Exactly 2 weeks ago right now I was lying on the operatIng table joking with a couple of the 8 people who were in the room with me. My humor was a pretty superficial attempt to hide my nerves and also a test to see how alert the operating crew was. I wanted to know if I could see any signs that one or two of them had stayed out way too late watching the Canucks playoff game the night before. I'm not sure what I was looking for...... perhaps that look that we all have before we are about to ralph......but I was happy to see that everybody looked pretty good for 8am.
My day had started 3 hours earlier with a shower at home in special antiseptic soap. No eatng or drinking for twelve hours before surgery meant no stopping for breakfast, but straight to the hospital with Les. We saw the same lady in admissions who said the exact same words to me as last time three months earlier. "Wow, you are far too young to be having this operation. I can't believe they are operating in you. My husband is in his fifties and they won't operate on him".
It doesn't take much to figure out that this probably isn't the most sensitive thing to say to someone as he goes into a stressful day where his life will be irreversibly altered, for good or bad. Somehow, hearing her say it the second time, totally unaware she had made the exact same comment to me months before, was a little extra aggrevating. I mostly thought of all the other people she probably planted an extra seed of doubt in as they entered this hospital.
Les got to stay with me in my preparation at Surgical Daycare, were I was given a couple of pills and had an IV started. Something about slipping into the hospital gown feels like a magic transition from normal person to patient. Maybe it's purely functional, but I can't help but feel that part of the reasoning behind hospital gowns is a psychological transition to let the person know they are truly now a patient and under total control and care of the nurses. Nothing tells me that all the normal rules for my life have changed better than sitting in some hospital gown that comes half way down my thighs and exposes everything on my backside. It amazes me how quickly I can lose all feelings of modesty or even caring under these type of conditions.
A short time later Les and I said goodbye and I was wheeled off like a piece of meat to the operating room. I say piece of meat because the orderly who took me came, and without a single word, pushed the bed out of the Daycare, down the hall, up the elevator, through the ward and parked me in front of the operating room like a slab of cow that needed to be chopped up before it was any use. It's amazing to me that by lying down in bed in a silly hospital gown and getting a few tubes running into my veins can do so much to change my social status that this person wouldn't eve say Hi or tell me where she was taking me. Maybe it's none of that and she just wasn't a very friendly person but one thing was very clear at this point......I was no longer under control of what is happening to me.
After waiting for about 15 minutes outside he OR, Dr Smit came to see me and talk about the surgery. We had a brief conversation about what it was like to be stuck in a Dutch airport for a couple of days and I was then wheeled off to the room. I was carefully transferred to a very thin operating table that is just barely long enough to fit on. At this point I was sat up and told to bend as far forward as possible for Dr Friezen (great name for an anithetist) to give me an epidural in my lower back. I was then laid down and placed on my side, with a fluffy pillow between my arms and then my whole arm assembly was taped to the bed. With no sign of hungover Canuck fans in the room to make me nervous, I peacefully drifted into Lala land as the sedatives were cranked into the IV.