Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day of Admittance - Surgery Day

It was rather nice and laid back to wake up rested at a more reasonable time (9 am?). Instead of waking at the crack of dawn at some crazy hour like 4:30 or 5 am for a 6 am check-in, I could sleep in because I did not have to be there until noon. :o) Now that's the way I like it!

I half had an insane idea to get up and go for a run with my extra time. Fortunately, I came to my senses and remembered that I cannot eat anything. Still the thought was there until I also remembered that I cannot DRINK anything. Now that would just not fly after a run! Therefore, I took a short morning walk with my parents, their dog, and my sister around the neighborhood and through the lovely fall canopy draping the woods.

On the ride to the hospital, I started texting people in my text phone list (it is not very large) to tell them I was having brain surgery. I got too busy beforehand and did not have time to let some people know before I left home. I also updated posts about the surgery on facebook using my text phone.

I was a little stressed out because we got lost (Harley was using "Lola" - aka GPS) and actually was about 10 minutes late to my check-in.

When we got there, things went rather quickly from one to the next unlike before. Since I was the only brain surgery patient for the day, there was no waiting and they had my surgery time scheduled. Shortly after I arrived, I was pulled out of the hospital admittance waiting room where my family and our friend KC stayed. Harley came with me into the admissions office.

During admissions they verified who I was, who my doctor was, and what procedure I was about to have. They also asked if I had filled out an "Advance Directive which, LOL, I kept confusing and called the "Prime Directive". But since it had only been 2 years ago that I filled it out for my last surgery, it was still valid and I did not have to go through that whole process again.

The "Advance Directive" is a long legal form you sign choosing the instructions you want should something happen to you rendering you unconscious. You need to appoint two people to ensure medical staff carry out your wishes and a witness to sign it. It can be a difficult emotional situation if you are caught off guard. I did pretty well the first time and read it while my family had went to the cafeteria to have breakfast. When they returned, I was ready to maintain composure and explain what I had decided and what I wanted. I chose Harley of course as the primary person of responsibility and my dad as second. You want to choose somebody who can make logical decisions and handle making difficult ones if necessary (unplugging life support).

So this time we were able to skip all that and move along. They were ready to take me already down to surgery prep when I finished with admissions which was maybe 15 - 20 minutes long! Sadly, I had to leave my family behind as only 1 person can be with you in surgery prep due to limited room. Surgery prep is an open room with 4 beds. You basically get dressed in the hospital gown, several medical staff come to ask you who you are and what is being done to verify it is correct, IVs are drawn, your head is marked with a marker to show where the surgery location is, and the anesthesiologist comes to talk to you. During this whole process of time, family members/friends can take turns coming to see you to wish you luck and say goodbye (for the morning or afternoon of course ;-) ).

You are probably wondering what happens as I cannot hear. How do we communicate with so many people coming and going? During this time and also for admissions, the hosptial provides me a real time captioner for accommodation. A captioner is somebody specially trained in court reporting and the use of court reporting equipment. The captioner types up everything being said very quickly "in real" time that I read on a lap top computer. So it is pretty much like having a normal conversation with me except I am looking at a computer instead of directly at the person speaking.

There was a lot less time for visiting as I was taken into surgery sooner. So I had a very brief moment to share with each person. After they had all left, I tried to get myself into the frame of mind for surgery. I carry around a "surgery binder" with all my medical information but also had some notes and special cards from my last surgery which I read. They were notes of love and encouragement.

One in particular was from my friend Skip while we were having a lunch visit. He always was great about writing to me and even always brought his own notebooks! One conversation we had was particularly touching so much so that I wanted to keep what he wrote down to remember it and take it out at times like this (at the time he wrote it I did not know I would be having 2 brain surgeries). It uplifted me, reminded me of my purpose, and gave me the strength to face the challenge ahead.

Oh, about my friend Skip.....if you had not caught on from previous posts, he is the special friend of mine who passed away a little over a week before my surgery. It was a hard week (not only did my good friend die but I nearly caused myself to go blind in one eye by accidentally mistaking a bottle of nail fungus medicine for eye drops and putting it in my eye!). How I channeled my grief and compartmentalized it, was to approach the surgery as the last lunch date we never got to have. The day we were supposed to meet, his blood counts were not good and they admitted him to the hospital where he spent a month for the most part.

So for the surgery, I approached it as the last chance we were going to get to see each other and visit. That way, I actually looked forward to it and was much calmer. I could not wait to see each other again (but I could wait to have to go through all that pain and sickness after waking up). As usual, I was running late and the surgery was going to be a little bit later than projected. I remember quietly thinking to myself and telling Skip I would be a little delayed.

It was not long when it was time to wheel me off. I do not remember much about it. They must start to administer calming drugs or anesthesia before you get to the OR. I just remember I think a green wall in a hallway with dive photos that I was really excited about. Then I was in the OR and noticed it looked better - the lights were not painted bright orange. After that, I was out until they woke me up in recovery.

Are you wondering if I remember being out or seeing my friend? No, not at all. It was like when you go to get your wisdom teeth taken out. You just get to sleep and then you are being woke up. It was not that pleasant the first time.
Anyhow, I imagine I am not meant to remember because like a good movie or book you do not want to end, I may have not wanted to end my visit or being on the other side. I was meant to come back and this is how it is. For the time, my world is here.

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