Thursday, August 2, 2012

Post Op and ICU

As you can imagine since I was under anesthesia, I literally have no idea what actually took place in the operating room. I have heard bits and pieces of what was told to my family following the surgery in the waiting room. Everything from the time I woke up in ICU is something I can attest to first-hand. So, let's start with what I've been told about after I was on the operating table.

As I asked my mom, tonight, to remind me what was said, she told me she couldn't remember. When I fed her a little line from what I remember her telling me back in 2008, all of a sudden it started coming back to her in pieces.

Before the surgeon opened me up, he told my family that the surgery would be about 10-12 hours. This was going to be due to not only taking out the part of the bone affected with cancer, but to insert and attach the metal saddle prosthesis and close me up again. Frankly, anything more than 30 minutes was a frightening thing for me. As I had only had a partial mastectomy and reconstruction in 2004 and my tonsils tank out when I was a child (which I do not remember at all). So, 10-12 hours was more of a nightmare as far as I was concerned.

But, God had other plans for this surgery. From start to finish, it was nearly half of the estimated time, only 6 hours! When my family told me this, I was astonished that God had worked it out so great to have things go as well as they did or the surgeon and his team. I'm thinking this was only half a nightmare now. I woke up just before the bad stuff was going to happen. Mom was astonished as she began to remember some things the doctor had said and she had relayed to me back then.

DVT Compression Cuffs
When the doctors came out to tell my family how surgery went and what the next steps would be, they excitedly and mostly baffled said that the cancer and bone just "slide right out!" What more could I ask for than NO complications with the surgery? This was really cool.

I had been taken to recovery for a short time and then to the ICU. The surgery was evasive enough, that I needed to be under constant monitoring and re-positioning. Leaving surgery, I was given a patient bed that was equip with an air mattress for added comfort. The theory was the less pressure on my back, hips and legs, the better. I was hooked-up to a vitals machine which was programmed to take my blood pressure every 4-5 minutes. This was to insure there were no spikes or huge dips. On my right hand index finger was a pulse and oximeter gauge to insure my oxygen level was satisfactory and that my heart rate didn't go up or down into a dangerous range. On each calf, I had a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) Compression machine to insure blood was flowing properly in my legs to prevent blood clotting.

Vitals Machine
The noise from all of these machines combined with the constant pressure of the inflation and deflation of the blood pressure cuff and DVT cuffs keep me from being able to stay asleep. All I wanted to do was sleep off this surgery and wake up when and ONLY when I was ready. I also had nurses coming in to check the machines, take my temperature and re-position me in the bed. Pretty much if you want to sleep, the hospital is not the place to go for it.

My family came in to see me when the nurses told them I had awakened. I was still extremely groggy and had no sense of time what-so-ever. Mom came in and stroked my forehead and hair as she always has since I was little. Dad stayed a little further away to give me space but where I could still see him. My grandparents went to the other side of the bed and my grandmother grabbed my hand to show her love for me. I couldn't open my mouth and talk as I was so dry. I wasn't able to get much out and not zoo after the nurse came in with a container of ice chips. Mom used a spoon to get me ice chips in small amounts as to not overwhelm my system after surgery. When I was able to speak, I really don't remember saying anything of substance.

Asking my mom tonight if she remembered some major piece of news she announced to me and all she could think of was saying hello or telling me she loved me. She thinks that by me telling you all this, you're going to think she is some sort of weirdo, but I find it so incredibly funny. She decided to tell me that as they were in the waiting room watching the news, John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his vice president for the November election against Obama. I have even linked to the CNN news coverage which shows the same date as my surgery, August 29, 2008. To quote my mom, "Isn't that a hoot?" I didn't even know who Sarah Palin was at the time.

The only other thing I remember from that night in ICU was the nurses taking a foam wedge out from under my right side or putting it under me to keep me from getting bed sores or stiffening up on that right side. It was very frustrating as they wanted me to do what they call a "barrel roll" so they could place the wedge. "I'm all drugged up and you want me to do what? You do it! I'm tired." So, with the sheet under me, they slightly rolled me onto my left side and placed the wedge or removed it several times. Just leave me alone already. Let me sleep.

Next, "Moving from ICU."

"One thing I have desired of the LordThat will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LordAnd to inquire in His temple." Psalm 27:4

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