My operation was scheduled for Wednesday “afternoon” (quotation marks explained further down) which meant that Ju would be at work. Fortunately, his mom is an assistante maternelle, and she only takes in teachers’ kids, so she’s free on Wednesdays.
Tuesday I finished work around 5:30 and came home to pack my bag (pjs, tooth brush, shower gel, crossword puzzles, iPad + rented movies from iTunes, prescriptions + meds). I read through the hospital welcome packet which said rooms had to be liberated by noon on the day of check-out, though you could hang out in the hospital as long as you needed. Hanging out in the hospital by myself and without a room till 6 pm didn’t sound like much fun, so when I went to SIL’s for a drink that evening, her boyfriend conveniently mentioned that, since he’s unemployed right now, he could come get me. Phew, no pricey taxis.
Tuesday night I also had to take my antiseptic shower. I thought this was the strangest thing ever till my dad explained that it made a lot of sense, to keep staph infections out of hospitals. So I washed my hair and my bod with betadine, in the precise order (hair first, bum last) that you’re supposed to, and went to bed in clean pjs all squeaky clean. I ate breakfast at 7:30 and that was my last food and drink for the day. I was supposed to report to the hospital at 11 am Wednesday so J’s mom came to get me at 10:30.
We checked in and waited at admissions for about an hour before getting my room number. I checked my purse into the hospital’s safe. Fortunately I was in a one-person room, but I did have to hang out there doing nothing till my operation at 6 (hence “afternoon”). I had to take another betadine shower and brush my teeth and put on my robe at 4, when they gave me some sort of pre-op pill. By the time the brancardiers came by at 6:20 I was no longer nervous and more ready to get it over with. I had given my valuables to J’s mom (iPad, Kindle, iPhone) so was pretty disconnected and was just watching crummy French TV (actually it wasn’t too bad, I discovered H (linked)) and doing crosswords.
At 6:20 the stretcher dudes (cannot remember the word for this in English—it’s possible I’ve never learned it…) came by and put me on the stretcher, and put a sock on the left foot so we’d operate on the correct foot, and asked me a little bit about my Americanness. I was wheeled down the hall, into the elevator, into another pre-op room, where I sat for about five minutes. Every new person who came up to me asked my last name, first name, DOB, and what operation I was there for. It sounded like a strict protocol to not mix people up (what a nightmare).
I had of course left my glasses in the room so I couldn’t see much of anything. I was eventually wheeled into the operating room where two nurses/pre-op people of some sort prepared me for the surgery. It was pretty cold and I was trembling so I don’t know if I was nervous or just cold. They were clearly joking around with me to calm me down. They put in an IV that started with antibiotics, pulled me out of the sleeves in my robe (not in that order) and stuck some things on my chest to monitor my heart. Then they put a big air-filled, heated pillow over my arms and torso and an oxygen mask just in front of my face. After that the anesthesiologist came and pressed it onto my face and told me to take big breaths of the oxygen. Pretty soon I could tell it was no longer just oxygen and passed out. I woke up in the “salle de reveil” with about five other people. There I got my morphine pump which I was told to pump on as much as I wanted (and I did not hesitate). I stayed there for about twenty minutes and then was wheeled back to the room where J was waiting with my iPad and phone. They made him leave while they set me up in the bed, took off the hair covering, put a frame at the bottom of the bed to keep the blankets from touching my foot, took my blood pressure, and told me I could eat in about three hours. I wasn’t at all hungry but very thirsty and I had to take my pill at some point.
Ju hung out with me then for about an hour. He said I was talking really loud and raspy, and that they must have put a tube down my throat, though I couldn’t feel any scratchiness from it. After he left, I slept till midnight when the night nurses woke me up, fed me, had me take my pill, and then let me fall back asleep. They came in every two hours that night though, and when I was eating, I did have a racing heartbeat that led them to take me off one of the meds.
As for the pain, in the salle de réveil, I pushed the morphine button every couple of minutes. They asked me immediately how much it hurt on a scale of 1 to 10 (actually they tried to get me to point to a number on a little 1-10 ruler but I couldn’t see the numbers and I could talk) and initially I said 5, but by the time I was wheeled back to the room, it was down to 2. I kept pumping all while J was there and then only once or twice during the night.
Upcoming: Part III: Post-Op