Day 1: Surgery
I was terrified. Scared out of my mind. I showered, knowing that it’d probably be a couple of days before I could shower again. And then my host dad and the kids took me to the hospital. My friends Tamika and Felina met us there. When I checked in at the front desk they gave me a buzzer, similar to those you get when waiting for a table at a restaurant. SO AMERICAN! When I was buzzed (only about 10 minutes later) I joked with the front desk ladies that I was ready for my steak. They told me that I was allowed to bring 2 people upstairs with me (or my host dad and the two kids) and we decided that Felina and Tamika would come up with me. The minute they wrapped that hospital bracelet around my wrist the nerves really kicked in.
A very old nurse took us up the elevator to the second floor. I was given a room, and climbed up onto the bed in my tshirt, shorts and thongs and made myself at home! Nurses came and went, had me signing paperwork (ie. signing my life away), gave me a stunning hospital gown to change into, made me go to the toilet, and finally hooked up an IV, leaving me bed-bound. There were a few jokes made about the fact that I wasn’t allowed to wear my underwear, and that there were no paper underwear (jokes about cheap American hospitals and cost-cutting).
We talked anti-nausea drugs, and I was lucky enough to get a ‘Scop’ patch, which is a little sticker stuck on your neck behind your ear, that emits an anti-nausea drug. I also begged for whatever they could give me so I wouldn’t feel sick afterwards, and more importantly, wouldn’t vomit.
My anesthesiologist was a gem. Once my IV was in it all moved pretty quickly, and before I knew it they were ready to give me the first of the sedative drugs. I was like “what, already?” and then they were in. I felt normal at first, and was telling my room full of nurses, friends and my surgeon a story, and that is where my memory ends. Tamika tells me that I was ‘hilarious’ when they gave me that first lot of drugs, and that they were told that I wouldn’t remember telling the end of the story. Very true! Tamika said I also exclaimed, whilst being wheeled away to the OR, that I felt like I was on a rollercoaster. I have NO recollection of this.
What I do remember, however, is being in the OR a few minutes later. I remember there being a few nurses, Mary (my anesthesiologist), bright lights, and I remember crying, but this only lasted a few seconds. That must have been when they gave me the ‘real’ drugs to knock me out.
I don’t have too strong a memory of when I first woke up – all I remember is a nurse asking me if I wanted pain medication in a pill or liquid form, and me asking for the liquid, as I wouldn’t be able to swallow a pill, and her remarking that I’d have to swallow pills eventually. That said, you’d think the nurse would have known to take what a severely drugged up patient was saying with a grain of salt – but nonetheless, she gave me Percocet in red-liquid form, and spilled some of it on my face as she tried to pour it into my mouth. I remember feeling sick, and being given more anti-emetic drugs through my IV.
I kept falling back to sleep, just wanting to rest. They asked me if I felt ready to get out of my bed and into a chair, and I said no. Lol. Lazy me. But eventually they got me into that chair, and wheeled me down to my room. At some point they helped me put my underwear on (you’d think it would be awkward having a young female PA slipping your underwear onto your ankles, but I didn’t care at that point). I managed to get down the hallway and use the bathroom (one of the things you must do before they release you – pee).
And then I slept some more. My host dad arrived with my phone and I texted my favorites at home to let them know that I was alive. A nurse came in with a Get Well Soon helium balloon tied on a packet of skittles (perfect helium balloon weight!) and a turtle get well card that read “if you are reading this then that means you are alive – yay!” from my lovely friends Tamika and Felina. And I slept.
And at some point, they told me I could go, and they wheeled me downstairs, where Judith, my ‘new’ host mom had arrived, and I got into the car.
I was in a bit of pain. It wasn’t horrendous, but I definitely wasn’t pain free, even with all those drugs running through my veins, and that car ride seemed to take forever (which it probably did, considering we took the back roads to avoid the traffic on I95, which is the more direct route, but probably would have taken twice the time on a Friday afternoon at 5pm!
I don’t remember too much of the evening to be honest. Someone bought my bag upstairs. Judith intelligently pulled out her full-body pregnancy pillow for me, which was such a lifesaver in those first few days. I drank water from a cup with a straw, and ate graham crackers, saltines, Vicodin and Ibuprofen. And I slept. I napped for a few hours from 6 until 9, and then fell asleep again about 12, and slept through until 6am which I thought was great.
I have so many great things to say about the staff at the Newton Wellesley Hospital Day Surgery – although I had many nurses and other staff who cared for me, all of them were friendly, professional and kind, and I couldn’t have asked for a better hospital experience.