Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Surgery, Italian Style

WARNING:  I'm not going to get into much female anatomy here, but this post does acknowledge the fact that I have girly bits.

Last week I went in for a minor surgical procedure.  They call it "Day Hospital" here.  Clever, no?

I was required to be there at 7 a.m.  I knew the procedure would last about 15-20 minutes.  Home by noon-ish???

Whooooah...hold your horses there, little lady.  That's not how we do things here.  To be fair, I don't know how they do those things anywhere since I've only ever had surgery in Italy.  A little bit of forewarning would have gone a long way to ease my stress, though.

So, by 7 a.m., the extremely large waiting area with a sparse number of chairs was pretty full up.  At least the chairs were all full, the waiting area was truly vast.  I was among the first group of 3 women to be called behind the security door.  We were assigned beds and told to put on our jammies (which we left in the car because we were thinking wishfully) and our fashionable anti-thrombosis tights.  I wore those from home since that's how I interpreted the pre-op instructions.  I nervously waited while Carlo ran back to the car for my backpack.  What would I do if they said they were ready for me and I wasn't ready for them???

No worries!!

Those tights, by the way, cost 30 euros and are not reusble unless I have another operation.  They are starkly white thigh-highs with a large hole situated above the toes so they can give a looky and make sure they're not turning blue, I guess.  It was somewhat entertaining watching my roommates trying to figure out which way they were supposed to go on.

Shortly after we were assigned beds, we were joined by another woman since there was a 4th empty bed, but no locker for her stuff.  One of my roomies let her share her locker.  I'm still pondering the locker set-up.  They all had removable keys, but what are you supposed to do with the key?  You can't take it with you to the operating room. 

In no time, everyone else was asleep but thankfully I had my Kindle to keep me occupied.  How can anyone sleep when they're waiting for surgery?  I could barely read.  However, I was just closing my eyes, when they came in to take away the first victim.  That was at 10:30.  She was in the first bed, but I was the first one to complete my paperwork and have blood drawn.  Huh?  An hour later, they came for the 4th woman, followed an hour later by the second one.  None of them had come back by the time they finally came for me, around 1:30.

By this time I was pretty nervous and hungry and thirsty, too!  I was not allowed to eat or drink since midnight the night before.  My head was starting to pound from the combination.  Probably the lack of caffeine contributed, too.

Up in the operating suite a nurse started slapping my right wrist to find a vein to insert the IV.  She slapped and slapped and it was starting to hurt.  She did apologize, but she also stuck a needle in anyway, even though she never found that vein.  Always a painful mistake.  Now, a week later, my wrist is still bruised and my right thumb doesn't have enough strength to hold a pencil to write.

She gave up and put the IV needle in my elbow instead.

Next my gurney was pushed into the actual operating room.  Of course my feet were sticking out beyond the end of it and got smashed into a huge rack holding a TV and various electronic equipment.  But that's forgivable.  It was probably near the end of a long day...a few people mentioned to me that I was the last one.

But here's where I get pissed off.  The surgeon and a couple of the nurses said I was going to get an epidural now.  Whaaa???  When given the choice the previous week at my consultation with the anesthesiologist, I emphatically told her I did not want an epidural, but chose general anesthesia instead.  So I told them NO spinale, I wanted generale instead.  Then they had the anesthesiologist (a different one from the consult) come in and browbeat me into agreeing to the spinale

My reasoning for choosing the general over the epidural is because I'm basically a baby.  I've had two epidurals and they were very painful going in.  I also didn't want to be awake for any of it...I didn't want to hear anything, smell anything, see anything.  I just wanted to wake up and have it all be done.

So I got the epidural and it wasn't that bad going in.  She used a slightly different procedure than the other times.  My legs got warm and sluggish.  Then they put up a curtain over my belly so I couldn't see anything.  But I could feel something poking around inside me that was quite uncomfortable and I said ow, or some such.  The anesthetist said she was going to give me a sedative in my IV drip.  That's the last I remember of my procedure.

So I don't really get what the sedative was for...  I mean, why not just give me the general in the first place instead of the other two combined?  I'll never know.

And another thing, way back months ago when my polyp was photographed and biopsied, the doctor who performed the procedures said he would also do my removal operation.   I also met with him a few weeks ago to go over the procedure and set a date.  Guess what?  I don't know for certain since I was asleep, but he wasn't the surgeon with whom I spoke immediately preceding the snip.

That doesn't really matter to me, but why the charade?  I'm not willing to put money on it, but I'm pretty sure I saw my original doctor walking around the non-op area of my hospital wing at one point.

What did rather surprise me was the number of people in the small-ish operating room.  There were the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and about 5 or 6 nurses, milling around, busy as bees.  Is that unusual?  I don't know.

After the snip, I was wheeled into the recovery room.  Again there were four of us, one of whom was my roommate from down the hall.  Another one just had a C-section.  Wheee!!!  When I could prove I could move my feet, they took me back to my room.  Not a good feeling, not being able to move your legs.

Back in my original room, all my original roomies were there in various states of recovery--some sleeping, some upright, most with a friend or family member accompanying them.  A nurse went and fetched my husband who had been cooling his heels for hours!!!

I lazed about in bed, not doing much.  My head hurt a bit and I was ravenously hungry, but other than that, I felt okay.  They brought in dinner for roommate #4.  I don't know why she was different from the rest of us, maybe she had a less invasive procedure.  She didn't want it and very kindly offered it to DH because he was looking pretty hungry, I guess.  He declined.  She was shortly thereafter called in for an exam and released.  Last in, first out!

After dozing on and off for awhile, the lady from Bed #1 and I were called in for exams.  The office had no chair in which to plop my rubbery bones while I waited for #1 to be examined.  I thought I was going to faint standing there thinking about how much my head hurt when I was upright.  I was finally called in for my "visit".  Never have I been so eager to lie down and put my legs up in stirrups.  I was deemed fit for release!

Waiting for me back in the room was the usual hospital fare of lukewarm, weak tea in a big plastic bowl and a couple packages of the dehydrated toast that is the breakfast of Italian champions, north and south.  Boy, did that "snack" bring back memories of my baby-birthing-hospital-stay days.

I dressed hastily after downing as much of that stuff as my headache would allow and we hightailed it out of there.

Getting home was a trip. I could not find a comfortable position for my head. We had to stop at least once to barf...maybe twice, but oddly enough, I don't remember for sure. I do remember the one time, though, that we had to stop. It was right in front of a Chinese restaurant. ALL the tea and toast came up.

Got home...had a bowl of soup, which didn't stay down long. Went to bed. Thankfully my head didn't hurt when I was lying down.

Friday morning I had a cup of tea and a cookie. Guess where that ended up? Luckily DH had to go to the local hospital that morning to get his allergy shot and the dr. knew about my surgery from his last injection, remembered, and asked how I was doing. He was kind enough to prescribe an injection for me that would stop the nausea!

Saturday morning, DH even called the EMTs to come and take me to the hospital or advise on what to do for me since I threw up my breakfast yet again.  They recommended that he just keep giving me the injections since they seemed to be working. For 2 days, I was getting jabbed in the butt twice a day. It worked, but I still couldn't eat much and my head would not let up!

Sunday I could keep down what little I ate on my own. Head still pounded and my only comfortable position was lying down.

Monday I was vertical the entire day and my head did not hurt for the first time. I also ate nearly normally.  However it snowed all day long (first snow of the year) and the kids were home from school for Carnevale vacation and absolutely chomping at the bit to go try out their new sled for the first time.  There was no way I could accommodate them and I felt rotten about it.  I was, however, able to take them out the following day for a few zips down the nearby hill.  Everyone was happy!!!

The silver lining of all this, though, is that I lost 5 kilos!!!

And the golden lining is that we didn't have to pay for or do any complicated paperwork for the entire hospital stay or the EMT visit.  God bless universal healthcare!!!

And, by the way, I'm not at all bothered Down There.  The surgery was never an issue with my post-op recovery problems.  It was just my damn head that wouldn't quit aching.  I talked to a friend yesterday who said she had the same reaction to her spinale.  I wish someone along the way would have warned me about this ahead of time.  I don't know that I could have done anything different, but we were pretty worried for a few days.

I'm still incredibly weak and my right thumb isn't right (no, it's not left, either).  I just wasn't expecting this kind of outcome at all.  This post-op recovery has really thrown me for a loop.  Live and learn, I always say.


1 comment:

  1. Melanie, I hope you're feeling better and back to normal!