What a week it has been! I honestly barely even know where to start, so I think I’ll just start with one week ago today.
As I alluded to in my last post, I was feeling reaaaaally anxious and nervous on the day before my surgery, so when my alarm went off at 5:45am last Monday, I wasn’t quite sure what state I’d be in. But somehow, I was much more calm than expected and I woke up pretty easily. I took a quick shower with antibacterial soap, brushed my teeth, and sipped just enough water to take a Zofran (an anti nausea medication) before gathering up my things to head out the door. I was instructed to wear comfy pants and a top that zipped or buttoned up (nothing that went over my head), as well as my glasses rather than contacts.
Since my parents had stayed in town for the weekend, I got in the car and drove to their hotel for 6:15am, so we could head to Ruff Plastic Surgery. We got there a few minutes before 6:30am and since the building wasn’t quite open yet, we putzed around outside for a few minutes while I tried to teach my parents the wonders of the iPhone camera.
Before too long, we were met by my OR nurse, Natalie, and taken into the office to get ready for surgery. I honestly could not believe how calm I felt! I was expecting to need to take a Xanax, but I felt calmer than I do on a normal day – weird. After going through the basic questions and a review of the medications, I changed into my hospital gown and compression stockings, took some pre-surgery meds, and then just hung out in the room where I’d be recovering.
I am cool, I swear.
Before too long, Dr. Ruff came in to check on me and see how I was doing, before marking me up all over with three different colored markers. He said that they mark your natural anatomy/curves while standing because things shift when you lay down (for the surgery) which I hadn’t really thought about before. After he was done with the markings, he said he’d see me soon and left the room, and then the anesthesiologist came in. He went over my medical history with me, asked about any prior complications or family history of complications with anesthesia, and then hooked me up to an IV to start me on fluids.
At just a few minutes after 7:30am, I said goodbye to my parents, and then Natalie escorted me into the OR. Right away, they had me remove my gown, and my entire body was painted down with this betadine solution by two medical assistants with these rollers – almost like what you paint walls with. The solution smelled TERRIBLE and was so cold on my skin, but I needed to be completely sterilized prior to surgery (obviously). After that was done, I was walked over to the operating table where I laid down with my arms stretched out on either side, and then the anesthesiologist came back into the room. I remember him asking me some questions about my job, and making some small talk. I thought I would have a “here we go” moment where I would be aware that I was fading and come to terms with the fact that I was going under the knife, but it was not like that at all. I don’t remember even starting to drift off, I just remember waking up in recovery fully clothed.
Totally doped up and happy post surgery.
The procedure itself took about 5 hours (just slightly longer than the 4.5 anticipated) and I came out of anesthesia quite well. I wasn’t nauseous at all, which I was really thankful for, and I just remember being way more “with it” than I was expecting. I have flashes of people (Dr. Ruff, the nurses, my friend Susy who works at Ruff Plastic Surgery) coming in and out of the room, and also of the machines they had me hooked up to beeping and my mom telling me to keep breathing. I also got my hands on my phone and texted a bunch of people back (with totally coherent, non-anesthesia sounding responses) and even updated my facebook page.
It was kind of surreal.
The other time I had anesthesia was for my emergency back surgery was in 2006, and when I came out from being under that time I supposedly was swearing pretty loudly and persistently. This time, I was a bit paranoid about having the same reaction, because I asked the doctors three separate times if I came out swearing, though I only recall asking the third time, and don’t even remember the answer. I was asking very coherent questions, but don’t remember most of the answers. One question I did ask was “how much did you remove from me?” and I do remember the answer (though I’m told it wasn’t a one-time question) – 10 pounds! Holy crap.
After the fading in and out stopped and I was stabilized and mostly with it, I was wheeled out of recovery and the building, and got into my parents car. I got home, up to my apartment, and was totally alert. It was wild! I was expecting to be sleeping for the entire first few days post surgery, but I was totally awake. My boyfriend (good of a time as ever to make that “announcement”, eh?) came over and brought flowers and a get well package with magazines, an eye mask, smoothies and protein snacks. My mom made some chicken gyoza from Trader Joe’s and we all watched the season 6 finale of Dexter (I’m still catching up).
In my compression garment, with the sexy drain tubes and compression socks. And lots of beverages.
I wasn’t in much pain at all and was getting up on my own to use the bathroom. It was wild!
But then around 8:30pm, my body woke up and realized what had just happened to it. I hit the wall, and hit it hard, and was overcome with pain, fatigue, and tears. Dr. Ruff called me to check in around that time from his cell phone and I had my mom talk to him because I couldn’t. He said I could take 3 Vicodin every 6 hours if the 2 every 4 wasn’t working, so I did that and coaxed myself to sleep with some Xanax. That worked for a couple hours, but then I was up in tears again around 2am, paralyzed from the pain. We called Dr. Ruff on his cell phone in the middle of the night and he recommended my mom try to open my compression garment to release some of the pressure, which she did and that helped a tiny bit. He said our options were to either go to the ER right then or wait until 6:45am to go back to the office to figure out next steps and how to get the pain under control. We went with the latter option because the last thing I wanted was to go to the ER at 3am…
To be continued…