My posts that led me to this point can be found here and here. From here on out, my recollections are, well, more than a bit fuzzy, so my post is a series of vignettes.

  • 11:00 PM the night before my bypass. Two nurses arrive and inform me that a) they’re here to shave me from chin to just below groin, fore and aft as it were, and b) they are from another floor and have never shaved anyone before. That was a fun experience. We’ll leave it at that. They also informed me that I was to take two showers, one now and one at 3:00 AM, with some special soap. I got lots of rest that night.
  • Patti and my sister show up the morning of, around 6-ish, and I told them about my fun-filled night. At 6:30, I was moved to a gurney and we all set off down the halls. When we got to the waiting room, the nurse gave Patti some last minute info (which all turned out to be wrong) and we said goodbye. And then I had an enlightening moment. I looked into my wife’s eyes and saw that she had been crying and that she obviously had plans for more after they wheeled me away. Through this whole event I hadn’t been scared. I had been anxious and apprehensive over the process I was facing and the indignities I was to endure, but fear for my life was never an issue. It certainly was an issue for the woman I love and I’ll never forget the look on her face. And then I was whisked into the O.R.
  • At least this looked like a real O.R.. The nurses were bustling about but they were extremely kind and careful to set me at ease. They gave me warm blankets (it was VERY cold) and got me prepped. As I had come to expect, I hadn’t been shaved enough (down to the ankles!) but they said not to worry, they’ll do it when I went to sleep. Then the guy said he was putting me out, I said “bye-bye”, and out I went …
  • … only to wake up to pure hell. No, really, it sucked more than anything I had ever experienced and hope to experience again. I had a tube down my throat and couldn’t breathe. I’m sure I was in extreme pain, but I was focused on trying to breathe. Which I couldn’t. Now, my analytical brain was telling me that the tube was breathing for me, I knew that deep down, but my animal brain was firmly in charge and it wanted to BREATHE. NOW! I had a nurse next to my head and I can remember her constantly telling me to relax. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. I did calm down and accept the situation, somewhat, but it wasn’t easy. Patti was there, off and on, which was a tremendous reassurance. I was very, very hot and kept trying to wipe my brow, but the nurse thought I was going for the tube and kept knocking my hand away. Patti held my hand at one point and I tried to pull a Helen Keller and write the word “hot” on her palm but that didn’t work. I finally was able to fan my face and they got the message and wiped my head. It was heaven … a minor victory!
  • After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only an hour, hour and a half, it was time to take the tube out. I had always heard on TV that that was very painful but I must have been pumped full of morphine because it came out easy. And it felt great but for one thing…I still couldn’t breathe! At least it seemed that way. Each breath was a major struggle and it felt like I was getting no air. I still had Nurse Cratchett standing over me telling me to relax. Patti and my sister were there too and over the course of the next hour or so my breathing got easier. And then the healing began.

Next time: Moving slowly, I get to go home and lessons I’ve learned