My friend Heidi is a nurse, and I emailed her to ask her... Well, basically ask her what the hell I'm in for. She wrote me a response that I have to share - it was enlightening and also made me laugh out loud several times.
I've been a hospital patient several times but it was easiest when I knew exactly what was going on and what to expect, i.e., after I was a nurse. Otherwise, it seems kinda foreign and uncertain. Which is why I'm so glad that I get to offer some info and help to you. I'm assuming you'll spend at least part of you time in the ICU so I'll give you the skinny on what that experience might be like too.
ADMIT: You'll go to the hospital at the ass-crack of dawn probably through the admitting department, which usually looks like a doctor's office waiting room. A slightly overweight lady will ask for your insurance card, contact numbers (Jeff's cell, e.g.), address, etc and have you fill out some paperwork like a financial agreement saying that you know that the hospital will bill you and stuff like that. She will not make eye contact with you, nor will she smile. She may or may not be having a simultaneous conversation with her co-worker about her friend that won big at bingo and how she wishes it were her because she hates her job. I think it's a hiring requirement. Do not take it personally. Then you'll wait until they take you to pre-op. Wait and wait.
PRE-OP: This is usually a big room with a bunch of big chairs separated by curtains. At that point, they will confirm your identity, give you an i.d. band (if they didn't in admit), confirm allergies, confirm procedure site, stuff like that. They will take your vitals and have you change into a hospital gown. The gown is ugly and your ass will hang out (trust me, this does NOT bother some people. These people are the very ones that it should, in fact, bother). There are multiple ties with seemingly no purpose. I still haven't figured out if they all have an actual place to tie to. I'm pretty sure it's actually a stealth neuro exam. You'll probably feel a little chilly because of said gown. They may start a couple IVs at this point. This feels a little like a blood draw. It's not the most comfortable thing in the world but it's temporary. If you are worried about it, try to distract yourself by listening to the conversations of the patients next to you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Then, some more waiting. And waiting. There migth be some bustling or some more paperwork or questions. This is normal. And then more waiting. Then usually the anesthesiologist comes in to talk to you. This is generally an older gentleman with a questionable sense of humor. It's unclear if he's perpetually drunk. But don't worry: he's very competent.
Continued in my next post...