Friday, June 16, 2017

What They Don't Tell You When You Have Surgery: A Post-Op Post

I had neck surgery about two weeks ago.

The whole business of surgery is unsettling. You don't really know what goes on in that operating room when you're passed out from anesthesia.

Despite my trepidation though, I knew it was time to have surgery. I had a couple discs in my neck that had been causing me problems for a few years and it finally got bad enough that I felt like I didn't have much choice.


I never realized all the prep work that comes before a major surgery. The day before the procedure I had to pre-register at the hospital, fill out a bunch of papers, and have some blood drawn. The nurse handed me a bag containing six packages of giant, super-thick anti-bacterial wipes. I was to shower that night, wait two hours, wipe my whole body down with them, and wipe down again in the morning before we left for the hospital. Then she said, "They leave a sticky residue behind, but don't wash it off." 

If I had a nickel for every time I heard that.

After the explicit wipe-down instructions (there was even an accompanying handout with a drawing of a human body and numbers on all the body parts to make sure you don't miss any nooks or crannies.), the nurse asked me a bunch of questions and typed the answers into her computer.

"Have you had any prior surgeries?" she asked.
"Yes, breast implants 15 years ago," I answered,
"Any sexually transmitted diseases?" she countered.

I'm sure they ask that second question of everyone, but the fact that it flew out of her mouth right after my admitted boob job was a little disconcerting. I wanted to say (in my best English accent), "Well, that wood make me quite the accommodatin' lass, now woodnt' it?"


But I have a lousy English accent so I was only a riot in my head. Although Mr. Accommodated thought it was hilarious when I told him later.

The next morning we arrived at the hospital bright and early at 5:30 AM. I stripped down, changed into the gown, got into the bed, and awaited my fate.

If I had a nickel for every time...

Anyway, the anesthesiologist came in a short while later and introduced himself.

Talk about unsettling. The first thing I noticed was the size of the camera lens on his phone. It was huge. The guy was a serious Instagrammer or Snapchatter or whatever. Not something you want to see when you're about to be put under by the guy. I pictured shenanigans like this going on:

Whatever went on during surgery, all I know is I woke up in recovery and wow, did my back hurt! They said it was due to how they positioned me on the table, but they did all that after they knocked me out so I had no idea what that position was. Again, unsettling.

I was on a morphine drip though, so I couldn't figure out why I would have pain anywhere in my body. I mean it's MORPHINE, for crying out loud. It was several hours later, after they had moved me to a room, when a CNA discovered that every time I pushed the button for the morphine, half of it was dripping on the damn floor and not into my body.

SON OF A.....!!

Turns out, the tip of the morphine tube was broken, so the IV line was leaking where it attached to the tube. Well, that explained why I still had pain.

Things looked up after they got that figured out.

But back to the things that go on in the operating room that you don't know about. I woke up to a spooge-like substance in my hair. Big, gnarly, gobs of Something-About-Mary dried spooge, in various spots, all over my hair.


Once again, I wondered - what the hell went on in that operating room?? Okay, so it probably wasn't the same substance as Mary's, but what did they do, run out of towels and use my head to wipe some sort of surgical gel off their hands?

I found out later it was glue to hold nerve sensors onto my scalp. Good to know, but they might have warned me about the after effects. It took my sister-in-law forever to comb it all out.

Fortunately, I only had to stay one night in the hospital. The nurses gave really good care and were wonderful, but I just wanted to be home in my own bed, where I have a say in what substances wind up in my hair.

While I was getting dressed and gathering up stuff from the room to leave, I was barfing from the pain pill I had taken earlier that morning. Apparently, I'm a light-weight when it comes to pills. I hoped that by the time I had to sit in the wheelchair and be wheeled out to the car, my nausea would have passed. No. As she pushed me through the halls towards the lobby, I barfed continuously into the little plastic bin the hospital always gives you to take home. Now I know what those are for.

As if that wasn't bad enough, when we got to the main lobby doors, she stopped pushing, thinking it would be easier for me to barf in a non-moving environment. She meant well, but it resulted in me sitting there, right smack in the middle of the main entryway to the hospital, retching and barfing my guts out into my little plastic bin, while people sidestepped around me.

I felt like a weird greeter, right out of American Horror Story.

I barfed all the way home (but at least I didn't wee-wee. Get it? Little piggies?)

Anyway, I'm doing much better now. I have to wear a lovely neck brace for at least 6 weeks which makes me itchy when my neck sweats, but I can deal with that temporarily. There are worse things, right?

I can't really sit at my desk comfortably, but Fred set me up with a computer tray thing, so now I can recline on my bed and type on my laptop for a few hours at a time without much discomfort. And I know it will get better over time. that I've filled you in on my little drama, I'm linking this up to Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop for the prompt: Write about something you learned in May. Because if I don't link up somewhere, nobody actually reads my shit.



Credit for nurse photo: Pixabay

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