Steps to a Successful Surgery

1. Have something wrong that can only be fixed surgically. One option is an unstable ankle where the ligament is so stretched that, when your doctor feels it, he will exclaim “shit!” and when looking at the stress x-ray you will hear him say to the tech “oh my god, Mike, LOOK AT THIS.”

2. Schedule the surgery. If your doctor is amazing but his office staff is awful, this can be a very annoying process.

3. Receive documents in the mail that explain that you need a History and Physical before the appointment. Three days before the surgery, in fact. Note that the surgery is in a week. See: office staff.

4. Get in to see nurse practitioner at hospital where surgery will be. Basically, this consists of answering roughly 234232 questions about what kinds of medicine you take, whether or not you smoke, and how often you drink. Also if you are a druggie. Then she listens to your heart and checks your reflexes. If House is right and “people lie” this H&P just ain’t gonna cut it. On the plus side, the nurse says your surgery is at 9am Friday, not 10, as the office staff told you. See: office staff.

5. The day before surgery take a shower using Hibiclens, a bizarre pre-surgical scrub. Repeat the next morning, taking extra care to scrub the affected area for 2 minutes. Try making it to 2 minutes. Fail.

6. Arrive at the hospital by 7am. Say hello to the admin people. Wait around in a room outside 2West with a bunch of pieces of paper. Finally get taken back to a room.

7. Wait a little longer.

8. A tech at last arrives and starts quizzing you on your DOB, full name, etc. Tell her you get very anxious about general anesthesia and would like somthing for the anxiety. She says she’ll check on that. Take off your clothes and put on your gown, socks and sexy hairnet. Get in bed/stretcher.

9. Nurse. She attaches, but does not turn on, blood pressure, pulse ox, and EKG stuff. Mention the anxiety thing again.

10. Anesthesia Man. Anxiety, anxiety, you tell him. You aren’t actually feeling super anxious right now, but the time you had your tonsils out they left you alone for awhile, and you freaked out and told the doctor to call it off. You want to head things like this off at the pass. You tell him you get very anxious because you know someone who woke up during surgery (you do) and he says you won’t. You confirm he will be monitoring you and to your surprise he says they usually don’t but since you asked he will.

11. Nurse comes in and hangs antibiotics. She reassures you it will not conflict with any of the 23423423 antibiotics you are allergic too. She also says your pregnancy test was negative. You already know this, but on this one they never ever believe the patient.

12. Dad arrives! You play the last letter-first letter game with places.  He’s never actually played, which is amusing.

13. Surgeon comes in. You show him more ankle tricks. He rolls his eyes and says “don’t do that in front of me” and “after this you can’t do that!” We agree on a recovery time of eight weeks. He says “at LEAST for the weekend…” and you say “at least for the weekend I will stay in bed with my leg elevated and then on Monday I’ll go to school.” “See how you feel” he says and marks his initials and a giant fucking arrow over the appropriate ankle, just in case he forgets and slices open the other one only to find the plate he put in there last year.


14. Anesthesia Lady, whom you like more, comes in. She pulls a tube of some sort of anti anxiety something out of her pocket and says she’s just going to run it. She runs it and sticks it in your IV. You start feeling calmer. And more peaceful. Like a cloud.

15. Dad leaves.

16. Wheels up! Down the hall to the OR. It’s cold and you keep asking for more blankets. You think you read a compelling reason the other day why ORs are kept at 60 degrees but you cannot remember what it was. You ask why it’s cold but the person pushing says so it doesn’t get too hot for the surgeons under the lights.

17. The Anesthesia Lady strokes your hairnet for a minute as a the nurse puts two heated blankets over you. A mask is placed over your face. You remove it briefly to ask something. Then she puts it back on and says just breathe, and you do.

18. You are aware of some pain in your leg. You open your eyes and croak (since they shoved a tube down your throat while your asleep, croaking is the only thing possible) something about pain and nausea and going home. A nurse tells you to sleep and shoots you up with something for both.

19. You drift in and out, periodically complaining and getting drugs.

20. You start getting sick of the whole thing and attempt to sit up. It takes awhile but eventually the nurse, albeit a little reluctantly, takes you into a room.

21. Another nurse you recognize from last time appears. “Can I go home,” you ask, and she says almost. “Is that ginger ale for me?” you ask. “Yes, but yet,” she says. She makes you have temp check etc and then finally, FINALLY, ginger ale. SO GOOD.

22. Then you get dressed and have to wait for a little longer until a wheelchair arrives. An old lady pushes you down to the car. Your dad says the surgeon says that “there wasn’t a lot to work with there” and no one is yet sure what this means. Your dad apparently heard that a lot of ligament was ground down and they had to take ligament from elsewhere. The whole thing is really a bit confusing. He did mention the possibility of having to go back for more surgery, a possibility you have nixed if at ll possible: and now you are especially glad you had it done now.


One response

  1. KP

    Oh my God, the post-surgery ginger ale. Perhaps the best sensation EVER, no? Especially when everything else feels so strange and floaty and uncertain and there are bandages and orange antiseptic stuff all over your leg. Ginger ale was my saving grace, post-ACL surgery. 🙂

    January 31, 2011 at 10:49 pm

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