Saturday, October 08, 2011

Surgery

I woke up at 5:30am yesterday to get ready for a 6:30am departure. We had to drive a little over an hour to get to the hospital where my surgery would be.  I showered, dressed comfortably in a simple black knit skirt and lime green scoop neck tee, and removed my wedding ring and the pearl pendant necklace that I always wear.  Before leaving I scrawled a to-do list and love note to the kids.  Heath would be in charge for the day. Dave had given me a Priesthood blessing the night before.

The ride into town was uneventful and relaxed.  The sun was rising to meet the overcast skies up over the deep blue ocean. We drove south on the Kamehameha Hwy towards Kaneohe.  From there we took the H3 through the mountains and into Honolulu to Kaiser Moanaloa Hospital.  The traffic was light and we arrived a little early.

Admitting was quick and easy.  Stayed in the waiting room for a little while until they called me back for prep.  The hospital was very cold--I'm not used to air conditioning--so I was very happy to be draped with a warmed blanket after I changed into my surgery gown and purple slipper socks and hair net.

My nurse confirmed my identity and asked if I knew what I was in for today.  Hydro-therm Uterine Ablation. Any allergies? Hydrocodone: it makes me itch. She then started my IV.  The next hour was spent sitting and waiting and gradually meeting, one by one, each of the medical workers that would be in on the surgery.  The anesthetist came by to confirm my identity and my surgery and my allergies and confirmed that I wanted to be all the way under.  He asked Dave where he worked and said he could have guessed BYU, we looked like Mormons. A medical student from UCSF came to introduce herself next.  She would be in on the surgery with my doctor.  She had overheard the chat about Mormons and told us there were many Mormons in her home country of Ghana.  "They are good people", she said.

In between visits I stared at the poster on the wall across from my bed: a Northwest Orient Airlines poster advertising travel to Korea.  I thought about my brother Jacob, who served his mission in Korea and is thinking about going back with his wife and daughter to teach English.  The pictures were beautiful.

On the other side of the curtain walls we could hear other patients being checked in for their various surgeries as well.  To my right was a funny and loud self proclaimed Chawaiian (Chinese Hawaiian).  He was a big guy, 320 pounds he said, and he was in for his second surgery for this same condition.  He told a lot of jokes and kept all the nurses laughing but nobody was laughing (except Dave and I silently behind the curtain) when he told his story of his injury.

He was out boogie boarding over a year ago.  The waves were huge and he had just dropped into a 6 foot wave.  As he rode the face down he noticed a turtle in his path.  He tried to steer around it but was unsuccessful.  The turtle popped his head up and looked at him just as he was washed over the top of the animal.  It's head hit him hard in his "sweet spot".  He was hurting for a few weeks but it went away until about 6 months later when he started peeing blood. Scar tissue had built up and had to be removed.  This time he was in for a second surgery that required a skin graft from his mouth. I could tell you more but YIKES, I don't want to go into that detail :).

My nurse went on break so a new nurse came in to take her place. She checked to make sure all my belongings were checked in, she got Dave's contact numbers, she double checked my identity and surgery and allergies again. My doctor, Dr. Ogasawara-Chun came by to check in and review with both Dave and I the procedure and what to expect. She is very friendly and knowledgeable, great bed-side manner.  I had done a lot of research on the doctors available to me on my health insurance.  She came highly recommended and I trust her. 

The Nurse Anesthetist was the last person to come in before the surgery.  Her name was Corinne and she had a French accent.  She was a little difficult to understand as she asked what surgery I was going in for and confirmed my identity and allergies. Hydrocodone makes me itch. She explained the drugs that I would be given and she started the first one into my IV after making me go "shi-shi" one last time. The meds were cold as the went in through my arm.  I could feel it climb up to my elbow and disappear into my bicep. As the nurse walked away she began to swirl and the curtains began to wave in an unfelt breeze.  I closed my eyes to check my vision.

Before I opened my eyes again I felt two nurses changing me out of my surgery robe and into a soft cotton hospital gown.  I heard Dave come in and the nurse asking if I needed to use the restroom.  "I just had", I thought but I really had to go again. I tried to open my eyes but they wouldn't stay open for long. The nurses and Dave helped me get up, transport my IV, close up the back of my gown, and shuffle across the hall to the restroom.  Dave pretty much carried me as I leaned hard on him.  He then put me back into the hospital bed. I think I was asleep before I sat down. I couldn't stretch my legs out, my stomach hurt too much. I was very itchy.

Someone tried to talk to me, a straw was forced into my mouth and I was told to sip, I was asked how I felt.  I hurt, I was itchy and I had to pee.  They gave me a shot in my IV and then got me up again and dragged me to the restroom and back again. There was more talking and more straws and Dave spooned a few bites of yogurt into my mouth, some saltines too. More itching. I fell asleep and woke up with a soggy unchewed cracker in my mouth.  I swallowed hard and took another sip from the straw. More nurses asking how I felt, I still hurt, was still itchy and I had to pee again. Another shot, another trip across the hall. I was a little more lucid and a little more hungry.  I was told it was time for me to get dressed.  I asked the time. It was after 2pm, I had been in recovery since 11:30am.

Dave helped dress me as I still couldn't stand up very well on my own.  I was very dizzy, disoriented and my back and stomach still hurt.  Was it the surgery pain, was I hungry or did I have to pee again? I couldn't tell. Dave told me I looked like a crack addict with all the itching.  I was ushered into a wheelchair and given a cup of jello and a spoon. Dave left with my belongings and paperwork to fetch the truck. The nurse that wheeled me out front was very talkative about something.  She asked what kind of car we had.  I told her a big blue truck, can't miss it. She parked my wheelchair next to the bench she sat down on.  She told me to stay in the wheel chair until she got the door open and the chair up next to the car.  Dave drove up and got out of the truck and opened the door.  "Oh," the nurse exclaimed, "I thought you said it was a big red truck" I might have.  She and Dave lifted me up into the truck. Dave reached around and buckled me in.

I tried to stay awake but it didn't work.  I curled up on the bench seat beside Dave, my stomach still hurt.  I asked for a McDonalds burger. We just happened to be driving through Valley of the Temple, the last Mc Donalds until Laie. I had been asleep for 30 minutes.  Dave asked if I wanted a drink.  I asked for a hot fudge sundae. He clarified my order, "what kind of burger?".  "Just a plain burger, a little burger"

He placed the order, paid and received the bag. I opened my wrapper and took a bite.  There was nothing on it.  I guess I shouldn't have said plain.  We both laughed and I gobbled my dry little burger and washed it down with my melting sundae. Thirty more minutes of driving and we were home, greeted by the children and their completed check list of chores.  I hurried into the restroom.  They must have pushed a lot of fluids through that IV. When I came back into the front room I was miffed to see football on the TV.  I sprawled myself across the couch and promptly fell asleep.

I remained on the couch all night.  Dave made Ravioli with pesto with some spears of fresh zucchini on the side. He kept me hydrated and medicated and warmed and re-warmed my hot pad all the while. We watched a couple of movies that were on TV.  I missed most of the first one while dozing off.  Kirkham was at a scout campout.  Heath was at the High School Football game and the girls were playing at the neighbors until late, they ate dinner over there too. 

I'm still tired and still in an anesthetic haze and still itchy.  My stomach isn't cramping as much but still hurts.  The doc says I should be back to most of my activities by Monday, including exercise.  No surfing for two weeks though.

2 comments:

  1. Oh, Dani, I wish I could have been there for you on Friday, in any capacity. Hopefully you'll feel better soon! Thanks for keeping us updated. I love you!

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  2. Oh my goodness, Miss Dani....sounds like life has been very exciting for you. Glad you had your ablation.....life will be MUCH better for you. I will pray for your speedy recovery.

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