A 20-minute procedure in 7 hours

Yesterday I underwent The Procedure with Dr. Woman, that one I’d been anxiously anticipating. I know, I anxiously anticipate a lot of things. But I managed to sleep very well the night before, to walk the dog early that morning, and to arrive at the hospital in a good space.

In this particular Day Surgery unit, although one nurse checked me in, several others became involved along the way. To be honest, the nursing care seemed a bit chaotic. I arrived two hours prior to my procedure as instructed so there would be time to arrange for my needed platelet infusion. Seems like plenty of time, don’t you think? But then the waiting started. At one point there were 5 nurses involved in ordering my platelets from the blood bank and I worried none of them knew what they were doing.

Well into our wait, one busy-looking nurse asked if I’d “been pinked” while she scurried by. We had no idea what she was talking about. Turns out “being pinked” means one’s status has changed to “Ready for the OR”. Despite our extensive hospital experience, we had not previously been privy to the surgical status colour codes. We weren’t sure why this nurse was asking us, since we had no idea.

You know how I feel about waiting. I don’t love it but I understand it. We were in the hospital, and there could have been many legitimate reasons for the delay, in particular other patients with higher needs than me holding the doctor up. I’m fine with those delays. But we felt, rightly or wrongly, that we were the protagonists in a comedy of errors.

The wait would have been fine if it hadn’t given me more time to stew about the procedure. Although I had done a fairly good job of containing my anxiety before arriving at the hospital, the longer I was confined to that tiny curtained alcove wearing that ugly hospital gown, the more stressed I got. Of course, I was most concerned that I was cutting in to Dr. Woman’s lunch hour.

Once I finally arrived at the surgical suites, J. and I had a brief chat with the anaesthetist, the OR nurse, and, finally, Dr. Woman. Oh, what a woman, that Dr. Woman. Suddenly, the wait didn’t matter. She was relaxed and kind and I couldn’t even hear her stomach growling. I had ineffectively tried to contain my burgeoning panic but the dear doctor picked up on it and responded accordingly. When she gave my hand a squeeze, I knew I was in good hands.

As our conversation wound down, I shared my greatest fear: my potential for inappropriate utterances upon awakening from sedation. Remember that time, in my altered state, I told the handsome Dr. Liver how handsome he was? (Oh, open your minds, straight people. Lesbians can find men handsome.) Without skipping a beat, Dr. Woman said: “It’s like Vegas. What happens in the OR stays in the OR.” What a relief.

Thanks to the amnestic properties of sedation, I can’t recall if I said anything inappropriate after the procedure. But I learned that the doctor is not concerned about what she found, so what else really matters? I can’t think of anything, can you?

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas sign with background of the city


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