I arrived at outpatient registration shortly after 7:30am on Thursday morning. There were no other patients, and the intake employee waved me to her cubicle. I explained that I pre-registered the night before and just needed to pay the $150 surgical co-pay. We completed this transaction, and Seth retrieved a wheelchair from the lobby so we could make the trek to Interventional Radiology.
We followed the ‘green line’ for five minutes, negotiated another administrative obstacle, and were finally allowed to enter the quiet, private waiting room.
It felt like we waited for-ev-er. Truthfully, it was probably 20 minutes. The TV was on – Matt Lauer was in London for the Today show – but I really didn’t care. The only thing on my mind was the gravity of the day. The placement of a port that may never come out.
My nurse, Erin, finally retrieved me from the waiting room. I gave Seth a kiss, and he settled in to watch a movie on his portable DVD player. (When I bought it for him years ago, I never dreamt I would be the impetus behind so much of its use!)
I expected to be led to a locker room, much like a typical radiology department with ‘gowned waiting rooms.’ This, however, was a smaller, more specialized department where many procedures are performed on admitted patients. The changing area was an over-sized private bathroom with a built-in bench. Erin handed me a gown and ‘personal belongings’ bag. I disrobed from the waist up and tied the gown loosely behind my neck.
When she returned, Erin led me to the large, cold operating room. I sat on the table, removed my shoes, and placed them at the far end. She covered me in nice warm blankets – ahhhh.
With a little effort and not as much confidence as I would have liked, Erin started my IV. It should be the last one I’ll need for a very long time. I lied down on the table, monitors were hooked up, and fluids were started.
Erin would be managing my conscious sedation, and I told her from the beginning that I wanted to be as knocked out as possible. Quite often, people are awake and just don’t care what’s going on. I wanted to be OUT. She explained that the amount of sedation she can give depends on how low my blood pressure goes. I wasn’t confident at this point. I always have really low blood pressure (90/52, for example), and I started to worry it would be too low to sedate me as much as I wanted. Perhaps this worry cranked me up, though, because I weighed in at a sturdy 112/70!
A surgical assistant draped and prepped me for surgery. While we waited for the doctor, Erin started me on sedation to see how I would handle it…
I awoke in recovery. And like every other time I’ve ever been sedated, I asked, “is it over?” I love anesthesia. I was pretty out of it for a while. Erin said she’d never given anyone that much sedation. (Woohoo?) The recovery nurse helped me sit up and pushed a drug to make me more alert while we waited for my O2 to come up.
Seth and I left the hospital around 11am and hit a drive-through for a snack. Around noon, I retired for a well-deserved nap.