In order to finish this tale, I’m skipping ahead 6 weeks. During that 6 weeks, I had the office consultation, a blood draw for CA125 testing (normal limits), got advice from friends about how to get the best post-surgery drugs (always say 3 or higher), and made tentative arrangements to be off work for 6 weeks. At the very last check-up, my feet slipped into the stirrups and YEEHAW, the funky looking ovarian cyst was nowhere to be found. It had spontaneously resolved and, like a condemned prisoner I was given a reprieve! I still had 3 out of the 4 issues, but Dr. Z felt those could be dealt with by an “oscopy” instead of an “ectomy” and we had a deal.
He took time to explain the new plan but I was so pleased that all I heard was “outpatient procedure” blah blah, “dilation” blah blah, “little crampy” blah blah, “surgical center” blah blah. I wasn’t being rude, just relieved. There seemed to me to be a huge difference between a procedure and a surgery – I work with procedure manuals and policies & procedures all the time. This was much more familiar territory -much easier to handle.
So the date was set and I showed up bright, early, clean, and hungry at the brand new outpatient surgical center attached to our local hospital. The lobby looked more like a spa than a medical facility – granite counters, floor to ceiling windows, flat screen tv’s, landscaped gardens, and a large stone fireplace. It’s very beautiful and creates an immediate image of success, progress, and oh,OK – money. Thank God for insurance.
I was snugly watching TV by the burning fire when the nurse came to get me and we walked through the double doors on the right. From that point on, it was like visiting a foreign country where the citizens spoke a different language, wore different clothing, had a different culture and different customs. I was the outsider coming in on a temporary VISA, assigned a guide and expected to follow directions. I got into the ridiculously ugly gown (open2theback) and climbed into bed. The IV went in easily and I was ready. Ready to wait, that is. Apparently surgery is like installing cable - the appointment time is only an estimate. Just as I was starting to get fidgety, Dr. Z came in and I experienced proof that the brain can actually think of two different things at the exact same time: 1) Damn, he looks hot in blue scrubs, and 2) Please, please God don’t let me actually say that out loud no matter how many drugs I get! (Prayer must work ‘cause I’m still his patient. As far as I know he does not read or write blogs. I hope.)
Compared to my distress 6 weeks prior, I was feeling fairly calm and confident. The first reality check/qualm came when the anesthesiologist mentioned a potential sore throat from removing the breathing tube. A breathing tube? They think I’m going to stop breathing during this “procedure”? Maybe I should have paid a little more attention during the blah,blah sections in the office. Too late, I had already signed the consent form and I was wheeled off to the OR.
The pre-op area had seemed like a foreign country, but entering the OR was like landing on a different planet. It was fascinating but very scary and intimidating. I would have loved walking in and having a look around before getting onto the table, but the meter was running and tours were not available. I managed to slide over without either pulling a "Britney" or pulling out the IV, and that was the last thing I had to do for myself.
The NASCAR pit crew went to work attaching wires, cuffs, clips and monitors. I tried counting number of staff but kept losing track because I couldn’t see well (no contacts or glasses) and they kept appearing and disappearing from different directions. Each team member had an assignment, did it fast, and did it well. We all had a laugh when someone asked if I was comfortable because that was such an impossibility. I had the uncanny sensation of not being in the least bit necessary to the process, except that it was my body which was the center of attention. But that elusive element which makes me Me, wasn’t needed at all. I could have left the body there and gone across the street to Starbuck’s and everything would have gone just as smoothly.
OK, if you're still with me, we're finally reaching the conclusion of this epic tale. The anesthesiologist gave the nod and said "All set". Those two little words triggered a reaction I'd kept on hold all morning and I felt a cold electric shock of fear travel the pathway down my spine to my navel. It was a "fight or flight" reaction to giving up control and I panicked, wanting to stop the drugs which were already coming through the IV line into my bloodstream. Then Dr. Z stepped over, picked up my hand, held on tight and said "Think a happy thought and I'll see you in about an hour." Blink...and out.
So it was not being in the center of a team of highly educated, competent professionals, or the precision instruments, or the sci-fi, beyond-state-of-the-art technology that banished the fear, as thankful as I am for the all of the above. It was a warm human hand and the sound of a human voice. Simple, basic, and incredibly effective. Everything leading up to and following those 5 seconds were medical procedures for my health. The 5 seconds of hand-holding was for me. End of story. : -))