Well, the big day finally went off without a hitch. My ‘diseased’ gall bladder (as the surgeon termed it) was removed in a quick, relatively painless, and easy operation this afternoon. I’m already back home and in my own bed and ready to get on with life.
What’s really amazing is how quick and smooth and easy a cholocystectomy is today with laparoscopic techniques, compared with, say, 30 years ago. My aunt had her gall bladder removed at the now-defunct Physicians and Surgeons Hospital in Duncan, OK, in the 70s. It was long, painful, and resulted in a two-week hospital stay. Compare that to my experience today:
• 09:30 — I leave home for the hospital.
• 10:18 — Arrive at hospital, park near the ER entrance because the front lot is full.
• 10:20 — Check-in at the admitting department.
• 10:37 — Begin the admitting process.
• 10:45 — Arrive at the third-floor Short Stay Unit; assigned room 3311-1; change into hospital gown; vitals are taken; blood pressure is a surprising 127/83.
• 11:00 — In bed, covered with pre-warmed blankets.
• 11:30 — Questionnaire and paperwork completed.
• 11:55 — IV line is started; nurse Kathleen uses lidocaine prior to venipuncture, which is the first time this has been a painless procedure.
• 12:30 — One last bathroom visit, then a surgical nurse takes me down to the pre-op room.
• 13:30 — Surgeon, stuck in traffic, finally arrives. In the interim, surgical staff start the IV drip, an antibiotic drip, put on anti-embolism bags on my lower legs, have me sign paperwork, and put a paper hat on my head. Anesthesiologist also comes in to explain his part of the proceedings during the wait for the surgeon; he will start with Versed, then Fentanyl, then hit me with the big stuff.
• 13:45 — I’m taken to OR #5 after being given the shot of Versed. After I’m on the table, I’m given the Fentanyl. Then it’s lights out buddy as the anesthesiologist hits me with the good stuff.
• 14:50 — I wake up to a rather, shall we say, eclectic mix of 80s and Christmas music on an iPod in the recovery room. The room is festive. A 99-year-old woman is brought in next to me, having just had heart surgery. Recovery staff and discuss the storage capacity of iPods and various other sundry things.
• 15:50 — I’m taken back upstairs to the Short Stay unit and my room. The male nurse in charge tells me there are three criteria to be met before I go home; I have to walk a bit, make sure my pain is manageable, and I have to potty. I accomplish the first one by walking from the gurney in the hall to my bed. The second is already fine, since it feels kind of like a bad case of indigestion; and the third one I take care of about 30 minutes later. I am given a coke and crushed ice; oh, joy and bliss.
• 16:40 — The nurse comes in to being the discharge process, removes my IV, gives me my post-op discharge instructions, etc.
• 17:00 — Frank comes back from grabbing a quick dinner, the nurses provide a wheelchair and we go downstairs to the Jeep and are on our way home.
• 18:15 — I’m home in bed, Dr. Pepper in hand, chicken broth in a bowl, and two Darvocet taking care of business.
• 18:45 — I blog the experience.
Total elapsed time, from leaving my garage to leaving my diseased organ at the hospital to getting back in bed: About nine-and-a-half hours. Compared to over two weeks 30 years ago.
Not. Flippin’. Bad.
We’ll see how tomorrow is with pain. I can shower tomorrow evening and remove the main bandaid on my navel. The bandages themselves on my four incision sites will dissolve naturally. I can have more solid food tomorrow night and get back to my beloved Jacuzzi baths on Tuesday.