Thursday, April 22, 2010

Surgery Day

On Sunday I turned 26. On Monday I had hip surgery.

I got up at 4:50am and took the last shower I knew I was going to fully enjoy for quite awhile. I took my time and shaved and just stood there in the scalding hot water, relishing it. We got to the hospital for 6am and I tried my best to keep it together. We got to the SurgiCenter and a very sweet nurse took me to my pre-op area. She would be the first of many amazing nurses I'd come across at Milford Hospital. She saw how nervous I was and did her best to calm me down, she didn't talk down to me (like a lot of medical staff tend to do) and put on extra blankets because I was already shivering. Scott came to say goodbye but the anesthesiologist doctor decided it was time to do my epidural and Scott had to leave. I started crying and that bought me a few more minutes with Scott. I vividly remember looking up and him, sobbing, scared and just wanting to be held.

The spinal was awful. I don't care what the hell the Russian doctor and over enthusiastic assistant he had tried to tell me. That shit hurt. Even on the Valium or whatever he put in my IV to calm me down I just wanted to rip the assistant's throat open with my hands as she braced me, repeating in a sickly sweet fake voice "SEE it's not so bad!?!" while the doctor shoved a needle in my spine. After that I met my anesthesiologist nurse and I was rolled down the hallway to the operating room. I looked up while people in scrubs walked around me and it was just like the movies. So surreal. I remember entering the OR and looking over at the "table" which was really a bunch of platforms and the foot braces that they would lock me in. I looked up at the giant lights and I thought back to alien abduction movies. Then I looked over to Dr. Schachter setting up the video screen for the camera. "So you gonna record it for me?" I asked. He said something about taking stills of the best shots or something and then...

I woke up in the recovery room shaking uncontrollably. One nurse there, who knows what I said to get her to like me so much, but she really took a shining to me. She piled warm blanket after warm blanket to get me to stop shivering. I always shiver after anesthesia but never this bad. Then I realized my throat was so sore. Not just sore but it felt like there was glass in there every time I tried to talk. She kept giving me sips of ginger-ale through a straw. She talked to me, asked me some questions. I told her how I lived in New Haven and we talked about restaurant week. I remember her telling the nurse upstairs who'd be taking care of me that I was "just a kid" several times and that I was a triathlete and made sure my boyfriend was in my room. When they wheeled me out she said something about how rare it was to get such a sweet kid in the recovery room and wished me the best of luck. I wish I knew a way to tell her thanks for being so comforting.

I was wheeled into my hospital room and I was so relieved to see Scott there. He was equally relieved to see me. I found out it was 3pm and I had been in the OR for 5 hours. That was two hours more than I remember them telling me it would take. Scott, my parents, his parents had all been worried because they expected me to be out much sooner. The tear was bigger than expected and I would find out later, bigger than average. Usually it takes 2 - 3 staples to repair a tear, mine took 4. My doctor said that when they put the camera in, the cartilage was flapping around in front of the camera. As promised, he took stills of the video for me. It looks like fish and the "staples" look like the plastic twine you use to tie down a pool tarp. My friend Kelly said the stills look like "a whale's vagina". Enjoy that image.

After I had finally stopped shivering, the worst symptom from the surgery was the sore throat from having the tubes put down my throat. I was drinking water, ginger-ale and chewing on ice chips trying to make my throat feel better. Scott went for a walk and came across a Carvel and brought me icecream. :) I didn't think I'd eat the whole thing but I did, it was so sweet of him. The nurses also gave me lozenges but nothing seemed to help my throat.

A few hours after surgery I realized that I was allergic to the epidural medicine. I couldn't stop itching. I couldn't feel my hip at all but the sore throat and the itching were too much to bear. There were even places on my skin where I had broken out in hives. The nurses gave me Benadryl but nothing seemed to help. I would try to sleep but I was overwhelmed by crazy, fast-cut editing visions of nonsense that freaked me out. I would look over to the wood cabinet in the room and it would swirl, warp, become fuzzy in places. I thought I was going insane. I would "fall asleep" and wake up hoping an hour had passed and it was only 15 minutes. I remember being so incredibly lonely.

After dealing with the extreme itchiness and sore throat for several hours I just broke down in tears. The nurses asked me what was wrong (like I hadn't been complaining for hours) and I could barely speak, all I could say was "I'm... so... fucking... miserable... I'm.... so... itchy, my throat... I can't... sleep..." Finally they called a doctor who recommended they stop the epidural drip. I spent the rest of the night watching TV, checking Facebook and Twitter on my phone and just hoping for the itchiness to subside and for 8am to come because that's when I knew I'd get breakfast, people would be coming to give me PT or whatever, and most importantly Scott would be there soon.

Next post will be about Day 2 and hopefully after that my successful recovery.


Krista April 22, 2010 at 4:42 PM  

That sounds horrible! I'm sorry you had to go through that. I hope your recovery is speedy!

Duran April 24, 2010 at 7:40 PM  

I'm glad your surgery went well, hopefully you get through PT quickly and can get back to triathlons.