I am home. Though NOT in the condition I expected. I did EVERYTHING as I was instructed. In detail; I abstained from pain pills and aspirin-based products for nearly a week. I quit eating at 7:00 p.m. Thursday. I had nothing to drink after 10:00 p.m. Including NO COFFEE Friday morning… We received four inches of snow overnight. I did not care. My mind was occupied with preparing to have my right shoulder rebuilt. I was at the hospital 2 hours before the surgery as instructed. I went prepared with all of the billing info, a photo I.D. (I have decided that requirement exists in case someone besides me showed up to have THEIR shoulder rebuilt on my behalf…). I wore the loosest fitting clothing I could find.
The nurses did THEIR job professionally. Absconding with my clothes in exchange for one of those embarrassing “tie-in-the back” robes, they also presented me with a pair of the non-skid hospital socks! I liked the fact that my nurses had a sense of humor in their attempt to distract my morbid thoughts. For some reason, the quote from Chief Crazy Horse kept rolling through my mind; “Today is a good day to die…” Instead of mechanically doing their job, the pre-op nurses described exactly what they intended to do to me before they performed the task. “NOW, I’m going to put these three IV lines into your left arm. This won’t hurt near as much as your right arm will, tomorrow night!” Then the heart monitor. “You’re lucky” she said. “Last week, we quit using Krazy Glue to keep these electrodes on your chest. Now we just use tape” The experience with my nurses made me feel as if we’d known each other for months. Then the blood pressure monitor (which is what eventually got me into trouble). I hope I get that same team of nurses when I return. If you can ever feel at home while waiting for surgery (without actually working in the hospital) THAT’S the team I want.
The first doctor I had contact with, was the anesthesiologist. The “Gas Man”. The little I know about the medical profession, I am now of the belief, it is the Gas Man who is in charge of the show. It’s true, without the nurses, the parade would never begin. These angels deserve our utmost respect. Yet, without a skillful, knowledgable surgeon, we would be forced to live with whatever ails us until the end. BUT… But, it is the Gas Man who determines our fate for the pending procedure.
After his brief introduction with a distinct “not from around here” accent, he busied himself with my library of charts, exams, medical history and a litany of questions without ever looking up from the charts. Dr. (whose name I STILL cannot spell nor pronounce) sailed around my bed to the monitors. From behind my head I heard , “Tap-tap-tap…” as if someone would flick their watch to see why it quit working. Or like drivers I used to know, would “tap-tap-tap” on their fuel gauge, in disbelief after a 1300 mile day. “Ever had blood pressure history?” he asked from behind. “Well. No surgery today…” continuing to talk without waiting for my response. He sped out of the room as quickly as he’d arrived, repeating, “No surgery today.”
Dr. (?) held a meeting with the nurses at the doorway to my room. You know how they do. Just outside of ear shot, and continual glances in your direction. You KNOW they’re talking about you but as hard as you strain to hear…
Not long after, my surgeon appeared with a bounce in her step and a smile on her face. That is UNTIL the Gas Man confronted her at my bedside. On time and prepared to begin my procedure, her expression changed. Ever tell your kids, “Turn that frown upside down”? I wanted to tell her the same thing! She was no longer a happy surgeon.
Let me abbreviate all of this and get to the point. “They” decided that my blood pressure and heart rhythm was “off the map” and “unacceptable” to go forward with the shoulder surgery. Instead of the operating room, I spent the day, the entire day, touring other parts of the facility; donating as much blood as I used to during the Red Cross blood drives in Boys Town. I stood in front of the x-ray machine getting pictures of my chest until I KNEW I would glow in the dark. They left the non-Krazy Glued electrodes, and ran so many EKG recordings, I am certain one of my nurses had to make a run to Office Depot for more paper. The “don’t drink/don’t eat” rule went out the window so that I could “donate” enough for a “cup full”.
Bottom line? After all of the preparation. Freezing meals, buying oversized shirts, ironing every piece of clothing in anticipation of NOT being able to wear them for months… After Lord knows how much anxiety over how I’d manage by myself operating around here left-handed, the surgery has been postponed for at least a week while they wait to see if this new medication will “level out and maintain” my anxiety before they will proceed. The former Cat Stevens sang, “I love my body, it’s been a good friend…”. I apologize for the delay in reporting the outcome. My mind is still reeling from the unexpected change in plans. I WOULD like to thank everyone who has e-mailed, written, called… I promise (as I promised the surgeon), I will do everything it takes to let them operate next time…