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Cut Steve's Blatherings

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Big Day: Morning

      Because I haven't prepared well, and because I insist on letting K.'s worrying bug me (K. does the worrying for both of us in the family, I do the being laid back), and because K. insists on leaving ridiculously early for everything, I ( repeat, I) manage to forget my CPAP machine.  This is a minor nuisance.  Without CPAP, I probably wouldn't survive surgery, but the anesthesia department has its own machines.  They wouldn't use mine till I was awake and functioning anyway.

      So, we head for the hospital.  North on 35W, take the U of M turnoff, over the bridge, and past The Abomination.  The Abomination is otherwise known as the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum.  It's been described as "an airline factory junk pile," "shiny metal in weird shapes riveted together," "a pile of turds deposited by a large monster that eats Aluminum," and "a really sick practical joke."  Still, the reality is worse. Spew alert: pictures here.  While K. drives, I write instructions for commuting between the hospital and home, for the use of Mrs. No Sense of Direction, Minnesota.

      We arrive at the hospital, and take advantage of the free valet parking.  Cool.

      Inside, the Fairview Death March, an ordeal almost as bad as London's Heathrow airport.  If I'd realized it was so long, I'd have asked for a wheel chair.  Finally, to the elevator, upstairs, then a (relatively) short walk to check in.

      Well, they do a lot of bariatric surgery here, but they don't bother to have chairs that will fit butts as wide as mine.  This is not reassuring.  Neither is it confidence building to be hear that they don't have a room designated for me.  But in time, that's taken care of.

      So, I eventually get taken to the pre-op prep room.  I lose the clothes and weigh in at 457 lbs.  Say, if you disregard that I'm not in street clothes, and lost a lot of fluid yesterday, I may be down a few pounds from three months ago, when the surgery consultation was done.  Somehow, I surpress the impulse to not have the operation.

      They take a blood test, and find a problem.  Thanks to my numerous transfusions of years ago, I have an antibody reaction.  The anesthesiologist tells me that he's never given blood during one of these operations, but because of the number of major blood vessels, they like to have it handy.  So, they have to do additional testing and sorting to make sure that the stuff they won't be giving me anyway won't kill me when they don't give it to me.

      After conversations with all the doctors and nurses, and being reminded that I may lose my gall bladder (about one of four patients with morbid obesity have gallstones), we're ready to go.

      A change from my old hospital days: they have a bed that moves easily, and a special layer between the mattress and the sheet.  This layer inflates.  They wheel the bed to the operating room, slide me to the operating table, and give me the gas.

      "Take deep breaths."  Suddenly, I'm waking in recovery.



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