Surgery prep day

It was a busy day yesterday at the pre-admission clinic in St. Paul’s. As you can see, their empty saint nooks are much smaller. I don’t know how they expect a person to recreate an acceptable Saint George in such a small space.

As I expected, the day started with a thorough review of my history and a double-checking (for the fourth time) my consents. They take great care to be sure I am not some religious zealot who refuses blood transfusion. Slip the juice to me Bruce!

The anesthesiologist recommended an epidural to be left in for a few days after the surgery to numb everything from the bottom of my ribs to the top of my pelvis. I didn’t know they could be that precise. It seems they have discovered that the more comfortable a patient is, the faster they heal from surgery. I have been instructed not to be a tough guy; like there was any danger of that happening. Opiates are my friends.

The travelling blood test nurses came to visit and took away eight vials. I’ve never seen them drain so much blood out of me. Luckily I had enough left to stay conscious for the rest of the visit.

The stoma nurse came and measured me for cutting a new one. She painted two virtual holes on my abdomen, with a high tech Sharpie, where Dr. Brown will choose to place either a colostomy or an ileostomy, depending on the success of the surgery. If he can reattach the colon after resecting about a foot of it, I will wake up with a bump on my right abdomen; a temporary ileostomy created with a loop of small intestine. If not, I will awaken with the bump on the left; a permanent colostomy.

They never provided popcorn with the movies they showed us. So if you ever have the pleasure, be sure and bring your own. The films, along with copious stacks of flyers, provide repeated instruction on the pre and post operative expectations, preparations and exercises. It gets a little monotonous. The stoma care video was helpful. It was the first time I saw a real stoma and how to manage the bags. Its not as repulsive as I thought it would be. Close, but not quite. My biggest fear is that I will wake up with the bump on the left.

The next adventure was a trip to the 4th floor to visit a very grumpy EKG nurse who confirmed that I have a heart and it beats sufficiently to circulate the little bit of blood I have left. Very reassuring.

Finally, a brief tour of the medical imaging department to get xrays of my lungs, and we were free to flee. We fled.

I’m having some difficulty thinking philosophically about what has become a little too real. I can’t remember ever being this apprehensive. Imagine the surgeon’s surprise when he cuts me open and releases all these butterflies.


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