The Big Day…
I got up early in the morning to get ready for the day of reckoning. My nerves did start to kick in a bit, and show up in the form of being overbearing, but I was still ready to move forward. That morning (and the day before) I had to wash with an antimicrobial soap called Hibiclens, but no lotion, oils, or creams, so my skin was free of microbes… but I was ashy.
We got the hospital early. Not on purpose, but around DC, you never know what traffic will be like so we left about an hour and a half before I had to be there. The hospital is a 35 minute ride without traffic. On that day, traffic was light so we got there about 30 minutes before my scheduled check in time. My procedure was outpatient, so I didn’t have to pack a bag.
If I could say there was a great part of waiting, it was that one of my best friends, who had surgery to remove fibroids and endometrosis a few years before, called to pray with me. That meant so much and calmed my spirit.
Checking in meant going over all of my personal information, insurance information, and who to contact in case of an emergency. You get asked that all the time, but this time it really sunk in, probably for the first time that something could go wrong. While the chances were slim, it was entirely possible for something to go wrong: A cut too deep, the wrong combination of sedatives, emergency hysterectomy…..anything. DON’T panic or worry over those things. You will think about it, and the closer you get to lying on the table, the more real the possibility becomes, but you’ll be fine!
Finally, I was called to the pre op area, but I could only take one person back with me. I chose my mom. The nurses I had were awesome! They were so friendly, efficient and knowledgeable. Another great part of this prep team: the woman who put in my IV. Every time I go to a doctor for blood work, or have an IV put in, it’s an ordeal. Every. Single. Time. Bruised arms and multiple sticks are the norm. When I had my wisdom teeth pulled several years ago, they just put the IV through my hand because those veins were easy to see/get to. Every once in a while, I will have someone great at their job. She was one of them. She came in, introduced herself, I gave her the “they always have a hard time” speech, and she said “oh, don’t worry”. She found a spot, put the line in, and I was good to go!
While my nurses were getting me prepped, Dr. M popped in and looked puzzled as to why I was still sitting around talking. (Really, he looked annoyed) My surgery time was 9:00am, but he was ready to go about 20 minutes early, so they sped up the process of getting me prepped. He answered any last-minute questions and gave my mom the prescriptions I would need.
A word of advice: Ask any last-minute questions of your doctor the day of OR have a list for your family if the doctor visits while you’re in recovery.
The anesthesiologist came in and put in the juice. I went from slightly on edge to fits of giggles in about 10 seconds. My family (who were all allowed back at that time to see me before I went in) thought this was hilarious and captured the whole thing. Yay smart phones….
The next thing I knew, I was looking at ceiling go by. The sedative was starting to do its job, and I was fading in and out. I remember going into the operating room, and thinking “Wow, there’s a lot of stuff in here”. I remember being lifted on to the actual operating table. I remember the mask being put on my face. He didn’t ask me to count down, just to think about a vacation or being on the beach……..
The next sensation I can remember experiencing: pain. Awful, horrible pain. And nausea. I will say, that if you’ve had a baby, the post op cramping might not be as bad for you. I remember saying (I felt like I was yelling, but it was probably a whisper) “I’ve gotta throw up”. Then I did (Reaction to the anesthesia). They gave me something in my IV to help with the pain and the nausea, and I was in and out of sleep for about an hour. I mostly remember being in a sort of limbo state. I could hear people around me, and I was slightly aware that I was moaning from time to time, but I was woozy and not quite able to move or be 100% present. I remember a nurse saying she couldn’t give me any more pain meds or it would slow down my breathing, and thinking to myself: “And?…” Yeah, I was in that much pain.
Finally, I was semi lucid, enough for saltines (maybe they were graham crackers?…) and ginger ale. I was still very woozy, but more aware of my surroundings and better able to communicate. I couldn’t speak loudly because I was intubated (breathing tube) during the surgery. Because you will be put under deep sedation, you’ll have a breathing tube inserted. When it’s out, it leaves your throat very scratchy for a few days. After I was “up” (and I use that term very loosely), they moved me to phase 2 of post op.
Phase 2 is where they let you rest a bit more in one of those hospital reclining chairs. By then, I was un-hooked from all of the heart monitors, but I think I still had an IV. I still had a bit of nausea, but they said I was OK to go home. In the hospital, they give you these polyester/mesh hospital panties with a pad. They’re not sexy, but they were surprisingly comfortable! They’re like high-waisted boy shorts, perfect to not rub your incision and/or laprascope port areas. You will have some bleeding that day, and you probably won’t be lucid enough to put in your own pad, so just rock the hospital panties home. Trust me. In fact, I wish I had asked to take a few pair home. Because I was still feeling nauseous, the nurse gave me a few of those blue “barf bags” and alcohol pads. He said taking a whiff of the alcohol pad can sometimes calm the nausea.
I will say my only critique of my surgical process and the hospital was I felt like they were rushing me out. I really think I could have stayed another hour resting OR actually stayed overnight.
In my wheelchair, nodding off, they were finally ready to discharge me. The nurse gave my mom after care instructions, signed something, and they took me down to the lobby. O and my dad were there with the truck and helped me in. I tried to put my own seat back and went back to far….bad choice. With no abdominal control, that sudden flop of the car seat was a pain I’ll never forget. Don’t try to do anything for yourself the first 72 hours at least.
Day Of Take Aways:
- Have an emergency plan, make sure your family knows your wishes (the hospital will ask you about those things)
- Have a final list of questions for your doctor. Ask your nurses and anesthesiologist questions too
- Be kind to your nurses!
- There will be pain post op
- Take home the hospital panties. (Thank me later)
- Don’t try to boss your family around and insist you can do things your self 2 hours after surgery with anesthesia still in your system.