Surgery and Hospital – Part One

So, let’s talk about the surgery. The big one.

I went in to St. Mary’s about 7am on 4/23 for surgery. Spent only about 20 minutes in the waiting room, then they took me into the back. Settled me into a small waiting area, pretty much by myself. My surgeon comes back, and marks my left leg (so we work on the right one 🙂

They asked me to leave my hearing aid on.. except while we were waiting, my hearing aid battery DIED. Alas. But my hearing aid was left on (and didn’t work). They wanted me to hear instructions when I woke up. An anthesiologist comes in the waiting area and says they’re going to do a nerve block on my left leg. He inserts a needle into my left thigh. He explains this is more for AFTER the surgery, so I do not feel a single thing. I’m asked if I want to be awake or not. I stated “I have no desire to be awake for any part of the surgery” so he says they will be knocking me out cold.

Shortly thereafter, I’m taken into the back… my last memory is a room with big lights. I can count 6 people from my memory in the room when they rolled me in. My last memory is a man giving me an injection into the port they put in my wrist, and I read his lips and he said “this may make you a little sleep/dizzy”. Like 20 second later I said something like “oh yeah, that made me a little dizzy, but…”

Next thing I know, I’m in a recovery room. I open my eyes, and feel terrible. The surgery is done. I’m laying there, alone. Wondering where my Dad is, or where anyone is. I see a guy across from me, screaming in pain (but I can’t hear him).

I don’t wait long. Or at least, it doesn’t feel like long. I’m wheeled out. I ask if I’m going home today. They say “no, we’re going to a room.”

My dad appears. We take the elevator up to the 5th floor, where they put me in a room.

Now, the rest of this is growing hazy on me already. I should have written more about this, but I didn’t. The 5th floor was 3 days/3 nights of hell. i was in just incredible pain.

i would have shooting pain, like someone was jabbing a tons of electric needles into my leg and electricuting me repeatedly. My lower leg was entirely NUMB, but I could still feel this pain. I could not move my toes or foot at all. They did not react to my minds command.

With the pain I was feeling, I was worried. I mean, what was this going to feel like if I have a nerve block to PREVENT FEELING PAIN… when that block wore off?

The block wore off at 2am that morning, and I was in incredible pain. I was woken up because my big toe started twitching, and it felt like I was being bashed in the foot with a sledgehammer. A nurse came in, and gave me a shot of something. I have no idea what it was, but I went to sleep again…

I can’t remember who was in the room with  me that day or evening, really. I was given a whole crap load of drugs… I remember being given Morphine (knocked my ass out). I remember being given multiple shots, but having no clue what was given to me.

I could not pee. I could not poop. I would try to pee, but nothing happened. It was terrifying… I

One night, when my friend visited (I think Tuesday night), I had simply had too many pain drugs… and I freaked out. I felt like a total waste of humanity, and a drag on everyone I loved. I felt like the rest of my life, I would be a painful wart that couldn’t be removed properly. I started to cry uncontrollably. I could not stop myself. i was an emotional sprinkler.

They gave me a shot of morphine and a sleep pill. I felt the morphine take effect immediately, and I watched and waved as my Dad and friend left for the evening.

I was then woken up… I felt like I’d been asleep for-freaking-ever. I thought I slept for 24 hours or slipped into a coma. I was bathed in sweat when they woke me… and told me “it’s 10:30”. I’m like, wait, 10:30am? What?” and the nurse said “no, it’s only 10:30pm. You’ve been asleep for a few hours. Do you want an ambien now?”

I said yes. I took the ambien. WHAT A MISTAKE. Even on ambien, I could not fall asleep. I became terribly nauseous and began dry heaving into a bucket. That went on for over 2 hours, then I fell asleep and passed out cold.

I entered a realm of just terrible, awful dreams. I was emotionally blasted already, then ambien just amplified it. The dreams… I dunno. Like the worst shit imaginable. body parts flying, usingbloody severed limbs to play golf with severed cat and dog heads, marching, dead hitler molesting gerbils, the wall, pink floyd, terminators, all my loved ones as corpses, animated by breeze, hanging from trees, bits and pieces falling off… vivid beyond vivid… and total loss of control. I am a natural lucid dreamer. I can control my dreams… but under ambien, I couldn’t control ANYTHING, including my own mind.

When I woke up, I was still seriously nauseous, about 6:30am. I had to reach for a pan, which I started dry heaving into. I started throwing up small bits, but mostly just dry heaving. for the better part of an hour. Then I started to feel better.

I finally stopped, then they served me some breakfast (powdered eggs, sausage, orange juice, flavorless stuff that was supposed to be oatmeal, but tasted like wet newspaper). I ate that… then 30 minutes later, started getting nauseous again. Blew my breakfast out. Continued dry heaving for another hour after that.

Realized it had to be the durgs. My body just doesn’t handle these pain drugs well at all. Any pills, anything they give me… I need food in my stomach to handle it. Shots or pills, if you give that to me without food, I’m gonna have a bad day.

Well, sometime later.. a strange nurse with a weird nervous tic starts telling me they want to move me into the in-house rehab. Well, I’d been there for 2 days. Why not? Will it be better? I ask for details. I’m told “you’ll be out by this weekend.” I say “as long as my insurance is on board, it sounds like a good idea.”

Anyhow, I get another repeat day… just sitting in a bed, unable to see the TV well because there’s a huge bar above me (so I can pull myself up). I still can’t pee. Can’t poop… until later that evening. They get me up with a walker, and I’m allowed to jump around a bit. MOvement should help get my bowels moving again…

Okay, this episode gets gross here, but my goal is to honestly capture what I went through. You’re warned right here. if you don’t want to read about this part… SKIP A FEW PARAGRAPHS…

I could not pee. They had to bring in an ultrasound machine to measure how full my bladder was. the first time, they said “you have 600cc’s of urine”. and told me to pee. (note: after the fact, I lookedthis up. The average male bladder holds 350 to 400cc’s of urine… I was so screwed up from pain drugs, I could not control my own bladder, and did not notice it until my bladder was distended twice the normal size.) When I could not pee at all by myself, they ordered a catheterization. You asked “what is that?” It means, a nurses uses an iodine based lube on a rubber tube, which is inserted into the penis until it reaches your bladder. Then your bladder empties out like draining gas from the tank with a tube. My friend watched this… and remarked “you’re like a race horse.” They emptied 880 cc’s of urine from me. The next time, 600ccs… the next time… 1100ccs. They did this about 5 times (with an average around 800 cc’s) until I was able to pee on the toilet. I was able to get up using a walker, and sit on a toilet, which was natural to me. It allowed me to pee normally again. So part of it was drugs, but part of it was me: I just can’t pee unless I’m on the toilet, in the shower, or standing over a toilet. I can barely pee in the woods, man.

All of this frightened me so very much. I mean, my mom joked once “I can’t believe my life is beholden to how much I can pee.” in the hospital. <sigh> I miss my mom so very much.

So, last in the day, I’m told “you’re approved to move to inpatient rehab”. I’m told it will mean I will be getting up, they will be helping me get my bowel movements back, and bladder emptied, and learn how to get around safely. I guessed this was good, but I had no idea when I would be moved.

I got moved about 11:30am that day, and was in a new room by 12. It was a curious move… I’m in a wheel chair, and we’re going down 2 floors. We’re heading to an elevator… when out of the corner of my eye, I see what looks like a guy trip and fall down carrying a large box.

The next thing I know, another guy runs into the elevator and dodges past me (jumping over my precariously healing leg) and then 4 big burly guys run in the elevator and haul him away. I find out post-tense that the guy escaped from the mental ward, and the 4 guys placed themselves between the escapee and us. Whatever was wrong with that guy, he had the decency to jump over me and not hit me. He’s lucky. Even in a state of broken leg, had he hit me, i likely would have beaten him to a pulp.

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