Pre-Surgery Prep

***NOTE*** ~ this blog post deals with a recent surgery that I had at a Syracuse, NY, hospital.  I want everyone to know that I do not “blame” or “disrespect” that hospital, or any of the staff there.  I’m just relaying my experience(s) from my perspective.

So, yes, my day finally came on Thursday, August 2, 2018, to have the Roux en Y bariatric surgery to help me lose weight.  I had to arrive at 5:30 a.m. for a 7:30 a.m. surgery start time.  My particular surgery also entailed the use of robotics, which means we only had certain time span in order to get this done before the next surgeon would be knocking on the door for his/her time slot.  I was told my time slot was 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

I was all about getting this party started asap.  Having said that, I also kept in mind that, for all of my life, I have been what is called a “hard draw” when it comes to IVs and blood draws.  So I had anticipated that the road to the other side of the surgery was going to be filled with painful needles and several “sticks” to get me prepared for going under.  This wasn’t my first time experiencing this, and probably wouldn’t be my last.  But, admittedly, this was the worst experience to date.

Of course, Al was right there with me, by my side every second.  God was there, too.  But we sat around for the first hour (5:30-6:30 a.m.) waiting for the phlebotomist to come put in the IV.  When she finally did arrive, she seemed harried and hurried.  She took a quick look at my arms and knew that I was going to be an “issue”, so she went on ahead to get IVs into the other patients who were waiting, and said she would “come back for me” when she has more time.  We could hear her in the hall discussing loudly with my nurse that, if she did me first and made the others wait, they would not have time enough to get THEIR IVs done in a timely manner.  Okay, well, I can deal with that.  Meantime, my pre-surgery nurse was telling me that, because the surgery for me was robotic, I would need TWO IVs, and I would need to have them long before surgery, as they wanted me to “ingest” at least one bag of fluids prior to the surgery.  There would need to be a bigger gage IV put in because of the robotics.

At 6:50 a.m. I was taken down to the surgery room – no IV yet.  But we met the phlebotomist on the way, so she tagged along with the intention of getting my IVs in place in the pre-op room.  She had also grabbed a sonography equipment in the hopes that it would help her locate a viable vein… or two.  Things kinda went from bad to worse at that point.

We’re in a small, pre-op room (about 7’ x 8’) with one wall completely glass.  It was all a very busy place.  Across from my room was the white-board schedule of surgeries for the day, and next to that was a large clock.  As soon as I was wheeled in, the phlebotomist began searching for a vein big enough to accommodate the gage needed for the surgery.  I’m used to this, so not really stressing at the time.  Over and over she was unsuccessful, over and over putting shots of pain killer into the arm she was working on… she had to “dig deep” and it hurt.  It’s now 7:20 a.m., 10 minutes from me supposedly having surgery, and I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  The phlebotomist called for assistance from someone she felt would be able to get the IV in.  All this time, Al was (at first) standing to one side of my bed for moral support, and eventually he was kinda shoved out of the room.  Meantime, my “plight” I guess you could call it, was drawing lots of attention from the other staff in the pre-op suite.  Doctors, nurses, attendants stopped to watch the progress, at one point crowding around the walled window and jockeying best for position to watch.

This was when I began to just lose it.  At 7:45 a.m. there was, finally, success ~ but it was a very fragile IV that came with no guarantees of making it through the surgery.  I was reassured that, after I was unconscious, they would make the appropriate adjustments where necessary.  I was beyond stressed out, and I couldn’t stop shaking uncontrollably.  They kept asking me if I was cold!  I thought my teeth were going to break for chattering so much!  No, I was not cold, it was an adrenalin overload.  This whole experience had been put out there for the public to watch and comment on.  I’ve never felt so vulnerable and exposed.  Later on, in Recovery and then in my own room, I would hear people refer to me as “Oh, you’re “THAT LADY’!”  Yes, the one they couldn’t get an IV into, even with a sonogram!.  Over and over.

Fortunately I’m home now, but as today has worn on, I feel some symptoms of PTSD from it all.  I haven’t been able to stop crying yet today, and I’ve developed a low grade (100 deg) fever.  Maybe the adrenalin hasn’t calmed down yet.  I can’t shake this feeling of “violation”, intrusion and being the center of a very unhealthy attention.  I’ll muddle through, but I’m going to have a discussion with my surgeon.  I would hate for anyone else to have to go through this experience.  It should’ve been handled better, methinks.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

~ Tamara

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8 thoughts on “Pre-Surgery Prep

    • Indeed, Lisa. How people treat each other also sucks. Looking back, I felt like a commodity, not a person with dignity and feelings. I honestly don’t feel like they meant to treat me that way, and the phlebotomists apologized profusely upon being done and able to leave. But by then the damage was done. I think it might’ve gone better if there were at least a curtain that could be pulled to close the goings-on to the others in the area.

    • Thank you, Patty. I managed to take 10 ml of children’s liquid Tylenol, and the headache is better. But I WILL call my surgeon tomorrow. Thanks for that hint about hormones. I didn’t expect that, but it sure did!

  1. Thanks Carol. Today I am an emotional wreck, basically. I’ve been assured by my support team (friends, relatives, people who have had this surgery) that it’s all perfectly normal. I’ve cried all day today, and people are saying I’m “brave”, “heroic” etc. I sure don’t feel that way! I’m assured this will pass. After all, it’s only been 48 hours after a major surgery. My hormones must be completely out of whack, as I have no control of what/how I feel right now. It’s kinda scary.
    Thank you for asking.

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