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My Surgical Experience – Part Three

As soon as I got up to my room, the nurse came to help me freshen up a little. She was wearing a tichel – headscarf – and was just a doll. Of course we played Jewish Geography, as one does, and it turns out she went to a summer camp with my half-brother many moons ago. She was so sweet and gentle. She also showed me how to work my pain pump. It felt good to be in charge of my own pain relief. It was about the only thing I had control over for a while.

I had a room-mate who was an older lady who had had back surgery up in Albany – and it had not gone well at all, so she came to Columbia to get it fixed. Poor soul – she was in so much pain.

About the time I was getting settled KoD was eating his dinner that had been delivered by Sir Chants-a-lot. At this point in time they were not allowing me to eat anything, but within two hours two kosher meals had been sent up, at different times, from the cafeteria. I could hardly swallow at this point – they had to move my esophagus out of the way to get to my spine during the surgery, so it was very sore and tender – so I just took the applesauce and the juice.

Within an hour my room was filled with friends who came to see me, one of whom I had actually NEVER met in person before! I was drugged up to the max and I hope I wasn’t too loopy. It was just so great to hang out with some of my favourite people. I didn’t want the boys coming to the hospital and had farmed them all out to friends.

By 10 pm everyone had gone home and it was time to turn in for the night. Except I got no sleep. I was in pain, the pain pump was only working so much, the nurses kept coming in to check up on me and my room-mate. I get that. I know it was necessary to check on us, but I so needed to sleep. I had special cuffs on my legs that inflated and deflated noisily every 15 or so minutes, to prevent blood clots or something. So I would fall asleep and jerk awake every time they inflated. Around 4 am I begged the nurse to take them off. Then there was the antibiotics that they needed to give me at 12 am and at 4 am plus the steroids that I had to take at regular intervals too.

At one point I was seriously considering calling the KoD and begging him to come back to the hospital…I was in tears. I just needed to sleep. I needed the KoD too. It was a long night.

At 6 am the student doctors (I call them baby doctors because they are so young!!) came in all bright eyed and bushy tailed. One of them leaned over, I thought, to examine the dressing. He ripped it off!! Without telling me he was going to do it!! Holy heckers it hurt!! My incision was now only covered with heavy duty steri strips. And lots of gunk from the bigger dressing.

A little while later Dr McC came in, we had a long talk about my recovery and what to expect. A little while after that nurse practitioner Mary came in to make sure I had the right instructions, and knew how to reach her if I needed to.

The KoD arrived around 10 am and was told that I would be discharged soon after. At this point they had unplugged and unstuck me – bye bye pain pump, hello Percocet! I honestly couldn’t wait to get home, but was worried they were getting rid of me too quickly. A Physical Therapist came to see me, to get me up and walking and to make sure I didn’t do any BLT – bending, lifting or twisting – during the recovery period.

I got dressed with help, and the porter came to wheel me down to the car. The valet brought the car around and helped me in. KoD drove us home, and by 1 pm I was tucked into bed.


The community has been fabulous. My awesome friend / neighbor has arranged meals for us from the local ladies – a hot meal delivered to the door every night, Shabbat food, and this week, they have all taken care of feeding us for Rosh Hashanah. Their generosity and kindness has been so touching. I am so new to this community yet I feel so enveloped in their warmth and love.

My Surgical Experience – Part One

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two weeks since my surgery. It seems like yesterday, it seems like months ago. But I guess I am finally ready to put pen to paper (ok, fingers to the keyboard) to recap the whole experience.

We woke up that morning at 4.45 am. The KoD had set up the coffeemaker the night before so that he could imbibe. Bless that man for not lording it over me that he got to have coffee and I didn’t. He was even a little apologetic about it! I was allowed nothing to eat or drink since midnight, except for a sip of water with which to take my painkillers. By 5.15 we were on the road, ready for surgery – or as ready as I would ever be. I wasn’t nervous – I was just looking forward to the left side of my body actually working as it should.

We had confidence in Dr McCormick – he told us he does 100 such surgeries every year. We had researched this surgery online, and our research coupled together with what we had been told by Dr McC and his nurse practitioner Mary put us very much at our ease. We knew what to expect.

We got to the hospital at 5.45 am, and made use of the valet parking. We took the elevator to the surgical check in floor and checked in, filled out paperwork, signed a whole bunch of papers, got a very nice identity bracelet, and sat down to wait to be called. My surgery was scheduled for 7.30 am and I was due to be in recovery by 9.30 am. A relatively short surgery. I was convinced that I would be awake and lucid by lunchtime. I knew friends wanted to stop by – I had given them the KoD’s digits so they could check in with him when I was up for a visit.

At around 6.30 am we were called, and taken to the pre-op area to get ready for surgery. We met with the nurse. The anesthetist came by and explained the whole putting me to sleep procedure. The doctor came by, the resident doctor came by (am I old, or are the student doctors just extremely young these days??)– I was a popular girl that morning. The guy in the cubicle to the left of me was having a cyst removed from his brain, and the woman in the cubicle to the right of me was having major back surgery. I felt blessed that my surgery was relatively “minor”.

At 7.15 the OR team came to get me and I walked two minutes to the OR, saying a quick goodbye to the KoD who was going to go wait in the surgical waiting area. I was so sure I was going to see him within a couple of hours.

I lay down on the gurney in the bright OR, and was chit chatting with the nurses. I remember telling them about the boys, and their ages. They explained they were going to put an IV in, and we carried on talking. That’s all I remember until about 6 pm….