D Day – Surgery Day

Could me my last post for a bit, plan to post as soon as I can post op, I am doubt they will let me post from ICU, but will try.

Jenn’s perspective

I can’t believe I’m writing this the day after surgery, because even thinking of yesterday morning seemed so far away (I sense a song coming on!). The morning started out worrying about getting a cancellation. The surgeon said he was on call that night and we wouldn’t want a tired surgeon. We got to the hospital and checked in at the first floor. The clerk seemed to have a hard time finding Derek’s name, so we worried more about getting cancelled, but luckily all was fine. We zipped up to the 5th floor to wait. We spent 4 hours waiting between different prep processes. They got Derek into a bed and gown right away. We waited. Then a nurse came to do some shaving. Actually two nurses as one was learning. They shaved part of his upper arms, most of his chest, the sides of both calves, and up around the groin area. Then they had him wipe himself down with some wipes they gave him. We waited some more, and the nurse came in to do an IV which she failed at. Derek was squeezing my leg pretty hard during that process. During the process, a porter showed up with a bed, ready to take Derek. It seemed very soon as it was only about 11:30 and we had seen on the board his surgery was not until 1. We had a panic and a cry together. Then the porter checked Derek’s hospital bracelet and realized he had the wrong guy. We could hear him arguing with the unit clerk about the fact the guy he was there for was not ready, but Derek was, so he should just take Derek. The porter stood his ground and did not take Derek and said he would be back later for him. I can’t remember what time that was, I think it was closer to 1.

The porter was a great character, he told me all about what to expect once Derek was in surgery. He told me where to get food (and where to get food when you’re sick of the food in the hospital), parking pass info, and he told me how a nurse would take me to see the ICU where Derek would be for the next couple of days.

We got to this “staging area” of the operating room on the 3rd floor and waited some more. A nurse asked some questions, then the anaesthesiologist came and asked some questions and talked Derek through the process. One of the questions was about accepting blood products. He had already signed the forms, but Derek had been asked a few times after that, I guess to be sure. As the doctor went through the types of blood products, Derek paused at answering (the Ativan kicked in) so my ADHD kicked in and I answered for him, which of course in hindsight is a no-no. The doctor also cringed at the second IV the nurse put in, I guess not much better than the first she failed at. He left to go to the operating room and two new nurses came in. One to take Derek and one to show me around a bit. We said our teary goodbyes and went off in our separate directions.

The nurse showed me how to get into the ICU, which involved a doorbell system. You push the button and look in the camera and they check on whether your patient is ok to see you (sometimes the nurses are busy with procedures, etc and you just can’t be visiting at that moment). She left me with the unit clerk to get my info and I got a restaurant-style pager, which they would use when Derek was out of surgery or if they needed me for anything.

In my last 30 minutes of waiting, I found myself at a puzzle in the waiting room. Then I heard someone call “Jennifer.” I thought that surely wasn’t me because I had a pager. Then she said “Jennifer Bowen.” I asked her if Derek was done and all she would tell me is that the doctor needed to see me. Of course, my mind went into a panic. The doctor was waiting for me at the ICU desk and he told me everything went great. They did 4 bypasses and no issues, nothing else to report. From the time I left Derek and the time I was told he was done, was 4.5 hours. He wasn’t in the ICU quite yet, so I had to wait some more. I went back to the waiting room and promptly bawled my eyes out in front of the full room. Once I pulled myself together, I gathered my stuff up to go make the calls. As I got up, an elderly Mennonite woman gave me a hug. I later found out she wanted to comfort me, but was too shy, then came back and hugged me. I called Derek’s sister and mum in England, then texted everyone else he had on his list. I went back to my puzzle for a bit, but had some trouble focusing. Then a nurse came in looking for a “Jessica.” She left after not finding Jessica, then came in calling my name.

The next part of this blog is over the span of 4.5 hours. I had expected to be upset seeing Derek in the ICU at first, but it wasn’t so bad. He had good colour in his face, and despite all the tubes (including a breathing tube), he was still my husband, the way I knew him. I got a run down from two nurses as it was shift-change, then held his hand at the side of his bed for a couple hours. I kept talking to him during that time, filling him in over and over that the surgery went well and he looks great. The nurse then decided it was time to take him off sedation. About 10 minutes after she shut it off, he was starting to wake up. The nurse said people vary from waking up but “no one’s home” to totally lucid. He was on the no-one’s home side, which made me a bit anxious. Once he started responding to some commands and nodding, I relaxed. He was definitely unimpressed with the breathing tube, gurgling a bit. The respiratory therapist came in and switched the breathing machines to a different mode so he would be breathing more on his own. That seemed to reduce the gurgling and agitation for a bit. He came in and out of consciousness. Once he was at a point he could follow commands, the tube could come out. He was super happy once it was out. He still wasn’t talking, but I kept telling him everything went great every 5 minutes as he woke up. Once he did start talking, he would repeat all his questions at the same intervals. The first time he asked where he was alarmed me a bit at first, but then I realized it’s all part of the drugs in his system. By about 11:30, I decided I needed to get some rest myself, but I was nervous leaving him to wake up in “Groundhog Day” again without me there to (re)assure him.

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