Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday morning started out good. I had my minor meltdown the night before, but honestly thought I'd be more freaked out about my first ever surgery. Nope. I was fine. Josh and I got up and I showered. It took me a while to pick out what to wear (I have no idea why though) and during my indecision mom showed up. She brought some Jell-o and a cute little sign for a Valentine's gift (She had gotten us the "Always Kiss Me Goodnight" sign for our first

I finished getting dressed, packed some extra clothes and off we went.
Here I am on the way there. Don't I look great? Lol.
I was told to go through the front door and at the desk someone would have me "check in" and take me up to the second floor.

Ummmm... no one was there, but a nurse who was walking out asked if we needed help and told us where to go. We headed to the Short Procedure Unit on the second floor and I'm not going to lie - it wasn't what I expected. Now I KNOW I bragged before about how great Memorial was, but I hadn't been in this part of the hospital ever. And it was... well, it was old.

I am taken into a room with two other people already in gowns in it. The nurse tells me I have to take EVERYTHING off and put it into a bag, but Josh and mom can stay with me. I disrobe and hop into the bed. The nurse comes back and explains this is a new thing they are doing and Josh and mom will be able to stay with me right until I go back to the operating room. I guess they used to have a holding room where the patient would wait and the family would be elsewhere not knowing when surgery would start. This was much nicer having Josh and mom there to talk to.

So the nurse goes over tons of questions (medications I'm on, when did I stop, any problems with anesthesia, etc). I answer them all and when they get to "are you allergic to any medications" I say yes, tetracyclene. The nurse asks what kind of reaction and I explain that when I was 14 and on this for acne, I had an allergic reaction that created a psuedo tumor cerebri in my brain. The nurse looked confused, and my mom explained that it happens in less than 1% of the population and although rare, is becoming more well known. I'll blog about this whole thing another time.

Next there was a string of people in and out of my little curtained area. In no specific order was the anesthesiologist, Dr. Prats, a med student named Leon, another med student, the two nurses that would take me back to the OR and be with me the whole time and the IV team nurse. The IV team nurse was my least favorite person EVER. She was younger (maybe late 20's early 30's) her hands were shaking and she did NOT know what she was doing. I don't mean to sound like THAT patient, but my mom has started IV's for me and drawn blood as she is a nurse and never had a problem. I sometimes have a little trouble with them finding a vein, but this was ridiculous! She poked, prodded and actually *gag* dug around in my arm. I have NEVER cried during an IV insertion, blood drawing, etc. I was in tears.

She kept apologizing, but honestly I just wanted her to shut up and get the stupid thing in! She ended up putting it in my upper left arm and there will be more about this later (not good).

**Now for a semi-sad story about one of the other patients. The girl next to me was young. Based on her birth year she was 21-22. When her surgeon came in to go over the procedure I almost cried for her. She was having a cyst removed on one ovary. They were going to look at the ovary and determine if it was salvageable. If not - gone. Also, if they felt the cyst was cancerous and had spread, they would remove the other ovary and possibly her uterus. I heard both her and her mom sobbing. It literally broke my heart. When they took her out her and her mother were crying really hard and I just wanted to yell out good luck, but I didn't.

The good news to all this was mom talked to her mother in the room they were waiting in after the young girl's surgeon talked to her. They only needed to remove the cyst and she was able to keep all her organ's intact. Yeah for her!! **

The above story somewhat helped calm me before my surgery. Mine wasn't too invasive, they knew exactly what they were doing and there was no questions of cancer and removing parts of my body that I may still want.

When it was finally time I kissed mom and Josh byes and the two nurses wheeled me back to the OR. On the way I saw the med student Leon. I said hi. The nurses laughed at me for being so friendly pre surgery. Once I got in the room they moved me onto the table. Next thing I know they strap my right arm down at a 90 degree angle to my body, then I look over and they are doing my left. Okay, not going to lie this was FREAKY. When they threw the strap over my body to strap it down (OMG) I was like "hi everyone, I'm Melissa and I'm your patient today. Thank you for doing this surgery."

I think I was hoping they weren't going to kill me if I was nice to them. Ha! They all looked at me strangely, the anesthesiologist put the mask over my face, told me once I felt the burn in my arm to start counting backwards from 15 and breath deep in the mask. Fortunately I never felt the burning and never counted. Lol. I was OUT.

Vaguely I remember the recovery room. I think the nurses were talking about me. I have no clue. Next thing I remember I was heading into my room and Josh and mom were waiting for me. Josh and mom both kissed me and asked how I was doing. I was doing fine, but I immediately started complaining about my arm. It hurt. Bad.

The next few hours were a blur. Josh took this picture of me in the hospital bed.

When Josh and mom left for dinner they left me my cell phone. I went nuts calling everyone. I was bored and hopped up on pain killers feeling lonely (ha) and in no pain.

I also went picture happy with the camera. Here is my AWESOME photo shoot.

Yes, that is in the UPPER part of my left arm.
It is almost a week and a half since surgery and my arm still hurts.

This is my belly. The band aids make the incisions look big.
They aren't.
Here is a photo of me in bed. At least I look happy.
Aren't these hot? Lol.
They are hooked up to some machine that pushes air into them.
If you notice the right one is tight on my leg, that one was "blown up".
They alternated to keep me from developing blood clots.

My biggest issue was trying to go to the bathroom. We had to unhook each of my leg warmers, and then unplug my IV from the wall (it had battery back up). It was a production and the nurses were not all that helpful honestly.

Eventually Josh went home to get some sleep and my mom offered to stay the night with me. At one point ( I think around 1AM) a nurse came in all hot and bothered because my mom was NOT allowed. They do NOT allow overnight visitors. Ummm... when the nurse called the day before surgery to give me the time, I asked if I could have someone stay the night. I was told YES if I had a private room. When I was having surgery my mom talked to a nurse in the short procedure unit and asked if there were any private rooms available and she had one assigned to me SO SOMEONE COULD STAY OVERNIGHT.

In my groggy state I told the 1AM nurse this. My mom also explained it to her and she went on and on about how that is wrong and this has been the hospital policy enacted by *some big high up person who was female* and *some other high up person that is female* for two years. It is to keep family away so patients can rest.

That's great 1AM nurse, but when I CALLED you guys via my button the first time I had to pee, it took someone 20 minutes to get to my room. I had already had my mom unhook me or I would have peed the bed (There is NO way I could have unhooked myself, I could barely wipe myself after peeing!). It also took 3 hours to get some ice chips because you yelled at my mom for getting them earlier and no one remembered me every time I asked. I get that you are understaffed and have a hard time taking care of everyone. My mom is a nurse that was HELPING me.

She finally relented (after telling my mom to go find a hotel - my mom did not take this well) and then "forgot" to bring my pain meds for 3 hours. I also went those same 3 hours without a vitals check. Ummm...??

Fast forward to 7AM and I start asking when I can get my upper GI so I can go home. EVERY person that comes in says "I'm not sure, let me check" and then disappears forever. I'm afraid my question put a spell on them or something strange that they could never find my room again!

Josh made it back around 8ish, although he had to go through the ER and find where I was since they don't open the front doors until 9AM on weekends.

Around 8:30 Leon came in. I was all happy to see him (he was the med student that sat in on my surgery). When we asked about the upper GI he said he had no idea, things seemed to move a little too slow around there. Ha! Even the med student seemed annoyed. I also told him about how bad my arm hurt. He found a nurse and my IV was finally pulled. At least a little relief! No more fluid leaking into my arm from my blown vein thanks to IV team nurse shaky hands.

Finally around 1oish some guy came with a wheel chair. I hopped in ready to get this over with. Yet ANOTHER issue though. First off wheel chair mover guy was just plain weird and super chatty. When I get to the room (this is where I had my upper GI before), the tech gets me all ready and explains I will not be having the chalky barium this time. Nope, the stuff I have to drink is worse.

Great. Then Dr. camo (he had a camo lead apron on, I don't remember his name) comes in. He starts arguing with the tech. He wants a barium drink for me. Nurse says they don't do that with post op patients in case there is a leak. He starts yelling at her, she yells back, they leave me in the room. It was so weird. When they finally come back in she hands me the original stuff and they start the test.

Okay, barium is chalky, but doesn't taste horrible. This stuff tasted like a mixture of cleaning supplies - not that I've drank cleaning supplies, but if I did, they would taste like this.

Now, I have had nothing but water, ice chips and about 5 spoonfuls of jello in over 24 hours. Then I have to drink this stuff? I couldn't finish the test. I was ready to throw up. The tech understood and told me Dr. camo would just have to deal. He did. Thank god. I was miserable.

Wheel chair boy took me back to my room and I started to lose it. See, the nurses in recovery AGAIN forgot to give me my pain meds (I should have had them at 9... I went for the test at 10... got back close to 11...) OR the zofran (anti nausea medicine) BEFORE the test like they were supposed to.

I was in really horrible pain. My arm hurt, I was ready to throw up (which I CAN'T do, or I could rip stitches out on the inside of my body), and I had so much pressure in discomfort from the surgery I started crying. It took lots of tears, but I finally got my meds. Then they tell me I can't leave until I can walk up to the nurses station and back.

So while on TWO percosets I grab Josh with one arm, mom with the other and march up to the nurses station (did I mention I had the furthest room from there?).

About 40 minutes later and I'm discharged! Yeah!! I'm stiff, uncomfortable, but not in pain and just ready to be done.

I have to confess I was EXTREMELY unhappy with the care I received in the recovery wing of the hospital and with IV team nurse shaky hands. Everything else went great, but these two issues were big. I have written a letter to the hospital outlining a lot of what I wrote here (without emotion though, just the facts) and I am seriously reconsidering having my breast reduction at this hospital. I was not a difficult patient at all. I stayed friendly and nice throughout all their mess ups and mistakes. I did not yell or scream, yet I could have several times. I just feel like their lack of care made my recovery miserable, when honestly I wasn't in severe pain. I'm not sure what I am going to do yet.

I'll post about my first day home maybe later today. That was a lot of typing for one session! Ha.

*hugs and kisses*

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