Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I told you the other night about the book I am reading. While I was reading, mom was reading a book on the couch and we had an incredibly intense summer storm pass through our community. Some mud slides have occurred because of our summer storms on the areas burned in June and July. Please pray for the people affected by these mud slides.

Today's post is going to have some sobering moments, and for me to be able to laugh hysterically at the antics of the characters in the book was a welcome relief. There has not been nearly enough laughter in our lives since my journey began. I hope you all take moments with your loved ones to enjoy time together and that you embrace those memories. They really do help sustain you when the rocky shores of life bang you up.

The day has come! Friday, August 29, 2008

Helford building at night
My parents and I traveled the hour to the hospital early in the morning. I was to arrive at the Helford building which housed the surgery center and patient rooms. We checked me in at the front counter and were told to sit in the waiting room until one of the processors called me into their office. Dad had dropped mom and me off at the door and found a place to park. He joined us in the waiting area when he came in. We waited several minutes before anyone called me. Once they did, the three of us crammed into her office. I sat in the chair as the processor went over paperwork for admittance. She verified everything was in order from pre-op, had me sign some new consent forms and took images of my i.d and insurance cards.

Once we were done, she told us to sit in the waiting area again until they called me for surgery. While we waited, the processors continued checking others in. Several had to be checked in before we could go to the pre-op staging area. Once four or five had been checked in, someone came from the second floor staircase calling several names at once. This was our cue to get up and follow them.

Once my name was called, our little group quickly followed the person to the pre-op staging area on the second floor. Once inside, each one of us was ushered into a small area each equip with a patient bed, a bag for our clothing, a patient gown, a hospital table and a curtain surrounding our entire area. We were told to undress, place our belongings (including glasses, jewelry, etc.) in the bag, put on the gown a certain way and open the curtain when you were finished. One-by-one each of us followed orders and completed our tasks.

After preparing myself as instructed, I sat on the edge of the bed waiting for my next instructions. I had no idea what to do with myself. Waiting expectantly for someone to come and tell me what the next step would be, my mind started to race about what was going to happen. Everyone of the nurses in this area was moving at what seemed to be warp speed from patient to patent. I sat watching as they passed me by back-and-forth setting other patients up; I wondered if I had been forgotten. Soon I was getting nervous and started quoting Psalm 23 (in the reflection today) quietly to myself.

Finally, a nurse came to take my vital signs. She had a binder that as she put it on the table seemed to slam because of its sheer weight. "Okay, that makes me nervous. How can they have so much paperwork on me already to make the binder slam down like that?" After the vitals came the questions. Did you do this? Did you take that? "What are you having done today?" She said. "Wait, don't you know what I'm having done today?" I asked. "Yes we do. We ask to verify we have our records correct and that you understand what procedure you are having." She said. Whew! That was a close one, I thought.

Dr. Michael Sullivan
We continued through the questions until she was satisfied she had everything she needed. She proceeded to explain that she would be gone for a few minutes to gather all of the items needed to start an IV. Great, I was going to sit here for another few minutes by myself with my mind wandering and imagining what I was about to encounter. The only good news in this was that I was going to be out like a light for the entire thing.

She came back in a flash, though. She started to set up the line for my vein. When she had trouble, she got frustrated and she tried a second time. After two tries at sticking me and causing me some major pain (not to mention a little fear from her attitude), she went and got the anesthesiologist to start the IV. Meanwhile, someone brought my mom back to the room with me. Mom had asked someone to allow her to come back because we hadn't really been able to say goodbye in the hustling they did with us downstairs. I told mom about the nurse trying to get the IV started and the pain and fear it had caused.

Dr. Walter Chang
Dr. Michael Sullivan came to start the IV. He was a very nice man and gentle with the needle. Since he was going to be in the operating room with me, he sat and talked for a few minutes explaining how things would be. It was refreshing to have someone explain what I could expect. After a few minutes, he excused himself and went to prepare things in the o.r. for my surgery.

Next came another anesthesiologist, Dr. Walter Chang, who wanted to start an epidural. I was really scared to do an epidural and was pretty emphatic that was not going to happen. He was very nice about it and wanted to make sure that I knew what it entailed. I was very resistant as I was getting really freaked out by the prospect of having something stuck in my spine. I was beginning to panic, and he sensed it.

By this time, they had let me dad come back and sit with my mom and me. I had been in this area for more than hour now and most of the other patients had already been taken in for surgery. Dad told us that my grandparents had arrived and were in the waiting room now too. They were anxious to come back and see me before surgery if they could. Dr. Chang said he would give me a little time to think about the epidural and he would be back. Mom slipped out and talked to the nurse to see if we could bring my grandparents back for just a minute. After getting approval, dad went to get them and was back in a flash. We all talked for a few moments and exchanged hugs and kisses just as Dr. Chang came back with Dr. Sullivan. This was their way of convincing me to have the epidural, a double-teaming of anesthesiologists. What a dirty trick. I agreed to do it after a couple of minutes of their urging me to.

With that, my dad and grandparents went back to the waiting room. I asked for mom to stay with me because I was truly nervous about doing this. I won't go into the details, but the experience was not one of my fondest moments in the room that day. Once it was done, the head oncologist, my surgeon and his nurse came in. They all greeted us an made small talk to make me feel at ease. They went over some of the paperwork in the binder and Drs. Paz and Femino signed some of the forms along with my bare leg and hip. I was taken aback by this. They explained that they had to do this so that once in surgery, there was no question as to where the surgery was to take place; the signature all down my right side would be a giveaway. All the doctors left after a few moments of making sure all the required signatures were taken care of.

Soon the nurse was back and giving me something to make me rest. Mom stayed with me a few more minutes while the drug took affect. By this time, a new group of people was being brought in to prep for surgery. I was drifting off now and wouldn't be awake for the rest of morning. I guess once I was out, mom went back to the waiting room. I was off to surgery and my family could only wait now.

Next, "Post-Op and ICU," this was going to be fun.


"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:1-4

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