Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Surgical Daycare Experience

Having surgery can be a very different experience for different people. On Friday, after months and months of debating the pros and cons, I finally got a VAD (vascular access device) in hopes of making future courses of IV antibiotics slightly easier than dealing with PICC lines. It wasn’t a big deal, a simple day surgery with great doctors and nurses taking care of me. But as I waited amongst the various patients, I couldn’t help but feel a bit like cattle being ushered through the surgical system.

It was 10:30am when I walked into the surgical daycare unit, not necessarily full of angst, but filled with feelings of indifference. It actually felt like just another day at St. Paul’s Hospital. The surgical daycare waiting room was full of mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, sisters and friends. One after another, we were called in, and told to change into the chic blue hospital gowns and put funny blue paper slippers on our feet. It occurred to me that the word gown is the same word to describe glamorous dresses worn by Hollywood stars at red carpet events. Part of me wanted to pretend we (the patients) were movie stars just waiting to be called in to receive our…award, or in our case, surgery.

With my stylish blue “gown” and my pants and socks defiantly still on, I was called into my little hospital bed separated by the other “movie stars” by a thin curtain. Thankfully, with my Momma by my side (James was finishing up an exam at school), we waited, and waited, and waited. All while my stomach was clearly declaring to me through curious noises how it longed for food and water.

After a while of waiting, a lovely nurse came in and asked all the appropriate questions in order to complete her pre-op assessment questionnaire.

After another long while of waiting, the anesthesiologist popped his head through my high-class curtain-separated bed to discuss what type of anesthesia they wanted to use. It was decided that general anesthesia was the safest route for me although this wasn’t my first choice. This way they would at least be able to monitor my lungs more closely and prevent any lung collapse, so I agreed. Soon after this discussion I was blindly (no glasses allowed at this point) wheeled into the familiar yet intimidating OR to be put to sleep. Feeling well taken care of, with a mask on my face, I closed my eyes and was forced to sleep by those wonderful drugs that send you off to la la land.

Hours later I woke up with expected pain and confusion and a lump in my chest that would now be a part of me. A third nipple or nubbin as I joked, but ultimately, a part of me that will hopefully make life a little easier. After getting my pain under control with Fentanyl, Oxycodone and Ativan, my O2 sats started to decline because of the deep sleep I soon fell into. Nasal prongs of O2 were promptly placed under my nose and my mom and husband were soon able to come in and comfort me as my body recovered from having a tube down my throat, my skin cut and sutured and having a line threaded into my jugular. Relief engulfed my body as I saw my Momma and my long-haired James wearing a “trophy husband” t-shirt… obviously. I was happy the surgery was over and I would soon be able to go home and cuddle my sweet little French bulldog.

The surgical daycare is an interesting place. It’s a place filled with anxiety, pain and worry but also filled with family, care and love. This may not be my last experience in the surgical daycare, but I’ll be happy if it’s at least my last for a while.