The Days Following….

Waking up as I was going to my room, I was a little fuzzy.  But very glad it was over.  At least the surgery was over.

I was taken to my room, which was a single (private), even though I didn’t have special coverage.  It seems the new Humber River Regional Hospital has a philosophy that says a person’s health responds better when they have a private room, and their family is allowed to visit at any time, and a large reclining chair in the room allows for someone to actually sleep in it comfortably.  Now, do not quote me on this, as I was in a morphine haze when discussing this!

Let me tell you about the bed….have you ever had to stay in hospital bed and experienced how incredibly uncomfortable it is?  How every joint grinds against the thin mattress, and your skin gets clammy because you are lying on a plastic cover?  How every unsupported niche, like the small of your back, or your hips, ache?  Welcome to the new generation of hospital beds!  This bed was magic!  They called it an air mattress, but not a “blow up” kind.  This kind is responsive to your body.  When you lay down, or move around, or rise or lower the bed, it will wait about 20 seconds to be sure you are settled, then it will start it’s magic.  Something (baffles?) will inflate under you, giving you support wherever your body is not supported by the mattress.  And this happens in a million little places all underneath you.  Not once did I have a sore back or aching joints.  Amazing!

Looking around, I saw I was strapped to an IV for fluids to keep my hydrated.  This was good because I could only drink 1 tablespoon of water every 15 minutes.  While it was good to stay hydrated, it meant going to the washroom every hour.  After the first couple of hours, I realized I wasn’t releasing much.  Then I was starting to feel pretty full in my bladder.  I spoke to the nurse, she checked with an ultrasound and found I was full!  Solution – catheter.

Oh boy!  This was not going to be pleasant, but I had to go so bad, I was just happy there was going to be some relief.  Or was there?  My very kind nurse (who looked no more than 21 years old) was getting the equipment ready, and I asked her how many she had done.  She hesitated, which is never a good sign.  Then said, “Plenty.  Enough to be efficient at it.”  But, it was already jinxed.  She couldn’t get it in.

So, she called another nurse,who looked about the same age.  They struggled.  And finally, decided they needed to call in the shift leader.  Again, maybe 24 years old!  And she brought another nurse with her.  Great – 4 young nurses trying to stuff this rubber tube into my bladder.  This was not embarrassing at all (sarcasm font implied).  But, finally, relief was to be had.  I was emptied out and happy, then disconnected.

The hope was that was all that was needed to “wake up” my system, which seemed to still be under the anesthetic.  For a few rounds, it worked, then started to fall asleep again.  By this time, I had a night nurse who was wonderful.  She popped that catheter in in seconds, and left it in for the night so I could sleep.

Unfortunately, pain got the better of me.  I don’t think it was pain from the incisions, but gas pains.  Either way, I finally asked for another dose of morphine.  That let me drift off to sleep happy…..for about an hour.  Then it was time for another vitals check.  Oh well.

Soon, the pains came back, and the nurse suggested walking some more to help release it.  So, I took my IV pole, wrapped myself up in my gown so nothing inappropriate showed, and took to the halls.  While there, I met another lady who had the surgery on the same day as well.  We kibitzed a bit as we passed each other.  She was quite perky and chatty, so it was nice to socialize a bit.

Later in the day, my nurse came by say I was good to go home.  So I called my hubby, and after he picked up our daughter from the school bus, they headed down to pick me up.  It was exhausting trying to get dressed, pack my back, and walk myself down to the elevators and to the front door.  But, hubby didn’t know where I was and I figured it was just easier to make my way down on my own.

Soon, I was homeward bound.

 

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Surgery

Monday was surgery day.  We woke 4:30 to be at the hospital for 6:00 am.  Surgery scheduled for 8:00.

Because we have a 9 year old daughter, who has already missed 2 weeks of school for our family vacation, I had my hubby drop me off at the hospital and head back home to get our daughter onto the school bus.  This means I was going to face everything on my own.

I’m pretty independent, I figured it would be fine,and it was.  The intake process was pretty smooth, easy and not intimidating.  I think I wasn’t really focused on the actual surgery, or the recovery, just getting to the other side and losing weight.

Once registered in the pre-op department, patients are led to the next area, where we are given a gown, a house coat, booties, and bags to hold our stuff like shoes and sweaters.  I brought a little carry-on suitcase for my toothbrush, brush, pajamas, and change of clothes.  They put a sticker, with all my relevant info, onto that bag, as well as the bags they gave me.  These bags followed me, somehow, to my room.

Thanks to technology, they have a device that can track your progress and notify your family as you move through the system.  It is a tag they hang on your gown, with buttons that are pressed by a variety of departments, as you pass through their hands.  This device is connected to your loved ones’ cell phone, and they receive a message when you enter surgery, when surgery is finished, when the patient is going into the recovery unit, and when they are allowed a visitor.  This kept my hubby completely up to date with the progress without having to check with someone all the time, or worry that he had been forgotten about.  Very smart technology!

The reality of the actual surgery hit me when I was lying on the operating bed, and they strapped my  arms out to either side, like I was about to be hung on a cross.  (Apologies for inappropriate metaphor, but easiest image in my foggy state).  Then, the mask comes down with the some kind of inhalant, and the juice went through the I.V. into my hand.  I could feel the heat flush through my body and then nothing.  Until I woke up.

Waking up…..that was not what I expected!  I thought I was having a heart attack.  It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  I couldn’t hardly take in a breath for the pain.  I started to try to talk, but was so dry from the intubation tube, my lips were stuck to my teeth and my tongue would hardly work.  They swabbed them with ice water on sponge.  Pure bliss!

But now, the pain!  They called for an EKG just to be sure, and thankfully, it came back normal.  It was a scary feeling.

I think at that point, they may have given me some morphine, and happily, I fell back to sleep, and stayed that way until travelling through the elevators to my room.

Stay tuned to hear the rest of the adventure!