Sunday, December 17, 2006

Post-Surgical Blogging

It's been over a week, and I'm finally in front of the machine again. I keep my computer in my basement "office," currently an unattractive place for me for several reasons: first, because I'm uncomfortable in the chairs I have to choose from; secondly, because it's a little chilly down here, and there's no bathroom facilities; and thirdly, because a visit costs me a round trip on the stairs -- rather low-risk, but a tiresome effort.

My quad-tendon surgery was last Monday, and I got home late Tuesday (they retained me overnight -- turns out it isn't an automatic outpatient deal). First time I spent the night in a hospital since '02, when my mother died ... and the first night I've spent in a hospital as a patient since '72, when I had a 24 hours' observation for a minor head injury I collected in a car crash. Anyway, the claim is that the repair went as expected, and that I can look forward to a full recovery in about three months' time.

In case any of you have as little experience as I had in getting sliced, some miscellaneous data:

1. Operating rooms are amazingly cluttered, and amazingly cold. I assume the temperature is chosen to depress eee-villl microbes, and also to enhance the comfort of those who work therein, covered extensively by sterile garments. Once they had strapped me in place, however, they gave me a blanket that had clearly just been removed from a warmer: very pleasant.

2. Speaking of "strapped down," the table actually has some minor upholstery, and is quite narrow: just wide enough for your torso. Once that is belted in place, they swing out some supports for your arms, and belt those down, too. The "cruciformity" of the whole setup was striking, and would have been more appropriate to Holy Week than to Advent, but who's quibbling? All I know is, I'd have been even more scared than I already was if some joker had come in, dressed in a toga and carrying a hammer and three large, crude nails.

3. The anesthesiologist (in my case, a lady-type doctor with a little bit of Australia in her voice) did not do any corny "count backward from 100" stuff. In fact, she gave me no indication of when she was shooting the juice into my tubes. Or maybe she did all of those things, and I just don't remember. I mean, how would I know?

4. Post-operative: yeah, orthopedic surgery hurts like ... like ... well, I don't know, name your favorite thing that hurts a lot, and that's what it hurts like. The flesh just doesn't like being cut apart, even if it does get stapled back together, and it is not shy about reviewing your gross mismanagement in having allowed something like that to happen. Couldn't you have run away? Couldn't you have fought them off? Couldn't you at least have talked them out of it somehow? No, I couldn't, knee ... shut up and enjoy this little intravenous morphine bomb that I'm about to pickle off with my "patient-controlled anesthesia" pushbutton. I was assured that it was programmed to dispense the big "M" at intervals as short as 10 minutes. I didn't use it nearly that often, as a push would tend to send me to sleep, and it would be more than 10 minutes later when I woke up again. They didn't tell me it was morphine (and I didn't think to ask) until I was near discharge anyway, and I'll admit to being disappointed. As far as I could tell, its effects were limited to fairly modest pain relief and some drowsiness; I definitely didn't notice any getting-high effect. The generic vicodin that they sent me home with a script for: same deal, and I only used about a third of what was prescribed. All in all, I believe that for my embarrassingly small recreational-substance needs, I'll stick with the occasional cold beer: more fun, much better for washing down pizza, and with the side benefit of frequent urinal calls.

So, here I am. I go back to see the surgeon on the 27th, at which time he's supposed to de-staple me and give me further instructions. I'm hoping those instructions will include at least occasional freedom from the knee immobilizer, which is what makes me uncomfortable at a desk: the accursed leg has to be as straight as a yardstick, and that's surprisingly hard to do unless you sit sideways on the very edge of the chair: not a viable long-term position. In fact ... I believe it's time for the end of this decreasingly-useful post. If I'm not back for another week, you'll know it's just because this is a little too much like work.


Jeff Pruitt said...

Welcome back and I hope you have a full and speedy recovery!

Never had surgury myself so I have no idea what that must be like - kind of interesting to hear your take on it...

Bartleby said...

Thanks, Jeff.

I'm sure that everything I wrote about surgery would apply exactly to anyone else's experience. I know that because these things were true in 100.0% of my entire experience. Ain't science wonderful?