As promised, here is my report from Monday’s tour of the surgical areas of Lahey. Because this meeting was about my surgery, this information is very Logan-centric. Much of what happens on the day of surgery will be similar for Derek and me, but for obvious reasons, his surgery and recovery are a bit different than mine.
The nurse met me in the Department of Transplantation and we walked to the elevators to take us down to Level 2, which is the basement. This is what happens when you build a hospital into a hill: the lobby is on the 4th floor and the 2nd floor is in the basement. All surgeries originate in the same place at Lahey and the pre-op area is where everyone starts, even if you’re there for a day surgery and won’t be admitted to the hospital afterwards.
We walked through the waiting room and back to where patients are taken to get ready for surgery. To get out of the way, we went to an empty section of the room so we could talk for a little while. She explained everything that would happen when I arrived and who would come to speak to me, and how long I would be there. It’s going to be an early morning start and she mentioned I would spend a little while in pre-op getting checked in, having my IV’s put in, and answering lots of questions. Knowing both Derek’s and my proclivity for being on time, I would imagine we will be there nice and early. Once I’m all set and hooked up, and they’re all ready in the OR, they’ll wheel me into surgery, right down the hall. The surgery itself will take 4-6 hours (give or take) and then I’ll be taken to recovery. She pointed down the hall where the operating rooms are, as well as the recovery area which is directly across the hall.
We bypassed the OR and took the long way around to the recovery area or PACU – Post Anesthesia Care Unit. It takes a while to get checked into the PACU and everyone wakes up from anesthesia differently. For example, when I woke up from anesthesia about 34 years ago after having tubes put in my ears and my adenoids removed, I greeted my caring mother by tossing my cookies. The nurse knows this and told me they will likely put a little anti-nausea sticker behind my ear pre-surgery to make sure I don’t throw up after. Seems like a good plan, I would imagine throwing up after major abdominal surgery would be a pretty bad time.
Once I’m checked in and stabilized, my mom–likely crossing her fingers that the anti-nausea medicine works–will get to come back and say hello to me, but that’s about it. The PACU isn’t really set up for visitors. For the most part I will be pretty out of it, and super groggy. Both Derek and I will be kept in the PACU overnight, ensuring that we receive very specialized and attentive care. I was able to meet some of the nurses who work in the PACU and they were all so lovely; it will be nice to see a familiar face in a few weeks. They all promised to take special care of both Derek and me and even though I’m sure they say that to everyone, it still made me feel good.
The next day, as soon as there are rooms available, we will get moved to the 6th floor. The ward we’ll be on looked pretty similar to the hospital Derek was in a few months ago, here in Manchester. All of the rooms are private with window views of a delightful gravel covered roof/courtyard. My nurse introduced me to a few of the nurses on duty and I met the head nurse who was a very warm and friendly woman who assured me we would both be well taken care of.
It was a nice feeling to see the hospital, on a bright sunny day, when I wasn’t sick, and I wasn’t visiting a loved one who was sick. It felt like a safe place and while I am still not super psyched about being there for a few days and nights, I know they will take good care of Derek and me, and that’s what counts.
Oh, and there’s a squishy ice machine right on the 6th floor. I plan to slip somebody a crisp twenty to make sure I have easy access to that thing.