Saturday, July 2, 2011

My First Surgery

I was in my mid 30's when I began to get dizzy and nauseous all the time. I mean really dizzy and nauseous. There were days I would sit up in bed and just fall over. I had to take six months off from work while the they did MRI's, CT-scans, and a battery of other tests which all came out negative.

The doctor, who was a humorless man, said there was one more thing to try. He theorized that there may be a microscopic hole in my inner ear that was too small for the scanning devices to pick up. If fluid was leaking out of the hole it would cause a severe imbalance. The only way to tell would be to cut a piece of a tendon out from my scalp above my ear and use it to go in and patch the entire area where the hole might be located. I went along with it because I'm not one of those people who can wiggle their ears so I figured I didn't need that tendon for much anyway.

The first step is filling out the pre-op paperwork and there is plenty of it. After reading through my completed form the admin said that I hadn't listed any previous surgery. She was taken aback when I told her I hadn't had any. She was so amazed and in disbelief that she kept asking me if I was sure and started listing things that "count" as surgery. I assured her I knew what surgery entailed and that up until this point no one had knocked me out and cut me open. I was sure. It's not really something you forget.

The day of the surgery arrived and the wife and kids drove me to the outpatient facility. I was told to undress and put on a hair net and that silly gown that goes on backwards. Being my first time I didn't realize that I was supposed to completely undress and left the tighty whities on under the gown. I walked into the pre-op room and climbed up onto the gurney.

Standing there waiting to assist me was a good nurse and a bad nurse. The wicked nurse of the West immediately started whining about my underwear and reached for those funny scissors that can cut a full set of clothes off without putting a scratch on the patient. Nurse Glinda, apparently thinking I was shy, came to my rescue and told the wicked nurse that it would be OK and to put down the scissors.

If memory serves
It had been decided that rather than use anesthesia they were just going blast me with morphine until I didn't know which way was up. No objection from me. An IV drip would hit me fast but wouldn't last long so they supplemented it with injections in the buttocks. Not fun. She stuck the first needle in and it hurt like hell. I spoke right up and let them know. Nurse Glinda said it would hurt a lot less if I relaxed the muscle as she began gently rubbing my butt cheek. I was beginning to like this surgery stuff. After a minute or so she asked me if I was feeling any more relaxed. I said no, but I was sure it would work eventually. I got a few more minutes of massage before she plunged the second needle deep into the same cheek.

A few days prior I had spoken to my sister about the operation. She's a nurse and I wanted her advice. She told me to say I had a low pain threshold so they would up the dosage of morphine. I was left alone for a few minutes and then the evil nurse came back and said that I should be feeling the affects of the medicine by now. I was high as a kite and feeling like I was literally floating up near the ceiling but remembered back to what my sister had told me and said no, I didn't feel anything yet. Apparently the wicked nurse was quite perturbed as I kept saying that through the course of the surgery and continued saying it as they wheeled me out of the operating room. "I still don't think the morphine has kicked in." I felt so good that I wanted to go back and get the other ear done the next day!

I'm told by the wife that I relentlessly insisted on getting Burger King on the way home so we went through the drive-in for a whopper although I don't remember eating it. We got home and it was time for my daughter's school recital. The wife told me I couldn't go and that I need to lie down and rest. I stood there in the living room adamant about going and then suddenly I couldn't feel my legs and quickly ended up on the floor, at which point the wife said "I told you so." No, I'm kidding. She didn't say that. Well not in those exact words anyway.

The operation was a huge success and I felt completely normal the next day. It was an unbelievable feeling after being sick every day for six months. It was the worst thing I had ever experienced and had been told if the surgery didn't work I would likely be that way for the rest of my life. I still think back on it sometimes.

A week later I went back to the doctor for a check up. Following a few quick tests I told him I was feeling great and we were all happy. I was sure the doctor was pleased with himself and the outcome, but Dr. Nofun still hadn't cracked a smile the entire six months. I picked up my three year old, threw him in the air and caught him on the way down. I looked at the doc and said with all seriousness "See, I'm not dropping him anymore." There was a look of real horror in his eyes. Then, after a moment of silence, I told him I was just kidding and chuckled. He finally smiled.

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