A hospital? What is it?

It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.

My dad and I loved Airplane, by the way. You know, if you’re wondering where the plethora of quotes has been coming from lately.

To the point. Last Thursday was the big day. Surgery day. Much like Christmas, I spent what felt like forever anticipating it and then, with no fanfare or special trumpet announcement, it was here.

With how much I’d been looking forward to the day, you would think the day itself would be filled with the promise of what this entails. A complete skull, finally!

It should have gone like this…

A flock of doves carried the piece into the operating room, and triumphant music played as I walked into the hospital…

In reality, I started preparing Wednesday. I ate a good dinner, followed by a delightful shower, in which I had to scrub from head to toe with a surgical soap that smelled like it could wilt flowers. The usual no eating after midnight was followed by another shower/scrub Thursday morning. I had some water and ginger ale up until 9:30, since we were to check in at 11:30.

Checked into the waiting room. Then waited. And waited. Lots and lots of time to think. That does no one any good. My surgery was originally scheduled for 1:30. That came and went.

They called us back after 3, and suddenly everything that seemed so far away was slapping me in the face.

I had to confirm my name, address and birth date more times than I could count. Apraxia combined with nerves and a freezing cold room made this quite a bit of fun.

Since I hadn’t had anything to drink in hours, anesthesia had an interesting time finding a vein. After the third try, I promptly thought it appropriate to pass out (oops!). The fifth try was the lucky stick…A few more minutes, and it was time to say goodbye to Paul.

I was in such good hands – and I already knew my surgeon was awesome. But for some reason, in that moment, as they wheeled me out and Paul and I said our goodbyes, I felt so small and alone.

It’s a weird thing – to feel alone, even as you’re surrounded by a team of excellent doctors and nurses. I think how I felt just illustrated the reality – like it or not…this happened to me, and I had to do this.

I moved on to the operating table, took two deep breaths of the mask and was out. And, as soon as I was out, I was back.

I was told that the surgery went great and was wheeled to the post-anesthesia care unit. I was in and out of sleep, but somehow managed to help prop myself up on the table when I was sent to get a CT. And more importantly, of course, I spoke. My speech was okay.

Cue singing birds!

I am so grateful that the surgery went well. I still feel a bit caught in limbo because the next few weeks are critical to ensure the incision starts to heal with no infection. An infection would mean I have to do it again – plate out, clear the infection, plate back in.

To which I say, a big fat HELL NO.

Pardon my language. But you get it.

I am so lucky to have Paul’s support. But I found myself thinking about the people who don’t have the same kind of support. I thought about how scared I felt, and I had someone I could confide in and depend on. How scary it must be to not have that. I’ve been looking into volunteering at the hospital soon. If I can support someone else going through something like this, I will.

I have a lot more lessons learned from my brief stay, but I’ll save them for the next post. I just wanted to share how it went, and express my gratitude to UNC for yet again giving me a new lease on life.

I knew there was a reason I came to school here and never left.

Just wait 'til you see what's under there...

Just wait ’til you see what’s under there…

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