This is still the afternoon of Feb. 23rd.
So I’m back at the hospital with my mom, trying to show her where the nurses said that she could pick me up - at the recovery room. I started going the wrong way and a nurse on her way home helped us out. We got to the right place and there was another nurse at the end of the hall calling out my name. She said that they were already asking for me.
She led us into a room which was empty at this time of day, but had about 6 bed areas. She told me to go to one and gave me a gown and booties. I got changed into the hospital gown but I did get to keep my underwear on. I gave mom the peg-leg and she headed home to wait for the phone call to pick me up. The nurse said (about 5 times) “oh, you won’t need those (the booties) because you won’t be walking anywhere”, but she wouldn’t take them from me. More questions, and again “Are you staying overnight?”. No. I don’t know. You tell me.
She got me on the bed and covered up and wheeled me over to another room/hall/waiting area. I didn’t have my glasses on anymore so everything was a little blurry. I asked her on the way if she knew if it would be a regional (spinal block) or general anesthetic. She said that the anesthesiologist, Dr K., and I would decide, but she figured because I was young and healthy that the general would be their preference. The regional requires a longer post-op stay in the hospital. She said Dr. K. is very good.
She left me there. There were a few people walking around, but no one acknowledged my presence for a while. I felt like I had a private window into what goes on behind the scenes in a way. Nurses talking about trying to get procedures rescheduled to suit them, doctors sauntering around, both just talking about procedures, not patients (i.e. “Is the thigh reconstruct finished? What’s next, the achilles?). Eventually (20 minutes?) a guy comes over and introduces himself as the anesthesiologist, not Dr. K. He’s got a young looking helper with him (keep that guy away from me!). So he’s not Dr. K., but he’s quite friendly. Maybe too friendly. From the way he stroked the back of my hand to show me where the IV would go I thought maybe he was gay (keep that guy away from me too!). So lots of questions again but there’s no discussion. When he’s done with the questions he tells me what’s going to happen; nurse will start an IV (where he strokes me), then he’ll give me something to help me relax, then they’ll give me some oxygen, then I’ll go to sleep.
He and his helper leave and I see Dr. H. hanging around. He comes over to confirm which leg is to be done and initials my knee (it’s pretty obvious which leg is damaged, but if he’s going to mark me up he should at least do the back of my leg so he can see it when I’m on my stomach). I ask if I’ll be in a cast when I wake up and he says “Yeah, likely a cast. I’ll do an evaluation and decide on a cast or splint”. I ask if it will be in the equinus position, and he says yes. I try to get more info out of him, like how long before I change casts, when does the angle change, etc., but he’s distracted. He keeps trying to walk away and when I start saying something he says “Oh, did you have more questions?” Give me a minute, dammit! He’s pissed me off and I don’t want to talk to him anymore, so I say I’m done. He says “It’s only tying up some tendon. Piece of cake.”
He walks away past my head. I can hear that he’s still within range so I call out “Don’t give me an infection!” Smartass? Maybe.
His reply, “I don’t have an infection so how can I give you one?” Smartass? Definitely.
Someone says it will be about 20 minutes. The nurses do talk to me a little bit, and after 20 minutes one of them says she might as well start the IV. I tell her that I wouldn’t rather have anyone else do it than her (I better have someone on my side in that room!). She says she’s worried that I have disappearing veins - they look good but they’re hard to get, but she does a great job. Barely felt a thing. When the liquid starts coming in it feels cold, and she slows down the flow.
We wait about another 15 minutes then they take me into the OR, where we wait some more. They hook me up with sensors on my back, a blood pressure cuff, and a pulse monitor. Wait some more, and I’m getting chills. Finally, about 7:00 I think, Dr. H and the anesthesiologist and his helper arrive. The A’gist gets his drug ready and puts it into the IV. I can almost feel pressure in my veins - very uncomfortable. Then a nurse brings over the oxygen mask and tells me to take deep breaths. I do about 3, and she says again “Deep breaths”. One or two more and I’m out. I thought there was one more step in this - I wasn’t ready!
I wake up in the Recovery room to nurses calling my name. Very disoriented. There’s goop in my eyes and of course I don’t have my glasses so everything is a blur. I’m talking but I don’t know what I’m saying. I can kind of see there’s a cast on my leg and I can tell that it’s white and I’m wondering if it’s plaster or fiberglass. I start poking at it with the big toe on my right foot and they tell me not to do that because it’s still wet. I say “I don’t know what they gave me but one of those things is making me talk a lot”. They laugh and agree. I say “It’s too bad that my mom’s not here now because sometimes I can’t talk to her”. The grogginess is slowly dissipating. One of them asks about pain. I tell her it’s about a 3 or 4 - other than when the Dr. pushed on my foot earlier today, it’s the worst that it’s felt. She injects some morphine into the IV.
I get some kleenex to wipe my eyes, and one of them retrieves my glasses. I don’t really know the timeline, but I get asked about the pain again. It feels about the same to me, so I agree to more morphine (how many times do you legally get to try that?) Some more time passes, and the pain still feels about the same. Not terrible, but uncomfortable. I don’t think I would be able to sleep like that. She says that it’s normal to feel something - I just had surgery! Then I get offered Tylenol 3 or Percocet. I’d heard good things about Percocet, and I’ve had Tylenol 3 before but it didn’t seem to do much, so Perc’s it is! Load me up! It was 9:00 when I got the pills - maybe I was in there for half an hour before that?
They ask about nausea. The room is a little unstable and spins sometimes, but I don’t feel too bad that way so I decline their offer of Gravol. Kate and I did some travelling in SE Asia, and I would take Gravol before our bus trips to make sure I didn’t get motion sickness. The stuff would knock me out. We’d be crammed in, 4 people on a bench seat with bags and chickens all around, bouncing around on terrible roads, and I’d be asleep. Then we tried it on a flight from NZ to Singapore and it did the opposite - made us jumpy and our skin crawl - couldn’t sleep at all. So I declined partly because I didn’t want either of those things to happen.
After a while I get transferred to the 4th floor. Why? I don’t know. But now my mom won’t be getting me from the recovery room. Shouldn’t be a big deal, but she was already worried about getting me from the recovery room because she doesn’t know this hospital. I get put in a room with a couple other guys, and get offered some juice, which tastes great. My tongue has a big swollen section (still swollen now, 2 days later), which I guess is from having a tube in my mouth while I was out.
I again get offered Gravol, and again decline. I had a newspaper in my bag, which I am able to read for short periods. The nurse says she could probably call my ride now (about 11:00?), and I say OK. She makes the call and then gives me my bag to get dressed. I get my clothes on, but there’s some definite nausea happening. I lay back down, and when the nurse comes back I say that maybe I will take the Gravol. She says OK, but then comes back and says that she can’t give it to me after all - it was on my Recovery Room orders from the doc, but not Post Op, so she can’t do it. She says I probably don’t want to eat much for the next day or so - just broth, juice, etc. She also says that the prescribed painkillers might bung me up so I might want to get a stool softener, or maybe not because I’m young.
My mom happened to recognize my shoe as she was walking around and comes in. The nurse gets a wheelchair and I get it. I don’t feel too bad until my mom starts pushing the chair. ”Whoa. Don’t push. I don’t feel good. I need to move myself.” Mom gets a bag from the nurse in case I vomit. We make our way to the ER doors and mom goes and pulls up the van. I make my way in and tell her “Drive smooth”.
The Shopper’s Drugmart is 24 hours and right on the way home. I go in with my mom and ask her to grab a can of soup and some Gravol - I’ll risk either side effect now. I give my prescription to the pharmacist and sit and close my eyes. There’s a damn propane powered floor cleaner that a guy is racing up and down the aisles with - loud. It doesn’t take too long, but I can barely hear what the pharmacist says because of the floor cleaner. I figure that there’s always instructions in the bag so I don’t worry about it too much. There’s actually another person in line in front of us so while mom waits to pay I head outside because I’m feeling pukey again. A few minutes in the cold air helps. We get home and I ask mom to make up the couch for me. I don’t know how well I’m going to sleep so I want the TV available. I pop a couple gravol.
Turns out I have 3 different pills, all painkillers.
- Lyrica (Pregabalin, 75mg), typically used for nerve pain. 1 pill twice a day for 5 days.
- Tramacet (Tramadol/Acet 37.5/325), an analgesic. 1 to 2 every 6 hours as needed.
- Ratio-Oxycocet (Oxycodone HCL/ACETA 5/325), a narcotic. 1 to 2 every 6 hours as needed.
I make it to the chair beside the couch. I check out the pills, and I’m not feeling great so I take the full dose of everything. Mom heats up the chicken soup which I eat a little of, then it’s on to the couch. Another few moments of nausea, then I lay down and prop my leg up on a cushion and a pillow and I’m out pretty quickly. I wake up a few times but it’s a pretty cozy sleep.