Not only did March 20 mark the official start of spring. It was also my official surgery day. I was startled awake by a person from the Lab wanting yet another blood sample. I always hear people talk about being poked and the frequent taking of vitals being the hardest part of hospital stays. I found being connected to so many things while trying to change positions to be the worst. Thermometers were a snap, but admittedly the automated blood pressure cuffs squeeze so hard for so long that moderate pain was accompanied by tingling in my hand. There was no room on any of the medical floors, so I was on the neurology floor. I expected the harshly-lighted, noisy hospital environment and did as much as I could to mute it. Unfortunately, my neighbor was throwing up almost constantly — poor guy!
After a cell phone separation and Penultimate polyp pop-in, nurses rolled me on a gurney. Blake who wheeled me to pre-op was wonderful about alerting me to any little bumps, turns, and environment changes. For example, I was impressed when he told me the air on the first floor was going to be much cooler than the eighth. My pre-op nurses Jeannie and Mary were just as good about telling me exactly what was going to happen and what they were doing. They read and had me sign the consent form, gave me some antibiotics through the IV, and gave me a shot of blood thinner in my stomach area. Dr. N. strolled in telling me it was time to say goodbye to the little friend behind me. This is when he said he was Swedish and knew Kragnes was Norwegian and pronounced Krogness in Norway. My signature is very small, so he didn’t see it on the consent form. It really impressed me when he reread the consent form to me and made sure I knew exactly what was going to happen with all of the contingencies. The final contacts before being wheeled into surgery were Dr. Burqe the anesthetist and two anesthetic nurses. I know Dr. Burque looked down my throat — in case he had to insert a breathing tube with general anesthesia — and said it would be no problem. I think the male nurse’s name might have been chad, but this is where details like that start to get fuzzy.
I remember being wheeled to the operating room, but it was a quiet ride. By then, I’d already been given relaxation meds. I clearly remember being impressed with the echo and lighting in the room. It looked like there was sky lights, but most likely, they were just very bright, full-spectrum bulbs. The procedure took place right on the gurney, and I recall being surrounded by a lot of people, being fitted with an oxygen mask and falling into a dream-like state. I wrote about contingencies earlier. Dr. N was going to get “it” out with a flexible scope and a snare. If that worked, I would only need lite sedation and apparently would be able to talk to them. If any cutting was involved, , I’d go under general anesthesia. The surgery turned into a cross of both. Although he was able to remove the polyp with the scope, its large size surprised everyone including Dr. N, It was two inches in diameter. Fortunately, Dr. N. was kind enough to call Phil and explain all of this. For those like me who have trouble visualizing two inches in diameter, Phil told me later that it was like two thirds of the short side of my iPhone 5. I’m not quite clear on why the size meant going to general anesthesia, but I think it was to avoid pain. Phil updated my parents.
The first thing I noticed in recovery was the rawness in my throat and a roughness in my voice which still comes and goes. That’s when I was told that my throat was so small they had a little trouble getting the breathing tube where it needed to be. I was pretty skeptical when Dr. N told me I’d have little to no pain in the area where he worked after surgery, but he was absolutely right. Memories of the recovery room and being wheeled back upstairs are present but blurry.
Nancy My nurse reunited my cellphone and me soon after I arrived in the room. Strangely, I could manipulate it just fine but don’t remember what I did. I must have dozed for a while, because the next thing I remember was having the nurse ask me if I wanted lunch and reading the menu. I was ready to eat but not quite able to call the cafeteria myself. They called me soon after, and I ordered a wonderful-sounding lunch of tomato soup, chicken salad sandwich, chips, banana, chocolate chip cookie, and skim chocolate milk. Soon after I hung up, Nancy came back in with some very hard news for me. Although a Fellow left orders for a regular diet, the surgeon felt the size of the polyp warranted a more cautious approach. He wanted the processes involved to have a little rest after the polyp’s removal. I was asked to do a full liquid diet for two days before resuming regular eating. A full liquid diet went beyond the famous 7-up and Jell-O clear liquid diet, but it sounded pretty restrictive to a woman primed for a yummy lunch after one and a half days of no food or drink. I was given the explanation of why this was happening much later, so though I tried to be nice about it, I was miffed. Of course, the yummy lunch was brought, and at least I could voraciously consume the tomato soup and chocolate milk. The full liquid diet arrived minutes later and included an unidentifiable, terrible-smelling creamy soup I didn’t eat, chocolate pudding, vanilla ice cream, and apple juice. Everything but the soup was fine, but Shasta Cola was not the pop of choice. I found some money in my wallet and asked the nurse to go down to the machine and get a regular Pepsi — my favorite fluid available.
The good news was that I was going home sometime in the afternoon. Phil took the day off to be with Zane. I talked to Phil several times brainstorming how I could get a ride. The social worker said she could get a ride for me, but we’d been down this road. The university hospital procured a well-equipped medical van ride for Phil, but we were stuck with the $50 bill insurance wouldn’t cover. Most friends were gone, and a few had done so much for us that I hated to ask more. Lisa was coming home from work, and we made arrangements to meet in the main drive after she left work at four thirty. I was smart enough to tell the hospital my ride was at four thirty, because I knew this might mean making it down in time to catch Lisa fifteen minutes later. Jessica the nurse read my discharge orders. I’ll be taking iron pills twice a day with meals for at least the next couple months. Follow-up appointments have been made, and I’ll be calling Dr. N’s office to go over the microscopic polyp examination results. Because of its softness, both of us expect it to be benign.
We ran into a snag when Dwight’s charger and cord couldn’t be found. I dreaded telling Dwight. His reaction was that he didn’t really care, and happily, they were found after I arrived home and will be mailed.
On the way home, Lisa told me about her adventures with Zane — a very different animal than Garron. I was sorry I didn’t think to give her a few warnings, because she found out a couple things the hard way. He was not used to the office environment, until she set a physical boundary for him with a stool. Then he understood he was supposed to stay put and fell asleep. Zane relieved in the yard, but because the other dogs had relieved on the basement concrete, he did too, the turkey! He tends to do this under stress, and I’m sure there was some marking behavior involved too. One of her dogs went into protective mode against Zane for most of the evening, and they finally reached an understanding toward the end.
We agreed that — although we hope something like this doesn’t happen again