Surgery - From my perspective
Posted by tim in I Feel Sick on October 25, 2010

It's been 13 days since I had my shoulder surgery, and I finally have a minute where I'm able to tell you all how it went.

The only surgical procedures I've had in my life, up to this procedure, were either simple outpatient with local anesthesia or they were at a point in my life when I was far too young to remember or understand what was going on. Because of that, I was incredibly nervous about surgery of any kind, as I didn't know what to expect.

Monday night before bed, I was working on calming myself down to the point that I would be able to sleep without any sort of pharmaceutical assistance. I was really focusing on my breathing, as I knew that I wasn't allowed any food or drink after midnight, and if I was breathing heavily I would be in dire need of water. Surprisingly, I was successful in my attempt, and I slept like a baby all the way up until 6:30AM when my alarm went off.

I got out of bed, put my clothes on (an oversized button-up shirt, elastic-waisted shorts, and flip flops), took my medicine nearly sans water, and grabbed my duffel bag that I packed the night before and my pillows and Emily and I got in the car and headed out for the surgery center.

We got to the center a little early, and I had to use the restroom, no thanks to my usual stomach issues. By the time I was done with that, I got checked in and within a matter of minutes a nurse came to take me to the pre-op area, Emily accompanying me.

The nurse instructed me to disrobe down to my underpants, and put on the compression stockings and gown and climb into the bed. As I climbed into the bed, I pulled the blanket over me, which was nicely warmed. From this point forward, everything seemed to go at a rushing pace, and I'll try my best to recall the details.

The nurse came back to the area and took my vitals, asked me several times which shoulder was being operated on, and marked it with a black Sharpie marker, saying "YES". She said the surgeon would come and initial it prior to the surgery.

Another nurse came into the scene and took care of starting my IV while the first nurse took care of shaving my shoulder and a couple spots on my chest. Soon thereafter, the anesthesiologist came in and told me what to expect. He gave me two options for the local anesthesia portion, a scaline nerve block, and explained the pros and cons of each. I opted for the method he was more comfortable with, and I didn't see much of him after that.

Meanwhile, the first nurse addressed a concern I had of nausea by giving me a motion sickness patch behind my left ear. She said that it would be the remedy for any sickness after the surgery, as there was some sort of a correlation between motion sickness and anesthesia-related sickness. After she did that, the other nurse gave me a dose of Pepcid via my IV, which would be the remedy for any nausea before and during the surgery.

The first nurse left the picture for a while, as the second nurse asked me my name, my date of birth, and which shoulder was being operated on. Shortly thereafter she left and it was just Emily and me in the pre-op room.

The second nurse came back and gave me another injection via my IV, and said, "This will feel like you've had a couple of cocktails. You'll feel really good." The first nurse came in and informed us that they were going to start the nerve block procedure and asked Emily to vacate to the waiting room until they called her again. This was not the last time I would see her before the surgery though.

The anesthesiologist then came in and moved the bed at an angle in the room. While he was doing this, the first nurse attached some sort of unit that emitted a beeping sound, which I figured was a heart rate monitor of some sort. Things got really fuzzy at this point. I recall the anesthesiologist stretching my arm out to the side, and the first nurse saying something like, "Your arm is going to want to twitch; just let it, as this is normal." After that, it is nothing but static until I remember Emily saying something like, "No, I will not take your picture. The camera is in the car." Apparently I was rather adamant that she take my picture before I went into surgery.

I think I remember asking her if I had a cap on, and she mentioned that I was painted up with a yellow substance (later determined to be betadyne) and that I didn't look too great. I eventually came to my senses though and I remember the surgeon coming in and asking me how I felt. He asked me if I had any pain in my shoulder that morning or the night before, which I did. I explained the sensations to him, he initialed my shoulder as the nurse said he would, then he left.

Emily sat with me for a few minutes, counting down how many minutes remained until my surgery, according to what they had written on the whiteboard in the pre-op area. When the time went over a little bit she made a comment about how they must have been busier than they expected.

I remember a third nurse coming in at some point thereafter, saying it was time to take me to the operating room. I kissed Emily and told her I would see her on the other side (I think I said that anyhow), and they wheeled me down the hall and into the operating room.

When they rolled my bed up next to the operating table, another nurse was in there and instructed me to climb over to the operating table. She said something along the lines of, "Don't worry about your right arm, we'll take care of it." As she said that I looked down to see my right arm just laying across my front while another nurse pulled it across. I couldn't feel it though, and this was a really weird sensation.

After I got on the table, a male nurse brought a mask down to my face and told me it was oxygen and that I just needed to take a deep breath. I thought I was doing well breathing, but I remember him saying, "Don't hold your breath. Just breathe." I remember counting how many breaths I took after that, and the number was just two.

The next thing I remember was laying in the bed in the recovery room with Emily by my side. I don't know much of what was said, but I do remember she helped me get a drink of water and she did take my picture. I also remember the surgeon's primary nurse coming to check on me and to get me more water.

As I started to regain my senses, I asked Emily how the surgery went and she said that it went okay and that they fixed more than just the suspected tear. I also remember another patient being wheeled into an adjacent recovery area, and hearing the nurses telling him that he had knee surgery. I remember one of the nurses telling his mom that he had been smiling really big from the time he woke up, which I found to be a little entertaining.

After I was with it, Emily helped me to get dressed and helped me to the restroom. After I was done in the restroom, she gathered the rest of our things and a nurse wheeled me out to the car in a wheelchair.

I don't remember a whole lot of the trip from the surgery center back to Emily's mom's place, but I do remember when we got there her uncle was sitting in the recliner. He got up and moved to another chair so I could sit there. I don't remember much else after that other than shaking the uncle's hand, Emily and her mom trying to figure out how the compression icepack worked, and eventually moving to the sofa in the front room of the house.

At some point in the afternoon I do remember noticing that my hand was completely paralyzed from the nerve block still. I was trying my hardest to issue a "move" command to my fingers, but they didn't budge.

The rest is pretty much boring after that, as I began the recovery process. I am happy to report though that my stitches have been removed, my doctor is very happy with my progress, and I am able to use my arm about 60% of normal (though I don't know if I'm supposed to...).

I'll post some pictures in a little bit of me laying in the bed post-op, and some pictures from the days after the surgery. In a couple of days I'll try to post some more pictures of my current progress as well.

 
Comments

On the way back from the surgery center I had to follow a funeral precession all the way to 288/610 or 59/610 (I forget I was quite fuzzy too!).

You should link the vids! http://surgery.sean.li

  • Posted by Sean (Guest) on October 25, 2010 at 07:03:59PM
Add a comment