Thursday, November 17, 2011

Operation Detail Dump pt. I

I thought I should write down my remembrances of my hospital experience before they are consigned to the dust bin of my aging brain.

On the morning of Monday, November 7th, I woke up before my alarm, which was set for 5:15 AM. The first thing I did was look out the front window, and sure enough my dad was already there. A quick shower and a long brushing of the teeth later, Christi and I were ready to go. Traffic is pretty light at 5:30 as you might expect, so we got to Toronto General in no time.

Finding the surgery admitting room was no problem. A shockingly cheery man with an Eastern European accent asked us to sit down in the steadily filling room. A very short time later we were sent into another waiting room. Sitting around, both Christi and I noticed that the photographs hanging on the walls were all quite nice. If I had to guess I would say that a few well-traveled surgeons with nice cameras had supplied them.

Being foolishly self-conscious I thought I would try to have a bowel movement - it was a regular part of my morning that my body was too shocked to consider - but no luck. I didn't like the idea of something happening on the O.R. table even though I'm sure there's a very medical way to deal with it. These are the things you think of when you're trying to avoid visualizing your major organs being shuffled.

Next a man asked me to come to a change room where I exchanged my clothes for a hospital gown. I had worn my "Unlucky" shirt at my mom's suggestion. Now no one would get the joke!

The change was followed by a thorough belly-shaving. As a hairy guy I had no problem with this.

The third room of the day was the large but-as-yet-not-full pre-op room. Now things were starting to look more hospital-like; bright lights, white floors, lots of med students and lots of machines. Here a nurse brought me a fresh-from-the-dryer blanket. I wasn't cold but it sure made me comfy and secure. While a R.T. (acronym! (Respiratory Therapist)) started my arterial IV, the nurse measured me up for anti-clotting stockings. In a very ego-fuelling way it was nice that she considered me a medium but "perhaps we'll need a large since your legs are so muscular." That's from bike racing lady!!! I don't know what size she decided upon in the end, but as she was rolling them on she kept urging the two male doctors to check them out. They demurred. By this time the RT had given up on my IV. My wrist was poked full of holes but the artery hadn't been found. She apologized profusely but I was okay. That freezing works like a dream.

Just as the room was starting to fill up and really buzz I was rolled into my operating room. I sat up to receive my epidural. While this was going on one of my surgeon's staff (who was not operating on me) dropped by to say hi. She's the sister-in-law of one of Christi's friends, so there's not a strong connection there. I thought it was nice of her to do so. Laying on my back again, the anesthesiologist put a mask over my face and asked me to count to ten. I don't think I made it to two...

1 comment:

  1. Well you didn't have a hairy belly when I was changing your diapers. But you sure have a deft writing touch and a sense of humour that shines. I haven't seen you for decades and I'm sorry that 'catching up' means following your journey through cancer. (I'd rather be following you on a bike although I'm pretty much a canal-side commuter.) Your mom told me about the Pancreatic Times. It's powerful and funny and honest. Thank you. Paul Koring