photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Just a Little Routine Surgery

So Alec and I were sitting in the hospital cafeteria, eating our lunch.

We were starving- Ward's surgery had been scheduled for 9:30am and we'd been in hospital since 7:30am- no food or coffee allowed of course. They'd finally taken him back at noon:30 and we'd hugged him, kissed him, told him we loved him, and my final admonition to him was, "NO FUNNY BUSINESS".

On accounta in the past, 'very routine and boring surgery' has had a way of turning out anything but.

He laughed and said, "No funny business" and the last thing we saw as he went thru the doors was his smile and thumbs up.

*Inserting that he's fine- this is not a buildup to a bad ending. You may stop holding your breath*

So Alec and I were sitting in the hospital cafeteria, eating our lunch.

Hilariously, I was telling him about the time in 2002 that the doctor in the cataract center had told me to go get some lunch and come back in 45 minutes and when I came back I heard sirens and thought "stop overreacting- we're right across the street from the hospital of course there will be sirens" but then the nurse came out and said, "Mrs. Dixon?" and I smiled and said "All finished?" and she said, "You need to come with me" and we went through the door and I saw Ward surrounded by EMT's and they were defibrillating him and intubating him...which is the reason I now never leave the building when he's having surgery, and why we were in the cafeteria instead of the million or so restaurants within 10 minutes of the hospital.

My phone rang.

Dr. Chambers, the surgeon, said, "Mrs. Dixon? Are you still in the building? I need to show you what we found".

Somehow we flew from the first to the fifth floor, dumping our food in the trash can as we left the cafeteria.

Now Ward has has brushes with death before. Hell, Ward has slapped death upside the head and poked it with a pointy stick before.

And on some level Alec has always been aware that dad is more fragile than the average bear- we've been skating this ice since Alec was two years old.

But this was the first time that Alec has been in the room when the doctor was laying it all out- it's always been cushioned by me after the fact. Even though he remained stoic and quiet, I know it shook him up- was a very real pronouncement to him that his dad is...mortal, and that's the kind of thing most folks don't have to process till they're into their 40's or 50's. He's two weeks shy of 13.

So what happened is that they were being very careful with Ward since he's had such trouble before, so instead of giving him versed as a pre-anesthetic, they gave him just a touch (2cc's) of fentanyl.

Which his heart didn't like.

So it went into arrhythmia. Dr. Chambers showed us the EKG read-outs. Pretty spectacular. So they scrapped the surgery.

Ward spent the rest of the day/evening in recovery while they tried to get his heart rate back up to normal, his blood pressure back down to normal and his heart rhythm back to normal. Dr. Chambers called in cardiac to come see him.

I hate cardiac.

When Ward was in ICU almost 3 years ago, the cardiac team changed every single day- no continuity at all, and 99% of them were abrupt, rude and pompous. I don't play well with that.

The cardiologist who showed up with 2 others did not change my opinion of that.

He looked at the EKG readouts and said, "Pfft. This is nothing. They should've kept going- once they got him anesthetized it probably would've calmed right down. This happens all the time- they just don't know any better. In fact, when they try this again that's what I'll tell them- just keep going- push him through".

Now, Ward says he was most likely trying to reassure us.

To ME, he was trivializing us AND disrespecting both the surgeon and anesthesiologist. I don't play well with that.

Then the cardiologist asked me a question, listened to the first 5 words of my response and WALKED OUT OF THE ROOM. Didn't say, "excuse me" or "that's good, thanks", just turned his back and out the door. I looked at one of the other doctors like, "What the hell???" and he shrugged apologetically and said, "I'M listening". Him I like.

I sent an email to Dr. Chambers telling him about Dr. Snottypants- that I don't like how he was unprofessionally rude regarding comments about his colleagues (who both have socks older than he does- and Dr. Chambers is HEAD of the oral surgery department) as well as his flippant attitude about 'just pushing him through'. I've worked in veterinary medicine for almost 30 years and the first and most important thing is- you can't fix dead. I don't appreciate being told that if Ward's heart is wonky all they have to do is CONTINUE giving him the drug that is causing it bacause PROBABLY it'll be OK.

This is not my car. This is my husband. You tell me that he'll PROBABLY be OK if you purposely 'push him through'? I don't play well with that.

Err on the side of caution. 200% of the time. Because I refuse to have to tell my son he's fatherless because, "Oops- I thought for sure that would work".


So they sent us back to the hotel Tuesday night.

Ward had an EKG and appointment with the electrocardiologist (the guy who does pacemakers and defibrillators) yesterday who ordered an echo for tomorrow and then a Holter monitor through the weekend. We can go home tomorrow after they place the Holter and then come back here Sunday for our Monday appointment where Dr. Karimzadeh will have a plan of action.

For the record, I love Dr. Karimzadeh and his nurse- they were both compassionate and patient; so the entire cardiac department is not pompous assholes.

Then they'll reschedule surgery.

Now that we're not scared to death, our family has reverted to our usual way to deal with the unimaginable horrors of the cancer hospital and our experiences there- humor.

When they let us go back to recovery to be with Ward, the first thing I told him was, "You promised me no funny bastard" as I hugged the stuffing out of him.

Later Tuesday evening Alec said, "What have we learned today? We learned that it's not enough to merely not leave the building during surgery- we can't eat a sammich, either".

And today I looked at my shy, brilliant, quiet husband and said, "God- you're such an attention whore".

He looked at me, smiled and said, "I know, right? It's all about me, me, me."

The only scene I remember from the movie 'War of the Roses', an otherwise awful movie, was the scene the husband went to the doctor thinking he was having a heart attack. He looks at the doctor and asks, "Tell me straight, doc- am I going to die?" The doctor looks at him seriously and says, "Yes. Yes you are".

"But not today!"

I love that.

Today is sunny and warm and we're stuck here till tomorrow afternoon so we're headed to the park and the museum.

We're all fragile and we're all going to die, and my family is both cursed and blessed to be aware and reminded of that on a regular basis. We're all going to die.

But not today.

1 comment:

  1. Glad that everything came out ok. And I think he definitely needs that shirt :)