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.


  1. It's too bad there wasn't a recording of your witty banter. You might have been able to use it later. :)
    Glad to hear that you're feeling better!

  2. There's a story in here. And think of the reference! You've experienced the equivalent of childbirth!

  3. Glad to see you haven't lost the will to write! Though it definitely was not an amusing experience, you're presented an amusing story.

    Yes, yes, you do not want to be a tough guy idiot! You need to let everything heal before you get active again. Once is enough with the hernia operations.

    Hope it gets much better very soon.

  4. Owch! What a day. You deserve a rest after all that. Good luck.

  5. Wow. I hope you feel better really, really soon!

  6. Thanks for the florid medical details -- really! You know I groove on that sort of stuff...

    That said, please take care of yourself. Enjoy the Vicodin, and get back too 100% soon. Peace, Linda

  7. Ahh, medical grade narcotics...Make life more interesting, don't they? The world can take care of itself for a few days - stay tucked in your chair and nap for all your worth.

  8. Hey, Carrie, I wouldn't presume to compare my little bit of activity with childbirth. Women get the short end of the stick on that bit of biology, no mistake.

    Linda, I knew you'd love the pharmacological details. ;-)

    Laura: I do kind of wish I knew what I said. Nurses see and hear a lot of things, and they are professional enough to keep a straight face about it all. What could I possibly have said to make her lose her poker face? Must have been good, whatever it was...

  9. I would love to talk with that nurse that was with you when you were coming out of the fog. You probably have the makings of another terrific #Friday Flash.

    Glad it's over for you, Tony. Just give yourself enough time to rest and heal.

  10. It's good that you're up and around again already and back at your writing. Thinking about the writing at least provides a distraction. These crazy episodes in our lives are fodder for creativity. Great piece!

  11. The nurse really should have had a twitter account to relay all the goofy things said in recovery :-)

    Glad you're back and starting the road to recovery.

  12. Tony,

    What a great surgery account - I'm glad you made it through Okay! Doctors never seem to listen when you tell them that certain drugs don't work on you, Valium doesn't work on me, but of course they always try to give it to me for procedures.

    Now you have me wondering what I said a few months ago after my surgery.

    Enjoy the vicodin, and please do take it easy, you really don't want any ripping or complications!

    Get well soon!

  13. I'm glad the surgery went successfully. I'm also glad your crotch. Welcome back to us, Tony. Now rest well.

  14. What a horrible reaction to anesthesia, Tony. Happy to see you've emerged coherent enough to write such an evocative post. "Got" the reference to nerve endings -- OUCH. Hang in there, man.

  15. Well, Ezzy, I think you're spot on... I honestly can't say that there's much I can recommend about the sensation of having been set on fire.

    Despite the richness I'm sure it will lend to some horror writing I might do in the future, I'd just as soon have skipped that part.

    Wish I had the recording of my comments, though...

  16. Sorry to be so late in commenting. I'm glad to read you're recovering and still retain your sense of humour.

    All the best,
    - MEG


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