My back and hips felt pretty good today after yesterday's walk. I did have some pain on my right side while I was driving to my appointment this morning but it went away once I stretched my back a bit. I went for another long (hour and a half) walk today but I used my cane. I don't want to overdo things, after all :)
My appointment this morning was my pre-op stuff for next week's biopsy. Every hospital does their pre-op stuff just a little bit differently, and I have to say that I really liked the way they did things at this hospital. Really, all I had to do was show up at their clinic and the nurse assigned to me brought all the people I needed to see right to the clinic. I had to go from the waiting room to different rooms in the clinic which I much preferred over running around from department to department trying to see people.
We did an EKG first and then the nurse said that she needed to do bloodwork. I asked her if it was at all possible to use my port and - surprise! - she said yes, that she would just call the IV tech people and have one of them do it. It was awesome! They don't do that at my regular hospital. The IV tech inserted and removed the needle a little slower than I like but I'm ok with that if they use my port at all.
Once we got the EKG and bloodwork out of the way, my nurse went through my paperwork with me and we talked about the drugs I take. One of them is Celebrex which I take to control my lower back pain and to help control the sternal pain. It can reduce blood clotting so I was told stop taking it tonight until after the procedure. Going without it might mean extra pain for me for the next week or so... which means that I won't be walking without my cane for a while. There's no point taking chances if I can't deal with the possible pain consequences, after all.
Next I saw the anaesthesiologist. After my success at getting the nurse to use my port for the bloodwork, I figured that it wouldn't hurt to ask the anaesthesiologist if they would be able to use my port for the IV during surgery. I explained that my veins are crap and the port was easier on everyone. The anaesthesiologist told me that it's possible to use the port for that but that they'll need to set up a bigger IV anyways. The big IV needs to be in there for the unlikely event that something goes wrong and I need a blood transfusion.
I don't know what, exactly, my face showed when he said "big IV" but inside I felt scared and my mind said, "eep!" You see, half the time when inserting an IV, the nurses need to use a teeny-tiny needle because my veins are so very bad... and a teeny-tiny needle won't work with a big IV, will it? Seeing my face he was quick to assure me that they could either put me out with gas or with a port IV and then, once I was under, they could put in the big IV. Apparently the anaesthetic is a vasodilator and that makes insertion of the big IV easier (or possible, in my case). He also said that it's fairly common for them to put that IV in after the anaesthetic has taken effect. I'm fine with that; really, as long as they don't put the big IV in while I'm awake, I'm fine with whatever else they do.
The last person I saw was a respiratory therapist. Since this procedure involves the chest cavity they want to be sure that my lungs are tip-top before they go in there. This was all new to me; I've never seen a respiratory therapist before. She first had me do a lung function test with a computerized spirometer that printed out a nifty graph.
Then she needed to do an arterial blood gas test in which blood is drawn from the artery in my wrist and the gases in it are measured. To do this, first she had to find the artery by finding the pulse. She first tried to find the pulse in my right wrist, then went to my left, then back to my right, then back again to my left, and finally was confident that she found it on my right. I know I have a pulse, but it is hard to find exactly :) it's important to find the exact location of the artery a thin needle has to go in and draw blood from the artery. She warned me that would hurt, and it did, and the spot is still sore. I wouldn't have wanted to go through that needle more than once so I appreciate her caution and thoroughness.
And that was it. They'd said that it could take as long as three hours but it only took me about two hours from start to finish and because there were so many different things to do the time flew by. Hopefully things go as smoothly and efficiently next week.
thank you for describing and explaing all of the details of the pre-op. i like knowing exactly what they are doing, and i appreciate reading your interjections of your own feelings about it. this stuff must be exhausting and scary.
You are so brave. I wish I was more like you when it comes to stuff like this. I just freak the hell out.
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