As April 29 approached, I noticed my moods were all over the map. It was almost like I was bipolar – and I mean no disrespect to people with bipolar disorder. I was depressed, euphoric, angry, distant and goofy – sometimes all in the same day. It must have been tough for my wife and my son to live with me, and the closer the 29th got, the more up and down I became.
My sister-in-law came to visit a couple of days before the event, which helped me get my mind off myself and offered support to my family. I’m very grateful to her for coming. Having her there helped us all relax a bit.
The day before the surgery was the toughest day to date. I was nervous about the operation itself for quite a while. I’ve been put to sleep for surgery a dozen times throughout my life, so that really didn’t worry me too much at first, but it became a real problem for me the closer the date got.
For some reason, I was worried I might not wake up after the surgery. My doctor had told me that was a function of age, and that there was absolutely no reason to think this surgery would be different from any of the others. I felt fine with it after that – until the night before.
I think my heart rate was pretty high the day before, and my blood pressure was amped up too. Let’s just say it was also a lot easier to go to the bathroom than usual.
The morning came and I felt refreshed after a good sleep; I don’t ever have problems sleeping. I had to be at St. Paul’s by 9 a.m., with the surgery slated for noon. We were up by 7 a.m. and I had a shower and used those antibacterial pads to get myself all shiny and clean.
We went to the hospital and settled in for the wait.
I had a little entourage of three – my wife, my son and my sister-in-law, and we spent the morning chatting and trying to keep me entertained.
When noon rolled around, I was still sitting in the waiting area in my gown and booties waiting for the main event.
Someone came for me shortly before 1 p.m., which meant the surgeries before me had taken longer than expected. We walked for what felt like about a hundred miles from the waiting area to the pre-operative waiting area. The hospital staff were very kind to let all four of us into this area – normally only two people are allowed to accompany the patient. We sat and watched the flow of people in surgical dress all around us for fifteen minutes or so, and then the anesthetist came and introduced himself to us.
He was about eighteen.
Okay, maybe not that young, but he was a young guy. He really presented an air of confidence and competence, as well as a great bedside manner. He told me what was going to happen and that he’d try to make the experience as comfortable as possible for me and he’d try to make sure I wouldn’t have a headache when I woke up. I’d had trouble in the past with the drugs they use, and woke up on several occasions with a splitting headache that made me sick to my stomach. None of us wanted that this time around.
A few minutes later, the head nurse came and got me. There were goodbye hugs and love-yous all around.
It took a couple of seconds to get into the operating room, and once inside I was introduced to everyone in there. I liked that a lot, because it really helped calm me down. As you can imagine, I was pretty relaxed by this time and ready to get things underway.
I lay down, had a chat with my surgeon and the doctor assisting him and listened while the eighteen-year old anesthetist explained what he was doing to the sixteen-year old intern watching.
Maybe I was a little off on their ages.
They checked my blood pressure one more time, and it was low. I had been calm all morning leading up to this – weird how the day before was frenetic but the day of was all calm.
The needles were put in my hand, the music in the operating room was turned down, and I quietly drifted off to sleep. It was a very pleasant experience.
I woke up about two seconds later to a nice lady patting my shoulder. We apparently had a wide-ranging discussion about Las Vegas. I’ve been there once a decade ago, but supposedly that’s what we talked about for quite a while until I was ready to go to my room.
I don’t remember any of that.
The one thing I do remember about waking up in recovery was saying out loud, “Yes! I made it!” That’s all, though.
I was wheeled out to meet my family, who had been waiting outside for a little over three hours, and we chatted all the way back to my room. I apparently was quite chatty and animated, but I don’t remember one single thing about the trip to the room, or much else for a few hours after that.
There was no pain, and I didn’t look like Mr. Pumpkin Head. That was a relief to both my family and me. I was pretty tired, so they didn’t stay long.
I was able to sit up that evening. I was determined to, because a friend of mine who had this surgery said he couldn’t sit up. It hurt like crazy, but I did it.
I had a great sleep that night, except for being woken up to take pain meds I didn’t need.
The pain meds are important, whether you think you need them or not. They want you to take them, because it would be harder to get pain under control if it gets too severe and you have no meds in you – they’d have to use more powerful drugs. They also give you a Heparin shot to help prevent blood clots.