On the eve of my surgery I shared a lovely early evening run with my husband, we did an easy five miles and because it was hot and humid, took the opportunity to jump into Lake Michigan at the half-way point. I love running and the lake and wanted to savor one last bit because I knew I would be laid up for a while. When I got home it was time to do the antiseptic soap shower, fresh jammies and sheets, then early to bed. I was prepared for a sporadic night of “sleep” and an early alarm, just like every pre-marathon/triathlon night.
I was dreading the two hours between checking in at 5 am and the scheduled surgery time, thinking I would be really anxious and start to get overly emotional. I was actually really calm and relaxed, a good part of that was having my husband and sister there to cheer me on. The process was going smoothly and quickly and the time was slipping away faster than I thought. Gown, IV, last meeting with the surgeon and some sharpie to mark LEFT on my belly. The surgeon thought the tattoo on my left hip/flank was the prettiest he’s ever seen and warned me that if they had to convert to an open procedure (he’s only ever had to do it one time in 15+ years) that it would be a mess. I told him not to worry, open me up if it’s really needed, it would be an excuse for more cover-up work.
The anesthesiologist came in next and gave us the first hint that things were not quite on schedule. Evidently a blood test that should have been ordered two weeks prior (when I had about 20 vials of blood drawn) was not sent until the day before. And it was an important one, the final HIV/infectious diseases screen. It had been sent to Indiana and would take at least four hours to run. This of course caused all kinds of back ups and delays, with four surgeons, two anesthesiologists, two OR nurses and two ORs to coordinate, plus all kinds of support staff. We didn’t wind up going into surgery until after 3 pm! If you had told me this the day before I would have thought it was my worst nightmare. I was so ready to get the procedure underway and move on to recovery. It actually wasn’t too horrible, again thanks to my husband and sister, awful tv, lovely nurses and a decent background in mental endurance. I took a two-hour nap mid-morning and when I woke up I joked “is it over? is my kidney gone yet?”
The ten hour delay gave me a good chunk of time to go over my fears about anesthesia. I had never had it before and I am a control freak, so handing over all of my functions to someone else is just about the most anxiety-provoking thing you could do to me. He reassured me that I would be easy to intubate, my prominent chin/jawline finally pays off! The anesthesiologist was great, rattling off a whole cocktail of drugs he would introduce at different points of the surgery to reduce nausea and leave me more clear-headed when I woke. And it worked! I wish I could have hugged that guy afterward. No nausea (even though being youngish, female, having an abdominal procedure lasting over one hour stacks the deck against me) and although I took nearly two hours to wake up, once I did I knew exactly where I was and what had happened. The anesthesiologist joked that if he had been Michael Jackson’s doctor he would still be alive. After surgery, I have no doubt that this would be true – this guy knows his pharmacology.