Friday, December 3, 2010

On The Table

In surgery I was directed to lay on the table – which seems to me was a cloth-covered, flat space designated just for me. Two spaces extended from the table for my arms to rest upon – thus a distinctly cruciform shape – no irony intended. I remember noticing the lights in particular, two round fixtures with a vast array of bright bulbs waiting to guide the process. Dr. V. , the anesthetist whom I had met earlier was there. The nurse directing me in the preparations was very nice. Dr. Miller came into the room and introduced me to the surgical team – I don’t remember them.

Then things got under way. The nurse held a blue oxygen mask over, but not on, my face. Dr. V. gave some instructions about falling asleep. Here is my most distinct memory of the preparations for surgery. I was breathing the fresh oxygen when, coinciding with the anesthesia, the fresh oxygen turned to a distinctly sour smell. I have thought about that a lot. Either the gas coming from the oxygen mask changed or the overtaking anesthesia altered my sense of smell. The sense of smell establishes the strongest of memories, and this is one I continue to carry with me.

The next thing I knew was waking-up in post-op. I noted the sensation of waking there is quite distinct from waking from the fainting spell. There was less confusion, less fear. Comforting voices reassured me that all was well. My greatest need was for water, but that would come in due time. After a time, I was brought back to 217, resettled in my bed, and greeted by Barb and Beth.

I recorded these events of surgery day while recovering in the hospital because I did not want to lose the memory of this multi-sensory experience. We are created to take in the world around us; to live and learn through each experience God brings our way. I am thankful for being able to ‘sense’ my way through surgery day.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Up to the 5th Floor

Coming out of that fainting spell is difficult describe. The memory is distinct, but the mix of sensations is a challenge – from dark to fuzzy to foggy. The first point of re-entry is the voices – Barb’s I believe – asking if I am okay. The voices are disconnected from my experience. Then my wide eyes begin to catch hold of the room. Since I am lying back, I am looking at the ceiling of the room – which adds to the disorientation. I cannot explain where I am or what has happened, but the fog is beginning to lift. By this time the nursing staff are there helping me out, much to the relief of Barb and Beth, I believe.

Soon I was back to normal and back into the waiting process. We waited for a while longer in the room – all the nursing attention had subsided and now it is looking to surgery. The next step was transport to the 5th floor – surgery. No, first I was taken to room 217 prior to going to surgery. I remember being in the room because of the procedure – the side-rails of the bed being put up. Pastor Jon came by after seeing Arturo and Elizabeth to the airport. I am thinking there was a round of taking vitals, perhaps taking some blood. This happened enough after the surgery that prior to surgery seems likely.

Then transport to surgery – the surgical nurse came with a wheel chair – I remember the blanket across my lap and being taken to the elevator – Barb, Beth, and Pastor Jon waving good bye. I rode up with a woman who was to have cataract surgery; we visited in the waiting area. I was moved from the wheel chair to a table/gurney to wait my turn. I was covered with the most wonderful heated blanket – the best thing ever. I met my anesthetist, which added to the reality of the setting. Several times I was asked the questions – any medications? No. Any Jewelry? No. Any piercings? No. Diabetic? No. These questions, or rather the frequency of asking them, show how thorough the process is and how seriously the professionals take their responsibility. I lay there for some time watching the traffic in and out of surgery – a busy place.

Finally it was my turn. I walked into surgery – not very medical drama – but at the same time it illustrates what I am dealing with – a manageable yet important health issue – thyroid cancer.