When my eyes opened, I was aware of the clock and it said 3:30 pm. Could they be finished already? I thought I wouldn’t be out until 4:30. But everything was complete and I was soon being wheeled with Dennis following – through a complex set of turns and elevator rides – to my assigned room (4915) where my parents, brother, Julie and Sara Beth were waiting. It was nice to have all of their smiling faces there as I tried to work through my after surgery drowsiness.
Everyone that I came in contact with on my floor (and there were at least 20) were compassionate, considerate and helpful – well there was one exception who had language issues and didn’t know what saltines were J.
From case workers, to nutrition folks, floor nurse, charge nurses and techs who appeared constantly, my room was a hub of activity. And then there were the doctors. Of course, my surgeons came in after I awakened as well as the next morning. But I also found that I was a learning tool. CMC is a teaching hospital so at any time residents were coming in or accompanying doctors as they went about their post-surgery follow-up.
I can’t say enough about the residents that I met. They’re learning the amazing bedside manner of my two surgeons very well.
In fact, it was one of the residents who threw up the flag on Friday to say that he didn’t think I should go home. I had been having some light-headedness and I was a little pale.
I can’t say that there wasn’t reason for this. I hadn’t really had “food” since 8:30 on Wednesday night (unless you count 2 graham crackers, 2 saltines and Italian ice.) I was managing my own pain with on-demand morphine (which I didn’t take very much because it knocked me out). So getting light-headed when standing on Friday morning didn’t come as much of a shock to me or my nurse – but this resident didn’t like it. He had also noted a little issue with my drain. He didn’t think I was producing enough drainage and making sure the drains worked was the “purpose’ of keeping me overnight. Sending me home in the condition that I was in on Friday could have resulted in an emergency room visit later so they advised that stay another night.
Both of my doctors were called back to see me. My oncology doctor agreed with the resident. She didn’t want me going home. Opinion of the plastic surgeon: same – stay and get my land legs back. He really was concerned about the drain, but replaced the stitch that secured the tube – just to ensure that nothing was in the way.
So – as disappointing as it was – I would not be going home. I would later admit to the alarmed resident that he was right.
I improved greatly over the course of the day. I was meeting all of my criteria (far exceeding some) and was not light-headed. We learned that eating prior to the hydrocodone minimized my chance for light-headedness. The resident team (accompanied by my oncology surgeon’s senior partner) came in on Saturday morning for what was more like a viewing that anything else. After removing my double wrap, all shook their heads and gave a range of positive affirmations about how my surgery looked. The senior doctor even told – “It may not look good to you, but trust me, it looks good.” They unanimously determined that I could be discharged. I was afraid we were in for a full day waiting but – amazingly enough – I was home before 11:30am.