Hospitals are cold.
Oh, and I don’t like anesthesia. That’s my assessment after my LEEP cervical conic biopsy Thursday.
As I mentioned last week, my doctor wanted to remove some “bad cells,” which required me to have my first-ever hospital experience. I’ve had my share of stitches in ERs, but that’s the extent of it, so this was scary.
I arrived at Rex Hospital at 10 a.m. for the noon surgery. As required, I had not eaten or sipped anything since midnight. I checked in, filled out paperwork and waited for my name to be called. Soon, I was shuffled to a desk to go over HIPAA and shell out $200.
A yellow-shirted teen volunteer led me and my boyfriend Kevin to a waiting room. I was pleased to see Wi-Fi on the menu. We waited for a few minutes, and then my name was called again.
The friendly nurse introduced herself and we went back to a prep room, where the temperature was probably 60 degrees. I was weighed in at 65 kilograms (144 pounds). My blood pressure was a little high (“nervous?” she asked.) and soon I was donning a hospital gown.
I’ve never worn one, but I made a face as I stripped down. Taking off my clothes was like taking off my armor. Instead of being Suzanne Woodstock, I was now a patient, wearing a hospital gown and a yellow plastic bracelet. Now I was a sick person, just another in a long line of people these nurses would see that day. I got a big case of the icks, shuddered and felt tears spring to my eyes.
Suddenly, I felt even colder. I sat down on the bed, piled the warm blankets on me and told myself to quit being a wuss.
The nurse returned and began asking me questions about my health history, which helped me feel better, but I wrung my hands together anyway. No heart, cholesterol or diabetes problems. No, I have never been put under anesthesia.
Once that was done, she began to put an IV in my hand. I started to ask her questions as she did it, again to help to calm myself.
“Why couldn’t I eat or drink after midnight?”
She explained that it was to prevent me from coughing up any fluids or food into my lungs while I was knocked out. Ah.
She rubbed some numbing solution on my hand and slapped my veins several times. I didn’t feel the needle go in, but it hurt a second later. Like, OUCH. I still have a bruise on my hand.
I took a few deep breaths and chatted about non-hospital stuff with my boyfriend Kevin, who gets a big gold star for his awesomeness. Soon, they wheeled me out in the bed. Being pushed around in a bed sounds like fun, and it kind of is, like a ride. But again, it made me feel weak and sick, as if I couldn’t walk on my own.
The orderly wheeled me a long time, over to the surgical wing, where I was rolled into a parking space with a curtain.
Another nurse came in to talk me through the process. I felt less scared once she explained what was going to happen. I handed Kevin my glasses. (You can’t wear them or contacts during surgery.) I’m mostly blind, so my trip to the operating room was a blur of shapes and colors.
I thought the hospital was cold, but yowza! — the OR was freezing! They piled me with oven-warmed blankets. The anesthesiologist apparently was also a comedian. He told bad jokes, to which I responded, “So you do stand up on the side? What, anesthesiology not paying very well?”
I guess he didn’t think that was funny because he pushed something into my IV, which HURT like a son of a bitch in my hand. I felt cold tingling up my arm, like that scene from the Matrix, where the cold silver substance is creeping upward.
I don’t really even remember waking up. I was so out of it at first. I remember them asking, “Are you awake?” I think I said, “Sort of.”
I sat there, struggling with consciousness. They gave me a soda, which I sipped through a straw. I slowly chewed a graham cracker. They said I could leave as soon as I peed. I think it was an hour, but I had no concept of time. My eyes refused to stay open. I forced my eyelids apart and sipped more soda. I finished one of those mini-cans. And another.
A nurse suggested I try to go to the bathroom. She helped me stand and I inched forward, feeling wobbly in my blue rubber-soled socks. Dizziness swam laps in my head for a second, but I kept going forward. I managed to sit down, use the toilet, stand up and return to the chair – all in slow motion.
I got dressed like an old person – slowly and methodically. I stood up and then sat in a funny-looking wheelchair and went for another ride, this time to the front door. The heat of the day felt like a warm bath after the meat-locker hospital. Kevin and I stopped at Panera Bread, where he got out and bought me bread-bowl soup. At home, I slowly sipped it. Despite having not eaten, I had no interest.
He said later I was like a zombie, with my “soul sucked out” of me. I crashed into bed and fell into dead sleep.
When I woke up at 5:30 – roughly two and a half hours later – I felt fine. STARVING! I could have gone back to sleep, but my stomach said, “Feed me, Seymour,” and I got up to obey its commands.
I crept out of my bedroom and found Kevin snoozing on the couch. He looked so cute. I leaned over near his face, he opened his eyes and I said, “Hello, Sleeping Beauty.”
He laughed, “You’re much better!”
I guess he was worried about me. He gave me a kiss, and I wasn’t cold anymore.