Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Is My Energy Level Back? (Part Two)

When we last heard from me in the continuing saga (see... ) I had gone through all the testing and the doctor had told me surgery was now a reality and the date was scheduled. My family still didn't know at this point, only my sister because well frankly, I tell her everything. I didn't want anyone worrying prematurely or asking me everyday, have you talked to the doctor? what did he say? how are you feeling? etc, etc.

So the family gets told. One funny but cute and sweet thing that was said was by my brother Fred. I was talking to him on the phone giving him the date of the surgery when he said he was going to take the day off. I told him that wasn't necessary, I would be ok and I knew my mom and dad, my sister and my kids were going to be there. My brother replied, "No Alicia, I have to be there, you never know, sometimes people just don't wake up after surgery". I mean if you think about it, if I wasn't worried by then I sure would be worried after having someone tell me I might not wake up :-) But I knew he meant it in a good way, not to scare me but to let me know that if that day was going to be my last one on this earth, he was going to share it with me and with my family. I love you brother!

My mom was a big comfort because she had already been through this and had her complete thyroid taken out. Thankfully she's been fine ever since then. So I knew that I was going to be ok too. But I still worried, especially about my kids and what would happen to them if I died.

My sister Lisa commutes with me to work everyday, so we have 30 minutes in the morning and in the evening to talk during the drive. My poor sister, I kept her crying coming and going because I would tell her what I wanted or what needed to be done if I did die! We talked about what kind of funeral I wanted and what clothes I wanted to be buried in. I'm sorry sis, but I knew you would take care of everything. Love you lots too.

So, I tell my coworkers and let them know that I will more than likely be back to work on Wednesday of the following week as the surgeon says it won't take more than a couple of days to recuperate. They schedule the surgery at 5am! 5am...why in the heck would anyone want to get operated on at 5am? Well I didn't know it but actually the surgery was scheduled for 7:30am, the patient just has to get there early for all the pre-op junk.

I get to the hospital with my entourage and things moved pretty fast. They did the blood pressure checking thing, temperature check, blood sugar check and pulse. I was fine so they tell me it's time to go up to the pre-op room and that there is a waiting room there for my family. We start to go to the elevator when the nurse tells us that there is another family coming with us. At the elevator there is a man in a bed and his wife...oh wait, I forgot to mention this part earlier. We'll come back to the elevator story in a second...

Earlier while they were doing all their checking, they asked me if I had an Advanced Health Care Directive. This is a form that (1) lets you name another individual as agent to make health care decisions for you if you become incapable of making them yourself; (2) lets you give specific instructions about any aspect of your health care, whether or not you appoint an agent. Choices are provided for you to express your wishes regarding the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of treatment to keep you alive, as well as the provision of pain relief. Well I didn't have the directive, so they give you a copy and tell you that it must be witnessed by two other random people, it can't be anyone you are related to or any employee of the health care facility you are at. So the nurse suggested I just ask people in the waiting room! Ummm, just random strangers? How do you just walk up to random strangers and tell them you need them to witness your signature on a document this important? It's quite easy actually because that is what I did, and the two ladies that were in the waiting room that morning were ok with it. The ladies were Cindy and Sarah, God Bless those ladies! They witnessed my signature, signed the form, with their names, addresses and phone numbers...I assume that information was necessary in case anyone fought against the directives I had requested. Those poor, unsuspecting ladies might actually have had to go to court and verify their signature and their part in all this...amazing! Either they weren't thinking that far ahead or at 5:30am no one really pays attention :-)

But anyway....back to the Elevator. Remember I said there is a man in a bed there and his wife? Well guess who his wife is? It's the same lady...Sarah...that signed my advanced directive. Small world isn't it. We all pile into the elevator, which was a tight fit with a bed, a nurse, the wife Sarah, my mom and dad, my daughter, my sister and my brother. The man looks up at all these Mexicans standing around his bed and my brother says, "We're all here for you brother". It was a touching and yet funny as heck moment. We all laughed and felt much better and we found out he was having a quadruple heart bypass or something like that, however many bypasses there are...he was having the limit.

We all pile out of the elevator and the nurse takes us all up to the pre-op section and points out the waiting room for the families. I start to walk off following the nurse and my sister grabs me to hug me and she's crying and I tell her, "don't worry, I'll be right back", (I have not a clue yet what's going on). The nurse says, "no, you're not coming back, they will see you after recovery". The good thing about being clueless is it didn't give me much time for big, tearful goodbyes. It was just a quick hug, love you's and see you in a while! I follow the nurse and Mr. Heart Bypass man and off we go.

This is the real pre-op room. My nurse there gives me a plastic bag with a gown and booties, she asks me to remove ALL my clothes, including underwear, put my shoes in the smaller plastic bag and then put all my clothes in the bigger plastic bag and then lie down on the bed and she will be back to put in my IV. (Honestly...why do you have to remove your panties? Do you know how naked and uncomfortable it is to not wear panties? Yuk!)

So she comes and puts in my IV smooth as silk. I say this because it took three nurses some 5 tries to get the IV in Mr. Heart Bypass man!! Poor guy. He was in the bed next to me. So I'm laying there and they let my mom and my daughter in and they wait with me til it's time for the main event. From there, I don't remember anything. In fact I don't remember them actually leaving. I don't know at what point they gave me something to either relax me or knock me out, but I don't remember anything else after that.

Next thing I do remember is feeling really super groggy, almost like I'm dreaming and I hear my surgeon, Dr. Shariat calling my name and asking me if I can talk. I say yes or mumble or something and there is so much joy in his voice when he says, "Alicia...see, you can talk!" Now I know that when he was going over the dangers of the surgery with me, he did mention that in very rare occasions the patient may lose the ability to speak, something with the vocal cords being so close to that area, but he made it sound like a very unlikely thing. But even in my drugged up state, Dr. Shariat sounded pretty damn relieved that I could talk...hmmm, maybe its not quite as rare as he led me to believe?

Anyway, I remember a nurse telling me, "hold still honey, we're going to take the tube out of your nose". What? Tube in my nose? When did they put a tube in my nose? What other tubes did they stick in me? Well actually...that one and the draining tube they put under the incision were the only ones. The draining tube was left in til the day I left the hospital. It was kind of cool too because it had this little heart shaped plastic bag about the size of my fist that fit into the pocket of my hospital gown and it was filled with bloody discharge...Oooo, cool huh?

I remember having an oxygen mask on my face and that was the worse part of this whole was so clammy and moist and hot and I hated it! It made me feel like I was suffocating and my face felt all greasy and gross, Ugghhhh, just thinking it about it now makes me feel like throwing up! But eventually that came off and I'm just laying there in this big room. Because I have all this stuff around my face and neck, I guess so that I don't move, all I can see is the nurse's desk and I have to pee like a son-of-a-gun! I tell the nurse and she brings me a bed pan. I'm not too thrilled with the idea of a bedpan, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. So I did the best I could and it was awful. I won't go into detail, but anyone that has ever used a bedpan will know what a humiliating, warm, wet, yucky feeling a bed pan can give you. Anyway, they remove the bed pan, clean me up and let my daughter come in to see me.

I was really groggy and don't remember if it was her and my mom, or her and someone else, but I do remember my daughter was there. Then she left and I had to pee again! See, there is just no way you can totally empty your bladder when you are laying down. So I tell the nurse again and they do the bedpan thing again and it's awful again! I finish and they clean me up again and then my daughter comes back and tells me that my other brother Jaime is there and he wants to see me because he has to leave as his oldest daughter, my niece Sarena had been in a car accident while I was in surgery. She was in her car on her way to buy her schools books for her first term at college and she accelerated when the light turned green and a GET bus driver ran a red light and hit her! Can you imaine that! April told me that Sarena was ok, but that Jaime wanted to come in and see me real quick because he had to leave to go be with his daughter, who was ok, just bumped up and possibly a broken arm. So I remember my baby brother coming in. I don't know what silliness I said to him because I don't remember much, but I know he was there!

So Jaime and my daughter leave and damn if I don't have to pee again! Anyone who knows me knows that I have a bladder the size of a pea. I can just look at water and I have to pee. I did have an IV in me with that watery stuff they give you, I forget the name but you know it has all the vitamins and minerals and crap in it, so I'm sure that was why I had to go so often. I think the nurse is a little put-out by my having to go so often so she puts the bed pan under me and she tells me, "now honey (don't you love the way they all call you honey?), now have to empty your bladder really well". Well I get a little tearful and I tell her..."I can't, I try but I can't when I'm laying down". So she says, "ok...we're going to help you up on the potty (yep, she said potty) and that way you can empty your bladder ok?"

What the heck? She's going to sit me up? Doesn't she know I just had surgery and all my innards could come rushing out of my neck? But I guess they know what they're doing and I'm just a sheep when I'm in a hospital, tell me what to do and I'll just do it. So they help me up, and it's really not too bad, none of my innards are rushing out of my neck wound or anything like that. So they leave me sitting there at the edge of the bed on the potty and I think I took a nap or something because I wake up and my bladder is empty and I'm tired of sitting up. I can't yell cause my throat hurts, so how do I get the nurse since the curtain is drawn? And now that I'm thinking about this, was this a good idea? What if I had passed out? Or some innards had started leaking out? I could have gone head first onto the floor, innards everywhere!

Gosh almighty! So I reach behind me and grab the pillow on the bed and start flinging it in front of me and nurse's come a running! They clean me up and lay me back down...ahhhh, relief! So finally, I guess I'm stabilized, my family says I was in recovery 3 or 4 hours. They take me to my room.
To be continued.....Part Three...the hospital room.

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