Saturday, November 01, 2008

Virtual Liveblog

If I could have blogged my experience on Thursday while it was happening, it would have gone something like this:

4.45: Ugh. Seriously? Do I have to get up and take that creepy shower again?

5.00: Read some of that stuff I mentioned last night.

5.15: Semi-consciously scrub down (for the second time in twelve hours) with toxic shower gel.

5.40: Dress in low-maintenance clothes, foregoing, as required, make-up, deodorant and hair-drying. Also food.

5.49: Dad's late. What if the herbal sleep aid he took last night worked so well he doesn't wake up in time? He has my car . . . at someone else's house.

5.50: Call the Someone Else's. Fortunately at least one of them is up already. My dad is outside the door by the time the call is over.

6.20: Arrive at the hospital. Park the car and head up to surgical admissions. My hair is getting nappy, on account of not putting conditioner in it or drying it at all.

6.30: Why are hospital johnnies so uncomfortable? Even the "nice" ones? Also, I've never lain on a stretcher before. It could be worse, but I'm clearly taller than the people they make them for.

6.35: Why does this chart make my dad and me laugh? That's not very nice . . . But seriously. Does your face turn magenta when you're in moderate pain? (Actually, this chart comes from UCLA, but the ones at my hospital were black and white and differentiated solely by the curvature of the mouths in the faces.)

7.10: Why did we need to get here at 6.30, again?

7.30: A nurse appears, gives instructions, including to wash the relevant area for surgery with more toxic cleanser, this time on wipes.

8.00: A wheel-chair appears to take me down to Mammography. My dad goes and finds the waiting room. I get wheeled to "the Old Building" by a strapping young college lad named Luke who has obviously been well-trained to make conversation with the patients as he wheels them down mind-boggling corridors.

8.10: Mammography is still setting up shop for the day. I get ID'd by a nurse and then apologetically parked in a hallway while everybody puts their coats away and sets up their offices and rooms and things and guzzles their coffee. I really want a coffee. My caffeine-receptors are few but insistent. I am wearing a johnny, scrub pants, and a hospital blanket around my shoulders, sitting in a wheelchair in the hallway with no make-up and thoroughly disheveled hair. I consider rocking back and forth and talking to myself to complete the picture.

8.20: I finally get brought into the room where they will give me Ativan and then inject me with radioactive blue dye, the easier to find my lymph nodes in the OR. I am given the Ativan and a stack of magazines. Although I don't feel particularly nervous, I am not conscious that either tool has relaxed me at all. The nurse, after my dosage, says, "Now don't get up and try to walk around at all. You are now drunk." I don't even feel buzzed.

8.35: I definitely do feel the injections. "Four points of the compass" and a fifth for good measure, apparently. I hope that I will be unconscious for anything else they decide to do in that area.

8.45: I get wheeled back to my original docking bay, put back on my stretcher, and tucked in. Extra blankets is good. Then I get wheeled up to a room full of doctors and stretchers and wires and talking. A bunch of people I have never met introduce themselves as nurses and anesthesiologists. One of the latter sticks the IV tube in my hand, and although it hurts a little, he definitely does a better job with the needle than anyone else I've encountered in the last month or so. He finds me warm IV fluid because my hands are cold, and gives me even more blankets. I like blankets.

9.00: Dr. Quinlan is going to be late. For some reason he thought this surgery was scheduled at 10 instead. I ask the Talented Needle-Sticker to please let my dad know, and he does.

9.10: The Talented Needle-sticker comes back and asks, "Do you drink at all?" "A little," I say. "What do you drink?" he asks. I barely do, so I cast around for a minute before suggesting "Bass ale?" "Okay," he says. "Just before surgery, I'm going to pump the equivalent of half a case of Bass into you, and you'll be a little groggy." (I should think so!) "Then we'll wheel you into the operating room and I'll give you the narcotic . . . " he starts talking about nose and mouth tubes. I don't know anything about this. I try to listen but it's scary. He goes away. I take a nap.

9.45: Dr. Quinlan wakes me up, makes me laugh, gets me to sign my shoulder on the side they're meant to cut open. "Okay," says the Needle-Sticker, "I'm going to start the . . . "

?.??: Wha--?

?.??: Lots of noise. Lots of beeping. Lots of white. People running around. I am opening my eyes and maybe someone will notice that I'm starting to wake up. Am I done already? My right side does hurt a little, so probably so. I crane my head forward a little and observe something that does resemble a fairly significant cut. Gross. I am also still sleepy. They can figure out I am waking up later.

?.??: Someone has noticed that I am starting to wake up. They keep checking the tubes. Apparently I do have tubes coming out of my nose after all. That's mildly surprising, but not uncomfortable. I don't remember when they take them out. Someone has asked me some questions and I guess I have answered them. I get wheeled in my stretcher back down to the docking bay, and there's my dad, reading or writing or something.

1.30: They ask me if I want to sleep for a little bit. Yep.

3.00: Have I been sleeping for an hour and a half? Should I start waking up? I wasn't supposed to be here this long. I sit up.

3.30: Paperwork and instructions (also written down because I'm not likely to remember anything--except that). I stand up. I want to throw up. I lie back down. The nurse brings a tray to vomit into. My dad goes to get the car.

4.00: I purge the cranberry juice and saltines I had earlier. Now I feel better, and I still want to go home. They wheel me outside and I get in the car. We get almost all the way home and my dad has to pull over for me. The rest of the cranberry juice ends up in someone's front lawn. Sorry, guys!

4.30: I go straight to bed and listen to my iPod for a while. Good thinking with the iPod, Starbucks-Awesomeness!


Scott R. Davis said...

what an exciting day at the hospital. Better than curious George's tale from long time ago. Just think, you helped create a cranberry bog on someone's front lawn. Like the commercial for cranberry spray juice with the two men in the bog . Peace,

Glad that you are out up and about. IN HIs healing grace, scott

Clifford said...

Wow...this is really interesting. I've never had a surgery before. Thank you for sharing your experience - glad you're doing okay!

Christianne said...

Hey Jenn -- Wow. I felt like I was there the whole time. What a crazy experience. And scary. I felt your vulnerability.