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My same-day surgery at JFK (Beware: Graphic pic)

The incision was made in the crease at the elbow joint.
Note that there is no dressing,but a clear flexible
"bandage" that is painted on. When I asked whether it
was available over-the-counter the nurse replied,
"What! And put J&J out of business?"

In the 3-room country schoolhouse of my youth, every September began with the mandatory "How I spent my summer vacation" essay.

Perhaps readers would like to know how I spent my same-day surgery day at JFK today. So here goes.


The instructions from my surgeon's scheduling Nurse were that I was to be at JFK same-day admissions by 5:30 AM. I set my cell's alarm for 4:00 AM and just made it, though I got up right away and did not eat breakfast or take my meds (per instructions).

It was a surprise to find that though I was 5 minutes early,  there were already a half dozen patients there before me. Each of us was handed our papers and sat in a waiting area until two aides came out to give us our "room" assignments. I put that in parentheses because what we each got was a bed, chair and adjustable table, separated from the neighbor on either side by a curtain.

Once in my cubby, a pleasant nurse (who was formerly at Muhlenberg I learned and shared some juicy gossip about JFK and Muhlenberg's closing} took my vitals and quizzed me about my name and what operation I was there for. (This was done by every person with whom I interacted -- part of a protocol to make sure that the right procedure is performed on the right patient).

She had a devil of a time drawing the required blood for the lab. After three stabs at it she finally got one. I joked that I was bone dry since the last I drank was 4 oz. of water at 11:30 PM the night before. Finally the lab tech got a needle in the back of my hand and was able to draw her supply of vials.

Among the questions the nurse asked was whether I had had any alcohol or smoked before coming in. Then, in a low whisper, she asked if I had smoked any ... marijuana. I said once, more than 40 years ago. She said, "I meant last night." We laughed.

Once all the papers had been discussed and initialed by the nurse, the blood drawn and my personal belongings (including my cell) taken away to a locker, I was wheeled upstairs by someone from Transportation.

In the 4th floor Operating and Recover Suite, I was parked once again in a curtained cublcle where I awaited visits from my surgeon and the anesthesiologist before going into the OR.

The anesthesiologist was a very friendly and chatty woman who questioned by about my prior experience with anesthesia and explained what she would be doing during the surgery. Once again the complete litany of questions: who I am, what the operation is, etc.

The last one to show was my surgeon, Dr.David Richmond. He is legendary among staffers for his quick wit and sense of humor. But with me he was all business, going over the procedure and then at the end signing his name on the subject arm with a felt-tipped pen ( again, making sure the right person performed the right operation on the right patient).

My one question was whether he would discharge me without the mandatory urine sample as dialysis patients often no longer pee (I do, but not on command). He said "of course", and then regaled me with the story of the doctors' tussle with JFK's administrators over this very same issue.

Then I was rolled into the OR, where anesthesiologist became the third person to struggle with my faint veins, surrendering the taks  to a perky young nurse who confidently said, "They can't hide from me." She was right, getting a needle in in just a few seconds. Once that was done I was hooked up to a bag of antibiotics and a sedative.

After scooching over from the gurney to the operating table, I was then covered with warmed blankets and my arms were outstretched and fastened with belts so I would not move (as was my one leg).

As they worked, the team of nurses introduced themselves and we all made small talk.

Once Dr. Richmond came in, everything quickly moved to professionalism. The anesthesia was administered through the IV and I was out like a flash.

The operation was to put a "fistula" in my arm to make it easier for the dialysis nurses to insert the "out" and "return" needles. (I currently have a port with stiff 6-inch long tubes inserted in my chest, which under my Tee shirts make me look like I have a deformed boob.)

The fistula is made by cutting a small artery and a vein and sewing the two ends together, forming a loop. This then becomes the point at which the dialysis needles are inserted.

After the operation, I was moved to the Recovery Suite (actually the same place I had waited in before the surgery). This time the nurses brought me a slice of pound cake and a bottle of ice-cold water. Most welcome, though I am only allowed a sip of the water.

After a few minutes, Dr. Richmond came in, checked the surgery and ordered me back in the OR because there was bleeding. I was only out for a few minutes and back in the recovery unit.

As they were wheeling me back, I saw Nat standing in the hallway. I had told him to pick me up about 12:30 PM. It was now about 1:30 PM and I had to wait ten minutes or so for a nurse to remove the IV needle before I could dress and leave.

Checking out is nothing more than waving goodbye and having someone from Transportation take you in a wheelchair out to the driveway.
On the way home, we stopped at the pharmacy, where I picked up some serious pain meds that had been prescribed.

Arriving home, I ate some cereal, took a pain pill and was promptly out until 8:00 PM.

And that's how I spent my Same-Day Surgery Day at JFK.

 -- Dan Damon [ follow ]

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This post first appeared on PLAINFIELD TODAY, please read the originial post: here

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My same-day surgery at JFK (Beware: Graphic pic)


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