June 27, 2013

The Hernia Hotel - Part II - No Pain, No Gain

I left you hanging at the ladies room door.  Remember?

Do you think beehives will ever make a comeback?  

I had just met my surgeon, Dr. S, and was DONE with medical professionals for the day.  So done.

I ascended the stairs up to the third floor and met my roommate.  This is embarrassing to admit but I don't know her name.  She had an unusual name, which I repeated three times so as to permanently lodge it in my cpu, but it wouldn't stick.  I hate that.  R was in her early sixties and was very sweet.  Dressed in traditional Indian dress, she had lots of family visiting.  She had had two surgeries two days apart - OUCH.  She slept a lot (can you blame her?) and because I spent very little time in my room, we didn't engage too much.  I will relate a funny story about her and I later on in the blog, once I get to the post-surgery part.

5:30pm- Time for dinner (whole grainish bun, cannelloni, caesar salad and choice of date square, canned mandarin oranges or orange jello for dessert.  Dinner got 9 out of 10 for conversation and laughter factor, but 7ish for food - bun was fresh and warm and cannelloni was surprisingly creamy and good).  Yeah, yeah, I know I'm not at a Michelin, but I can't help my "critic in the corner" commentary.

Three of the fellows at my table had had hernia surgery before (!) and we were later joined by a man from San Francisco, who was departing from the Shouldice the following day.  One of my funny (so funny!) dining companions later commented that he thought that the latecomer (who slid quite gingerly into his chair) was kidding - that he was pretending to be hobbled by pain as a joke.  Little did we know.

At 8:30-ish in the evening, we found out what time our surgery was scheduled for the following day.  My surgery was supposed to be at 7:30am -the first one of the day - but it was later changed to 8:30.  Seemed like a good time to me ;-)
We were told that we would be awakened around 6ish, given some meds to relax us, and would be taken down to the operating suite a little later on.  We were supposed to change into our hospital pants (huge!) and gown (vast!), and remove all jewellery, underwear, makeup, nail polish et cetera and put on a pair of socks and some blue booties.  I found this fellow -POPP - who was hanging out in one of the lounges, to be rather amusing (and stylish obviously):

"POPP" - pre-op prepared patient

Day of Surgery - 6am.

I was rudely awakened at the appointed hour and asked to pull down my panties for a pre-op shave.  I had been warned about this and so I had taken matters into my own hands the previous day.  The nurse took one look, said I had already done it to her satisfaction, and so I was spared the indignity of the straight razor in the nether regions.  For that I was GLAD!  (I was laughing my head off later on at all the dudes who were complaining about the one-sided close shave and the involuntary manscaping).

I was not given any medication and so I promptly fell back asleep. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


"What are you doing?!  GET UP!!!!!"



The nurse was not impressed:  "You have 5 minutes. Brush your teeth and get dressed! Let's GO!"

Well, this girl can prep for surgery in 2!  So there.

This was the first instance of a Nurse (let's just call them all Ratchet) getting irritated with me.  There was more to come.

When I was looking for a picture of a mean nurse, I did a google search for Nasty Nurse and THAT was a mistake!   Gadzooks!
Ratchet came back and 6 or 7 of us headed into the elevators to the basement, where we were lead into the pre-op room, which I heard people refer to as the "orphanage" and/or the "morgue" - both apt names, I can assure you. The lights were low, we were shown to our beds and were told to lie down.  I didn't want to lie down.  My fellow herniacs all received their pill cocktails - Ativan / Lorazepam and Oxy something or other - hillbilly heroin?! ?  I received nothing.

We waited for around 15 minutes and I was getting annoyed because I hadn't received my drugs!  My friends were either fast asleep or they were chatty.  I was thrice-chastised for talking: "Lie DOWN and let the drugs do their WORK!" "Stop talking! My colleagues are getting annoyed!"

What were we, in Grade 2?

The best was when one of the dudes REFUSED to lie down (I think two of them did that actually) until they received their meds.  So funny!

The next group of people were brought in (another 5) and I watched as they all swallowed their pills.  At this point, I got up and asked if they had forgotten about me.  Ratchet reassured me:  "your doctor has special medication for you".

special medication?

I waited ~7 more minutes.  Finally, Ratchet was approaching!

What is THAT in her hand? ohhhhhhhhhhhh.  it's a needle.  

"These are Ativan.  Put them under your tongue, they'll dissolve there.  Get on your side please and pull down your pants. Have you ever had morphine?".

pull down my pants?

It is at times like these that I curse my lack of verbal filter:

"You mean that I am the only one who gets it in the butt?"

The person beside me cracked up so uproariously that I was in stitches too.  We could NOT stop laughing.  Ratchet was not amused.

Let me just say at this point, that I did not feel the meds doing ANYTHING.  I was still sane (questionable I know), I felt clear-headed and I did not become drowsy; however, I recall going to the bathroom before surgery and I was a bit dizzy (not in an overly unpleasant way).  I also recall watching others being lead like lambs to slaughter and they were all weebley-wobbley.

some moment in time later 

I found myself in the operating suite.  They put tubes in my nose for oxygen (dislike).  Topics of discussion included (but were not limited to): camping and whether I would be smothered by the "blue tent" draped over my chest, why were they using me as a coffee table?, please get that heavy thing off my stomach, who is that guy beside me who looks like an actor?, who is that lady behind me?, how many people are in the room?, I love classical music!, this doesn't hurt as much as childbirth, where is Dr. S? et cetera.  I am now thinking that I probably drove them crazy.  The last thing I remember saying was:  "How much longer?"

"About ten minutes".

"Okay, I can handle that.  That's not so long.  It doesn't hurt that much.  I can handle it..."


I think they upped the morphine to shut me up.


I woke up later that day in bed, still in my gown and pants.  RB and the kids visited me; they later told me that I was "out of it" and that they stayed for about 5 minutes tops.  This is when they took the following pictures. RB says that I asked him to take the photos.  COME ON!   Seriously?  I look ridiculous.  I don't remember this AT ALL.

At least I look sort of happy.  Then there's this:

I spent the remainder of the day in bed.  I woke up when someone brought dinner into my room and then things got fuzzy.  I recall INHALING some egg salad sandwich (no rating - ;-) and then yelling: "I am going to vomit, I am going to VOMIT. I NEED A BEDPAN! "  I also said that I was going to do it all over the floor (thinking of others :-)  .  Someone did bring me a vessel, but I can only recall spitting.  Lovely, I know. I passed out again.

RB and kids returned in the evening.  I recall little of the visit.  My second roommate, Rachel, later told me that I was "out of it" and "don't you remember meeting my husband in the lounge?".

No Rachel, I do not.

I fell asleep for the remainder of the evening.  I do recall hearing VERY LOUD crashing sounds in the night and my roommate yelled:  "Christine, CHRISTINE!!!  DO NOT DO THAT! Christine, you need a nurse!"  Not sure what happened next.



Day one, post-surgery

I awakened at 6am, feeling refreshed.  Relief.  I was obviously in a bit of pain and I found myself hobbling around but I was clearheaded and for that, I was thankful.

Breakfast was big and plentiful (It gets an 8).

After breakfast, we had to be back in our rooms for a post-operative exam and clip removal.  The post-op was nothing more than a cursory look at the incision by a crusty and brusque surgeon.  I made it my mission to get him to laugh, but the closest I got was when I told him that Dr. S (my surgeon) was wacky:  "I'll be sure to pass that on to him".  This surgeon's name, oddly enough, was something like Staples, which is comical when you consider the next sentence.  Staples removed the first set of clips on the incision with speed and precision. He was quick, quiet and somewhat ornery and really, that's not so bad, all things considered.

I was initially wary of the clip removal, but it didn't hurt at all! You would think that the removal of metal staples from a fresh incision that rises up half an inch from the surrounding skin would be horrendous, but it honestly was not.  In fact, I forgot about this "blip" completely and had to come back and add this paragraph after I had already written Part II. I was only reminded of it after reading some Shouldice literature:

RB and the kids came and visited and told me all about their visit to the Toronto Zoo.  We played a game of shuffleboard, or rather the children fought over the shuffleboard (sigh), and then we took a turn around the building.  I showed them the dead muskrat in the grass which I had become somewhat obsessed with; I really should have been a forensic anthropologist.   It wasn't removed and every day it imploded a bit more. By the end of the week, it was nothing but fur and writhing maggots.  Gwen seemed impressed. 

Here are more pictures of the hospital grounds:

view from the 3rd floor balcony, dead muskrat is in the upper left corner ;-)

Is there anything more beautiful than a peony?  These are on their way out, but they are still breathtaking

rock garden with water feature - I loved the sound of this - so soothing
After our walk, we went upstairs to the lounge for the Exercise Class aka The Shouldice Shuffle.  This was hilarious.  I was a bit late, so space was at a premium.   The song was something by Queen - can't remember which one, but I know it wasn't Fat Bottom Girls ;-).  We rocked out as much as people who are on their first day post-surgery can.  Queen was followed up by some salsa.  At this point, we were traveling in circles and I watched some of the men salsa down the hallway and back to their rooms -- so funny!  I love watching grown men sashay.  I mocked one of the guys for his bad dance moves and I am ashamed to say that I think I drove him away.  Oh well, the truth hurts (literally in this case).  I missed the next day's exercise class because I was talking to a Ratchet.  I was sorry to miss it, actually.  They danced to Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive.  I love that song!!

It rained for the remainder of the afternoon and I walked every inch of that hospital, while listening to my ipod.  It was only moderately painful.  At one point, I found myself in a darkened corridor in the basement, which was completely deserted, and I was a little creeped out.  What is it about a dimly lit operating suite in the basement that is so disturbing?  ha ha.  The Shouldice could totally be the setting for a murder mystery! In fact, one of the herniacs from out East was continually throwing plot lines my way, which was entertaining.

Okay tired again.  It's going to be in three parts. I have shit to do.  I am rethinking that last line there. Leaving it.  Everyone who really knows me, knows that I have a potty mouth.