Chapter 4 Pre-op

The surgery is set for January 27th; two weeks away¬–which turned out to be the longest two weeks of my life. Two days after the surgical consult I sent an email to both my bosses stating that I need to speak to them at their earliest convenience. The following morning I was in the conference room with my bosses and I told them of my health condition and pending surgery and the recovery period following. There was a sense of surprise and shock as they responded that I could take the time needed to recover and not to worry or stress about work. I voiced my appreciation and thanked them for their understanding and went back to my desk. I slowly told my fellow co-workers and I was met with the same sense of shock and surprise… and a flood of questions inquiring if I had any major symptoms, I told them of the Oprah episode with Dr. Oz. A co-worker told me that her husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer – she didn’t specified where but she gave me a valuable tip.
“You must keep a journal of all your Dr. visits and tests…this would come in handy for the medical insurance…  trust me you will need the information. You think you will remember it all, but you won’t”
I took her valuable advice and ran out and bought a small notebook, to this day I carry it in my pocketbook.
During the day everything was fine, I was kept busy at work. But at night… at night is a different story– sleeping turned into a challenge… my mind would race with nothing but “what if’s”… “What if the surgery wasn’t a success… what if the cancer would come back in another part of my body?” I told a friend and mentor of mine my dilemma and she came over with a small bag full of homeopathic sleep remedies she bought at her neighborhood health food store. Another friend told me about Tai Chi classes held at Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport early weekend mornings with Master Ru, I started that right away. A third friend told me about an acupuncturist she goes to in China Town that is amazing so I started getting treatments twice a week; anything to keep me occupied.
When faced with adversity I believe in the power laughter, as well as maintaining
a positive outlook – so I’ve filled up my Netflix queue with nothing but comedies.
All the Marx Brother’s movies, Buster Keaton, I ordered the complete box set of the British comedy “Absolutely Fabulous” as well as the box set of the 60’s British cult series “The Avengers- the Emma Peel episodes” ok, that wasn’t a comedy – but I remember seeing it when I was a child and thought it was a very cool show.
My Netflix queue had to include all of Monty Python’s Flying Circus episodes, as well as the beyond funny movie “It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world” along with some Charlie Chaplin thrown in. 
So that’s how I spent my time before the surgery …work by day & watching comedies at night followed by the homeopathic sleeping pill.
Three days before surgery I was instructed by the Physician’s assistant to have a liquid only diet, light color liquid only – no dark liquids like cranberry or grape juice.

It was a snowy, grey January morning the day of the surgery. I fished for my PDA from my purse to see the time as the Second Ave bus came to the 42nd street stop. 6:33 am it reads as I board the bus on my way to Beth Israel Hosp. on 17th and first. My dear friend and mentor Karen Santry will meet me at the hosp. lobby so I won’t be alone when I registered.
The registration process was uneventful, I was asked the usual questions – verify my name, address, insurance info and such. Then my left wrist was fastened with a white ID band “now you belong to an elite group” Karen said as I checked to make sure the information was correct.
Karen said her goodbyes as I was whisked away into a change area where I would go from a person to a patient. I was given a large tote bag where I would put my clothes and given a blue hospital gown made of a lightweight paper like material. Afterward I was interviewed by a nurse who sat by a monitor and verified what I was going to have done.
Next thing I knew I was in the pre-op room laying on a bed covered in a sheet.
“Are you cold?” a nurse asked.
“No, I’m fine” I answered as I was scanning the room. It was a room that had several stalls that was divided by curtains. I saw that most stalls were filled and some had family members/friends.
I didn’t know you could bring people in here I said to myself.
I laid there watching the drama unfold in front of me… nurses fluttering around, one or 2 would check on me and my vitals, the constant ringing of the wall phone, Doctors running in and out either in scrubs or in white overcoats. Then I saw my surgeon as he walked in dressed in purple scrubs. He looked around, – I smile as I recognize him and at first he gives me a quizzical look – and then there’s the gleam of recognition in his eyes as he walks towards me.
Both of us smiling we say our hellos and he tells me what the next steps would be.
    “In a few minutes the anesthesiologist would set you up with an IV, soon you would be asleep and then you will be transported to the OR”. I asked how long the operation would be and he answered “Several hours” as he was flipping through a thick 3 ring binder he pulled from the foot of the bed. We exchange a few words and he runs off and on queue the anesthesiologist comes in, introduced himself and started the IV.
    As I laid there looking around fear was creeping over me.
        This is it I said to myself. I am not scared…I will not cry I kept chanting over and over again to myself fighting back the tears. Suddenly I wanted to know the time. My eyes gazed at the wall clock;
its 10:25am.
I was starting to feel the anesthesia setting in, started feeling …sleepy.

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