Now that it’s a little over a week since the surgery, I guess I should write about it, huh?
I guess it started out like a usual day of surgery. John picked me up at the butt crack of dawn, get to the hospital, get checked in, got pulled in shortly after. John went home, which was a good idea.
Now the fun begins. I get changed, and take my place in the horizontal throne, and wait. And wait some more. There’s not a lot of activity back there at this time of morning. Very quiet. I see a cleaning lady packing up her cart with supplies to start her rounds. A random older lady walks by. Wait some more.
One of the nurses comes in (I think her name was Sheena) and introduces herself, nice enough, beautiful eyes though, I may not remember her name, but I remember those eyes! Like whoa.
Eventually the anesthesia doctor comes in. Dr. Douglas is her name. Now we’re gonna get interesting… We go over why I’m there, and what is going to happen. She asks the usual questions, then goes on to tell me what she’ll be doing. She’s wrong. I had to stop her. Her plan was to give me some drugs to calm my nerves and make it so I won’t remember much, then once they get me in the room they’d give me some different drugs to put me to sleep and put the breathing tube in. That’s where I stopped her. “Um, I’m supposed to be awake for this”, I said. “Oh, you are?”, she said.
Wonderful. This person is responsible for managing my pain and basically keeping me comfortable and alive to a certain extent and she has her plan wrong. Dandy, I certainly feel comfortable now. Her professor comes in and introduces himself and gives me his card. I don’t remember what his name was. While Dr. Douglas is working on getting my hand setup with an IV he’s looking at my prior surgery information on the computer, apparently they saw that this was a revision of a prior surgery and that my last surgery was in August and I was put under completely. However, that was a different surgery. I tell them that the original surgery for this was a little over a year ago. He finds it and is astounded by the amount of anesthesia I was given and said that it couldn’t be correct. Anyway, they decided on an amount to give me. I wait some more.
Dr. Hillel’s student/fellow/understudy/I really don’t know what his role is comes in and talks to me about the surgery. Shortly after me and the throne are being wheeled down the hallways towards the OR.
Get in the room, lots of equipment, someone is getting some items ready, lots of talking, I get wiggled over onto the table. Assumed the position, get a couple wires hooked up for monitoring, get the spray in my nose which goes down my throat to numb that all up for the scope. Get strapped in for the ride. I see the monitor for the scope off to the left and keep an eye on it. Dr. Hillel and Jan the speech therapist notice that I’m looking at it, I joke with them, “you better, strap my head down or make it so I can’t see that if you don’t want me to look at it!” They didn’t strap my head down. I don’t remember if they did that or not the first time. Insert the scope down my nose. They put the opaque curtain up around my head (which blocks my view of most things but the ceiling and this tubular contraption that holds the curtain and scope in place). Dr. Hillel says, “He doesn’t look like quite level.” Had to wiggle over a bit more. They also adjust the angle of the table. Ok, we’re good now. They do a roll call, which is essentially saying their name and their purpose. They get to the end and I said quietly enough for the speech therapist to hear me, “I’m Matt and I’m the patient.” She laughs and says to me, “Yes, we know what you’re doing here!”
Off we go.
They start the incision and I can feel it. “More local anesthesia please” the doctor says. This became quite a common routine over the next 5 hours. My right shoulder was causing some pain. I can’t move it, there’s no way for me to adjust it to relieve the pressure on it. Crap. “Ouch, I can feel that!”, I said. “More local please”, he says. They have me swallow a couple times because there’s mucus blocking the scope. My mouth is dry. More probing, and cutting, more “ouch!”, “more local, please!”.
Throughout the procedure they have me make some sounds, hold an eeeeeeeeee as long as possible (this is called phonation time). Previously, the best I could do was about 9 seconds before losing my breath. When I was on the table, I felt like I could go on forever. It was so oddly comforting to hear it. This is where I started to tear up. I knew that we are on the cusp of a significant improvement now. Dr. Hillel told me I was just showing off the first time while laughing. The second time he said they were going to break for lunch if I kept going. Hahaha. I had to ask Jan to wipe my eye for me.
I’m not sure I can put into words the feeling I felt when that was happening. To want something SO badly for two years. To go through multiple operations and procedures, multiple speech therapy visits, appointments every month, the waiting, the frustration with results, and finally hearing and feeling such an improvement. It was just emotionally overwhelming.
They continue to do some more work in there, more pain, more local, it’s almost getting routine. They start stitching me up, pull the scope out, start wiping my neck down, get unstrapped, OH CRAP. My arm hurts. Like real bad. I could barely move it. I suspect the shoulder pillow might’ve pinched a nerve or cutoff blood flow. I ask, “do we know how long that was?” Someone replied, “about 5 hours.” Oh. That was a long time. He suspected it was going to be longer than the original estimate of 2.5 hours. I didn’t think it was going to be double though. I wasn’t happy with the way anesthesia was handled. I don’t think it was done right. I remember being much, much more comfortable the last time I had this done. I must remember to comment on this when I go in for my follow up. It wasn’t the end of the world, but I feel I could’ve been made more comfortable. Perhaps I needed to speak up while I was there.
They roll me off to the recovery room for a bit while I down water and apple juice like there’s no tomorrow. The nurse there was surprised at how alert I was, and even mentioned that they could’ve taken me up to my regular room anytime they want. I kept moving my arm around to try and get it working again and relive the pain.
They get me up to my room on the fourth floor. Surprisingly this is where I was about a year ago. I swear I even had the same room too. I’m also not sure how, but I got a private room again. I’m not sure how that works out, but I’m not going to question it either! I think there’s only one or two private rooms on that floor. I jump in the bathroom right away. They check my vitals, and find that I’m still alive. That’s good. My first nurse here, Karalee and patient care person Komal were my favorite of the stay. Friendly, funny and you could tell that Komal really cared about making sure her patients were comfortable. She always had a nice smile when I saw her too. That’s all I could ask for. I think I sat for about 10 minutes, then got up and went for a walk. One of the nurses (murse?) asked said, “you look familiar, have you been here before?” hahaha, why yes, yes I have. I make a couple more laps, and head back. Decided to look in the mirror for the first time to see where the incision is. To my surprise they used the same incision from when they removed my thyroid and everything else. I had assumed they would’ve used the incision from the first attempt. Later on when Dr. Hillel and Ross the fellow/apprentice/student/slave/whatever he is came in, I asked about it and he said it gave them the best point of entry and allowed them to see everything they needed to better. He mentioned that he didn’t even notice the scar from the first attempt until I pointed it out to him. Not that it matters at all, I no longer care how the scars look, they’re kind of way to show people that I’ve had some “work” done in my neck.
I order a salad for a late lunch. Not bad, not great. Myra stopped by to visit for a bit, I probably talked more than I was supposed to, but it felt good. It sounded good. We discussed how to use the lifting thing that was hanging from the ceiling that they use when people break legs or arms or something. I like to mess with things like that, probably not the best idea to put me in a room with something like that. I pondered using the air tubes that are used on the calve pumping, massaging blood colt preventing sleeves to lift something up. Did I actually do it? You may never know.
Christie stopped by to visit a little after Myra left, we also discussed the lifting doo-hickey. She was there when Dr. Hillel and his minion came in. I was able to trick my new nurse into showing me how the lifting thing works. Uh oh. Again, I was probably talking more than I should. Oops.
I ordered some thai basil chicken stir fry thing, again, not too bad. I’m glad I ordered a side of pineapple to put on it. I was quite surprised actually. Had some Snohomish ice cream, shouldn’t have read the nutritional facts. I haven’t turned the TV on yet. Christie leaves, and I go for another walk. Tried to get some sleep, but being woken up every couple hours for vitals, and antibiotics really stymies that idea. Took my meds, brushed my teeth, go for a walk, ordered breakfast which was not all that exciting. 2 eggs scrambled, 2 small paper thin pieces of bacon and a hashbrown like you’d get at McDonalds. Ordered a bowl of fruit to go with it. Nothing too exciting happens all day, I go for walks, I drink water, they check my drain, they get surprised at how much is still coming out. I haven’t turned the TV on yet. They tell me that they’re going to be keeping me another night. I understand, no worries, I’d rather be here if something goes wrong. That night when going on my rounds I had four different nurses all say to me, “you’re still here?!?” I said, “yeah, my little drain friend here doesn’t want me to leave ClubUDub yet!” I finally turn the TV on to watch Thursday Night Football. What a boring, disappointing game. I ordered the hot turkey sandwich for dinner, yeah, that hit the spot. I’m glad I was able to stay another night so I could get this!
Friday comes around, more of the same, vitals, antibiotics, water, juice, walks, etc. I think I ordered the same mediocre breakfast again Friday, but I’m not sure now. I know I had the taco salad for lunch though. I’m still draining too much. I’m of the mind that they’re going to keep me another night. I mean, sure, why not? Most if not all the other patients on this floor are there only overnight, I don’t mind being the exception to the rule. I’m sure the nurses don’t mind either as I’m not needy at all, I’ve figured out how all the machines work and I know how to get everything hooked up again after a walk. The Foth texts me to let me know he’s gonna come visit. I let him know I may be going home tonight, but not sure at this point yet. A little while later the three musketeers arrive to check on my drain again. They decided that I was just barely under the limit that they were comfortable with, and let me know that I’ll be going home tonight. She takes the drain out, what a weird feeling. They put a massively annoying pressure bandage thing on my right neck/shoulder. I get changed and hang out while the nurse is working on getting things in order with paperwork.
We depart. I feel the outside air, it was dark and comforting.
We go to Costco to get my prescriptions for an antibiotic and hydrocodone of which I never took in the hospital or at all. But I get it filled anyway.
I worked from home most of this week, but felt good enough with my neck motion to make it in yesterday and today. I don’t go in for a follow up until January 7th. The majority of the swelling should be gone by then, and I’ll be off of voice rest around that time as well (yay for being able to talk on the phone again!) My voice as it is now is rough, crackly, but better than before. I notice that I get a sore throat feeling fairly easy at the moment after just talking here and there. There’s an improvement when I look left and talk, which is really, really nice. I don’t feel like I have to strain or put much effort into talking at the moment either. I can’t wait to go and see how things turned out next month and get a couple of small answers. I also have two more speech therapy visits next month. Not sure if she’ll want to schedule some more or not.
Luckily, my employer is sticking with the same insurance plan again next year. That’s a relief in and of itself.
That’s my story from the last week and change. I wish you all a very, very, merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!