The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Recovery, Part 3
We got to the hospital later Thursday morning, and were already impressed from the outside. It's a brand new facility, probably finished within the last year or so. I had been hoping to not have to see it firsthand for another 7 months or so, but at least now we know when we go back that it's an excellent facility.
Hospitals are usually well-signed, and this one was no exception. But, better yet, as soon as you walk in the main door, you see a reception desk 15 feet in front of you. We asked for outpatient services, and the volunteer pointed us in the right direction. There seemed to be a lot of senior volunteers working there. I guess checking people in makes for nice easy work, and something to do to pass the time if you're healthy and retired.
They have this amazing check-in and tracking system. They assign each patient a number. With that number, the person accompanying the patient can sit in the waiting room and watch a status on an overhead monitor for that patient. It shows when they are checked in, and when they're in surgery, when they're in recovery, and when they are allowed to have a visitor again a smiley face appears next to their number. Very people-friendly, cuts down on the questions for the staff, and gives the waiting person something to "do."
So we got checked in, and almost immediately they called us in to registration. The woman was friendly and courteous and professional, and when we told her what doctor was doing the procedure, she too said, "Oh, he is wwwwooonnnderful..."
Once back out to the waiting room, it wasn't but a minute before they called for me to go to the prep room. The volunteer led us back, but told Craig he had to wait there. After a shuffled exchange of things out of the tote bag and a kiss, I was off.
I got back to the prep area and the nurse rolled her eyes and said my husband could have come with me, so she picked up her phone right away and had them send him back. They took my blood pressure.
It's normally about 110/70. It was 145/85.
The nurse said, "Don't even worry about that number today. You're just nervous; it's totally normal. Don't even think about it."
She put me in a curtained area where (little did I know) I was going to spend the next hour and a half... By that time Craig had come back, and I met the nurse who was going to be taking care of me for the day, Cathy. She told me to get naked and put on the gown open to the back, and the little slipper socks with the grips on them, and have a lie down on the gurney. It always feels weird to get undressed in an only semi-private area (like a dressing room,) and more so to get completely undressed, but...Craig got a free show!
Cathy tried to start my IV in my hand. They are kind enough to give you a stick of lidocaine before they start, but she was unsuccessful in getting the bag to drip. So she had to get some more lidocaine and give it a try in my arm. That seemed to work fine, and the fluid began to drip quickly.
Cathy also gave me a purple strap bracelet, which she said identified me as a fall risk, and they give one to everyone who has anesthesia. Craig found this hilarious, as he knows what a fall risk I am every single day...
Begin medical history and list of questions, round one. Most of the questions revolve around how healthy you are and how you expect you may react to anesthesia.
More medical questions, round two. Family history, previous surgeries, etc etc ad infinitum. I understand, they're trying to be thorough. Cathy told me I would meet the anesthesiologist, and the doctor, and when she saw who was doing my surgery, she too just cooed over how nice he is! I made sure she knew about the fact that I was prescribed doxycycline, and she said we would be sure to bring it up with the doctor!
Time passed with a lot of waiting. More questions, more people to meet. Nurses, anesthesiologists. Everyone was professional, yet friendly and kind. I was really feeling good about having the procedure done at this point, all things considered.
The doctor was outside my curtain and behind a wall, and I saw Cathy tell him about the prescription, and she looked over and gave me a wink...
The doctor came in and talked to me and Craig, and I could immediately see why everyone liked him. He was relaxed, and respectfully sympathetic, and went through and explained everything to us that would be happening, and what we could expect after the procedure. I was calm, and ready after that. Cathy came in and gave me some Pepcid in my IV; she said it was to help with any nausea I might feel from the anesthesia.
Two more young and fresh-faced anesthesiologists came in, introduced themselves, and stood by my gurney, and I met my "transportation nurse." It was almost time to go. I felt like the center of attention, like I was the guest of honor at some bizarre party. Pretty much the whole experience showed me why some people develop things like hypochondria, or at the extreme, Muchausen's Syndrome. You just feel so important and cared for and like everything is going to be better when they're done seeing you...
One of the anesthesiologists told me he was going to put something in my IV to make me "not care", and sure enough about 10 seconds after he pushed the plunger, things got a little fuzzy.
I don't remember saying "see you later" to Craig. I sort of remember being wheeled through some doors into a hallway. I remember the room with the big surgical lights, which weren't turned on yet so I thought they looked strange. I kinda remember them giving me a breathing tube for my nose with the tiny tubes that hang out in your nostrils...but nothing else until the recovery room.
I have a slight recollection of waking up in recovery and being aware of the beeping of my monitors, and the tube in my nose, and that I was still very sleepy. At that point they told Craig to come back and see me, and next time I opened my eyes, he was there. I was still pretty groggy though as the nurse asked me how I felt, and took me off the monitors, and took off the oxygen. Craig told me the doctor had come to talk to him after the procedure, and he had some things to tell me later about the experience, and it was a good thing he didn't try to tell me then because I doubt I would have remembered it.
The doctor came in to check on me, and he smiled, and said everything had gone really well. But he said he had something kind of funny to tell me... (And Craig said something about it being one of the things he was going to tell me too.)
The doctor said that during the procedure, everything was going along fine, except then somehow in the middle of it I said to him, "I feel kind of crampy..." And he asked the anesthesiologist, "...Why is she talking?..." and they made sure I was back asleep soon. He said it was during a part of the procedure where, if I had been awake I probably would have been uncomfortable, it was just odd that I chose to tell him about it! I, of course, don't remember it at all.
Of course those who know me know that I talk and even laugh in my sleep. And those who went to college with me know that I used to have a BAD sleepwalking problem... So maybe those kinds of things are related!
The doctor gave me follow up instructions, and said he would see me for a checkup in 10-14 days. After a while I regained more consciousness, and decided I had to get up to pee. They told Craig he would have to come to the bathroom with me to make sure I didn't fall down in there. I was absolutely too dopey to be embarrassed at all at that point (and I really had to pee) so I complied with no trouble.
When I got out of the bed, I realized:
1. My butt was suddenly cold. I was still naked under that gown. Yike. Craig helped by retying my gown straps.
2. I had made a mess out of that sheet on the gurney. What was that yellow business? I guessed it was betadyne. (antiseptic used to prep for surgery, made of iodine solution)
3. Someone had haphazardly slapped a giant mattress-sized maxi pad in between my legs! I was like WTF?? before I realized that maybe I should try to leave it there on my way to the bathroom, just in case. I knew I wouldn't be taking any long steps anyhow...
I did what I needed to and came back. They told me I could get dressed at this point, and they could get ready for me to go home. I was very glad I wore sweatpants. They sent Craig out to get the car. And then they had me sit in the wheelchair so they could take me to the front door...
It was weird being the person in the wheelchair. I've seen lots of people in wheelchairs, and even wheeled other people before, but to BE that person was...strange. There was something self-conscious and unsettling about it. When we got to the front door, I saw Craig coming around with the car and... It's like that moment where someone greets you and you don't know if you're going in for a handshake or a hug, or a hug and a cheek kiss, or what. It was like I didn't know if I was supposed to keep sitting there, or if they wanted to help me, or could I get up and wait. Finally, Craig parked the car at the curb and I shuffled myself into it. We had a nice quiet ride home, where I settled into my bed and slept for the next 5 hours or so...(after I called mom and dad to say that I was okay!)
The last week has been rolling in a sine-wave-like cycle of good and bad, bleeding and not bleeding, cramping and not cramping, happy and depressed. Every time something scary-looking happened, I had been telling Craig about it until I realized it was freaking him out. I forgot that I've been dealing with my body doing bizarre things on a monthly basis since I was about twelve, but this level of intimacy was all new to him. And it worried him, whether or not I was worried. So I've stopped disclosing so much...
Friday morning I came downstairs to try to work a little, and I saw a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my desk:
They had come for me that morning from my bosses at work in a big box, but they weren't arranged when we received them. Craig had taken them all out and trimmed and arranged them in the vase and set them up on my desk so I would see them the first thing when I came down...
We also got flowers from Craig's mom and dad, and a lovely mass card from my parents. Our friends have all written very kind emails or called. This was exactly the support we were hoping for when we told everyone about the pregnancy so early. It's the people who truly love you and care for you who are there in your troubled times, not just the good ones.