I applaud the people who will never see the interior of a hospital save on the day of their birth (and perhaps on their deathbed) and I congratulate the ones who will never have to have life-altering surgery by way of the dreaded Operating Room (NOT superficial/selfish plastic surgery). This kind of places me and all the others permanently attached to these facilities for life-saving purposes in a small niche. Sure, you’ve visited someone dear in the hospital after an accident, tonsil removal, etc but have you had to stand by day in and out for someone who may not leave healthy and/or alive?
I don’t know what’s more grueling – being awake through the night listening to the *beep beep* of heart monitors or enduring the worried/plastic smiles of the visitors who wish you well but can’t wait to bolt from the-living-reminder-of-life’s-abruptness-and-fleeting ways. How about leaving the hospital but never truly checking out because life as an outpatient is at least more freedom wielding than being stuck in a hospital bed?
This is the procedure ALL patients go through before ANY operation (minor and major):
1. Fast for no less than 12 hours before surgery – no dessert, no water, no nothing!
2. If you haven’t done so already, submit all blood work and urinary/stool samples for analysis. Failure to do so can delay any further actions (i.e. your surgical procedure)
3. Take all daily medications as directed by your doctor unless told to do so otherwise.
4. Fill out pre-operation forms that ask what diseases you have, last surgery or hospital procedure (if any and where), the meds you take and how often, your last menstrual cycle (if you’re a woman to ensure you’re not pregnant), list any tattoos or body piercings, the date done and location on body, the last time you had sex and if you used protection, how often you drink, smoke and/or indulge in illegal/recreational drugs, etc (all the embarrassing things you don’t want permanently marked on paper ;o)
5. Tell the nurse or doctor if you have eaten or drinken anything immediately prior to your operation (see, this is a trick! This is to see if you have followed rule number 1).
6. If your health has changed in anyway in the last 24 hours (fever, vomitting, nauseau, diahheria, weight loss/gain, etc), please notify a staff member immediately (the hospital doesn’t want to be held accountable if your stitches somehow became infected with ebola BEFORE you entered the OR)
7. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to latex or anesthesia or its components and derviatives, please notify a nurse or doctor immediately
8. Do not take a laxative, suppository or diuretic before the operation
9. Inform medical staff of any injuries, changes in body function, etc.
10. Have health proxy and/or personal Will on file
1.Strip mothernaked and put on flimsy hospital gown (ha! I get to stay semi-clothed), sterile cap (can’t have hair all over the super sterile OR) and non-slip hospital socks (again, don’t want the hospital liable for anything)
2. Sit down on weird examination table or pre-op chair (so the nurses can just wheel you out of the OR) with either crinkly white tissue paper or questionable sterile white bedsheet.
3. Bear the scrutiny of nurses AND doctors as they review your paperwork aloud with you (and all the patients within earshot) and all the questions you answered in the privacy of your home.
4. Give another urine sample regardless of following rule number 2 on paperwork, if necessary
5. Give bloodwork regardless of paperwork’s rule 2 through that damn butterfly needle
6. Alcohol swab, saline solution bag (aka IV bag), BIG ASS needle and turniquet set up at eye level so the anesthesiologist can start an IV line (that’s intravenous line as in gotta stay in your veins but outside your body clear tube).
7. Area to be stabbed is rigoriously cleansed with alcohol swab as the turniquet is tightened to beyond max (note to all Asians: it doesn’t matter what super athlete you are [unless you’re on roids that is], you are genetically cursed with small, fine veins that only a nursing pro could find in the dark!), vein is searched dearly for (and in vain [ha ha]) as you will be pricked a minimum of two times before that damnable pinch (indicating needle puncturing the vein wall) and blood flows out, indicating a good vein (if you can’t stand the sight of blood, ask to be blindfolded b/c when you think it’s over and look, it’s never over) and IV tubes are hooked up to push blood back into body along with saline solution.
8. Sign away your life in the form of paperwork leaving your doctor (and the hospital) unaccountable for any mishaps
1. Walk with a nurse from the pre-op bed/table/chair to operating room where a minimum of 5 people are waiting for you (your doctor, the anesthesiologist and his nursing assistant, your doctor’s two nurses to assist you onto the OR bed and anybody else deemed necessary to make the procedure go smoothly – in my case, a radiologist and his nursing assistant)
2. Get strapped to the operating table in execution, on-the-the-cross-style with leather straps and metal belts to insure the body doesn’t roll while unconscious (feeling my pain, yet?)
3. Get fitted with an oxygen mask, get hooked up to a heart and oxygen monitor, IV lines attached to machine that the anesthesiologist controls [my doctors know how curious I am and I never get to stay awake to ask) and lidocaine or other relaxant pumped into IV so as not to feel the burn of the anesthesia (yay?)
4. Verify who I am and the procedure (like I really understand the jargon) as the nurse says my name, types it onto yet another hospital band and cold hands touching my defenseless body to stop me from wriggling
5. Feeling queasy, eyes droop and the last few words, “Let’s get this done.”
Post-Operation (assuming you made it through alive):
1. Nurse gently wakes you up (mine do!) and offers you a drink/food if you’re allowed (dammit, I fasted for 24 hours!)
2. Check pulse, oxygen levels, stitches, wounds etc for stability
3. All done
(I’m a fucking wreck… been through this numerous times [this will be number 20? plus the 5 day stay] and I can’t relax – the procedure is endurable but AFTERWARDS, mothaf*cka the back pain is unbearable but at least my right leg doesn’t feel like it’s rolled in broken glass and no need for the cane to walk)