When Minor Surgery Isn’t (The Patient Perspective)

Note: Today is Day 22 of my 30 day blog challenge. If you want to get my random thoughts about random stuff in your inbox, you can subscribe at the bottom of any post or mash the RSS button if that’s how you roll. 

In the ongoing saga of my summer of health drama, here are parts 1-4:

Monday night I was waiting on a call from the doctor that never came. I was still unsure about exactly what procedure I wanted her to do the next day, but it was too late to back out, so in accordance with pre-surgery instructions, I stopped eating and drinking after midnight and went to bed.

The next morning, as we were about to take our lives into our hands trying to clean my cat’s ears, Jess’s phone rang. She doesn’t get a lot of phone calls, so we released the angry cat and she answered it.

It was Dr S. We didn’t know why she was calling Jess’s phone and not mine, but I was glad to hear from her. We talked through the options again, and she said that she really felt ablation would give me the best results. It’s a scary thing trying to decide how someone should alter your body when there’s no way to know for sure what the results will be.

I was reminded of trying to convince people to do (or not) do things with their website when, even though they supposedly hired me for my expertise, they don’t want to listen to my advice. I decided to trust her expertise and accept her recommendation.

After the phone call, I felt a lot better about the whole thing. Strangely, the cat did not feel better about having her ears cleaned and in the end, we were unsuccessful.

This was my second outpatient surgical procedure at Good Samaritan Short Stay Unit. I had a great experience last time and this time was no different. From the woman who checked us in, to the volunteers who saw us back to surgery waiting and checked me in, to the nurses and the anesthesia team, everyone was friendly and did their jobs well and efficiently.

Nurse J was the first nurse to take care of me. I shed my clothing and dignity and replaced it with a ridiculously large hospital gown and some hospital socks that only came in XL, gave a urine sample for the mandatory pregnancy test and got tucked into bed.

The old heated blankets have been replaced with little air mattresses that get attached to a hose which blows hot air into them. I got set up with my heater, and then Nurse J gave me a hot pack to put on my hand.

Pro tip: if you find yourself needing an IV, especially if you’re dehydrated or your veins are small–make sure you get a hot pack. After 10 minutes, Nurse J came to check on my hand. She tied a tourniquet on my arm and the outside vein popped up so nicely, I felt like I could have inserted the IV myself.

“Wow you could hit that with a dart from across the room,” I said.

“Don’t jinx it,” Jess scolded.

I didn’t bother asking Jess to do my IV, even though that’s her specialty. She has declared my veins ‘too good.’ Since she’s the one who gets called when the bedside nurses can’t get the IV, she’s used to working with tiny, hard to stick veins and the good ones can actually be more challenging for her. She says they roll.

As I have been trained, I didn’t even mention her profession while Nurse J, prepped the rather large needle. Some nurses have gotten *very* nervous doing an IV on the wife of someone who puts in IV’s for a living. Nervous people with needles are bad news.

It’s not always possible to hide what Jess does, since she spent several years working at Good Sam and knows a lot of the people there. Last time, the CNA who did a simple blood draw took two tries. She had worked with Jess and was simultaneously asking her advice and sweating with nervousness. I was as calm as it was possible to be and she got it on the second try.

Nurse J didn’t know Jess so we didn’t mention her job.

This was confirmed when she turned to Jess and said, “Are you OK with needles and blood?”

We both couldn’t help laughing at that point.

The IV went swimmingly, and after it was in, I said to Joanne, “My lovely assistant there is an IV nurse for Legacy. So yes, she’s OK with needles.”

“I wondered,” said Joanne. And then she and Jess spent a few minutes talking IV talk while she finished taping me up and drawing some blood.

After the initial rush of activity, there was a lull. I asked for my phone and we both dinked around for a while.

Into the silence, Jess said, “I’m hungry.”

I hadn’t eaten anything since 11:30pm the night before, per my pre-surgical instructions. “Did you really just say that to me?”

“I had a small breakfast,” she said.

“I had NO breakfast! This is your idea of being supportive?” I was laughing as I scolded her.

“Well, you’re laughing. And laughter is the best medicine.”

“Oh good save. Do you want me to see if one of the nurses will run to the cafeteria for you?”

She declined my offer. We waited some more.

There’s a list of visitors you have to get before you actually get taken back to surgery. Dr C from the anesthesia team came by and explained the process of putting me under. One of the things they do is put a tube in your throat to protect your airway.

At the end of his explanation, he asked if I had any questions. I said I didn’t. Then Jess asked all the questions I forgot I had (this is just one of many reasons it’s so nice to have her around).

I did think of one question before he left. “My last anesthesiologist prescribed ice cream for my sore throat. What can you offer me? My nurse here is very strict.”

“Hmm. Well are you more of a chunky monkey person…?”

“For sore throat, I prefer something smooth.”

“Oh like a nice French vanilla?”

“Yes, precisely.”

“Do you like beer?”

“Ew. No.”

“Oh. Well I was going to come up with something involving ice cream and beer, but we’ll just stick with ice cream.”

By this time, Dr S had arrived and was observing this conversation with amusement. Jess was rolling her eyes at my feeble attempts to work the system.

I signed consent for anesthesia, and then signed consent for the procedure. The last visitor was Monique, the nurse anesthetist. She went over a few last things and then before I knew it, she was attaching a syringe to my IV.

“I’m giving you a little Versed, which will make you relax and then we’ll get you under anesthesia in the OR.”

I knew I had about 10 seconds before everything went blank. I turned to get a quick goodbye kiss from Jess. The last thing I remembered was the nurse saying she was going to lower my headrest. According to Jess I began saying some very silly things before they took me away.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery. Last time I came out from anesthesia, I felt like my brain wouldn’t connect with my mouth and I kept trying to use sign language with my nurse until she literally told me to use my words. This time I remembered to try to talk, and was amazed when it actually worked.

I asked my nurse her name, and if I’d gotten my ablation but either she didn’t know, or I didn’t understand the answer. There was a clock on the wall across from me and I noticed that it was almost 3:00, which seemed late considering how quick I was told my procedure would be. But I wasn’t clear headed enough to give it much thought.

Nurse C kept me in a steady supply of ice chips and I heard her remark to someone that my stats were good and I was ‘doing great.’ Eventually she offered me a popsicle and I chose red. Not long after that, I was deemed fit to return to Short Stay.

As they wheeled me off, a nurse at the nurses station saw my popsicle and said, “I’ll have what she’s having.” I guess it’s mostly the kids who come through who get the popsicles.

Back in short stay, I was delivered into the capable hands of nurse T. She was friendly, like every other person I had dealt with. I didn’t have to wait long for Jess to turn up. When we were both there, Nurse T went over my post op instructions.

Jess updated me on the nasty little surprise that Dr S found once the surgery started and the subsequent decision she made for me, which are all detailed in her guest blog post. Although she told me what happened, since I was still pretty out of it, reading her post was actually the first time I got to really get a good understanding of the details.

Jess went off to pick up my prescription for stronger pain meds, since my surgery had turned out to be a little more invasive than originally planned. I spent the time alternately passed out or drunk tweeting.

Nurse T went off on a break, so it was Nurse L who brought my clothes and then wheeled me out front while Jess grabbed the car.

The rest of the evening was a pretty foggy blur, but I managed to stay up long enough to eat (finally!) and shower before taking a short nap. I could have gone straight to bed for about 12 hours, but part of recovering anesthesia involves a lot of regular deep breathing and also wiggling your legs (or better yet, getting up and walking around) to prevent blood clots.

My ‘nap’ didn’t actually involve sleeping because the AC unit kept turning on and off, keeping me awake. Since I couldn’t sleep, I used the AC as a signal to wiggle my legs. My nurse was very pleased that I was being such a good patient.

Next Steps

At this point, I think Dr S. has some kind of personal vendetta against my fibroids, which is just fine with me. I have an MRI scheduled to figure out what the heck is really going on in there, and a post op appointment next week to figure out the next steps.

The day after my surgery, I felt pretty good and took it mostly easy. Late that evening I was very aware of the moment the good drugs finally wore off and my pain level spiked accordingly. I did resort to one of the heavy duty pain killers, but now a combination of Tylenol and Ibuprofen seems to be doing the trick.

It might be that I don’t end up having to have as invasive a surgery as originally planned, which would be great. I wasn’t looking to having a bunch of extra holes in me and being down and out for a few weeks minimum.

One way or another, I’m hoping to get this whole thing resolved before the year is out.

This post is part of the thread: 2013 Battle With Fibroids – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

6 Comments


  1. Glad u made it through this phase of your treatment. I’m hopeful that u will only need this tune up rather than a complete overhaul.

    Luv u…Dad

    Reply

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