This post will describe my experience right before SLAD-R surgery, which was on Tuesday April 12, 2016.
Day Before Surgery
On Monday, Justin (my son), Heather (my fiance), my dad and I went to dinner at The Schwack for my ‘Last Supper’ before surgery. They have great turkey burgers and I wanted to load up on protein before going without food for a while.
<- 3 Generations of Huitemas after the Last Supper
After dinner, Heather and I drove up to Tiverton House, which is basically a hotel for UCLA Medical Center patients and family. We got up there around 11 pm, and it was just about then that shock, trauma and abject terror set in. But it wasn’t because I was worried about the surgery. The issue was food. I had been instructed to not have any food after 12:45 am, 8 hours prior to checkin at the hospital. Surgery wasn’t scheduled until 11:15 am, so the full terror of the fact that I would be without food for a long time was finally settling in. OK, I’m overdramatizing. A little. But I did need to get mentally and physically prepared to deal with this massive bout of food deprivation.
As luck would have it, there is a big Ralph’s grocery store literally right across the street from Tiverton House. So a midnight grocery run ensued. While we were there, we saw this (pic to the right) as we were checking out. I’m used to seeing colored hair, I ain’t judging, and I’m all for creative, diverse expression…I’m just sayin’ I’m not used to seeing people my age or older with blue hair. Well, unless they are really a lot older and, you know, like really have blue hair. But she didn’t really have blue hair, she had really blue hair. There is a distinction! Or maybe she had both. In any case, gotta love LA!
When we got back to the room, I stuffed my face with a protein shake, protein bar, almonds and more. I finished my feeding frenzy at precisely 12:45am and promptly went to sleep.
Day Of Surgery
Heather and I got up, and walked a couple blocks to the hospital.
Quick sidebar. This is the beauty of Tiverton House. It’s not the most palatial of estates – the accommodations are, in fact, quite spartan. However, the fact that you can stroll a few minutes down the road and be where you need to be with no parking hassles and no traffic hassles is HUGE. If you are getting the surgery, and are unfamiliar with LA, do not underestimate the magnitude of malevolence inherent in LA traffic and parking! It is evil incarnate. Do not screw around with it! Do not subject yourself to the stress of dealing with any of that stuff the day of surgery.
OK, where were we? Oh yeah, walking to the hospital. We arrived a few minutes prior to my 8:45 checkin at admissions. So we hung out a few minutes in the waiting room, which is called “Maddies Room” (a name which holds special significance that at least one reader of this blog will appreciate). I did paperwork in the office, then went up to Preop on second floor. They gave me the gown and sat my @$$ down in a bed. Oh. This is really going down, isn’t it?!
Oh yeah. Next thing I know, I’m getting the IV inserted. I’m a complete chicken with needles, but the nurse – a guy maned JJ who was extremely cool – did a great job and it was no big deal. A bit later, he came back in to let us know that surgery was delayed from 11:15am until 1pm. Uh oh. I was getting hungry…and a little anxious.
Meanwhile, the anesthesiologist came in to introduce himself. His bedside manner was – let’s see, how do I best describe this – robotic. He was all business. But that’s ok, because I will take a machine with no emotion that is really good over a really nice moderately competent anesthesiologist every single time. I tried making a few funny comments to loosen him up, but it wasn’t happening. Probably more of an indictment on my lame jokes than his demeanor, however.
It was at about this point that Heather began her vigilance over my comfort and well being – something that persisted in a big way throughout my hospital stay. She knew I was starting to feel a bit of adrenaline, getting a little antsy over the delay, so she suggested I get an IV sedative before getting wheeled into the operating room. After the anesthesiologist administered it, he gave me a shower cap to put on. That stuff hit me quick. The last thing I remember was making one last attempt to make him laugh. I said: “It’s about to go down. Doc, you don’t mess around.”
Heather said the robot cracked half a smile.
Image source (…get real…): memegenerator.net