An Approximate Surgery Timeline

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1230 Arrive at hospital. Get bracelet-ed up.

1240 Arrive at surgery center.

110 Taken back to surgery area. Rather than a stretcher they have a big chair. Give them some urine to confirm my not-knocked-up status. Change into an ugly gown.

130ish Give nurse and then adorable Med Student Chad my medical history. Med Student Chad is only on his second week of ortho and is fascinated by my ankle. Move the ankle around in it’s freaky ways to show him.

2 Tell nurse I’m anxious and am always anxious pre surgery. It’s true, ever since they left me alone for an hour in a surgery center before my tonsils came out many years ago and I had a full blown panic attack. Nurse says that the OR that I am booked in is running late and so my anesthesia doctor is not available.

230 My surgery is scheduled to start in 10 minutes but they are running late. Summon nurse. Tell her that she if she leaves me alone for much longer I am going to start having panic attacks.

240 A totally random anesthesiologist arrives and informs me that he cannot give me anything good because he isn’t working on my case. Would a valium help? It would help SOME, I guess, I tell him.  As he’s arriving my surgeon, Dr. McGuigan, arrives and asks if I have any more questions.  I don’t, really.

300: Med Student Chad reappears. Still waiting? he asks, and I say yes. Mind if I join you, he asks, and I say no, not at all.

3-340: Med Student Chad sits and talks to me for quite awhile. He is funny and interesting and it is very helpful to have someone distract me. We talk about how he is having trouble figuring out his specialty because he doesn’t get to rotate through everything he’s interested in. And other random stuff. I also showed him more ankle tricks and he was fascinated. It was adorable.

335: Another nurse finally comes in and says that they are coming out of the OR. Now they have to clean it. Just get the blood off the floor? I say, and she laughs and says something like that.

345: Anesthesiologist shows up with her nurse. I don’t especially like the doctor herself—I don’t dislike her either but she just isn’t terrific—but the nurse is very sweet. She inserts a needle into my arm with some numbing stuff in it and then tries to start an IV. It does not work. She tries again and again. Still nothing. She goes for my hand. Nope. There are now bruises everywhere she tried, and may I say, thank goodness for numbing stuff inserted BEFORE she starts messing with a bigger needle. Apparently the fact that I haven’t had water in 30 hours means that my veins are not interested in popping up. There’s no choice, the nurse says, they have to take me back totally awake and put me to sleep with the gas. Somebody checks to make sure that the doctor initialed my right leg. Med Student Chad jokes that otherwise they might amputate it. Drug Nurse says that isn’t funny. I say it was. Drug Nurse tells my mom they’ll take care of me and they start to wheel me back.

355: I am definitely a little freaked out and feel tears gathering at the corner of my eyes. Normally they start the knocking out process BEFORE one gets to the OR. It’s freezing cold and someone brings me a warm blanket. Every descends on me all at once, lifting the sleeve of my gown off, attaching EKGs sensors and pulse monitors, etc. It’s a bit overwhelming.  Drug Nurse puts her hands on my face and tells me to take deep breaths. The gas smells gross and gassy (technical term) and I feel myself drift off slowly.

4-645ish: Surgery. I have the operative report but I have no idea what it means. Apparently I was draped and cleaned and then the leg was exsanguinated and a tourniquet applied, which basically means they sucked all the blood out of it and then cut off blood flow to the leg. Hmm. Also, apparently there was all sorts of gross sublaxation and gross laxity and gross instability. Dense scarring was  found as well as a kind of stitches. Something called a rotary sucker shaver was used to debride areas, which apparently means sucking out the dead parts. Or something. Blah blah blah, basically I gather it was really fucking lose. He took, I gather, a 5 mm graft from another tendon ad did some sort of weave involving a tunnel in a bone. WEIRD RIGHT?

7-8: waking up. Slowly. I kept waking up a little bit and saying I was OK only to have the nurse push me back into bed (gently!) and tell me my blood pressure was still high, etc. I got more drugs. And my blood pressure kept getting checked. I drifted in and out for quite awhile before they finally let me go to the other recovery area, where I met Nicole and got my favorite part of the surgery, the post surgery drink and crackers.

9ish: They took my blood pressure one last time and explained the antibiotic/other drugs to me. I fell asleep so Nicole signed for it instead.

930: When we got home I couldn’t walk even on crutches. I crawled up the hill, up the stairs, into the bathroom and into bed.

Since then I’ve been in a fair amount of pain. The ankle hurts every time I move, especially to stand up. I think it’s partially the blood rushing to it. If it’s still and elevated it’s more tolerable, just a general ache rather than the sharp pain. When I move around though—whoa. I don’t like the way narcotics make me feel but I am not fucking around with this: we’re talking Percocet every 4 hours, an antibiotic every 6, and an anti-nausea every 8. Plus daily aspirin to prevent blood clots.

Overall this was a pretty good experience. The pain is awful and I HATED waiting for an OR but Georgetown exuded competence in a way that Sibley did not, and overall I think they did a  good job. The surgeon was apparently very confident that it would work and also very unhappy at what the previous ortho had done: when I get more details about that at my follow up next week I will post again!

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