Early Morning Rush (Part I of IV)

Friday began with an particularly early 4.30 am walk with Anna around Stanford.  As usual, we talked about anything and nothing in particular.  Happily and unintentionally, my mind was focused on our collective pressing worries and amusing stories, but notably not about my health or the day’s later events.  At 5.30 I dashed into the house to shower quickly, pack a few remaining items, kiss the kids goodbye, give my brother David (who had flown in from Austin the night before to help our mother take care of the kids the first few days) some last instructions, and take off for the hospital with Earl.

The surgery reception area was already buzzing with activity at 6.30.  Patients and their families were dressed comfortably, likely also anticipating a long wait.  Earl and I both noticed an adorable ~12 month old bouncing on his grandmother’s lap.  I nosily but subtly attempted to figure out whether his mother or father was destined for the operating table.  When called, they both sat down at the registration desk and answered questions.  At the end of the conversation, I noticed the grandmother taking off the baby’s outer garment and I fought off tears with the realization that the little guy was the patient.

Earl and I finally checked in at 7 am.  Almost immediately, I was called back to the preop area to change and await my physicians, leaving Earl behind in the waiting area.  My weight and vital signs were noted and I proceeded to my curtained stall to change from street clothes into a hospital gown and blue pouf hat.  Nurses soon descended to start my IV line and to outfit me with a Bair Hugger, a nifty personal heating system which blows hot air through a hose into an intentionally leaky inflated plastic blanket.

At around 7.40, Dr. Orman arrived to mark incision lines on my chest and abdomen. While drawing a line down the center of my chest with a black felt tip pen, he thoughtfully remarked that my torso is asymmetric.  He then asked me to straighten my leg and when he realized it already was, informed me that my right leg is longer than the left.  Great.  Now I realize my body is imbalanced in at least four areas (my left foot is larger than its counterpart and the 4th was to be corrected soon).

After Dr. Orman finished up, the anesthesiologist arrived at 7.50.  She asked about any prior history with anesthesia, and I told her about my difficulties with nausea after the last operation. She said she would administer some newer antiemetic drugs to prevent nausea.  The newer and better drugs are also more costly, but she said they would “spare no expense” in making me more comfortable.

Dr. Bitar stopped in at 8.00 to chat briefly before dashing off to change, mumbling something about how she wouldn’t be allowed to attend the party without her costume.  At 8.10 am, the anesthesiologist returned and injected the first happy potion into my IV.  I kissed Earl goodbye and settled down on my rolling gurney for a long day of nothingness.

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