The much-anticipated morning of my scheduled surgery arrived after a sleepless night at home. Showering pre-dawn with antibacterial scrub left my skin taut and dry, yearning for forbidden moisturizing lotion.
Because makeup and cosmetics were not allowed, it didn’t take long to throw on a zip-front jogging suit and some sneakers, and grab my previously packed overnight bag parked conveniently next to the back door for easy access. Our arrival time was 5:30 a.m. and without the hindrance of the usual traffic on all the streets leading to the hospital, our youngest son and I arrived slightly ahead of schedule.
Once we arrived at the admissions area, we were directed to automated kiosks to sign in, photograph my identification and insurance information, and take a seat along with other barely awake individuals.
Praying that I would not see anyone in my present unrecognizable appearance, I immediately spotted a couple we knew. Without my makeup and the lower portion of my face covered by a mask, it mercifully took them a few minutes to realize who I was. He was there for orthopedic surgery and our conversation was cut short when they called his name to go back to the pre-surgery area.
I was next, and as I bade farewell to our son with a parting hug, I felt tears welling up. Where was the chaplain and my last meal?
In the holding area, I was given a less than flattering hospital gown, introduced to the anesthesiologists, and answered all their questions with a quivering voice that reflected the fear I was experiencing. I asked them when I would get something to relax me prior to the impending surgery and was told that once the surgeon arrived and I signed all the necessary paperwork, they would administer a sedative through my now installed arm port.
I passed the anxious moments alone, praying and trying not to dwell on what was going to take place shortly. Visions of Anne Boleyn imprisoned in the Tower of London came to mind.
True to their word, the moment after the surgeon came for her pep talk with me, I got a strong martini delivered via my port and felt my tension drifting away. However, when I asked for a double, they declined.
Being wheeled into the operating room, I was shocked to find that I was still awake for my grand entrance. With its bright lights and stark whiteness surrounding me, I was fearful that I would be given a shot of 90-proof whiskey and a bullet or a stick to bite on during the procedure. Blessedly, I was instructed to take some deep breaths from the magic mask they put over my nose and mouth, and it was lights out for the next couple of hours.
Upon awakening from my drug-induced state, my first question was, “Did anyone get the license number of the truck that just hit me?”
My body was responding to the trauma inflicted upon it with lots of pain signals, which medication did little to alleviate. I was tightly bound in an unfamiliar utilitarian garment around my now deflated chest area and there was a tube implanted beneath it with a soft plastic bulb attached. I later learned that this apparatus, known as a surgical drain, would remain in place until the surgeon deemed it ready to remove. It would require emptying and recording its collected contents three times daily by its reluctant host.
I dozed intermittently until I was wheeled into my assigned hospital room, where comfort was not a priority. I was elated to see faces of loved ones once more and thanked God for getting me through the surgery safely and guiding the skilled hands of my surgeon.
After a sleepless night due to the constant beeping of bed alarms and other hospital noises, I was overjoyed when the doctor came in and pronounced me stable enough to be discharged to go home. I hastily packed my personal effects and texted a grandson to chauffeur me to more welcoming surroundings at our house.
My homecoming was overshadowed by extreme nausea and vomiting for three miserable days. Surmising that the prescription pain meds were probably the culprit, I stopped taking them after day one of recovery, and with an anti-nausea prescription, I blessedly began to feel semi-human again.
Surrounded by beautiful flowers, food offerings from caring friends and neighbors, a barrage of greeting cards, and the love of family and others, I am slowly recovering. Not a patient patient, I am anxious to resume some more of my daily routine, including driving, but for now, I must listen to my injured body and gradually ease back into more activity.
After an encouraging pathology report and consultation with my surgeon and oncologist, I have every hope of a full recovery. This is truly an answer to many prayers for which I am eternally grateful.
Copyright © 2023 Mary Margaret Lambert