Once I was cleared for surgery, it was scheduled quickly. I had just a week to prepare. My surgery was scheduled for noon on a Saturday so we had to be there at 10. The paperwork had all been done days before so it was mostly just getting ready for surgery. I was instructed to move all clothing and put on their gown. We all know the gown. The one that opens on the back but never really closes.
I was a little irritated at this because I was having surgery on my foot for crying out loud. This caused me to worry about a urinary catheter. I expressed my desire not to have one and although I cannot be sure, I don’t think it was done. I had to be careful, I didn’t want to establish myself as a pain in the ass patient already. They hooked me up to an IV immediately and started fluids which means that my empty bladder was quickly filling up. So I had to take at least four trips to the bathroom down the hall to alleviate this. Four times, down the hall in a gown that doesn’t stay closed, dragging my IV stand. Lovely. Why won’t they just put me to sleep while I’m waiting?
It took longer to prep me in the surgery room than the actual surgery took. For this procedure, I had to be on my belly and they had to apply a tourniquet. More words to inspire my anxiety. Just imagine, they have to flop you over after you are out, a full dead weight. Your gown certainly won’t be closed on the back so your ass is hanging out there for at least a little while. They do cover you with extensive warming blankets because the operating room is kept very cold so I know at least at some point I was covered up. I enjoyed many bruises from this process. Again, a necessary part of the procedure so I cannot speak badly of it
I wake up hearing various voices, they come and go but I catch little bits. “the block didn’t take”, “she’s going to have a rough night”, “she needs to be admitted for pain management”….
Before the voices came into focus, came the wave of pain. The anesthesiologist was supposed to give me a particular block that was injected behind the knee and basically would paralyze the leg for 14 hours or so. He was unable to accomplish this so when my doctor saw look on my face he knew that the hospital was the best place to manage my pain for the next day because it was going to be bad. To think, I thought the surgery would be the worst part of it. I had no idea. No idea at all.
They moved me to a private room and while I don’t remember much I know my daughter immediately picked up the phone and started ordering food. “You have to eat mom”. This may have actually been true but all I wanted was something to stop the pain. At that moment I didn’t care about anything other than that. I didn’t care that my gown wouldn’t close. I didn’t care about my dignity anymore. I didn’t care about anything other than blocking out that pain. I now understood how torture works.
I remember being worried before surgery about all these things that boiled down to preserving my dignity. None of that mattered now. I would walk through the hospital naked and on fire just to get some relief. How odd looking back. I had only had my foot worked on. I tried to tell myself that I was being a mega baby. There are people dealing with really major stuff and I’m ready to give up everything just to relieve the pain of my heel. I’m not sure what all that means except that pain management is particularly important and if the anesthesiologist screws up, everyone suffers. For the record my doctor was very upset that the block was not properly executed. It was a very long night where I found myself watching the clock for the next morphine hit.
Speaking of morphine, let me take a minute to talk about that. I do not understand how people come to be addicted to this. It only took the edge off the pain and when the nurse injected that into my line, it felt like a bowling ball was tossed on my chest. I felt weighted to the bed and of course, foggy. When I would make the trek to the bathroom (thank god for husbands) I became pale and sweaty and the world would spin. There is nothing remotely nice about this drug and at the end of the day, it barely worked. The next day the doctor doing rounds came in to see me and she said she was going to prescribe me Gabapentin. This changed everything. While I still had the Dilaudid given to me for pain, it was the Gabapentin that shut down the pain at night. If only they had given me that the night before. From here on our the pain was there but completely manageable.