A funny thing happened on the way to surgery. Not.
Yesterday we drove in to Seattle and arrived at the surgery center early (go us!). Upon entering the surgical suite we noticed that it looked like something out of a sci-fi movie, with spiraling yellow hoses trailing about and disappearing into walls and bulky machinery humming. I have to say it gave me pause but the nurse/receptionist explained they’d had a flood when a pipe burst. The alien equipment was there to dry out the drywall and prevent further damage.
Because of their situation they took me to the recovery room to get ready. Backwards I know, but so long as I could change from street clothes to hospital garb in private I didn’t think it mattered. Attired in the fashionable backless gown and accessorized with the lovely robe (to cover the backless part thank you very much), I answered questions out the wazoo. No I don’t have high blood pressure. No I don’t smoke or do recreational drugs. No I haven’t eaten anything in MORE THAN TWELVE FREAKIN’ hours! No coffee either. I think you can imagine the screaming headache I had. Well, if you’re not a coffee drinker, probably not. Trust me, this was migraine-level pain and there was nothing I could do about it except look forward to being put under.
The anesthesiologist, Dr. C came in and we discussed that procedure. I explained how horribly sick I get and that the nurse had mentioned some kind of patch. He agreed we could try that and said he’d also add some anti-nausea medicine to my IV toward the end. So I was hopeful I wouldn’t be dry-heaving for hours afterward.
Dr. W arrived looking sharp in street clothes. I don’t know why I’d thought I was his second surgery of the day but apparently that was a misperception on my part. He reviewed the chart notes, verified that the correct knee was marked and I had signed off that it was marked. He signed the same form and stowed it back in the chart binder. Then he proceeded to describe the incision he would make, showing us on my knee.
I think I may have mentioned that the part of my knee they’re replacing is the outside or lateral part. Probably in conjunction with saying that it is more common to replace the inside or medial part. If something can be done the most unusual way leave it to me to do it that way. So when Dr. W traced his finger along where he would make the incision – along the inside of my knee – I asked whether that was the right place for the lateral. That made him pause and go back to the chart. Everything in the paperwork said lateral as it should. It’s just that the medial is the most commonly replaced side and when he scanned the chart in the first place he was confirming he had the correct leg (thank you!) but hadn’t immediately locked on the “lateral” aspect. And thank goodness it came up.
Dr. W went to change into scrubs and the nurse came to take me to the OR where they started getting me ready. A cuff of some kind was placed around the lower part of the opposite leg. It operated automatically, puffing up like a blood pressure cuff around that leg and releasing. I think it had something to do with circulation but heck, what do I know? They stuck the patches all over for the EKG monitor and hooked up those wires. Dr. C started an IV and would have switched it on to start putting me under except one of the OR nurses stopped him. Apparently Dr. W wanted to speak with me again and asked that they not put me out yet.
While waiting for Dr. W I let my eyes close and drifted, listening to the music they had playing (nice older stuff I recognized with pleasure) and looking forward to it being all over. A few minutes later he came in covered head to toe in scrub gear so there was no indication everything wasn’t kosher. Then he started talking and my eyes started leaking.
When I’d reminded him earlier that we were replacing the lateral side of my knee he double-checked that they had the correct parts (I know, it sounds like we’re working on a car right?) and they didn’t. Apparently the top part of the lateral is a match with the top part of the medial so they could use a medial they had on hand. However, the bottom part is different and there is no substitution. Surgery needed to be rescheduled.
The most frustrating part of this was that everyone kept saying it wasn’t their fault. All the paperwork identified the part correctly as a lateral. The file said lateral. The requisition forms requested the lateral. Turns out someone in the supplier’s office made this boo boo. The supplier’s rep was on site and they actually brought him into the operating room to do a face-to-face mea culpa! Like it would help me if I had someone to blame! Someone is pounding on an anvil in my head they’re all worried about covering their collective asses.
On a more positive note, the nurses were super! One in particular went way above and beyond trying to help me feel better. She brought me coffee and a small sandwich, hoping the caffeine and food would help alleviate the headache from hell. Then when Dr. W said I could have a Celebrex she brought me that and a bottle of water. She was so kind I had a difficult time controlling myself and did a lot of crying. Why is it that when we feel lousy and someone is nice to us we break down? I’ve never understood that but I’m grateful for her kindness and attention.
So Bubbe is not out. At least for a few more days.