I went in for my pre-op doctor’s appointment on Wednesday, March 23, in St. Louis. I started feeling pretty terrible on the way up there – achy, tired, and chilled. I got to St. John’s Mercy Hospital and checked-in about 10:00. The first thing they needed me to do was draw my blood, in order to run labs and make sure all my numbers and counts were where they wanted them before surgery. The doc was a little nervous because it hadn’t been quite a month since my last chemo treatment. Luckily, all my counts looked great and he suddenly didn’t seem to care about the date of the last chemo treatment.
I spoke with the surgeon and he told me exactly what he was going to do during the operation (I’m still not one-hundred percent sure about what kind of awesome voodoo magic he pulled while he was in there though). After going through the operation, and all of the pre-surgery items to be aware of, the anesthesiologist came and gave me his spiel. Bless the wonderful soul who developed anesthesia. Chewing on a leather belt after a few whiskey shots doesn’t sound near as delightful as peacefully being put under and waking up when it’s all over. Also, he informed me that they would be giving me an epidural. That was pretty legit too.
Well, the pre-op visit lasted about an hour and then it was time to head back to Columbia. Unfortunately, I started feeling very sick on the way back home. By the time I got home I was shaking so bad because I was so cold that I had a hard time unlocking my door. I immediately went to bed and decided that I was going to try and sleep as much as possible until surgery. I was deathly afraid I would be too sick come Friday morning and they would force me to reschedule the surgery.
Delaying surgery was my nightmare. I had the surgery scheduled on the perfect day for my schedule. And, mentally I really needed to go ahead and get it over with. On the other hand, feeling terrible and having no appetite made it easy to avoid solid foods the day before surgery. It’s always good to find a silver lining. So, I slept. And, slept. And, slept. I don’t think I really got out of bed between noon on Wednesday and when it came time to leave for surgery on Friday morning.
I had been feeling a little bit better Thursday night, but didn’t want to get out of bed and take any chances. On the ride to St. Louis I was feeling pretty optimistic that my temperature had returned close enough to normal for it not to be a big deal. I feel bad for not informing the surgeon’s office about being sick before surgery. Oh well. I arrived at the hospital a little before 7:00 a.m. on March 25th. I checked-in and one of the nurses checking people in leaned over and said “Zach? I follow your blog!” I was kind of shocked to be honest, but it was really cool. I thanked her for reading and felt confident that I was in the right place to have this operation done. In fact, I was in exceptional hands. I can’t thank the staff of Mercy hospital enough for how well they treated me.
After about a two minute wait in the waiting room they took me back to my pre-op room. I changed into my gown and decided to take one last picture with the ostomy bag and with my shirt off just to document how much this crap has ravaged my body. Hopefully, I’ll be able to look back on it in a year and see a big change. Once I had picture time taken care of, the nurse came in and put in my IV. Needles, man. I’m always getting poked with needles these days.
Once the nurse was satisfied with the IV, the surgeon came in and greeted me. He asked me a few questions and went over the procedure again. Lastly, he reassured me that everything was going to be all right. Then, it was time for the anesthesiologist to put in the epidural. So, they had me sit up and hunch over while they stuck a little needle in my back. Again, needles. It ended up looking like a thick fishing line was hanging out of my back. Unknowingly, I was soon to have all kinds of plumbing hanging out of my body.
After the epidural was in, they didn’t waste any time taking me to the operating room. I barely even remember making it to the operating room and am pretty sure I was out within the first five seconds of being in there. So, there I was, in a sort of medically induced death, naked, laying on a table with a bunch of people around me, about to get knifed up. Talk about vulnerable. Scary.