I’m two days home from spending five hours in the hospital. Everything went well, except for my reaction to the narcotics. My body’s shifting into healing mode, which means I’m about to fall asleep again, but before I do, I thought I’d share some details. It’s a little odd to know so many people are following along at home, but I’ve invited it, so I won’t slam doors shut now.

These are just odds and ends from the planning meeting with the oncologist who did the surgery through the surgery and recovery.

  • Apparently I nod in all the right places. Both the oncologist and the pre-op nurse asked me if I was in medicine. I blame a large vocabulary, Google and PalMD.
  • No religion is never the default. Someone from Abbott Northwestern Hospital called me in advance to confirm that their information on me was current. “And we show ‘Lutheran’ for religion. Correct?” Uh, no. Not a bad guess in Minnesota, but completely wrong.
  • People really think spouses should be there for everything. Twice my husband came to me and said people were telling him he should be there with me when I checked in at 5:30 a.m. Twice I told him that I’d much rather have him be awake and functional when I woke up after the surgery.
  • I still can’t fall asleep on my back, as much as I wanted to nap during pre-op. 5:30?
  • Being in the hospital during a Joint Commission audit results in lots of repeated questions and lots of apologies for the repetition.
  • Writing on the lower abdomen is “close enough” for marking that surgery is supposed to be done on the cervix.
  • After about half a bag of IV, you don’t really care that you couldn’t drink anything that morning.
  • Heated hospital gowns are the best idea ever. Air chamber in the gown + hot air blower hookup = awesome.
  • Operating rooms without functioning thermostats are a much worse idea, but having heated blankets piled on top of you almost makes up for that.
  • I’m much less disturbed by being strapped in and having my arms taped down than I am by the idea of falling off the narrow operating table.
  • It is much more comfortable to undergo a conization under general anesthesia, the brain-wave monitor is going to feel like velcro being pressed into my forehead, the oxygen mask smells like plastic, and I had the most informative nurse anesthetist ever.
  • Anesthesiologists (or at least this one) like propranolol. “She’ll have a nice, slow heartbeat.”
  • The most uncomfortable pre-op moment was having the oxygen sensor put on. If I’d known, I’d have trimmed that fingernail.
  • I still don’t know what kind of anesthesia I had. One of my Facebook friends suggested I ask for propofol (“Michael Jackson gave it a bad name.”). However the nurse anesthetist said there was a shortage of it (“You know. The stuff Michael Jackson was taking.”), so I’d get gas. However, once I was in the OR, the anesthesiologist said they were knocking me out through the IV. So, yeah, no clue.
  • The most painful post-op moment was getting rid of the monitoring pads. At least this time, unlike when I got my appendix out, only one of the five is still outlined on my skin in dark red.
  • Despite having had a very short night of sleep before the surgery (5:30?), I fought the anesthetic pretty hard once I grasped a tiny bit of consciousness.
  • Fentanyl is lovely stuff. At least immediately.
  • Some people apparently think it’s weird to Tweet soon after an operation. This does not mean they don’t want the news right away. I might have had deeper thoughts on that, but I was under the influence of fentanyl.
  • I’m not cut out to be an addict. Either the fentanyl or the Vicodin I had as a follow-up caused nausea, poor temperature regulation, and a truly nasty headache. No more for me, thanks.
  • Tweeting snippets of dialog from the new Ratchet and Clank game will cause some people to assume you’re having a great time on those narcotics.
  • Coming home to a heap of well-wishes is such a lovely thing that it requires its own blog post.
  • I’m waiting for the pathology reports that will tell me how often I need to have Pap smears for the foreseeable future. I’ve already been told that I’ll never be able to stop having them.
  • I’ve also been told that I need to take good care of my immune system, mostly in ways I already do. “Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Modern science can’t quite tell us why those are important yet, but we know they are. Avoid a lot of red meat. Don’t be one of those people who only sleep four hours a night. Do something three to four times a week that you find stress-reducing.” I’d already concluded I needed to find a better way to manage the amount of stress in my life, but I’m still debating what kind of changes will actually do that instead of creating someone else’s perfect stress-free life that I’ll hate and be stressed by.

And now to nap.


12 thoughts on “Post-Op

  1. 3

    Was briefly on percocets for problems with my sciatic nerve. They made me irritable and the euphoria rush was really disconcerting, like to the point where I was sure I could easily become addicted.I can see the writing-on-lower-abdomen being much better than trying to write on your cervix, especially when it comes to looking at the writing later. But I don't get why docs have to write on your person instead of on your chart. I guess to keep from mixing you up and pulling out your appendix unnecessarily?Sleep well!

  2. 4

    So glad that your procedure was relatively uneventful.It also bugs the crap out of me that the patients don't actually know what their anesthetic is. This happened to me as well (docs wort of made these decisions without informing me during my wisdom tooth extraction) and I reacted reeeaeaaaalllyyy poorly to the anesthesia. It would be nice to know what it was in case I need to avoid it in the future. Why don't they let the patients in on this????Anyway, that aside, I'm glad to hear that you're recovering. Enjoy your rest.

  3. 5

    "But I don't get why docs have to write on your person instead of on your chart."You hear about the guy who had a tumor in his left thigh, and they went and amputated his right leg? And the 2nd worst part was that they still had to go back and amputate his left leg.The worst part was that he could't even sue for malpractice.He didn't have a leg to stand on.

  4. 9

    Jason Thibeault – yes, that's why they write on your body. Charts can be misplaced or, worse yet, switched with someone else's. Bodies that carry their own instructions are more likely to be operated on correctly.

  5. 10

    I'm late (again) but I'm so happy that you're doing well (aside from the bad reaction bleh). Your experience sounds a lot like mine, including the warm blankies and being surprised at fighting so hard to wake up.Here's more wishes to fully healing very soon!

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