I'm posting this after date for obvious reasons. It was my surgery date. I'm going to try to recall what I remember from that date for others who may want to know what to expect.
My report time was 5:30am. We left the house at 3:45am. It was a somber trip, and we both cried a little on the way. When we pulled into the hospital drive, I panicked. I've never been as scared as I think I was about this surgery. Being my first surgery, and the fact that I was turned away for IVF based on how dangerous anesthesia would be for me, I think I felt like I was taking the ultimate gamble with my life, and I was worried that I would not win. My fear was real and reached to the core of who I was. I knew I might not wake up from this. I knew that I might be leaving a mess for others to clean up. So fear. Big fear.
We went and checked in at the desk. I'd already come in and done my paperwork and made my deposit payment, so I was told to go straight to the surgery waiting room. I got my bracelet that would know my name and birthday if I didn't and had a barcode that would give anyone who scanned it my info.
We waited for a very short time and watched my patient number on a tv screen that would tell my family what part of the process I was in. My parents were on their way but not there yet. My sister was resting after being up with me all night because I was afraid to sleep. (Honestly, I kept thinking that if I died, I didn't want to spend my last hours sleeping. I wanted it to count, even if it was just spending time with her.)
They called my name and I went back to the prep area. They weighed me, and I gave a urine sample. I took off all my clothes and put on their gown and slipper socks. I walked back to the stretcher and laid down while they hooked up an IV in my right arm. My husband was visibly shaken. He was pacing and sweating and clearly as scared as I was. He was making me nervous, and I felt like I clung to whoever came in, even though they were strangers. They were calm. I needed calm. I couldn't fault him for being scared. He heard exactly what I heard in that fertility clinic. "High risk", "too dangerous", etc, regarding the anesthesia.
Finally, my parents got there, and there was my mama. Smiling and calm. The hand that held mine in childhood illness and fear. The mother that taught me that "God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) And taught me to say that scripture over and over to myself when I was afraid, so I would know where fear comes from. Hers was the hand I wanted to hold. The one that I associated with comfort and all the things a mother's hands are. Doorway Man came back and forth nervously, but mama prayed and held my hand the way she did when I was a child, screaming in terror from a bad dream.
When it was time to go to the OR, and I'd met the nurses and anesthesiologists and my surgeon and assistant surgeon, and they had everything ready to go, they wheeled me back. I don't believe I was there but a few minutes before the next thing I knew, I was waking up.
I couldn't breathe. I was gasping for air. I couldn't make my lungs work. People were talking to me, shuffling around me. I believe they had just pulled out my breathing tube. I was alive. It was over, someone said. It went well. It was all over. My lungs still hurt so bad, and…. Ouch. My belly hurt. I had surgery. And it was over.
Then things calmed down. I was talking to a blonde headed nurse. I told her I hurt, and she moved quickly to give me meds. She asked if I was nauseated. Yes. Again, fast. She was on it. Seemed like she was always putting something in my IV. People would come near me, she would speak, and they would move. She's in charge, and I'm her only job. I don't know who she was, but she was called to do this. When she left even for a moment, she had someone else ready to watch me, as if I was her mother or daughter or sister. She spoke with authority and I had the feeling that people do what she says, possibly even fear her. When she got back, her eyes never left me. Her focus was absolutely true. I knew I was safe with her, and she would do whatever was necessary to help me. She was what every nurse should be.
It's stuffy in recovery. I still am struggling to breathe. Then things get easier.
Things became consistent and peaceful, and my husband came back. I could see the stress and worry on his face. He smiled, and I knew that he was relieved. I didn't look like I was dying, even if I looked like I'd had a rough day.
Then my mother came. And she had the look that all mamas have when they have been greatly worried and the storm is over. She held my hand for a little while, and this time was different. This time it was a prayer of thankfulness. Not just that the storm was over today, but that the fear that she's had for a long time of outliving me because of obesity may soon be gone as well. I saw it in that moment. I saw thankfulness for the possibility that I might be saved from early death. She told me my dad was in the waiting room, and that she wasn't gonna send him back. His nerves are shot, and she wasn't sure he could handle seeing me hurt.
My dad. So tenderhearted. So aware of what he sees as weakness, but those that know him see as strength. That's okay. I know he loves me. I love him, too.
A little bit later, the blond headed nurse, is laughing with another. She's not quite so serious now. She's still watching, and still someone others respect, but she's morphed back into Clark Kent, a normal person. Laid back. Laughing. Smiling.
She calls for transport to radiology. They come get me. The room is cold, not stuffy and heavy air like the recovery room. It's loud. The people are moving me as if I'm an office chair. I tell them I'm in pain and just had surgery, like they didn't know. Everyone is moving fast, and I'm overwhelmed. Then there's one guy that talks to me. He knows I'm a person, so he's talking to me. The others leave. He tells me to drink slowly. It tastes bitter. It feels weird. I taste vomit, I think. No, that's the aftertaste. My tongue is dry. My throat is dry. My lips are dry. My arms are immobile from the IVs. I have two now.
He tells me my bed is going to blow up around me. A younger blond says it's to transfer me from the bed to the Xray. It blows up. They count and transfer me. My feet are so cold. The transfer didn't hurt. Good.
The guy comes up to me and pats my arm, the one that knew I was a person who was hurting and scared. He told me he was going to move the table and it was going to feel like I was standing up. I tell him I can't stand up. He says I won't fall. I believe him. He says it might hurt, but it will be fast. I also believe that.
I go up. I'm dizzy. He pats my arm and tells me I won't fall. I believe him again. It hurts. He walks away and comes back. He's smiling. I am swallowing normally. The fluid went down where it was supposed to go. He pats my arm, and lays me back down. The bed blows up. They transfer me back. Several people come in. I think it was the ones from before. I hurt. I'm nauseated. My mouth is dry. My throat is dry. My lips hurt.
This time the trip is not so rough. But I am hurting from standing up.
They take me to my room. I see my husband and my sister. They both look relieved.
I'm so thirsty, I have to tell myself my IV won't let me die of thirst. The nurses give me a drink and tell me I can't drink but the tiniest speck of liquid. Slower. Slower. Slower than that.
They put more morphine in my arm. More nausea meds. I'm drowsy. I'm glad it's over.
Sleep comes again.