Day before surgery – I am on a 24 fasting regiment, working as usual and waiting for the hospital’s nurse to call and let me know when my surgery will take place the next day, and at what time I need to be in the hospital before the surgery. I received the call around 15:00 during an IT Technical meeting regarding one of our SharePoint farms. The nurse on the phone announced that I am first in line for surgery, it’s scheduled to be at 07:00 AM on 12/15/2017, and I should plan to be in the hospital at 05:00 AM.
This is when it really hits you, “you are going to have a surgery”, “it’s a major surgery and you just received your last call”. I didn’t sleep much the day before which triggered a serious migraine. All the way to hospital while driving I told my wife that I am worried about the migraine the most, and since I couldn’t take any painkillers before the surgery I was left to deal with it, I know my migraines, they will creep slowly, getting stronger by the hour until I am completely paralyzed.
We left the house at 4:00 am, I don’t know what I was thinking but I packed my bag like I’m going on a field trip or site seeing. Few pair or shirts pants, jumpsuits, shoes, …. Completely forgot about the dress code in the hospital that included a robe with back view mirror to your ass. Well, this is the first thing they gave me after reregistration, a very chick Giorgio Armani like gown with an opening in the back allowing the hospital breeze to freeze my rear-end.
After getting into my custom made “haute couture” gown I had to have a dry bath with sanitized wipes by a nurse seeing me completely naked. Last step prepping me up- sticking me with IV, and now I am set to go. This is also where I said goodbye to my wife who became a little emotional or something just got into her eye; knowing my wife it may have been the latter.
And now the real fun began as well as my big disappointment. I am not a shy guy, but I don’t like a big crowd and too much attention. Once they rolled me in into the prep room before surgery, I found myself surrounded with a crowd of mostly “Strangers” with masks:
- Physician Anesthesiologist
- Anesthesiologist assistant that could have been his child.
- Nurse that start taking my vitals
- Nurse male started shaving me and working on my bikini line; seriously, half of you know what, was shaved.
- My Physician Surgeon
At this point they had a group hug with me in the middle just like in a football game, “ok do we all agree this is a total left hip replacement? ” all the group said yes, and my surgeon sign his initials on my left hip. The anesthesiologist who, seriously, was half asleep; I don’t know if like a cocking chef he needs to try the recipe just before he lets you have it, but it really looked like he did. So, the head anesthesiologist asked his assistance, known as the kid, “have you done this before?”, the answer…. “At least two times”. Really!! Twice!! I’m panicking here!! by then they already injected something through the IV, and it was the time for the Epidural injection. All I remember is a pinch on my side, and they were shooting another dose into my IV, and I’m out, I’M OUT.
RIGHT? EXACTLY…! where the hell is the countdown from 10, where the doctor tells you to start counting and at least you know when you pass out. I was deprived from that moment I just passed out without the option to fight the countdown, I lost.
I can’t tell you what happened during surgery, thank god and the Anesthesiologist, but I do remember waking up in the recovery room immediately, like someone just turned on a switch and I’m up. After making sure my testicles were in place and that it wasn’t the wrong surgery (a man thing), I started looking around and I heard voice calling me “Mr. Alfi are you ok?”. I was sure I was hearing voices but I couldn’t see anyone. “Mr. Alfi are you ok?” Looking to my side I saw at my eye level just a face of a short, kind Philippine nurse. Please remember, I was still heavily sedated and everything was still a little blurry. The words coming from her mouth were echoing in my head. I looked at hear with a big smile, the migraine is gone.
Mr. Alfi are you ok?” I looked at the clock, two hours had passed since the surgery that started at 07:00. “Am I ok?” I answered with a question. She smiled and said that I was fine, and then she asked me “you have an accent, where are you from?”, What? Really? Now? I hadn’t even started to recover and we have one on one? “I was born in Turkey but I am from Israel ” I answered. A big “Oho…” came out of her month and without hesitation. “So you know Istanbul, Ankara, Buek Ada, Pamukale ? Do you know? do you know?” What? “Yes” I answered, “I know all those places from Turkey”. And she continued “what about Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa … do you know?” I couldn’t believe it, “Am I in a Surgery Jeopardy show being questioned by a Philippine version of Anthony Bourdain dressed as nurse?”. “Do you know? what about Sea of Galilee, the Negev, and kibbutz Genoy? Do you know?”. kibbutz Genoy? I didn’t know this one. Please remember this was two minutes after recovery from a hip replacement surgery. So, I told her that I don’t know “kibbutz Genoy” without missing a bit her serious comeback was “So what kind of Israeli are you?“. Still in shock and shaking (the anesthesia started to make me shiver like crazy), she shouted to the other end of the recovery room “Pakia (not sure that was the name), come here quick, he is from Israel and he doesn’t know kibbutz Genoy“. I remind you, I was not the only one in that room recovering from surgery, there were people covered with bandages from head to toe, from different surgeries, all very amused from the conversations taking place (or just being happy from the drugs) . I heard the rapid firing of wooden shoes on the parquet floor, and her Philippine friend, half walking half running, took a tour and standing on the other side of my bed; two heads staring at me now from each side of the bed (it felt like bad cop bad cop scenario). “What kind of Israeli are you, you don’t know Kibbutz Genoy”. At that point, we were all laughing and talking while they helped me overcome my shivering. They really took good care of me. You remember that she had shouted across the room to her friend, well by then, everyone in the recovery room knew about me. A lovely old nurse came across the room and introduce herself as Ruth, “Hi my name is Ruth, I’m a holocaust survival…” there is no comeback line from this kind of introduction. We had a small conversation before they took me to my room. None of those stories are fictional I couldn’t come up with those stories if I tried.
Rolling into my room I saw my wife was already waiting for me there smiling. At that point, something happened, and as soon as they parked my bed in my room I felt nausea. I started vomiting AIR, hugs lion roaring sounds gasping for air and nothing came out, literally vomiting air. The nurse rushed into the room and injected through the IV some anti-nausea that did the trick, I was ok, but at that moment the pain hits me. There are so many types of pains I will just name a few:
- Swollen pain – your leg may swallow double its size. The swollen leg from the inflammation hurts, and your range of movement is reduced.
- Hip pain – even with all the pain killer you feel like you were shot in your hip, or in a car accident.
- Fire pain – your thighs are on fire.
- Stitching pain – the pain of the incision area, the skin is stretched and it hurts
- Knee pain – when you start walking my knee started to hurt with sharp pain.
- Back pain
- Sharp lightning-bolt pain from the hip to the knee, sometime the lightning pain will change pattern.
- Dull pain from the hip to your knee.
Strange as it sounds the pain has been manageable; on a scale 1 – 10 my pain level was always around 4. The only exception was the shooting lightning-bolt pain, those happened when I walked and were at the 7-8 range, but they would come and go and with Ice therapy and medication can be reduced.
After one day in hospital and when I completed the physical therapy test, that included walking and climbing the stairs with the help of a walker, they let me go with the title POD1. This title means Post Operation Day 1. POD1 are usually fast to recover, so they say…
One thing about the hospital, the service was so good that I wanted to get out of there as soon as I can. I’m not being sarcastic here, the service in this hospital was amazing! but it got to the point that every ten minutes someone was coming to my room to ask how I feel, to give me medication, draw blood, check my oxygen levels, help me pee, help me eat, help me dress, massage my legs, help me change the bed, give me Menorah for Hanukkah (yes it happened ), give me Challah bread (remember Ruth) , my surgeon, my surgeon assistant, my PA, my nurse, my nurse friend, sister and cosine.
No joke, since my wife was there to testify, every ten minute a visit, just Santa Clause didn’t come. I’m glad I was still heavily sedated, so I was able to catch a sleep between those ten minutes rain drops.