April 27, 2013 by greenhouse04
“I’ve had two surgery’s,” I told the surgeon’s nurse. “A major one to remove a large infection in my abdomen, and then a laparoscopic to try to remove scar tissue from the first.”
She seemed unimpressed.
“It seems like a lot to me,” I explained.
“You’ve had the least of anyone we’ve seen yet today.” She wasn’t a very friendly nurse.
Since that conversation just a few days ago I’ve added another surgery to my belt. And may have another before the summer is past!
My first surgery was by far the most major – requiring a 6-inch incision and a 10-day hospital stay. However, it was also the least traumatic. Morphine and general naïveté on my part sheltered me from much worry or anxiety.
Going in to my second surgery I was still naive. I had no worries about what the surgeon and nurses were doing to me, nor that it would turn out badly. By the time the simple laparoscopic, outpatient procedure was finished, though, I no longer viewed surgeries as easy affairs.
So, going into my third surgery yesterday – to have my gallbladder removed – I was no longer naive and worry-free. But it turned out to be a much more pleasant experience than I expected.
To start with, the waiting room was not packed with 50 other surgery patients. My first outpatient surgery was performed at a surgery center in a much larger town, and they were serious about packing in as many procedures in one day as they could!
I had barely waited yesterday when a tall, slim CNA came briskly toward me and my husband. She quietly directed Mr. to stay in the waiting room until I was prepped for surgery, at which time she would bring him back to see me.
She led me to a bathroom with my name on it, gave clear and brisk instructions for me to completely undress and put on a gown, then to pull a cord to call her.
For the next hour I was prepped by the CNA and an RN – asked all sorts of questions (including my full name and birth date several times), taped with several heart-monitor patches, wrapped with ankle cuffs, hooked-up to a heart and oxygen monitor via my finger, and given my very own blood pressure cuff.
Then it came time for my least favorite part – the IV. Thankfully, the RN only had to poke me twice to get it going (after sticking my hand in a warming pad, then flicking it a bunch). But for the first time I realized the scary-ness of getting an IV. It was turning my all-important, closed circulatory system in to an open system into which anything could be introduced!
However, the RN’s manner was very reassuring. Her professional yet kind demeanor was perfect for a pre-surgery nurse – and didn’t make me too worried that she might slip some deadly poison or disease into my system via the IV.
After all this Mr. was allowed back. He cheered me up and made the nurses’ eyes roll with his witty surgery humor.
Then the doctor popped in – all energy and optimism.
Last, the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me.
He was very friendly and kind. I told him about my last surgery and how the anesthetic burned like fire when it went into my IV. He explained exactly what would happen during surgery – how he would send a numbing-agent into my IV before the anesthetic (indeed, I didn’t even feel it go in when the time came); how he would put a breathing-tube down my throat that would cause soreness for a few days; how he would stand above my head the entire time making sure I’m ok and giving me something to help my heart-rate and blood pressure if needed. He was, in a nutshell, great.
Finally, the surgery nurse came in to wheel me away. I kissed Mr. goodbye, then rolled through big doors and down two long hallways.
When we made it to my surgery room, soothing jazz was wafting out of a stereo. I asked if they listen to music while they operate, and the nurse said, “No, only while we’re getting prepped” while turning it down hastily.
I scooched over to the operating table, and was given some relaxant by the anesthesiologist that made me feel like I was swimming. He reassured me again that he would be right by my side the whole time – and his comforting voice was the last sound I heard.