Sunday, 8 August 2010

The Hospital: Part 3

I was transferred to the breast and gynecological ward to be prepared for surgery. 

I was put under observation.  At regular intervals (it seemed like constantly), nurses came and checked my blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen level, and temperature.

The main thing that they needed to do before surgery was to take more blood for further testing, and to get some good lines in.  The nurse couldn't find a vein.  The phlebotomist put such a tight tourniquet on me that my hand was going all pins and needly, but she couldn't find a vein either.  The doctor came back and explained that my veins were basically shutting down.  So much of my blood supply was pumping into my tummy that there just wasn't enough left for the rest of my body.  I felt very cold (due to low circulation) and at times very light-headed.  Normally I can donate blood without a problem, and no one's ever had a problem taking my blood before.  However, my veins were just collapsing, and so a whole host of medical professionals couldn't find a good vein.

Eventually, in hopes of increasing their chances, the doctor had my arm wrapped up.  Warming it can help, so my arm was wrapped in layers of padding before they tried again.  After a lot of tapping and prodding at my veins (and several false attempts), the department's chief anesthesiologist finally managed to get a cannula into my hand.  Although she finally managed to feed the tube into my vein, they couldn't get any blood to come out of it.  There was just nothing there to draw.  So they gave up on drawing blood then and just started pumping me full of fluids instead.  I wasn't allowed to drink or eat as I was about to go in for surgery, but they started me on an IV.  Normally when you see IV's, they are at a slow drip.  This was more like a waterfall.  It was a steady pour into my veins trying to rehydrate me as much as possible.  (They also went ahead and ordered several units of blood in my type to be sent to the operating room as they expected me to need a transfusion.)

After having my other arm wrapped up and then tourniqueted again, and being on the IV, they managed to draw some blood.  I also had to do your standard hospital pee in a cup for testing.  (This was particularly great as I already had an IV in, so I had to go use the toilet with an IV stand and tubes hooked up to my hand.)

It seems that there was a steady stream of people to see us.  The anesthesiologist (two of them, actually) came and explained what would happen.  For surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, they use a general anesthetic.  They explained what I should expect and checked on my cannula (the tube into my hand that could be used for IV's).  For surgery, they usually require patients to have two working IV lines.  That way, just in case they have a problem with one, they already have a back-up.  In my case, they gave up on getting a second line in, and said they were just thankful that they managed the one.

I also had the doctor come back several times to check on me and to discuss things to my husband and myself.  I had to sign consent forms for the surgery, and they explained all of the possible risks to me.  Honestly, though, I didn't really have a choice.  I could either have the surgery, or I could refuse medical help and die.  It was an absolutely heart-wrenching thing to sign the consent forms, but there just wasn't another option.

There were also nurses and student nurses constantly checking me, checking my blood pressure, etc.  The surgeon also came out to speak with me.  They also dry shaved me to prepare for the surgery.  (If you go in for abdominal surgery, don't be surprised if they shave off the top couple of inches of your hair first.  If you know in advance that you're going in, it's definitely preferable to do it yourself.)

Then we just had to wait for the operating room to be ready.  They pushed all of the other surgeries back so that they could fit me in next.  We literally just waited long enough for them to clean the operating room, and then it was my turn.

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