Continuing the email written to me by my friend Heidi, a nurse.
TO THE OR: So the drunken grandpa will accompany you to the o.r. It's cold in there, lots of lights, possibly some music (unfortunately this is not for you, it's for the surgeon and he/she will have specifically outlined the playlist before surgery. it's funniest cuz I'm totally serious). The drunken grandpa will make some comment about feeling sleepy. He may or may not put an oxygen mask on you. You'll probably see him injecting something that looks like milk. That's called propofol and it's very fast-acting. After that, you won't remember a dang 'ol thing. Then you'll go either to the recovery room or straight to the ICU.
RECOVERY ROOM: Again, looks a lot like pre-op but with hospital beds instead of chairs. YOu'll have a nurse who probably has 1 or two other patients. They will be taking your vitals abotu every 15 minutes, asking you questions that may seem silly, and also asking about pain and nausea. They will orient you to the time and date and tell you briefly how the surgery went. You will feel very tired, sore, and a little out of it. You will have a catheter in your bladder (called a "Foley" which you may or may not feel but it shouldn't be painful. You will have had a breathing tube in for surgery and your throat might be a little sore and dry. This really sucks and will just take time to get better. After a few hours, they will take you to the ICU.
ICU STAY: Ahh...yes, this is my home. This is where I can REALLY help. the ICU is quite the place...full of beeping and buzzing and alarms and people and lights. It's annoying and loud and busy. But you will be monitored in more ways than you can possibly imagine so if nothing else, you can feel safe knowing that your condition is being so closely monitored. The RNs will be waking you up every hour to do an neuro exam on your. This will involve moving various body parts on command, looking at your pupils, asking about pain and sensation in your extremities. This will go on for about 18-24 hours (= exhausting for you!!). Your vitals will be monitored every hour and you will be constantly connected to a BP cuff, O2 finger sensor and EKG lines. Your monitor might beep or buzz. do not worry about this. You are in the ICU for a reason and if something is wrong, you will have the entire staff rushing into your room. Sleep when you can, be honest about how you're feeling, and try not to put any pressure on yourself about anything. Don't take phone calls if you don't feel like it. Ask Jeff to go to the waiting room for awhile so you can take a nap and not worry about "entertaining" someone. And remember that this is time to recover. This is about YOU and no one else but you. This is a time to create a whole new meaning of "focus". (I think that might be a song). You will have plenty of time to be awake and social. This is not that time. And if people don't like it, they can suck my wang.
Final installment of my Wisdom from a real nurse series tomorrow.... And yes, Heidi did say "they can suck my wang."