Monday, March 19, 2012

Too Late to Back Out Now

The "sports hernia" surgery is complete, and apparently went well. I say apparently because I wasn’t awake for it. Here are the boring details, as much as I can remember (I write this stuff for my own record, and post it on the blog in case anyone else cares, read at your own risk):

We woke at 4:00 am, left home at 5:10, and arrived Fairview at 6:00 am. I checked in and was soon paged to an admissions window in the area called "Same Day Surgery." We went to a "family waiting room," where Sunshine got a pager, and pretty soon a nurse took me away to a little office where she asked lots and lots of questions about my medical history. I changed into a gown - kind of a cool one that had portholes to allow a flow of warm air if necessary (they didn’t use them in my case).

Soon the anesthesiologist came in, and we had a discussion, then finally the surgeon appeared, describing the procedure to be done and marking the place on my abdomen where surgery was to be done. He asked me to confirm that it was the right place.

From there I walked to the operating room, already populated by at least four people all scrubbed and gowned. They did the final preparations, sterilizing and shaving the surgical site. At one point they did a "sound off," each person in turn reading my name, age, and the surgical procedure (abdominal exploration and repair), which I thought was an excellent precaution. They pulled a heavy cloth up in front of me, guaranteeing that I couldn’t see anything worth seeing, and then finally persuaded me to allow them to use a minimal amount of general anesthesia. Moments later, my lights were out for the duration. Apparently the surgery went well, but was finished long before I awoke.

Meantime, the surgeon was updating Sunshine. He said that some stomach muscles were injured by the running, and apparently that I wasn’t exactly a spring chicken in there any more, but we’re not exactly sure why he said that - he knew I was 71 when he encouraged me to have the surgery. He did not come to see me after I awoke.

They soon moved me to the recovery room., where several other people were recovering from their surgeries. The woman who moved me said that they had given me one unit (50 mcg) of Fentanyl. My lower right abdomen was still numb from the local anesthetic and I felt no pain at all.

After 30 or 40 minutes in recovery they put me in a wheelchair, took me back to get dressed, and a nice volunteer wheeled me out.

Tonight there is pain, especially when I cough, laugh, stand up, or sit down, but naproxen (Aleve) helps. I have something stronger if I need it, but then I couldn’t have my evening beer. There’s a reason for everything.

Here’s My Beef:

I know that I’m unusually sensitive to general anesthesia. I have examples, one time long ago when it took me days to recover, not minutes or hours, and other examples up to just three years ago. Anesthesiologists never believe me though.

I explained this to the first nurse, then to the anesthesiologist (at length), and again to everyone in the operating room. I also explained that I would prefer to be awake during the surgery, as the surgeon had said I could be, so that I could observe the process and talk to the surgeon. The anesthesiologist agreed to start with a minimal dose, which I could increase by asking for more. When the surgeon arrived, however, he said that I was a little too awake for his taste, and the nurse (or was she another anesthesiologist?) persuaded me to allow her to administer just a little Fentanyl, and that was it. Out I went, and I don’t know for how long. 60 minutes? 90 minutes? The whole process took three hours, so it could have been that long.

It seems to me that there are two possibilities:

  • Either the surgical team deliberately ignored my wishes after assuring me that they would be honored, or
  • They screwed up. They just didn’t believe me.
I’ll see the surgeon in a couple of weeks, and will certainly bring up this issue. Maybe I’ll call him tomorrow - depends if I’m still upset tomorrow. I wonder what would have happened to me if they had given me the amount of Fentanyl that they had planned to administer. Or maybe they did.

Anyway I’m safely home, and if the surgeon is half as good as he thinks he is, the recovery should be uneventful.

1 comment:

shekay said...

"I know my body!" Why is that so hard for professionals to understand? I have had similar experiences, one having to do with the delivery of my second child. It would make me angry, too,Don.