Breathe deep”, he said. I remember taking two breaths and that was it.

Next thing I remember is “snorting” in the recovery room. I have a problem sleeping on my back and I wake myself up snorting for air. My throat really hurts. Don’t feel much at the incision. Later, my wife tells me they took me to recovery at 3:08. I’m still really woozy and my throat really hurts. They give me some ice chips – that helps. I can feel some pain in my neck. Now I know it is where the drain is. I say the pain is a “3” and they give me something for it. I seem to fade in and out a little here, but remember them asking if I want more pain medication for the trip to the room. I don’t really have any pain except for my throat, so I say no. Off to the room.

I get to the room at 4:30 and they slide me kind of clumsily into bed. My throat hurts a lot. They bring in my wife and the nurse says that they had a real hard time intubating me. He says something about how I should have a letter indicating this. Huh? He says he’ll get me some water and it takes a long time. He doesn’t come back until 5. I don’t like him. I’m grumpy.

My wife gets my glasses and we figure out how to get them on with my big bandage around the top of my head and my neck. There are pictures of me with the bandage. By 5:30, I’m pretty comfortable watching TV. My throat still hurts a lot, but I’ll stop saying that because it will still be kind of sore for days.

The nurse says I can order dinner, but I’m on clear liquids due to my throat. Bummer. I am really hungry, so I complain. I know I can swallow something, so he changes it to “full liquids” which means I can at least get oatmeal. At 6:30, dinner comes – oatmeal, coffee, chocolate pudding, orange sorbet. Tastes great and makes my throat feel a lot better. No nausea at all – that’s great!

I watch TV with my wife, and talk to my daughter on the phone. I really didn’t have anything to say. Send my wife home at 8:00 and try to get some sleep. I never sleep on my back, so I don’t know how this will go.

Sleeping did not go so well. I’m glad I was alone in the room though. Since I could only dose for about an hour at a time and then up for about an hour, I watched TV off and on. Not much on in the middle of the night. Earlier there were a few shows about Tibet on the Discover channel – that was great for background sound. The IV makes this periodic sound like a slide projector. “Here we are with the Dali Lama...”

My back begins hurting and I wish I had some lumbar support. I have to keep sitting upright to keep my back from hurting and later notice my abs hurt from all the up and down. So far, all of my pains are unrelated to the actual surgery.

I watch Martha Stewart make napkin rings out of a tree branch – “remember your safety glasses”. A funny comedian was on the Leno rerun, but I don’t remember who it was.

After not much sleep, I’m happy to see it is 6am. I can call for breakfast at 6:30. They say they already have a tray for me – oatmeal, coffee, Jell-O, CIB, orange juice. I don’t know what the heck CIB is, and when asked to repeat it, that’s what they say, “CIB”. This is a pet peeve of mine – people think that the nomenclature they are used to in their specific jobs should be understandable by lay people. CIB? Carnation Instant Breakfast. It makes me laugh when they bring it. Breakfast is great and I still have no pain. I know the doctor will be taking out the drain though and I’m not looking forward to that.

One odd thing while eating. I notice with the orange juice (I guess it is the sour) that if it goes over to the left side, I can feel kind of a shooting sensation in my cheek. I notice it again with the Jell-O. Not really painful, almost like I can feel the gland working. Odd. Maybe something to do with part of it not being there.

7:30am Dr. D comes in, “Hi Grandma!” He laughs at my bandage. He tells me what he already told my wife, it went very well, he didn’t have to take too much tissue, the preliminary frozen section showed it to be a Pleomorphic Adenoma, so the prognosis is excellent. Then it was time to remove the drain. I am amazed at how much pulling and tugging is involved in things like this. It was fairly uncomfortable and somewhat painful, but not too bad. I’m glad to have that behind me. He says I’m ready to go home when the nurse finishes up and I’m ready. I’ll see him in a week to get the stitches out. I can take the big bandage off on Saturday.

The nurse comes in soon after and removes the IV. I’m starting to feel pretty good. I decide to get dressed and I’m just about ready when my wife comes in. We finish up and I get wheeled to the car at 9 am. I’m home!