As I alluded to in my previous articles, my surgery occurred on Monday September 30, 2013. I was very nervous. No matter how much I told myself that, ‘This surgery is no big deal’ — it was still major abdominal surgery no matter which way you slice it (no pun intended).
I arrived at the Surgery Center at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, TN at 6:00 AM. The first thing that happened, was my doctor weighed me to make sure that I had strictly adhered to his request to lose 20 lbs before surgery. The reasoning behind this was multifaceted. First, lowering my weight before surgery also reduced the size of my liver giving the doctor some more room inside of me to maneuver his tools. Second, gritting down and losing that weight helped prove to him that this major decision was not something that I took lightly. Lastly, he had mentioned that a lot of patients ‘go nuts’ in the weeks leading-up to surgery and try and eat all of the things they won’t be able to following surgery. This was not the purpose of surgery, and he seriously frowned on it.
Fortunately for me, I weighed exactly 275 lbs on the day of surgery, which was exactly the weight he had requested. Prior to surgery I weighed 295, but gained 10 lbs during a vacation my family and I spent home in Syracuse, NY. So, in actuality, I actually lost 30 lbs.
Following the weigh-in, I checked-in with the front-desk, and was asked to wait in the lobby. After I spoke with a financial representative and discussed my method of payment, and provided all of the necessary insurance paperwork, I was taken back to the pre-operation room where I was asked to change into a hospital gown. It was at this point that the nurses began performing all of their standard duties. They took my temperature, my blood pressure, and hooked-up my IV to keep me hydrated, and as the mechanism they would later push my medication through.
Once all of the preliminary health checks had been completed, I was wheeled up to the next floor in my bed where I spoke with the team of nurses that would be in surgery with me, and the anesthesiologist. They continually asked for my name, date of birth, and what type of surgery I was having to verify my identity. They also repeatedly asked me health questions regarding any previous surgeries, if I smoked, used recreational drugs, etc. I assumed that this was to make sure my answers remained the same so that there weren’t any surprises later, and to minimize complications during and after surgery.
Then, I waited. One million things seemingly raced through my head. Was this the last time I would ever see my family? Did I leave my wife with all of the necessary log on information for all of our accounts if I didn’t make it during surgery? Did I remember to send in my Living and Final Wills? Along with a whole host of other questions.
Finally, my nurse came over and asked if I was ready. After a brisk nod, I was brought to the surgical room. Honestly, the room unnerved me further. It just felt very strange. They moved me from my bed to the table where the operation would take place, strapped down my legs, strapped my arms, and hooked-up all of the monitoring devices. It was at this point that everything became ‘real’. My legs were then wrapped in leg warmers to help reduce the likelihood of blood clots forming in my legs, and my doctor walked in with the anesthesiologist.
The anesthesiologist told me that he would begin ‘pushing through all of sedatives in 30 seconds’ and that ‘they will work very quickly’. Sure enough, roughly 30 seconds later I was completely unconscious.