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Saturday, December 13, 2003

Surgery Update

Thanks to everyone who has sent their well wishes. I appreciate it, and it has helped me keep my spirits up. Ordinarily I would be an emotional wreck, but this time has been different because of friends and family who care. Huge thanks to Andrea (my sister-in-law) & John (my brother) for picking me up and letting me stay with them. Special thanks to Dan too for making me laugh just prior to surgery which helped prevent me from getting all emotional and for keeping everyone updated on how I am doing.

Now for all the gruesome details...

When I met Doctor Galligan, the anesthesiologist, I expected to get emotional like I did back in September when I met the anesthesiologist. Dr. Galligan was very friendly and I felt I could trust him. That's not something I do easily, but I got the feeling he really knew his stuff just from his handshake and how he carried himself.

Anesthesia poses many risks, and one that worried me most is that it can cause low blood pressure which can lead to death. My blood pressure runs low to start with, so I was nervous about this. General causes it to go lower than a spinal, which is one more reason to do a spinal. However spinal has other risks that are just as worrisome.

It wasn't until just before I went in the operating room doors that I finally decided what to do. I asked Dr. Galligan if I did a spinal if I had to be sedated, and how long would I be kept in the hospital. He told me I didn't have to be sedated if I didn't want to and that he could focus the anesthesia on my right leg so that it would wear off faster. He expected it to take about 3 to 4 hours to wear off completely. We talked about risks a bit, and he didn't try to sway me towards general or spinal at all.

Since I didn't have to be sedated, and I brought my camera I asked if I would be able to take pictures myself or if he would mind taking any. He was excited about it and thought it was a great idea. He said he could see that this sort of thing doesn't bother me, and felt I would do just fine without any sedation. I asked if I could change my mind at any time and he said I could so I felt comfortable doing a spinal.

Dr. Galligan had me lay on my right side with my knees drawn up and my back curled like a hissing cat. After a couple minutes he had me roll onto my back. It felt like my right leg was propped up on something and I had to pull me head up to look. Nope, my leg was flat on the table! It was so bizarre that I couldn't feel my leg at all, even when they lifted it up off the table to wash it and put the tunicate on. I could see my leg, but I felt like it was still flat on the operating table.

During the surgery the soundtrack from Forest Gump and U2's Joshua Tree were playing. It was cold, but they put a hose that puts out warm air under the blanket with me to keep me comfortable. My arms were free to move so I could lift them above the surgical drape to take pictures. Dr. Galligan took a few pictures for me too.

Dr. Parker, the surgeon, was very relaxed and didn't mind the picture taking at all. He did his thing with confidence. I was a little worried that the saw would freak me out, but Dr. Parker opted not to use one. The incision would have been bigger if he used a saw. Instead, he used a chisel to chip the growth off.

I couldn't feel anything he was doing or any pain whatsoever but I could feel my hip get jarred a bit as he pounded at my bone. It felt like I was an observer of someone else's surgery.

Once the growth was removed, they showed it to me and I took a picture of it. Dr. Parker says that it looks benign to him, but because there is so much bone and cartilage they'll have to decalcify it before they can determine it is benign at pathology. I should have the results by Wednesday the 17th.

He put some local anesthesia in the wound, and then proceeded to sew me up. Surgery was about 40 minutes or so but it seemed like only 5. It went by very fast. The doctors did a great job of making me feel comfortable and seemed impressed that I didn't get grossed out at all. We were even joking around a bit. :-)

After the surgery, I went to post-op recovery for an hour. A nurse stayed at my bedside the entire time, watching my vitals. My blood pressure did get low, 85/44 at the lowest as I recall. I got a little worried at that point, and started dozing off and had to force myself to stay awake.
Dr. Galligan did a really good job, because I was able to move my left foot to help get circulation going and help improve my blood pressure.

I could see that I could move my right foot, but I couldn't feel it at all. I thought I was barely moving it, but it was going in larger circles. It really was a strange experience. Since I pushed myself to try and move my feet, my blood pressure came up to a decent level so they moved me to the recovery room.

They expected me to get all feeling back after about 2 or 3 more hours at this point. Moving my feet as much as I did caused the anesthesia to wear off much quicker. I regained all feeling after only 2 1/2 hours from the time of the injection, which was 2 hours sooner than expected.

I was able to stand without putting weight on my right leg and hobble to the bathroom. A bit later, they let me get dressed and Silvia from physical therapy came with crutches and gave me a lesson in using them.

I was in great spirits the whole time, and the nursing staff was all nice and complimentary about my cheery mood and independence. That of course helped keep my spirits up, which made their day pleasant to have a patient that wasn't a grouch. It was a nice little vicious cycle of keeping each other laughing. Too look at me, you wouldn't have guessed I just had surgery. No, I didn't have any narcotics either!

I went in for surgery at 11:30am and got to go home at 2:45pm. Not too shabby, I say. :-)

I didn't have much pain last night, but today I woke up in pain. I'm being careful to take my medicine on time rather than wait for the pain at least for the first couple of days. The medicine makes me a bit dizzy, and it doesn't kill the pain 100% but it at least brings it to a tolerable level. I'm a toughie, and hanging in there.

I've uploaded the pictures from the surgery. Before you look, be warned that they are graphic and if you have a weak stomach you may not want to look.

Posted by ~Angela | Comments (10) | Add Comment | Permalink