February 03, 2010

Hospital recap

It's day two of recovery and I spent much of it on the sofa napping. C came over to walk the dogs and L made us both lunch, but I did have both morning and afternoon snoozes.

Some highlights of my hospital stay:

In the surgery prep and waiting area there was a new touch. Instead of warm blankets, the gurneys are covered with a Bair Hugger. It looks like a down comforter made of channeled "paper" with a hose in the middle. Warm air blows into the "blanket" and the heat keeps the patient toasty, so you put energy into healing instead of into shivering. Rik and I laughed out loud when we saw it, but I LOVED it!

Rik went home to feed and walk the dogs, then came back to the hospital around 5 PM.

The anesthesiologist tried hard to access my port but was unsuccessful. He then tried to start a line in my arm -- twice -- with no success. At this point he said he wanted to give me ether to relax me and then he would start an IV in my hand. (I had warned him that my veins were crappy.) The ether worked great. I immediately relaxed and the next thing I know I was in recovery.

By the time I got upstairs to a room it was past 6 PM. Dr. F had already spoken with Rik, who then called my mom, his mom, my sister and several close friends. He sat with me until about 9:00, by which time he was asleep in a chair and I was drowsing on the bed, so he went home.

I needed assistance to get into the bathroom the first couple of times, and then I was good on my own. But I was on the toilet every hour all night long! My pain appeared well controlled; I just had to pee all the time. The good part about being a patient at Swedish is the 24-hour meal plan. I called down for a snack at 4 AM and enjoyed vanilla yogurt with Cheerios and a decaf mocha, then went back to sleep until the next time I had to pee.

The next morning they removed the IV line and I was able to take a shower. I had a second breakfast of mashed potatoes, turkey sausage, a whole wheat roll and some fresh fruit. (I saved the espresso shake as a snack before discharge.)

When Dr. F came in on her rounds, she agreed all was good. When I told her about my having to pee every hour, she checked the rate on the IV pole and it was properly set. The nurse then chimed in that they had just lowered the rate from 50 to 25. "50!" said Dr. F. "I ordered 25!" No wonder I was in the toilet all night long. I had been getting twice the recommended fluid amount.

The morning ended with an unexpectedly pleasant surprise when the room telephone rang. It was the anesthesiologist, Dr. Max Lucero. He was calling to make sure that the port site was okay, and that I had managed well with the IV in my hand.

I gotta say, I have had a number of surgical procedures over the years, and in my experience the anesthesiologist comes in a few minutes before the surgery starts, introduces himself (it's always been a him), starts a line, and I never see him again. That Dr. Lucero called to make sure I was okay is a testimony to his being a caring, concerned medical professional and to Swedish Medical Center, who hired him. Kudos to Dr. L! He can put me to sleep any time.

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