Thursday Surgery at York Hospital, York, Maine
Hannah spends her morning on the couch, answering email, shifting to get more comfortable, texting, and anticipating her afternoon surgery. To make her day more than just sitting on our couch, she negotiates the wooden crutches to go to the bathroom, shower, and walk around the first floor of the house to keep the blood flowing. She’s just marking time for this afternoon’s main event.
We get a call to come early, and early is what we are all about when it comes to Hannah’s surgery. Taking her to York Hospital at 1P, we settle into the waiting room. Soon she is taken to the pre-op room, put in a hospital gown, and nestled in a hospital bed; there she is briefed by the anesthesiologist, the operating room nurse, the PA (physician’s assistant), and Dr. Sutherland.
The anesthesiologist gives Hannah the choice of a general anesthesia or a spinal tap. The general requires a tube down her throat, which causes Hannah some concern because of her voice condition (spasmodic dysphonia). Hannah chooses the spinal and she’s told she can go to Cancun while she’s out. With no interest in world travel, Hannah, I’m guessing, will choose Virginia.
They each speak gently and reassuringly to her and tell her what to expect. They are pros. The spinal tap will numb her from the waist down; she won’t be aware that operation is going on at all. They all continue to be impressed with her pain tolerance. In the last four days, she’s had only Extra-strength Tylenol since the fracture of the tibia Sunday night attempting to water ski. The anesthesiologist says how important it is to keep ahead of the pain. Hannah will be in a twilight sleep from the anesthesia during the operation. She may get a bone graft. Bone grafts are often synthetic, but they can come from her hip. If she needs one this afternoon, it will be synthetic.
Dr. Sutherland writes yes on her left leg prior to surgery. At 230P, he tells me that I should be able to see her in three and a half hours. There’s an hour to set up for surgery, 90 minutes for the surgery, and then an hour in recovery. Eventually she’ll have a thigh to ankle neoprene and Velcro brace for eight weeks to immobilize her leg. I wonder if plaster casts are a thing of the past.
We ask about traveling. The PA says that if she is up for it, she should be able to travel; all too quickly we jump to the conclusion we are going to Virginia in two weeks or three. We have no idea what we are talking about, but going south to see our grandson, Owen Daniel, gives us something to hold on to during these uncertain times.
While she is in the operating room, I wait in the waiting room of the Surgery Center that is as comfortably decorated as if it were a country estate. To pass the time, I play my role as the town crier and bang out an email on our laptop of the latest news for our kids and others. Donna comes to help pass the time and comfort Hannah when she is done with surgery. The time flows; Corky comes by to check in and lift my spirits. I’m distracted nicely and have never really thought that the surgery won’t go anything but terrifically.
Just after 5P, Dr. Sutherland comes in with a smile on his face. He says everything went well. Everything. In fact, he thinks it is a better result than what he thought it might have been considering what he saw on the CT scan Tuesday. During the surgery, the salesman who provides the plates and screws for such an operation, said that’s the BEST result that he’s ever seen. Fortunately, Donna is there to hear the details; all I hear is that my Hannah Banana has done well, very well. Dr. Sutherland says that her fitness and good health will make her recovery go more smoothly. She will be on Coumadin for the very slight chance of blood clotting and Vicodin for the pain. It’s very clear Extra strength Tylenol will no longer be enough. He beams how pleased he is with Hannah and the operation. We are so pleased with him.
Connecting the dots, I think it’s weeks not months before we see Owen Daniel Rawding. As you can see, I have a tough time staying focused.
Ushered to the recovery room, I see Hannah, who as usual, looks amazing and says she has no memory of anything that happened. She’s coherent and engaging and so darn sweet.
She spends 90 minutes in the recovery room as the nurse waits for the numbing effect of the spinal tap to recede from her waist down to her toes.
When Hannah can wiggle her toes, she can go up to her hospital room on the second floor of York Hospital. She’ll spend the night in the hospital so her pain can be managed and so going to the bathroom is not an issue, considering all the IV fluids that have been pumped into her.
Following the nurses who are pushing the hospital bed with Hannah on board down the corridors to the elevator and then to her second floor semi-private room in Biewend 216 of York Hospital at 7P, I have a sense of peace. I haven’t been worried about the operation. That said, I can be quite naïve. Hooked to all the monitors, her fitness impresses all who meet her. Pulse is 44. That’s like Bjorn Borg in his prime winning Wimbledon. Her blood pressure is 116 over 67. Amazing. She is instructed in the use of an incentive spirometer that she must blow into each hour. After any surgery, there is a danger of pneumonia. The IS will help minimize that.
She has eight weeks of crutches for it is very important that her left leg bear no weight. She’ll not be cutting hair for the next two to three months.
I leave her to the nurses and know Hannah will have quite a tale to tell her first grandson Owen about the night he was born.