Surgery involves getting cut open; having something taken out, put in or tinkered with; and then being sewn back up. That happened to be the full extent of the details provided for a recent surgery at a Tucson hospital.
"What are they doing?"
"Fixing his neck."
We were not exactly sure how this neck fix was supposed to happen to my beau, but we did know why—major pain and reduced mobility. We also learned there are plenty of sneaky little secrets no one mentions prior to major surgery. Like how to get out of bed.
Never believe the cranky orderly's instructions. Although she may have meant well, the procedure she outlined for getting out of bed after major cervical surgery could have made even a healthy neck snap like a twig.
Two days later, the physical-therapy lady finally came around with an illustrated handout outlining the proper moves for sitting and standing. The orderly's instructions were on the "don't" list. We're still wondering why my beau's vertebrae did not pop out of the back of his neck.
Carefully guarding your possessions is another post-surgery rule. We know this applies to your watch, wallet and 7-inch nose ring, which you are supposed to leave at home in the first place. However, you also need to keep other stuff you accumulate close at hand.
This includes the Tupperware container of cookies your girlfriend so lovingly brought you so you would not have to subsist on yellow Jell-O. Don't put it over on the shelving unit. Once something is across the room, it might as well be in Siberia.
If merely getting out of bed is a major chore, actually shuffling across the floor is akin to running a marathon. The cookies remained untouched and somehow ended up sprouting spider mites.
Keeping the little push-button thing that supplies pain medication is even more important than keeping the cookies. Thinking he'd quickly be placed on the regimen of pain medication outlined in one of the hospital's pre-surgery brochures, my beau opted to have the staff take away the little push-button thing about 24 hours after his procedure.
The next day was pure hell.
That was because we weren't in on yet another post-surgery secret: When the head nurse is away, the underlings will play. In our case, their playing involved sitting around and eating potato chips. For some reason, this activity consumed the entire floor, complete with crunching sounds echoing down the corridor. The staff feigned enough helpfulness to nod at our request for pain medication, but nothing came through.
The evening following the procedure, my beau was pampered and fawned over as if he were King Tut. But the next morning, he became the forgotten patient. Even getting a bed urinal took nearly an hour.
Don't give up your bed urinal. Although the contraptions are gross and make you feel like you're, well, in a hospital, they can also be a lifesaver.
Even though getting out of bed to use the bathroom was one of the post-surgery activities my guy was supposed to pursue, the slate of medications he finally received made him need to pee every 10 minutes. Couple that with the incorrect and harmful method of getting out of bed, and you might as well schedule a second surgery to fix all the new damage being done.
Not only did the medications make him pee, but they also didn't work as well as rumor has it. Valium. Percocet. Vicodin. Despite their exotic reputations for being powerful enough to leave you flying high in la-la land, all they did to my beau was make him drowsy and nauseated.
The nausea was compounded by one more little hospital secret: Clean sheets are not necessarily a given. Although my guy was told to bring his pajamas, and even though he spent the whole time in a hospital gown, no one mentioned bringing your own sheets. This would have been a refreshing switch from the crusty cocoon of sodden cloth that encased him for days.
He did ask one noncranky orderly to provide clean sheets on about day three. She did so, but it made her become cranky.
We then discovered perhaps the most important hospital secret of all: Just being there makes you cranky.