Pre- op experience ...and "The Last Supper"... on March 3, 2007 2:48 pm
Pre -op was thursday...two days ago. It felt like it took two days to get thru it.
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With traffic and parking downtown, it is nearly guaranteed to be an unpleasant experience. But, to be honest, it wasn't that difficult. We were down there at 8:45 AM, and the first stop was the main hospital for the gallbladder ultrasound. We threaded our way through the parking garage and then headed across the skywalk from the garage to the hospital. Following the written directions we were given (and the directional signs posted every 10 feet), we easily found our way to the check-in desk at the proper department. We were a bit early, but they were ready for us anyway, and called me back. The ultrasound was quick and painless, as they took pictures of my gallbladder (no stones), liver, pancreas and kidneys. All looked great, but I was told by the technician that the film would be read by a radiologist and I would be notified if there were any issues. So far, so good.
From there, we headed over to Rutledge Tower to meet with the surgeon. We were VERY early for this appointment...a whole hour and 45 minutes early. One of the rep's at the check-in desk told me that they were running about 15 minutes behind (leaving me with what I would calculate as a two hour wait), while the other rep warned me (as we left to go grab a quick bite to eat) that if they call me while I am not there, then they will skip me and I'll go to the bottom of the list. That made me nervous, as I knew our schedule was only going to get tighter as the day went on...so, despite the fact that I hadn't eaten since 5PM the evening before (NPO for the ultrasound), we only ran to the cafe and grabbed a bottle of water and came straight back to the clinic...fearing they would call me while we were gone for that short 10 minute period. So, back to the clinic...where we waited. And waited. And waited some more. an hour after arriving, I was called back where a nurse (she was great, wish I remembered her name) weighed me (290.6 lbs), took temp and blood pressure, asked the obligatory round of questions (about meds, history, etc), and sent me back out to the waiting room to wait to see the surgeon. And we waited about another hour. By this time, we were both very hungry. Then, just about right on time...at 11:35, we went back to talk to the surgeon -- Dr. Morgan. I had the opportunity to ask her two particular questions that I had been wondering about, she described the process / surgery procedure to me again, asked the same questions of me that I had already answered twice before (procedures..I know...), and we were off to anesthesia for the EKG, a talk with the anesthesiologist, and some blood work. Not bad, still on schedule and things were going rather smoothly.
But, before heading down to to anesthesia, we made a detour to the finance office to settle up...make my deposit. I had already been sent a notice indicating the full amount, so I had the check all made out and ready to go. And then, it hit the fan.
When we entered the womans office, the first thing she said, before even introducing herself was "OH, HERE YOU ARE...I am SO GLAD you're here! I've been trying to reach you for about an hour and a half. There's a problem with your pre-certification when BCBS was contacted....do you have the approval letter you received from BCBS?" My heart sank. I will tell you, the financial counselor was incredibly professional and extremely up-beat. She constantly assured us that "all was not lost"...that they should be able to get this straightened out. So, after looking over my letter, faxing it out to two different departments, a number of hurried phone calls and quick e-mails....about one hour later...we got the precertification number from BCBS. Apparently, MUSC did not pre-certify me ...perhaps due to the rescheduling of my procedure...I'm not sure how it happened. But it is precertified...and that's all I need to worry about it.
So now, running very late...we are escorted to anesthesia, arriving at 12:35. I tell them, as we enter the clinic, that we must be in front of the building by 1:30 to catch a shuttle to travel a few blocks away so that we can attend a MANDATORY Nursing and Nutrition class (the only class scheduled before my Monday surgery). I am then assured that we will be out in plenty of time. They pass some Information Forms off to me...some to fill out (same questions I have answered 3 times by now) and some forms to keep. After completing the forms I needed to pass back to them, I started to read through the forms they gave me to keep. I find that the visit to this clinic is anticipate to last one hour. That won't work. There are two people in front of me, and I only have 40 minutes before I have to be on this shuttle. So, I first phone the patient coordinator for the Bariatric program to ask her "Just how manadatory is this class?". I am told it is quite mandatory. I quickly explain the situation, and Lisa assures me that in the event that I do miss the class, she will try to arrange for a crash course for me with the dietician (she's the best). When I hung up with Lisa, I grabbed up a campus map and tried to scope out a route in the event that we missed the shuttle and had to walk to the class. Not a far walk, but with my husband who has a had 4 total hip replacements and recent back surgery, coupled with the tornado / severe storm warnings our city was under, I didn't like the odds. So, I explained the situation in detail, very quickly, to the nurses in the clinic, and they sprung into action. In no time, I had someone drawing blood from one arm, another one firing a huge list of questions at me, while lying on the table to be wired for the EKG. That took all of 7 minutes, then I was shuttled over to speak with a nurse anesthetist (spelling??), who asked the same series of questions (for a 4th time). She proceeded to give me a quick but extremely thorough rundown on what I could expect the morning I arrive as well as my experience in the recovery room. Then, miraculously, we were done. I can't be sure, as I didn't look at the clock....but I think the whole thing in anesthesia took 20 minutes...tops. Then, it was out the door and...to my great relief...we were only a few steps from the front of the building where we needed to catch the shuttle. And we were 10 minutes early. Whew!
The class was quite informative. I came away with a great little binder of well-organized information addressing everything from the surgery details (complete with graphics), to stocking your kitchen and great little recipes. By the time we got back to the parking garage and headed out of the city, it was 4:30pm. The whole thing took 8 hours, but it felt like 16 hours. What a day.
My husband took me to dinner at Carrabba's (my favorite restaurant -- the Chicken Bryan is awesome). I felt like I had the weight of the world lifted off of me, as it started to sink in....the reality that it was all done. I had jumped thru all the hoops, all the appointments, all the forms and questions and phone calls and running around. It was all done and now all I had to do was wait for my big day. I wanted to PARTY! It was like this huge surge of adrenalin...I was pumped UP! I wanted to dance and shout....and I'm not really a "dance and shout "kinda girl...really. So, we ate this great dinner...mind you it had been 24 hours by this time since I last ate. We ate and talked. Well, mostly I talked...and talked ....and talked. We sat there until 7PM, just talking and nibbling. When we left and started the drive back home, I'm not sure what it was...but it was as if I just hit a brick wall. I was suddenly exhausted. I mean, totally wiped out...I could hardly walk up the driveway without stumbling. I don't think I've ever been more tired. And EMOTIONAL...?? Geeze, I was very emotional. I think it was just clearing that last hurdle before the surgery that did it to me. It was a huge release of tension...and apparently, the tension was the only thing holding me upright! After a quick shower, I fell into the bed, and I felt like a ragdoll.
And now, it's two days later and I see that I am only about 36 hours away from my big day. 36 hours. I am so ready. I 've been shopping for my food and supplements (except the multi vitamin which I'll pick tomorrow), I've packed my suitcase and I've said my prayers. I am really so very ready. I know...it's not going to be a cake-walk (no pun intended), but I am ready for it...for all of it.
Thank you to everyone for all of your well-wishes. It helps to know that there are others out there that know what this is all about and that you're there to help me along the way. Keep a spot warm for me, Losers, and I'll see you next week!