Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Surgery

     Well August 17th finally arrived and I have to say I met the morning with a very quiet nervousness mixed with excitement of the future to come. However this was still a major operation I was about to have, so every minute that morning seemed to fly by so quickly. It was a quiet car ride up. My mom in the backseat and Gus driving as I stared out the window taking in the beautiful scenery on route 78. I love that highway, it always looks so pretty to me and I thought this would be an even better ride in the fall with the different color leaves. I guess anything to get my mind off the surgery LOL. We finally get to the hospital and I have to say my nerves started to wind down this was going to happen no matter what and I knew my surgeon was great. First thing I had to do was check in and register which they did very quickly. Then it was off for my blood work. One small pinch, a new vial of blood. OK so far no sweat. Now it was down to the pre-op area. This is were things were going to start happening quickly. Within just a few minutes a nurse called me in the back to have me fill out paperwork, and get weighed. This was it my VERY last weigh in before the surgery. I got on there and realized I had just lost 48 pounds. 48 pounds from 06/21 - 08/17. I jokingly said to the nurse oh i am out of here i don't need any stinking surgery. Unfortunately she was not 100 percent sure I was joking. I had to assure her I was going to go through with it. She took me back to my "bed" wear i got into my gown. Its funny, I know that every patient in there has to do this and stripped down to nothing with just a thin curtain hiding them but i swear i ripped off my shorts and shirts and had that gown on in nano-seconds LOL. Like anyone was going to come peeking through the curtain. The nurse came back and put on my monitors and puti in my iv. I was all set now. I just needed my family and the doctors.

She brought my family back to stay with me and the anesthesiologist came to give me his pep talk. Lucky for me he gave me a little something before we went into surgery so I was already feeling good by the time I was in the operating room. I don't remember much after that. Lets hear it for drugs!!

The Recovery
     The next couple of hours of course to me only took seconds. However for Mom and Gus waiting it was a different story. Overlook Hospital however has a system where you can watch a board and see just where I am in the surgery procedure from Pre-op through to Post-op. It reminds me of being at an airport. See ? 

I am the second blue bar from the top. Meaning I survived the surgery and was resting peacefully in Post-op. At least that's what it was suppose to mean. Nothing, however works out exactly that perfectly for some people. That day I was one of those people. What should have been a two hour wait for me turned out to take over 7 hours for my family. As we know by now, I have sleep apnea and would rather cut off my nose then wear that HORRIBLE c-pap contraption. Well this was affecting my blood oxygen levels in the recovery room. Every time I nodded off my levels would tank. Now this is probably been true for me for the past 20 years but no one was ever monitoring it before. And even though I was feeling fine, I could not go to a normal room in this condition. I was truly feeling fine after the surgery. Of course there was pain but it was more discomfort then horrible pain. In fact anyone who has been in the hospital knows the infamous pain question, "from 1 to 10 whats your pain level"?, I was never higher than a 5. Since the anesthesiologist needed me to be monitored around the clock I had to be sent to the ICU. Yes folks, My first night was spent in the ICU where i was checked on every 15 minutes. I did spike a low fever over night and had to get a Tylenol suppository. The family was allowed to stay with me until later that evening. 
     Now the thing with ICU is you have your own .... no not a room, I would say cubicle. However they are opened to the floor and you can hear lot of things going on. Especially an senile old woman in the next bed who continued to call out for anyone that would listen to her. I literally heard her all night crying out "miss", "nurse" over and over again. The next day she was calling for her nurse, "Nurse Hathoway" now there was no such nurse in the hospital but i think she was reliving E.R. episodes in her head. My favorite outburst had to be "My God help me, my arm is falling off!!" Who knew I was going to get a show with recovery. The best thing about it was how all the nurses just continued to walk around her as if they didn't hear her. In fact if I didn't joke around with them about it I would have thought I was the senile one. I spent most of the next day in the ICU, where it was very warm. I was waiting to go for a test. I would have to drink this solution and have pics taken of my new stomach to make sure there were no leaks. I was not able to drink anything until this test was performed. So now I have not had anything to drink since 10 pm on Tuesday night, It was now Thursday morning, it was hot, i had oxygen being forced in my nose and mouth, everything about my mouth was bone dry, It was almost torture. Finally i begged for some mouth swaps so i could get a little bit of relieve from the dryness. I have to say though I was a bad boy when it came to the swap. For those of you who do not know what it is, basically it is a small sponge on a stick that you did in ice water and you rub that on your parched lips and gums. Every time someone swapped my mouth for me I clenched down on that thing for dear life savoring every tiny but precious drop of liquid heaven. I literally only got a few drops and they absorbed directly into my gums and cheeks so I really was drinking anything. But God it felt good. 
      By early that afternoon, I was going to radiology for my test. THANK GOD. Water was soon to follow. I get into the room and am giving this small paper cup that is halfway full of a yellowish liquid. Of course my first question is "how bad is this going to taste". What followed was a typical hospital fib. "oh, its not really that bad." Later that same woman would say to me," i know it is horrible right?" REALLY?? It was quite a bitter tasting swill with a metallic after taste. Almost like drinking a bad shot of whiskey. Then again I have never had a good shot of whiskey. Brown liquor is bad. LOL. I had to stand in front of the machine while they took the results and I was feeling nauseous from the slop I drank and a little light headed, GOD lets make this fast. Finally the physician assistant from my surgeons office came to the waiting room and said it looked good, no leaks. PLEASE! Can I have some water? There was a fountain just a few feet from me with dixie cups. PLEASE! He was a benevolent PA and he got me my first sip of water in over 40 hours. The cool elixir spilled over my tongue and throat like the first rains in a desert after the dry season. Then came the reality of my new stomach. I have to drink slow small sips when all I want to do is down this cup in one gigantic gulp. But that is just not physically possible anymore. So, I had to take it slow. 
     Unfortunately I was not able to go into a regular room yet because they were not ready for me. So back to ICU I went. I spent a couple of more hours there waiting to be in a normal room and Gus and I were being entertained by grandma nut job across the hall. Finally the PA came in to tell me I would be moving up to the 9th floor and he was going to get me ready. He took of all my monitor wires. I was excited to be busting out of here, until I heard those terrifying words. "Your Foley Catheter". He had to remove it before I was to be moved. His instructions ... take a deep breath in now ........ exhale. As i exhaled he pulled and pulled like he was reeling in a fish. Now I can't say this was painful, but very uncomfortable and felt like pulses of electrical shock running through a very delicate area. But it was all worth getting out of ICU and into my own private room. 
      IN ICU ... 

My first sip of water.
     Finally, I was in my own room. On the 9th floor. At this hospital the surgery rooms, recovery, icu and radiology are all on the 4th floor which is actually below the ground. I finally saw daylight and a nice view from my room. It was like being freed from a dungeon I was not meant to be in for so long, The new digs also came with my first meal. I was very happy to see that coming. However I was not really hungry at all. In fact my first meal consisted of 6 ounces of crystal light and a spoonful of sugar free jello. With that I was too full. Almost sick. Now this is a weird feeling. there were times were i could put a way an entire large pepperoni pie and ask for dessert. Of course that usually came with a side of shame sauteed in self loathing. But I can't physically do that anymore and hopefully emotionally wouldn't let that happen ever again.
     My last night in the hospital was pretty good, I wasn't in much pain at all and in fact did not ask for any pain meds. Of course they are very strict with getting people up and walking right away. So I decided to beat them to the punch and Gus and I strolled the halls of the 9th floor a couple of times. The nurses were very happy to see my initiative. The truth is I just hate having people tell me what I have to do especially when I am feeling sore. This way they will leave me alone.
     The rest of the night was quiet, I had a few family visitors and I was anxious to rest. To my surprised I actually had a some what restful night. My temperature was normal everything was looking good. I could not wait to see my doctor in the morning for him to say I was out of there. Dr. Forrester did not disappoint, he was in my room somewhere around 9 am. Even though he had a big smile on his face and asked how I was feeling I saw a familiar look in his eye. Before he even said it, I knew he was going to bring up my white blood cell count. He said it was a little higher than would make him feel better but I reminded him that that is just my body it runs high and what would make me feel better and ultimately lower my count was to be home. He agreed and said we would be out within the hour. Hmmmm !! more hospital jargon. I can assure you it was no where near an hour. I do know that was not his doing, his part was pretty much all done but we needed the paperwork et., to come through. 
     Well there was nothing much for us to do while we waited, so I just laid in bed. Then a few minutes later Gus and I heard a strange noise. Almost like one of the many alarms that were part of the patients monitoring system. Like when my fluids were empty. However this one was not being checked on. Gus decided to go see what was happening. As he gets to the door of my room a nurse tells him its the fire alarm and we are to stay in the room with the door closed until further notice. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This only happens to people on nighttime medical dram a shows. Next thing they are going to tell me is a shooter is loose in the building. Well there was no smoke to be seen or smelled so i must not have worried because I took a nap. Next thing I knew the sirens had stopped and the door was open. But still no nurse to discharge me. Because I am sure thats all she was worried about during the fire, my discharge!. Turns out one of the other bariatric patients had to be taken back down to surgery during it but of course the elevators were shut down. She did eventually come in and tell me it was time to go, she removed my IV. AHHH that's when you know its official. Gus went to get the car as I got dressed. So i was dressed for a good ten minutes now and waiting, I finally went out into the hall where the hurse saw me and came over. She asked if I was ok to walk down? HUH??? Did she not know 85 percent of my stomach was just removed and the rest stapled and sutured. MMM No i would rather not walk down. Eventually the transport man came for me and took me to my chariot. This part of it was finally over. The new beginning is up next. 



  1. So glad the hard part is over. It'll be so much easier for you now. Here's to a quick and speedy recovery. Love ya

  2. Thanks for all the details, Cousin! You write so well. It brought back many memories of hospital stays for me. About that "fire drill." I found out that usually it means someone on the floor has passed away and they want people to remain in their rooms while they wheel the body down to the morgue. Might be a bit upsetting to see a sheet draped body pass you by in the hall. (Did you hear any more from the senile lady after the drill??) Anyway, I'm so glad you're home and glad that you had so many great pics taken. Do you want them scrapped? ;) Love you!