Today is the fifth anniversary of my DaVinci surgery. All is well at this point, but I thought I would post my notes from the day of surgery, thinking it might be of some benefit to those who will be having the procedure in the near future. Here's what happened. It's not pleasant, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I feared it would be, and in retrospect I would even call it one of the more "interesting" experiences I've had in my 70 years.
From my journal (and I encourage anyone dealing with prostate cancer to start a journal and see it through, because so many details simply fade from memory):
August 20th, 2010: Today’s the big day. The alarm clock sounded at 4 a.m., and Beth and I were out the door and on our way to the hospital by 5:00 o’clock. Advocate Condell Hospital is in Libertyville, about
20 miles southwest of Zion. This Friday, for some reason, seemed like a Saturday, but early commuters were already on the streets. Still, the trip went quickly and we were soon at the surgical ward, waiting for our name to be called.
In a few minutes I was called forward and went through a set of double doors to the men’s locker room, where I was given two gowns, some non slip socks, and was told to put all of my personal belongings into a plastic bag and then into a locker. When I had accomplished that, Beth was called in to join me, and we were taken to a curtained off “room,” where I was put into a bed to await further instructions.
We walked down a hall and then to the left and into a curtained cubicle with a hospital bed and a chair. After I was assisted into the bed, a nurse started asking me questions, handing me forms to sign, and then started sticking things into the back of my hand and elsewhere in preparation for surgery. Doctor Kahn came in and gave us a cheery hello. Then came the nurse anesthetist and the anesthesiologist to answer any questions or concerns I might have regarding anesthesia.
My one worry was the process of intubation. Would I be awake when I was intubated? Would I be awake when the tube was removed? They assured me I would be asleep when they intubated me, but that I would be awake when the tube was removed. I didn’t like that, but obviously I was in no position to do anything about
Then the anesthetist said she was going to put something in my IV to help me relax, and……
The next thing I remember is waking up in a darkened room full of other beds, tubes, medical personnel, and a clock that read 12:30. I decided I either had died and this was hell, or maybe it was recovery. I was groggy but not nauseated, and a nurse named “J.J.” was hovering at my side attending to my every need. Something was kneading my lower legs as if they were bread dough. J. J. told me I had done well, and that shortly I would be taken up to my room, where Beth was waiting for me.
The recovery process seemed to take forever, but apparently a room was not quite ready yet.
Finally, I was being wheeled down long corridors, through double doors, and onto the surgical ward. My room was at the far end of the ward, and I could see Beth waiting for me. Much of this is remembered only fuzzily, though.
Once in the room, they asked me to scoot off the gurney and onto the bed, a request which seemed impossible, but which turned out to be do-able. I gradually began to take stock of my situation. I had a blood pressure cuff on my right arm that was taking readings every few minutes: I had an IV in my right hand for Ringers lactate, and also for pain medication (Dilaudid) if I pressed a green button. I could press the button as long as it was illuminated. If the light on it went out, that meant I had used up the available dose. In fact, I seldom used the pain meds. There just wasn’t that much pain to deal with. I also had a backup IV in my left hand, just in case.
I had a nasal canula delivering oxygen, and one of my fingers on my left hand had a pulse oxymeter taking readings of my blood oxygen levels and my heart rate. My legs were again being massaged by devices that felt like a pair of hands kneading loaves of bread. I couldn’t see what was going on down there, but it felt strange. And I had a catheter…something that would be with me for the next 10 days or so.
I had a two and a half inch incision from my navel upwards. I had a drain tube coming out of my lower right abdomen. Four other puncture wounds rounded out the picture. Not a lot of damage on the outside, but things had been greatly re-arranged in my lower abdomen.
Dr. Khan stopped by the room and said I had tolerated surgery very well. He mentioned, though, that surgery had taken longer than expected because he had freed a lot of adhesions on my intestines. That had been a surprise, and I’m still not sure what caused them, unless it was the severe bowel infection I had way back in the seventh grade.
Beth had brought a bouquet of flowers, which added a bit of cheer to the room. And although it was a semi-private room, the other bed was unoccupied. Excellent. Beth had also brought get well cards that our grandchildren Claire and Maddie had drawn.
Eventually Beth helped me eat a bit. More chicken broth (I get nauseous even 5 years later when I see a can of that), some jello, more of the clear liquid diet I’d been eating for more than two days now.
all I remember about
the day of surgery. I was tired but really couldn’t sleep because respiratory therapy hadn’t delivered and set up the CPAP machine. With my sleep apnea, I don’t even nap well without a machine. The respiratory therapist finally came in that evening and set up the noisiest sleep aid I’ve ever encountered. It whistled and whirred as if it might be ready to lift off at any second.
Late in the afternoon, Beth decided I needed to at least sit up in bed and dangle my feet over the edge. I grudgingly admitted that was probably a good idea, and with help and also with an aide present, we accomplished that.
At dusk, Beth decided she should drive home so that she wouldn’t be on the road after dark. What a blessing it had been, though, to have her there all day. It was like having my own private duty nurse.
So....that was the day of surgery. The actual journal starts months earlier and ends a couple of months after surgery. I'm glad it wrote it all down and encourage newcomers to do the same.
Post Edited (clocknut) : 8/20/2015 1:47:14 PM (GMT-6)