Tuesday, August 18, 2009

News, info and updates

I learned a bit more about what will happen in the hospital and after the surgery. Multiple conversations with people including the doc's PA, and someone from the patient liaison group at the hospital yielded a bunch of tidbits. In the absence of a handy "What to expect when you're having a lumbar laminectomy plus removal of a synovial cyst" handbook (now there's a revenue opportunity) I've gleaned the following:
  • I may very well be in the hospital two nights instead of one

  • the determination won't be mine (of course not: you surrender control and maturity in a hospital setting). It will be based on my ability to tolerate the pain and to walk

  • for 6 weeks post I'll be severely restricted: no bending, lifting, twisting, car rides longer than 45 minutes (how do you shower and go about daily life without any of those simple actions? Time will tell.)

  • I can't have Nick stay in the room unless I pony up for a private room

  • for a mere $400 per night I can upgrade to a private room --- too bad I can't use my miles

  • there's no guarantee I'll even get to the room; the hospital says it's not unlikely that I'll spend the night monitored in a critical care unit (now that's a happy thought)

  • The Carlyle hotel has special rates for Lenox Hill hospital -- hmmm

  • Nick and I will chew over the overnight options. As much as I'd like him to be able to stay in the room with me (his idea) I know he'd be so much more comfortable and get actual rest in a hotel room (and at the Carlyle, no less.)
  • I remember from my first ortho surgery that sharing a room on an ortho floor falls short of expectations. I expected jocks having ACL repairs; what I actually found were old women having hip replacements (my roommate thought I was someone named Mrs. Kennedy, and she yelled for her all night

  • my participation in the actual healthcare system is curbing my appetite for healthcare reform news and developments

  • I've rethought my hasty conclusion about which painkiller I prefer. Now 4 days in to all-narcotics-all-the-time I'm leaning toward Vicodin (paging Gregory House)

  • A couple of things have gotten canceled or postponed in the next two weeks including my trip to the West Coast next week (Nick will tell you that's the universe's way of making sure I take it easy between now and the surgery.) We are scheduled to do a 66-mile ride to Montauk the weekend after next, but I have a feeling we'll just blow it off. Cycling is way, way, way easier than walking, but given the fact that my condition is capable of worsening (that was news; I was clinging to what the doc said about how I couldn't make it worse. Of course I could. This is me.) it may be better left undone

  • I had my pre-op appointment with Peter today, and the good news is that I'm overall in excellent health. I' m hoping that my relative youth and fitness will yield an easier recovery than what I've read about. Most people who have this surgery are much older (Peter's dad had it at 85) and so by any objective measure I should heal more quickly and rebound with greater alacrity

  • He also told me that it's a simple surgery. When a doc offers this opinion it's meant from the surgeon's perspective, and that it reflects the technical aspects. Cold comfort, frankly

  • People -- friends, family, co-workers -- couldn't be more supportive, which I find simultaneously comforting and isolating

  • Nick said last night that we need to pretty much write off September and October. It would be interesting and ironic if the house were sold during that time and we needed to start packing etc. Interesting and ironic. Kurt Vonnegut referred to the lack of a universe schemed in mercy, and I know what he means

  • I'd love to convalesce in PEI, but that would require that I be airlifted by a Medivac unit and I just don't see that happening, all my connections notwithstanding

  • I hope that they do a better job in the recovery room than when I had my shoulder done. I was left alone and ignored for 4+ hours in a room where a dozen and a half people were moaning and screaming. The waiting, the noises, the fact that no one checked up on me, the anesthesia -- it all caught up with me. Eventually I disintegrated into a full-fledged anxiety attack. Nursing supervisors were called and everyone seemed panicked (not as panicked as me, but surprising panicked for trained healthcare professionals -- isn't this what they're trained to deal with?) Finally I was taken from recovery and put in a windowless, low-ceilinged chamber -- not exactly the right setting for someone in my state, but better than the alternative. The last thing I remember was the head nurse saying "we'll have to give you Atavan" -- as though this were a threat, a last resort, when it was the obvious and welcome solution
Two weeks from tomorrow.

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