My Private Nightmare
The room was stark white. No windows or wall trimming and very cold. The lights were intense and bright as I lay there on the table with an IV in my right arm, noting the staff preparing to operate. Unavoidable, inevitable and very real. It happened so fast, the diagnosis of a popliteal aneurysm. The loss of control and independence without any pain or presenting symptoms which resulted in unanticipated complications.
The day before, I shaved, as it became the last bit of control left to me before entering the hospital and going directly to the surgical area to prepare. Everything I came with was put in two simple brown shopping bags, left with a gown to sit in a cubical to wait for the beginning of my nightmare. An introduction soon came from the anesthesiologist who was concerned about allergies and past adverse reactions to medications. I also made sure that he knew I had researched Anesthesia Awareness. A phenomenon where the patient regains full consciousness during surgery, unable to speak or respond.
The surgeon came in to mark the area of the incision and reassured me that he would try to make only one cut. Placed on the gurney, I was heralded into the room. Bright, stark white, and very cold. The moment of unconsciousness came without warning as I gazed up at the ceiling blinded by the light.
When I came to, my left leg was heavily wrapped in an ace bandage up to the thigh. Heavily sedated, the moment of consciousness became my orientation back to the world, and of pain, abated only by oral medication which took longer to take effect since I would not allow the use of IV Morphine.
Trapped in a hospital bed, unable to walk. My only respite of familiarity was my iPod with stored episodes of all the Star Trek series, by season, and my top Science Fiction films of all time. A comfort zone to focus my attention on something other than what my reality had now become.
The hospital care was mixed. Some good nurses, others who had a way of letting the patient know they didn’t want to be there. There is not much difference in most hospitals.
No matter what the surgery is for, it’s a violation of the body and the spirit and requires a great deal of convalescence on numerous levels. Leaving the hospital is also a traumatic experience. Weak, uncertain and unable to go back to an independent life, the first few days home were difficult. Especially when a complicating hematoma developed and I had to go back to the hospital, led on a gurney, to the same stark white room with no trimming, no windows and very cold, as I gazed up at the ceiling blinded by the light.