(This entry pertains to an experience that happened in April 2008.)
Besides the horrific physical pain I was experiencing, I was already dealing with major anxiety and depression. I don’t recall the trip to the hospital nor anytime spent in the ER. I was put into a room and the only relief from pain would be surgery. Yes, my instinct was correct. I had a broken left femur and the pain level was 100 on a scale of one to 10.
Here I was, again, a patient at Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford. I was just down the road from the zoo and from my friends at Relay. They continued to enjoy the night -- raising a lot of money for the cause. Meanwhile, I was lying in a hospital bed moaning in pain and waiting for surgery.
The most wonderful moment came when a physician walked into my room and introduced himself as Dr. Thomas Brodrick, MD, an orthopedic surgeon. He said he would be able to operate on me that afternoon. (It was now Saturday morning. I had fallen Friday night about 8 p.m.) I had mentioned another surgeon’s name upon arrival in the ER since he had operated on me in 2005. He was the only specialist I knew in this field. However, when I was told that this other surgeon would not be available until Monday, I realized I had to make a quick decision. Would I really want to wait until Monday for surgery? In 2005, as you may recall, I had no other choice. I was on Coumadin, a blood thinner. So, I had to wait until this medication was out of my system. But, it was 2008 and I was no longer this on drug. I had other alternatives. I could allow Dr. Brodrick to do the surgery on Saturday afternoon. That would mean I could begin the road to recovery (and the lessening of my pain) much sooner. After a call to Edward to inform him of what was happening, I told the nurse on duty that I wanted Dr. Brodrick to operate. I learned shortly afterwards, that I would be heading down to surgery by mid-afternoon.
Even though my pain was intense, I felt a sense of relief knowing that the operation would allow me to experience a lower pain level once it was completed. While I did not know Dr. Brodrick, he certainly made me feel at ease. When I arrived in pre-op, he stopped by to visit briefly. He told me he had another patient to operate on, but, given the intensity of my pain and the break itself (Apparently, I had a severe left femur break.) he was going to put me first on the schedule. He said he realized how much pain I was in and wanted to relieve that as soon as possible. I must admit, even in that moment where all I could think of was pain, I knew that he was a considerate and compassionate individual. I felt comfortable putting my “life” into his hands.
When I met with the anesthesiologist however, I did not exactly feel “warm and fuzzy.” His initial comments “terrified me!” He said, “I was going to be awake during the surgery.” All I could think was “No way!” I was not even going to move from the bed I was in until they had me fully sedated. I could not handle anymore pain, so moving me while I was still awake was not an option. Nor, was it an option to have me “alert” while operating But, despite my protests, he was going to keep me awake. Apparently, it was the only way to safely operate on me due to some complications with my throat and breathing. Since he was the “specialist” he was the person in charge of my overall health and well being during surgery. His decisions won out over my protests.
Yes -- I was awake during major surgery. And please, don’t even ask me how they accomplished this. (Call it a modern medical miracle.) To this day, I am still somewhat in awe every-time I even think of what was done and that I was actually awake while it all happened. It was not like having a baby, where I had an epidural and was still wide awake to see my child born. It was different, although I’m not quite sure how. I never did find out how the doctor accomplished what he did that afternoon -- keeping me awake while Dr. Brodrick fixed my broken femur. Maybe it was some type of epidural, and yet I don’t recall having anyone put something into my back. (I think I would have remembered that since I would have been screaming my head off as they moved me to do so.) Maybe someday I’ll ask. However, I know I was “somewhat” alert and yet, I was not really there either.
I remember being wheeled into the operating suite. I recall being moved from my bed to the operating table. I did not experience any pain whatsoever, so again, I can’t even begin to imagine what the specialist did. They took my arms and began placing them where they wanted them to be. A nurse took my right leg and moved it -- from where I was lying, it appeared that she took my leg over my head. (Obviously, that was not the case.) And then, she moved my left left (the broken one) some place else. Since there was no pain, I really didn’t seem to care where she put my leg. I noticed the bright light over my head (extremely bright) and I also saw some plastic sheets or covers that separated me from Dr. Brodrick.
That’s about I remember of my time in the OR. Probably, that’s enough.