It has been a rough couple of days. While waiting for surgery, the swelling had gone down in my ankle, and I lived a pretty decently life mostly reading and trying to keep my mind in check. Last thursday I drove down to San Diego for my surgery in what normally takes 1 hour, but as my phone told me, there were two accidents ahead of us on the freeway and so when I finally arrived late I was stressed out. Also they tell you not to eat anything, and to only drink clear liquids and black coffee up to 2 hours before surgery. Since I wasn’t going to be eating all day, I decided to have a little coconut oil in my morning coffee like I sometimes do for the extra energy, which promptly made me nauseous. I also probably didn’t drink enough water that day, so when I finally arrived I was stressed out from being late, nauseous, and dehydrated. I don’t love needles, but I don’t hate them either and normally I can mentally distract myself while medical professionals do their job. The corpsman walked into the room and told me he needed to insert an IV into my hand, so I prepared all the tricks I know – deep breathing, not looking at my hand, mentally focusing on something else, but it didn’t seem to work. Just the same, the corpman thanked me for not freaking out about him inserting it and told me I wouldn’t believe how crazy people get about it, but I guess he didn’t notice the sweat bullets rolling down my head, and I told him that for some reason it was stressing me out way more than it should.
After I changed into my gown, they wheeled me into a holding room where the anesthesiologist and the surgeon showed up and started making small talk while slapping on heart monitors and asking me all kinds of questions like if I was allergic to anything. In my haze and the flurry of activity I tried to answer all of their questions. A nurse showed up who was probably in her late 40s, very nice, and really seemed to know what she was doing. She started making small talk and pulled out a trimmer to shave my leg. “This is gonna itch like a sonofabitch when it starts to grow out. Sorry about that” she said. The anesthesiologist started telling me he was going to start the IV, and when they brought me into the operating room, they would put a mask on and feed me some pure oxygen, and then put in a breathing tube. I was already in a daze, but when they hooked the IV up to my hand and started the anesthesia, it hit me immediately. They wheeled me out of the holding room, and into the operating room, and everything was quickly hazy. I remember a larger room with tables, and quite a few people, probably about 10, all with masks and scrubs, and all busily prepping for something. I remember asking a question, probably if this was where the operation would take place, and I believe they told me yes. Then I said something, but I don’t remember what. The next thing I remember was sitting up in another kind of holding room, and shape of a person said something like, “well now we don’t have to wait for that.” I asked if they were finished, and someone told me yes. Then I fell back asleep. When I woke up again, I was in another room, a private room, where a nurse asked me how I felt. “Pretty nauseous” I replied. The scent of stale plastic permeated my senses as I exhaled, probably from the breathing tube. I tried to drink a sip of water, and not throw it up, and fell back asleep. This process of waking up, sipping water, trying not to throw up, repeated itself several times. Eventually I ate half a saltine cracker, and fell back asleep. An orderly came in and asked me if I wanted to try to walk around, and I said “No.”
In order for the hospital to release you, they must have you eat something, drink something, urinate, and walk a lap on crutches. Since I wasn’t doing many of those things, and at that point it was 930pm, they decided to keep me overnight and wheeled my bed over to an area called 5 West. The nurse and orderly there that night was incredibly friendly. They handed me a 1 liter plastic bottle, and said that I needed to use it by 2230 to ‘DVT’, which meant I needed to pee in it. What came out was a cloud, and dark yellow liquid, which to me probably indeed meant I was dehydrated. I kept drinking water and eating saltine crackers and eventually the nausea went completely away. At some point, the nurse, who was from Nebraska, asked if she could get me some food. She showed up a half hour later with a chicken salad from subway which I promptly devoured and fell asleep. I’m not sure who paid for it, but I’m going to go with that she did out of the kindness of her heart.
I was woken up to an orderly bringing me a tray of breakfast, which included fruit, eggs, and a cup of black coffee. Even though it was probably not very good, I was so hungry that tore into it. I spent most of Friday in the hospital getting different rounds of drugs, and finally made it back home in the evening, where I took another round of pills and went to sleep.
Saturday morning I woke up and took more pain meds, and suddenly realized that the Oxy I was taking was probably a bad idea. It is a narcotic that is basically synthetic heroin, and decided that as good as I felt at that moment I would immediately stop it. Saturday and Sunday were a blur, trying to get the drugs out of my system, but at the same time taking some Tylenol for pain, trying to do some push ups to stay active, watching a bit of TV, not being focused enough to read. Today is the first day I feel normal enough to compose my thoughts. I was able to do a couple of sets of pushups today, but it sent my heart racing from the minimal exertion. I might try another set later. At least I am doing better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today.