Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Surgery Countdown: Seven Days

The surgery is seven days away.

We spent Monday filling out forms, producing insurance (or as I like to call it, “UNsurance”) information and getting stuck with needles.

The lowlight of the day was when I had to see the cardiologist for a routine EKG. This is like a 40 second test. We were in the offices of Drs. Mandal (a father-daughter cardiology team) for 90 minutes, with only one other patient in the whole place. WTF? It was like a Three Stooges movie, with two admins and the doctor and her “Medical Assistant” running around and literally bumping into each other. And can I just add that they had the absolute worst magazine selection ever? There were three copies of the same issue of a golf magazine and some Prevention wannabe. The highlight of this lowlight was when the MA was taking my history and asked if I ever drank. I said yes. She said how much, I said a lot. She said how often, I said a lot. She asked if I went to AA. Well! I don’t, but hello? It’s ANONYMOUS!? Finally we were released so I could go donate my own blood to be used in the surgery.

The blood donation was definitely the highlight of the day. Darlene was the phlebotomist and once we started to joke around a little with her, she really loosened up, though she still wouldn’t let me take my camera out to take a photo of my blood, all neat and warm in its little pouch …

I found out that another surgeon will be making the incision in my stomach and pushing my organs to the side, exposing the spine anteriorly. They referred to this doctor as a “general surgeon.” Yeah, I know, doesn’t sound good does it? Sounds sort of like the interns are in the back flipping a coin to see who cuts my belly open (I’ve GOT to stop watching Grey’s Anatomy). That’s actually not the case, thank goodness, the General Surgeon that will be making that incision is Dr. David Wernsing and he’s been working with Dr. B for years. I’ll meet with him briefly the day before the surgery. Theresa told me that some patients don’t even ask to meet with him, laying eyes on him for the first time just prior to letting him cut them open. Ack!

She also told me that because of the anterior approach to the spine, I won’t be able to have anything by mouth for 3 days. This is what I’m dreading the most. I do like to eat and am worried about what my stomach will feel like. I get all gurgly after not eating for about 6 hours, I can’t picture three days! But I will definitely be on morphine and out of it from the surgery for at least two of those days so I’m hoping it won’t be too bad.

The operation itself lasts about 3 hours. Once Dr. Wernsing opens me up, Dr. B. will go in and insert the ProDisc(s) in L5-S1 and (if he can fit it) L4-5. Then they’ll close that incision, turn me over and cut again (this one Dr. B. can handle as there are no organs in the way to confuse him, ha) and fuse L3-4, then saw through the bone grafts in my thoracic region and take out the metal rods that have been in there for 20 years.

It’ll be at least two to three days till I can get up out of bed on my own, though they will help me to stand up and take a few steps, if I’m able, the day after surgery. I’ll have a catheter and a pee bag so I won’t have to worry about using a bed pan. Yay! Life is good when you have a pee bag.

Oh, and she also told me that since they’ll need access to the incisions on my front and back, wearing my own pajamas is out. Tune in tomorrow for pix of my own chic handmade hospital gowns!

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Anonymous lisa said...

Wow, you are pretty well informed when it comes to your surgery. Guess you have to be! I couldn't even watch the birth of a human baby on the National Geographic channel and I'm going to go through that in a few months! I really can't understand why anyone should wait more than 15-20 minutes in a waiting room. I had to wait 2 hours last week to get a sonogram! And the week before that I had to wait 1.5 hours and I thought it was just a fluke for that day. And I have yet to visit a waiting room with decent magazines!

1:40 PM  
Blogger jasonaut said...

Damn Ingrid. Good luck. I'll have a stiff drink (or several) for you!

1:50 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

Dang, Ingrid! How scary sounding! It better work after all the drek you gotta put up with between the pain, inconvenience, and the surgery.

But then, at least it can be done which beats the hell outta the time when this kinda surgery was unheard of.

BTW - A blogger friend of mine (as well as Aaron's and Tuna Girl and who also now lives in NYC) recently underwent surgery on both his stomach, spine (spur), and his esophagus s few weeks back (to clear up some post chemo troubles) and still can't eat for another few weeks. So you ain't alone. His flickr account is "The Traveling Spotlight"

12:47 AM  
Blogger Bruce Grant said...

Dave Wernsing is a god. His technique is impeccable, and his concern for patients post-op is genuine. He's a bit laconic...but with none of the prickishness that so often infects surgeons.

He did my gastric bypass nearly two years ago, and gave me back a life I thought I'd never have again.

Best of luck, dear friend. Would you like visitors postop?

12:18 PM  
Blogger gttim said...

My thoughts are with you. I wish you nothing but the best! I want to see a blog entry about how great you are after this is over, okay?

11:25 PM  

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