Drugs, needles and two cups of coffee
Twenty four hours after my hernia repair surgery, and I feel like a new man. Note that in this context, "new" does not mean "better". If it weren't for the vicodin and ibuprofen, I'm sure I'd be feeling a lot worse than I did before the surgery. I'm sure of this because everything I'd taken last night had worn off by the time I woke up this morning.
Right now though, I feel pretty good. I've had a handful of pills of varying colors and two cups of coffee. I'm sitting quietly in a comfy chair, tapping away on the laptop.
I have a needle inserted near the incision site, connected to a pump and a reservoir of something called marocaine, a novocaine derivative. It's set to deliver 1ml/hr of local anesthetic to the area, keeping it more or less numb for the first 48 hours.
Great concept, except that I'm mostly immune to novocaine and its derivatives. The surgeon hooked it up anyway, on the expectation that it will provide some partial pain blocking. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I'm not willing to take it out to test it.
The surgery itself went fine. I was shifted from the gurney onto the operating table, and my legs were strapped in place. The anesthesiologist injected something to start me off to dreamland. She said that the drug caused a burning sensation, so they mix in some lidocaine, a novocaine derivative, to block that. As noted above, however, that little addition to the cocktail didn't do me much good.
They had to hold me down for a few moments as the drug started to spread through me; I was thrashing around with the feeling that I'd been set on fire. It was especially intense in areas with high concentrations of nerve endings. It is left as an exercise for the reader to guess exactly which body parts I'm referring to.
Fortunately, that feeling didn't last long, less than a minute. After I settled down, the nurses and the resident re-tightened the straps. When the surgeon came in, the anesthesiologist gave him an account of my reaction and they had a little discussion about how to proceed. I'm a little fuzzy on the details.
After a little while, I was given a mask to breath from. Three deep breaths later and it was all over. I have fragmentary memories of lights moving overhead as I was wheeled into a recovery area.
In coming out of general anesthesia, it's pretty common for people to become, shall we say, unguarded in their speech. I was apparently extraordinarily witty in my conversation as I was coming around. In addition to whatever else I'd said, the recovery nurse told me that I'd offered to sing for everyone. She was trying (and failing) to suppress a smile as she told me that I was a funny guy.
I vaguely recall noting that tenors get all the good parts, much better than what baritones get to do. I also recall beginning a travelogue about a trip I'd taken recently; I have the idea that I tapered off into silence before I actually finished.
In vino veritas. I guess it speaks well of me that when doped right up to the gills, I'm a witty and charming raconteur.
After a bit, my wife came back into the recovery area. The surgeon had given her the details of the procedure itself, that all had gone according to plan. The hole in my abdominal wall was about the size of a lime; it's no wonder I'd had to keep poking my intestines back into place.
Anyway, after I'd recovered my senses a bit, I got the first round of pills, along with some apple juice and crackers. Once they started to take effect, I got dressed and we left. I slept through a lot of yesterday afternoon, watched movies through most of the rest of it.
My plan for the next few days is to rest, keep up with my pain meds, and don't try to be a tough guy idiot and do more than I'm capable of. Sounds simple, except I'm someone that gets bored easily; inactivity doesn't come naturally to me.
Thanks to everyone for all of your support, in the comments and good wishes you left as comments here and as tweets and DMs on Twitter. It means a lot to me, and I appreciate it.
Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010