lotus10’s AchillesBlog

Day of surgery

Posted in Uncategorized by lotus10 on the July 22, 2010

Pre-op procedures were fairly seamless. I filled out a form about my past medical/surgical/anesthesia history, faxed it, and waited until 4pm the day before to hear about my OR time. I was told 1:30pm, and to not drink or eat after midnight. I tried to argue - I should have known better - surely over 12 hours of fasting is a bit of an overkill? (Even babies can have clear liquids up to 4 hours before anesthesia - but I didn’t say that) But got shot down, and resigned myself to it. Luckily it was over 90 degrees that week, so there was very little appetite.

At 9am I got a call asking if I could come in a little earlier, because the surgeon is able to move up his schedule. It wasn’t a problem, I got to pre-op, registration, and things were moving quite smoothly. When the anesthesiologist came in was the first time I had to divulge that I am a physician. When in my work we meet families who, straight up, upon meeting them for the first time, tell you “I’m a doctor at U of…” or “My father is a head of …. Hospital”, it’s seriously off-putting. Same thing when they tell you “I’m a litigation lawyer” or “I work in malpractice” right away, before you can even talk. It’s like, so we should treat your baby differently? But maybe when it comes to your child, you go into that mode, to protect your own. Most doctors I know, even at their kids’ pediatrician visit, try to refrain from blurting out that they’re in medicine at all.

Then a resident came in. Also there was an ortho resident getting my consent. Now the date was July 2. Although many residencies start in the last week of June, we all chuckle, nudge, nudge, to each other about being hospitalized in July… when your doctors are brand new doctors, 2 months out of medical school. In fact, my friends told me, “request for no resident! only attendings!” I just couldn’t. We’ve all been there - I’ve had my first spinal tap, my first intubation, my first central line - so what if I was someone’s “first”? But luckily I fell asleep during the sciatic nerve block, and next thing I knew I was post-op.

I’d had high hopes that I would stay awake during the procedure and even see it on some screen, but looking back, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it. I was blissfully asleep on versed and propofol, and when I woke up my leg was in a cast very similar to the pre-op cast. I had to prove I could urinate, could walk up and down the hallway, drink water. My surgeon came in and told me that everything went well. I had meant to ask him, “was it way up there? was it all shredded?” but in my versed state, forgot to ask. He also said he talked to me before surgery… but I didn’t remember this part at all. Why would they talk to you when you’re all drugged up already for surgery?

I was getting my stuff together, when the nurse asked me if someone was coming to pick me up. I said no, I’m taking a cab home, and she freaked out. She said she cannot, cannot, discharge me to a cab! She had to see me being handed over to someone. I told her, yeah, the cabdriver, but that was not good enough. So reluctantly I called the unit where I work, asked my colleague to meet me at the hospital entrance. (if you’ve noticed, I am fiercely independent.) There was probably some eye rolling on both sides, like, “what is she thinking?” But happily I got my Norco tablets and was released from the hospital.

Upon their insistence, I gave in and decided to stay at a colleague’s place a few blocks from the hospital. (Yes, I’m lucky to work with very, very caring and nurturing people, and they know I’m stubborn.) It was 90+++++ degrees out, the long weekend was coming up. My leg was still numb, the World Cup was on, and I was rather content… until about midnight, when the throbbing began. I woke up wondering “WTF is going on???” and realized my block is wearing off. Which brought some relief, because, well, they didn’t completely damage the nerve! But then the throbbing came on and got stronger and stronger, it was like my heart was beating in the leg - thump thump, thump thump. I’ve had a ruptured appendicitis before and then I thought a drum was beating in my abdomen. Very similar. I took half a Norco tablet, then another, wondering if this is how Michael Jackson died?

One Response to 'Day of surgery'

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  1. normofthenorth said,

    on July 23rd, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Tune in tomorrow, and find out. . . You’re a tease, Dr. Lotus — but this is fun, so it’s OK. (There’s way less pain in the OTHER half of the randomized prospective trial, though! :-) . I know, I’ve done it BOTH ways now. Check out refs 4-7 in the Wikipedia article on ATR, at bit.ly/Wiki-ATR , for the studies showing the results.)

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