"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Monday, May 23, 2016

Personal Note: My Surgery

OK I had it and I’m alive.  If you didn’t read my post from the other day, here.  I had to be at the hospital at the ungodly hour of 6:15 AM this morning.  That’s even earlier than when I start work.  I went through the admission process.  Co-pays have gotten ridiculous.  The cheaper they make health care, the more expensive it is.  I tried to make a joke but it went flat.  The admissions nurse asked if I was working; I said not at the moment, meaning not that very second.  I corrected it after she didn’t smile.

After some measuring of vitals, I was told to take off all my clothes and put on two hospital gowns, one open to the back, the other open to the front.  The surgeon came in and talked as if he remembered me.  I guess he did.  He took out a marker, opened my gowns, and signed the left lower abdomen where the hernia repair was needed.  Perhaps it was my nerves, but I had gas.  I told the nurse earlier and the doctor now and neither seemed to think it was of concern.  My fear was that under sedation I would pass a bowel movement and make a mess of the situation.  I was walked over to the operating room where the surgical team were all looking at me above their surgical masks as I walked into the room.  It felt like I was in an episode of Dr. Kildare,  I was asked to lay down on the table, and someone removed the gown opened to the front.  There’s no dignity in being a patient. 
Someone asked who I was and what I was here for.  I told them.  I had to splay my arms outward as if I were being crucified, and my thoughts jumped immediately to Jesus.  The head nurse tried to strap some contraption across my waist.  “So you don’t fall off,” She said.  The anesthesiologist said he was plugging the anesthesia into my catheter on my left forearm.  Someone was doing something to my right arm as well, and asked politely, I assume strapping it down.  My arms were in some sort of crossbar.  It really felt like I was being crucified.  My last thoughts were wondering on whether the Roman soldiers were this polite to Jesus as they nailed him to the cross. I know depictions show a brutality, but we don’t really know, now do we?  Perhaps they were polite.

Next thing I know I was in the recovery bay, the surgery finished, and it was now about an hour later.  I guess I did not pass a bowel movement.  My vitals checked out.  They gave me a cup of coffee and a cookie, and they called my wife, and it seemed within minutes I was being wheeled out to my car.  I think I was home before 10:30.

I’ve been resting and reading—this is a great time to catch up on a lot of reading—all day.  The doctor’s autograph is still on my belly.  Perhaps he thinks it’s a masterpiece.  Pain has gotten progressively worse.  I’m trying to avoid taking the Tramadol; too many people get addicted to these pain killers.  I’ve been putting an ice pack on it (it’s swollen) and taking ibuprofen.  It’s very difficult getting out of bed, and it really hurts when I cough.  I haven’t had a bowel movement yet, but I suspect that’s going to really hurt too.  I may take a Tramadol before going to bed so I could sleep.

Through it all I couldn’t help but remember the beginning of T.S. Eliot’s great poem, “The Love Song of  J. Alfred Prufrock.”    

LET us go then, you and I,    
When the evening is spread out against the sky        
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,       
The muttering retreats         5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels  
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: 
Streets that follow like a tedious argument   
Of insidious intent     
To lead you to an overwhelming question….         10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?” 
Let us go and make our visit.

Yes, today I was a patient etherized upon a table.  Thank you for your prayers.  Hopefully it will all be worth it.


  1. Jan, that know-it-allMay 23, 2016 at 9:53 PM

    Here's two cents you didn't ask for: unless you really want to get addicted to narcotics, you won't; Tramadol is not that strong; not keeping on top of pain after surgery or significant injury does more to advance potential addiction than toughing it out; and, it's when a Tylenol or aspirin would due, and you take a narcotic instead, that trouble happens. Cuz then you're going for the buzz.

    Not offering medical advice. Just info.

  2. OK, then I'll take the Tramadol.

    1. I don't know if it was the Tramadol or lasting effects of the anesthesia, but after taking it twice I felt dizzy and nauseous. I dry heaved a few times. So I switched to ibuprofen.

  3. Only you would think of T S Elliot as you're going for an operation. I would have thought of running away.

    Are you sure that doctor did not tattoo his signature on you? You'll have it for eternity and some day it may be worth a fortune as a masterpiece. You'd stand there in an art gallery and everyone would see the scar and the signature underneath. Just like a painting.

    Seriously though; praying for you, Manny. Hope you get better soon and all this will be just a distant memory.

    God bless and heal you.

    1. P.S. A doctor I knew once perfected the hernia transplant. He transplanted a hernia from the left to the right ... on himself.

    2. Yes, I think of literature all the time. :)

    3. Funny you should say transplanting a hernia from one side to another. My doctor told me that if you have it on one side, the likelihood of getting it on the other is greater. Not something I wanted to hear.

  4. Jan's right on the pain meds, you have to take them early because you won't be able to control the pain later when it's at its worst. I'm sorry bout your surgery. At least you know that whatever they see, they have seen it all, every day. I had to get over that in the hospital too, especially when they had to change my gown for me since I was hooked up to IVs in both arms and couldn't move much. Let's hope you recover twice as fast as anticipated!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Kathy. My prayers for your recovery Kathy.

  5. Thank you all. I'm feeling much better today. Less pain and not as sleepy, though I can't walk like I normally can.

  6. Prayers for you Manny!

    God Bless you!

    1. Thank you Michael. Today makes two weeks since the surgery and I'm feeling very good.