Friday, November 07, 2008

To avoid repeat

I recently had surgery on my left knee. It sucked. I've told this story a few time, the majority with my boyfriend having to hear it again. It's a pitiful, but funny (I think), story that I just haev to put out there.

For anyone who ever has Meniscus repair and ACL replacement surgery - I'm sorry!

My story isn't about how it happened. I was stupid, that's how it happened. No, this story is what happened the day of the surgery. Yeah, I want to document my horror story and share it with all the world.

I was quite stressed the week before my surgery was to take place. Hell, I had been stressedduring the entire month between the accident and the surgery. But, with the surgery fast approaching, my body was making sure it reflected the stress I had inside. Its final bout of reflection - laryingitus. Two days before my surgery, my voice totally gave out on me. Swell. Ok, fine.
The day of my surgery, I had gotten my voice back, but my throat still had a Froggy scratch to it. I wasn't coughing, and didn't have a cold. I just sounded like the Lil Rascal. I had to go to [redacted] hospital for 6.30am to be prepped and documented for my 8.30am surgery. I did everything they told me to, answered all the questions, had a living will signed and witnessed (just in case) and was ready to go. It seemed like everything was flowing nicely.
They tossed me on the gurny and brought me to outside my o.r. door. I don't know about anyone else's opinion on this matter, but there's something very uncomfortable about laying there with only a dressing gown still untied in the back with a baby blue and a sterile cap on my head, while nurses and doctors and people in blue outfits walk up and down the corridor, giving *huh wonder what she's in for?* glances.
Finally, my anesthesiologistssss came up. One was this very sweet girl with a bright neon colored flowers skull cap on. She introduced herself and the other guy, and then proceeded to get me set up for my IV. He walked off. She proceeded to find a vein in my right hand, but said they were all too small. She tried one, but right when she was starting to move the needle in, it rolled. This left a nice big bruise on my hand.
And wouldn't you know it, right at that exact moment the other anesthesioloist showed up. He was this giant stoiac Polish guy, who I honestly cannot say if he liked what he did. Maybe in some sadistic way, but he definitely wasn't there to better anyone. He grabs my arm like he would probably grab any woman's arm, and started looking around at my hand. In a heavy Polish accent he say *Yor veins in hand too smoll, must do IV in inner elbow,* and started slapping me there to draw out a vein. Not patting... slapping. Leaving a pattern of red welts. Nice.
During his bedside beating, he was asking me questions about what kind of anesthesia I wanted - general (tube down the throat) or regional (epidural in the spine). I mentioned that I've had spinal taps before, so the epidural is out. I also mentioned that I don't want this regional idea of theirs, since they were leading me to believe I'll only be *mostly asleep.*
No way *mostly asleep.* You're knocking my ass out!
Well, in voicing my opinion (which was not quite as blunt as the above) I had a little tickle to the already scratchy throat that caused a coughing fit. This did not stop the guy from still doing his poking business in my arm, but it did start his brash rudeness. Finally, he finished the poking, stood up, threw his hands up in the air like I'm some big inconvenience for his day (I'm the one having the frigging surgery!) and said he can't work with me and walked off scoffing at me under his breath.
After my coughing subsided, I asked for my doctor and told him and the others around me that there is no way in hell I was letting that man be in charge of any drugs going into my system. He comes walking up, to continue with moving me into the o.r. and getting me set up. I took one look at him and told him I don't want him anywhere near me and he can just leave.
The doctor went and talked to him, then brought me a new, NICE anesthesiologist who talked me down and convinced me to go with the regional. Twasn't hard... she was just nice and calm. The doc apologized for that piece of shit's behavior and tried to excuse it as some sort of cultural difference, to which I replied *he's in America now... adapt to other ways.*

Into the room... epidural... out.

Three hours later, I woke in recovery and immediately felt the pain comparative to a vice crushing my knee from the sides and from the top. I didn't even have a chance to be *where am I?* It all started with the pain. I didn't care where I was, I just wanted to know why I was hurting that bad and what they were gunna do to change that.
My doc comes around with two new male anesthesiologists and tell them to do a femoral block on me. A what? Basically anesthesia in a nerve at the top of the leg that runs all the way down and will kill any pain, any feeling in the leg for up to 10 hours. Hell yeah, hook me up!
So, these dinkuses set up a sonogram monitor, start looking around on my leg and find the nerve. One guy's holding the sonogram wand, while the other stabs me in the thigh...about 2 inches away from the frigging nerve. Argument ensues between these two dips over being too far, so he removes the needle and stabs me again... this time 1 inch away from the nerve. More arguing ensures. *Ummm, pardon me but are you a student or something.* He's not... no, he's a professional who's been doing this shit for a while. Yeah, good job man. Well, instead of removing and stabbing again, he starts wiggling the needle around, trying to get it deeper and closer to the nerve. WIGGLING NEEDLES ARE NOT FUN. Finally he gets the nerve, injects the meds, and they walk off grunting about my question and his incompetency.

Finally, about 30 minutes later, the pain's subsided and I actually feel okay. The nurse waits another 30 minutes before sending me to the next wing, where I can see my boyfriend, eat a little something and eventually be released.
When I get out there, something's starting to feel wrong. Ethan walks into my lil curtained area, says hi, and all of a sudden that same vice crushing pain is coming back... fast. We're talking with every heart beat the pain grows. I'm crying, Ethan's probably freaking out, and we can't find the nurse who's suppose to be assigned to me. Great. Finally, we find her, he explains I'm dying, she gets some help and sends me back into the recovery room.

Back in the room and with a new nurse. 10 hours! Ten hours! They said it would last ten hours! What the hell is wrong??? She calls my doc, who is in his next surgery, but gets permission to give me some crazy ass drug that makes one nauseous and sweat like a beast. *How bad is the pain?* 10! Ten minutes later *how bad is the pain now?* 10! Twenty minutes later... 10! An hour later... ok, 8.......
I was in the recovery room for at least two hours trying to get the pain to subside. During this time, I asked the anesthesiologist who was managing the sonogram thingie why it didn't last like he said it would... but he didn't have an answer for me. He did say that it's kind of good that it didn't last, because chances are ten hours from then I would be home and that pain would be just the same and I wouldn't have the drugs to bring the pain down as they do in the hospital. Oh well thanks, that's very reassuring.
I asked for my doctor. Still in surgery. (They weren't even intending to ask him to come to me when he was done.) I asked for my boyfriend. He's not allowed back there. I asked what my options were. I could stay over night. I want to consult with my boyfriend and doctor.

For the next hour, I had to continue to ask to see both of them, only to deaf ears of my nurse. I will be a lot less difficult if you would just please let me speak to them. Nothing. I will only become more difficult if you don't. Boyfriend is called.
Ethan comes back and we discuss. I explain to him that they aren't answering any of my questions, they're not telling my doctor that I want to see him when he's out of surgery and tell him what happened to me with the drug wearing off, the whole experience. He goes and speaks to the nurse, explaining that I'm scared and confused and in a lot of pain and would feel a lot better and be able to handle all of this if she would just have my doctor come to me when he's done. (Now mind you, other than crying over the unbearable pain, I was trying to not be difficult or annoying or ugly or mean. But with every idiotic comment that they made to my questions, which weren't even just sad answers to them but more like excuses or blow offs, yes - I was getting more impatient. *I don't know, but will try and find out* would have sufficed!) The nurse listened to him and sent word for the doc to come see me when he came back to recovery with his recent patient. Then she made my boyfriend leave again.
About an hour later, my doctor returns and answers all of my questions without batting an eye. By then the drugs they had been giving me thru the IV were lessening the pain to about a 4, which to my was tolerable. We discussed my options, and I decided I just wanted to be home. Even if they gave me a self inducing morphine, I really didn't want to be in the hands of these kind of people.
So, back out to the release section. Ethan came, as did crackers and apple juice... and this little 4'5" Philippine woman who had the energy of a hummingbird. She spoke fast, moved fast, acted fast, and was ready to get me up and moving and out. Now, remember, I just got pumped full of some drug that made me hot and sick feeling. I need calm. I need to feel relaxed. I need to pace myself.
Buzz buzz buzz, let's get you up. Buzz buzz buzz, let's make you walk. Buzz buzz buzz let's go to the restroom. Buzz buzz buzz, are you feeling nauseous? Yeah, that drug does that to people. Just don't throw up on me. Buzz buzz buzz, come on, walk to the restroom. Buzz buzz buzz, I'll come in with you and help you.
The restroom was maybe 4 x 5 feet, with a toilet and sink jutting out into the majority of it, and a giant waste basket that was about at my hip. I was trapped in this cell with this hummingbird woman. And she wouldn't shut up.
Buzz buzz buzz, I got you. Buzz buzz buzz, don't worry. Buzz buzz buzz, oh, you don't feel good? Well if you need to throw up, don't throw up on me. Buzz buzz buzz, here's the waste basket.
And, with all that energy, I was sooo nervous and antsy and sickened that... I threw up.
She wouldn't stop. What's more, because she was holding me and not giving me any leeway to position myself properly, I didn't have the best position or aim to lean into the waste basket. So, a little itty bitty drop of anesthesia (the only thing in my stomach at that point) hit her nurse green pants.
Buzz buzz buzz, ohhhhh see, I told you not to throw up on me, but you did anyway. Buzz buzz buzz, I knew this would happen. Buzz buzz buzz, ohhhh your boyfriend going to hear about this one. Ha ha ha! Buzz buzz buzz, it's ok, throw up all you want, just not on me anymore! Ha ha ha ha ha!
Please just get me out of here!!! I demanded myself to not be sick anymore, and begged for her to move so she could open the door, I could get out of there and away from her energy. Of course, once she opened the door, Ethan was there waiting for us, and she announced to the whole room Buzz buzz buzz, she puked on me! I told you see would! I didn't want her to and told her not to, but she did! Ha ha ha ha ha!
I looked at her and said *You made me sick.* She just laughed and kept buzzing about something while she closed my section's curtain so I could get dressed. I sat down in the lil lazyboy on rollers and just started crying. She had me so tensed up that I didn't even care about the pain my knee had... I just wanted to get away from her and that high energy and go home.

So there... my knee surgery. Sucked. My doctor and Ethan were the only two people there I could deal with and trusted. Everyone else... it was like they were just playing everything by ear and just doing by what the books told them, not by experience of dealing directly with people in a vulnerable position who are expecting you to watch out for them and make sure they are as comfortable as possible in a situation they really would prefer to not be in.

So... for your livelihood - never ever ever have to get ACL replacement surgery. It sucks.

Buzz buzz buzz, ar


1 comment:

MimiGypsy said...

though i was there for the aftermath of this, very sorry about the intimate details of the math itself. Sorry you had to be at the epicenter of a perfectly painted picture of why American health care system BLOWS! And glad you "processed" this in words.