My sinus surgery is in less than 24 hours now. Considering how much I’ve been very slightly freaking out about it for the last week—I’ve met this man TWICE and I’m going to let him put me under and cut things out of my FACE—now I have this odd sense of calm. Like the calm before the storm, I suppose. Or I’ve just given in to the idea that it’s actually going to happen.
So in the spirit of this calm-before-the-Amanda-completely-and-totally-freaks-the-fuck-out, I thought I’d share my previous surgical experiences—especially my experiences with anesthesia. They’re pretty funny, if I do say so myself.
Surgery 1: Tonsillectomy
I had tonsillitis about six times in my first semester of college. I was still seeing my pediatrician at the time, and he recommended me to my first ENT, who recommended we cut those little buggers out. So I went home two days early for Thanksgiving, my mom took me to the hospital, and the nurse took three tries to get the IV into my roly-poly wrist vein. The nurse also put these weird legwarmers on me that were kind of wooly on the inside and silver on the outside; they looked like loose space-age hooker boots.
About five minutes after the anesthesiologist had put the loopy-juice into my IV, I started squirming around in that hospital bed like a little kid in church clothes. My mom asked me what I was doing, and I responded in a slurred voice, “These leg thingies are itchy!” I wouldn’t hold still, so finally the nurse came back, removed the itchy space socks, and instead wrapped my legs in a gloriously heated blanket.
As things got all warm and cozy and fuzzy, I started to giggle. Like, hysterically, uncontrollably giggle. Mom asked me what was so funny, and I replied through laughter and tears, “I don’t know!”
Eventually, the giggles faded, the doctor came to get me, and the last thing I remember is someone sticking a bunch of sticky monitoring thing-a-bobs to my skin beneath my hospital gown and the nurse putting the mask over my face and telling me to count to ten. I think I made it to about three.
When I woke up in the recovery room, I could see a clock over me. About fifteen minutes went by when I blinked, and then the doctor was at my side asking how I was (they did a procedure that was sorta new at the time: they froze the tissue and then cut it off instead of cutting and cauterizing, so I could still talk like an eighty year old man with smoker’s cough). “I’m okay,” I croaked.
The bastard laughed at me.
Surgery 2: Cutting Out My Wisdom Teeth
This was not long after; I think it was either Christmas break or spring break of the same year of college. My parents had spent a bunch of money straightening my teeth in high school, so my orthodontist recommended cutting out my wisdom teeth before they could grow in and screw it all up. So again I gave up precious time off from school to let someone cut things out of my mouth. This was an oral surgery center, so instead of stripping down to a hospital gown and climbing into a bed I got to keep on my comfy pj’s and lay down on a reclined dentist’s chair.
The nurse came in to do the IV, but instead of going for the veins in my hand or wrist like the tonsillectomy, she put the IV in the one place that hurts on me more than anywhere else on my entire body: the crook of my elbow. I have terrible veins in the crook of my elbow; for someone whose skin is a shade or two shy of completely transparent, people have the most difficult time finding that goddamn vein. I would rather have every single one of my fingers pricked and drained of blood than have someone stick a needle in the crook of my elbow: that’s how much it hurts. But despite my protests, that’s the vein they said they needed to use.
So I braced myself, trying to remember to breathe as she slid the evil metal bit into my personal pain center, and my eyes started tearing up. In fact, I was still crying ten minutes later when the surgeon came in. Apparently if I’m upset before anesthesia, I will continue to be upset when it kicks in. He asked me what was wrong, and in the middle of me explaining to him that the nurse chose the most painful place on me to put the IV, I passed out.
When I woke up, I was STILL crying. Forget the pain in my mouth from him cutting out my two wisdom teeth (I only had two: one was on the top on one side, and the other on the bottom on the opposite side; way to be asymmetrical, face). My arm really fucking HURT. Tears were still streaming down my face as they walked me to the recovery room, where they sat me in an armchair and put a blanket over my legs (seriously, what is with the blankets and legwarmers?). The nurse asked me what was wrong, and I told her all about how my arm hurt from the IV.
Her response: “That’s the needle we use on babies.”
Here I am, crying in pain/anesthesia hangover, and she’s INSULTING ME. This made me cry even harder, as you can imagine. The completely insensitive nurse then told me that I needed to stop crying because they wouldn’t let my mom come get me until I stopped. She said that was because they didn’t want my mom to think something was wrong, but I still suspect that that nurse was just a bitch who liked to make vulnerable, drugged up people cry. Because I STILL wouldn’t stop crying, they eventually went to get my mom. Mom asked me what was wrong, and I replied through tears and slurred speech, “The nurse was mean to me, and she called me a baby, and my arm hurts from the needle!”
This was one of those times I was really thankful to have an overbearing, overprotective mother. I don’t remember what she said, but she gave that nurse a tongue lashing like no other. Vindicated, my tears began to subside as I looked smugly at the freshly berated nurse, and Mom walked me to the car.
If my history has anything to say about it, Chelsea is in for a treat when she takes me to surgery tomorrow. It should make picking me up at 5am totally worth it.