Knife Fight with a Robot


Went to the hospital for surgery today. I've been to this hospital many times as a caretaker, but never as patient, a joke I made with pretty much every who asked if I had been in before. "As an observer," I'd say, "First time as a patient." One could say, roll the dices enough, and everything happens. For me, this is best summed up by my mother, "You always get the weird ones." Yuuuup.

I was restless in the morning, having woken at 3:30 to pee, then being unable to fall back asleep afterward. Up, shower with the anti-bacterial solution I was given, small cup of tea (liquids allowed until three hours before surgery), and a bottle of pre-surgery carbohydrate drink, which was also the most sugar I have had since Ash Wednesday. Was incredibly sweet, and not in delicious way. Dressed, checked my list, everything was set up already, so put on shoes, grabbed the mask, and off I went to the hospital with a fly-by dropoff.

I was not expecting the hospital lobby to be as empty as it was. Two people were visible, a greeter and a registration checker, and I talked with both of them. Up to Patient registration, where, after filling out some paperwork was told three (THREE) times that the surgeon was not a hospital employee, he's a contractor. Did I mention he's a contractor? Contractor.

After signing a bunch of paperwork, I was directed up the elevator into the Surgical Waiting Room, where I had the briefest of waits. Led into room 12, I did the usual strip down, wash myself down with a couple of delightfully warm wipes, then into the bed, where I answered a lot of questions about my health (for the third or fourth time), had an IV line installed (also delightfully, along the inner part of my left forearm, which meant I didn't have worry about not bending my arms. A heat pump was attached to my gown for air to blow in to warm or cool as I needed. I liked that part, as I was both warm and not sticking to the gown's plastic inners. My forehead sported a lovely temperature-reading sensor.

"Have you been with us before?" "Not as a patient." again.

This entry is going to read very weird to me when I read it after the anesthesia has worn off.

I was all ready to go at 9:30. The nurse said, hey, you're ready to go, we will wait for your doctor to come in and talk with you first.

I put everything into my patient bag, lay back down, and fell asleep. I have no idea how many other people fall asleep before their first surgery, but based on the conversations around me as I drifted off, I'm guessing very, very few people sleep before a surgery.

I woke just before 11:00am, and rung the nurse to walk me to the toilet to pee. Again. Little did I know how much harder that seemingly easy act would become.

I was back in my bed not five minutes before Brian, my anesthesiologist, came in and talked. My surgeon came in just after, along with my OR nurse. I had one more document to sign, giving consent for any interesting images to be published in a medical journal with my name kept secret. I hesitated to sign. "You don't want to be in a journal?"

"It's not that, it's that I want a copy of the journal if I'm in it."

Everyone laughed and collectively relaxed. The doctors left, leaving me with my OR nurse. "You've gone to the restroom recently?" "Yep, five minutes ago" . "Okay, off we go."

The OR was close by, I met the two other nurses who would be helping me move, slid from my gurney to the table, and watched as the four others prepped for my surgery. After I was introduced to my robot, Xena, and heard about the other robots in the other ORs. I have to say that I was glad to hear the chatter and the joking. Such behavior is exhibited in a cohesive team, reducing whatever anxiety I was having, which was very little already.

A medicine was added to the IV, to relax me. I looked up at the ceiling, was lower than I thought it would be. The medicine from the IV started to hit, I saw the overhead lights start to spin. "Wheeeeeee! Look at the lights!" I must have said that out loud, as very quickly I heard, "Well, she's having fun!"

The oxygen mask came on and I woke up in the recovery room around 2:40pm. I know that people say under general, there is no sense of time. When I was coming up from the depths, however, I was dreaming. From my point of view, I was inhaling into the mask, then woke up elsewhere, but I still had a sense of time passing, just not the full amount of time that had passed. The surgery was shorter than expected, so the surgeon made up time, I suspect, on my surgery.

My surgeon had only one repair to make, and "it was tiny!" Which has me wondering if I had a misdiagnosis or something really weird is wrong with my body? Clearly the latter.

I fell back asleep until 4pm, when I woke and a flurry of activity happened. I am uncertain if I woken up more than these two times. I struggled to stay awake, but managed to stay awake. A nurse came back to check on me. As she was checking the monitors, I asked her if she observes Lent. She said yes, she does. I commented, "I've given up sugar for Lent," and was delighted when she brought me sugarless drinks and crackers. The drinks unfortunately had aspartame, which I didn't report was an allergy, so I waited for more water.

Turns out, anesthesia not only slows down your GI tract, it also closes your bladder, which means no going home until one urinates, and one doesn't urinate easily. Which is to say, my inability to pee wasn't performance anxiety as I thought it might be.

Eventually, I was able to go, after two glasses of water, two large cups of peppermint tea, and at least one bag of IV fluids, along with a locked door (not appropriate in a hospital for a patient), and about 15 minutes of concentration. While I was downing those liquids, I listened to the hospital movements. Indeed, there was my Mary, along with her usually two. I was amused, recognizing how different my experiences with the healthcare systems have been, compared to most people's.

On my wheelchair riding way out the door, I thanked the nurses for taking care of me. They were kind, and I appreciated the help recovering.

So, here I am, I've had surgery. My eyes are incredibly dilated from the drugs, and I can't walk yet without pain. I'm here on this couch for the next two days at least. Here's hoping I recover quickly.

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