Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Surgery One- The Adrenalectomy (Part 1)

Sorry it has taken me so long to write this. It's been a long week to say the least. I'm going to post everything in one post so that those who actually read here can get the whole story without having to jump around. I'll break it up and make it into individual posts later. :) I'm also not going to be using proper paragraphs so forgive me. LOL

Monday, January 24, 2005- We left early Monday morning for the almost 4 hour trip to Tampa for my Pre-Op appointment at H. Lee Moffitt at 3:30p. The trip went okay and we got there at least an hour early. Kids were all good in the car and I can not thank my mother in law enough for the portable DVD player she gave us! It has been a real life saver especially with Lil Man. He will actually sit in the van now and watch one of his movies instead of screaming "Let me out of here!!" every 10 miles. I even taught myself how to knit a simple knit stitch and I was on my way to making my first ugly scarf! :)

To add some backtrack info a little- Friday night at around 10pm I received an email from Dr. BC saying he wanted me to be seen at his clinic before my Pre-Op appointment. He didn't say WHEN he wanted to see me and even though I emailed him back I never heard from him again so no way of getting a time either. So we just figured if I got there early then I went and if not then I went to my other appointment that I did have a time for.

So anyway- we got to Moffitt early so I went to Dr. BC's clinic and told them he wanted to see me. We ended up sitting there for almost an hour without me being called back and I finally told them I have to go because I have another appointment. The receptionist told me to just walk back to the nurse's desk and ask them so I did. Just so happened that the nurse practitioner I was suppose to see came up, weighed me, and she took me right into a room and got started. Very nice lady (Heather Roulstone) and seemed genuinely concerned. She asked me about the history of how I found all this out, took my sheet saying what all I was taking, was very personable, and even hugged me at the end. :) It was nice dealing with someone that had a nice bedside manner the eve before my surgery. Dr. BC wanted to start me on yet ANOTHER alpha blocker but I put up the red flag on that and asked why considering my blood pressure was low naturally and even lower thanks to the alpha blocker I was already on. Heather said she honestly didn't know and we would have to ask Dr. BC.

After that I went upstairs where they registered me, let me know what was going on, and then questioned the alpha blocker as well. In the end we ended up not doing the second blocker thankfully. Had some blood drawn and was told what to do and not to do that night. We were scheduled to be at the hospital at 5:30am the next morning and surgery at 7-7:30am.

**Here I will say that Holiday Inn/Tampa-Busch Gardens is NOT a good hotel!! :( We had booked two adjoining rooms with a walk through so that Nancy would be able to get back and forth to be with the kids easily. We ended up having to go round and round just to not get the kind of room we booked and had to wait an extra hour just to get a room and they were NOT booked up! Once Nancy got into her room we found out that her WAS part of a walk through set so we asked to be switched. Supposedly someone else was in the room next door, they would switch the next day, bunch of lame excuses later it never happened. Their carpet is also disgusting. The bottoms of my kids' feet were BLACK by the end of the night from walking on it. This is the SECOND time that has happened there by the way. My oldest son killed a roach you could ride through the lobby in the bathroom. Usually bad hotels aren't that big a deal but when there is so much else going on you at least want to know your family is taken care of while you are in the hospital. BOO FOR YOU HOLIDAY INN!!!! **

I got to meet a couple ladies from a message board I'm on at the TGIFriday's that was in the hotel after we got settled into our room. Both were very nice and I'm glad I had the chance to hang out with them. Afterwards we picked my mother in law (Nancy) up at the airport and then went to an Italian restaurant (Buca di Beppo) to eat. The place was really neat and had funny, risque, and just all around neat Italian pictures all over the walls. Lil Man kept trying to drink Grandma's wine the whole time. He would dip his straw in it and then sneak it to his mouth for a taste. LMAO. He knew he wasn't suppose to either because he kept looking at me when he did it and I would shake my head. The oldest two kids and I especially liked the Pope Room. We called it "Pagan Hell". I ended up getting sick as soon as we got back to the room but loved the company while there. :)

At the hotel we got the kids to bed, told them each I loved them, said good night, and then laid down with Vin and the little guy in the middle. All I could do all night was just hold Lil Man tight, cry a little, look at my oldest two, and pray to any God listening to please just let me make it through the surgery the next day. For the first time in my life the thought "I don't want to die" wasn't just something you think of as you think about getting old. It became a plea from the depths of my heart and I hoped The Fates wouldn't screw me on this one thing. I wasn't ready to leave my babies yet.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005- This is where it gets ugly. Not surgery-wise but what they do to you BEFORE surgery in a little place called BILLING. We were at the hospital at 5:30a like we were told to be. No one bothered to even acknowledge us until almost 6:30a and that was only to bring us to this little desk off to the side. I figured they needed the new insurance info and some other stuff real quick. I sit down and the lady goes "Someone should have talked to you sooner about this. They did try to contact you but you weren't at home". Then she slides a paper to me telling me that they want me to pay AT LEAST a $3000 deposit on the almost $8000 we will supposedly owe (base cost more was added) right that minute for the surgery. I informed her back that I stay at home and NO ONE at ANY time tried to contact me so that was a lie (come to find out they did try to contact me... after they knew I had already left for Tampa on Monday- came home to a dated voice message... idiots!)!! She tells me we have a "very high deductible" (lady the thing is $3000 for crying out loud! That is not high compared to most insurances!) and would we like to make a deposit? I told her HELL NO I DON'T WANT TO MAKE A DEPOSIT!!!

I was soooooo unbelievably mad at that point. I could not believe that they would hijack a person like this an hour before they are going into surgery. Do they REALLY think you can just whip out the checkbook or Mastercard and have that kind of money on the spot? Vin was about to go through the roof as well and went into a speech about how messed up it was to tell a person ON THE MORNING OF THEIR SURGERY that you want money from them. I was suppose to be keeping my blood pressure low for the surgery. I mean low blood pressure was what it was all suppose to be about. In the end the lady told me they could have me pay the almost $8000 they wanted for the bill out over six months. I told her fine sign me up for $1300 a month and be sure to make it out to Mrs. KISS MY ASS because that was who was going to be signing it and sending it back! *mad*

So for anyone in connection with the billing/financial aspect/decision making process at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Institute in Tampa, Florida who may ever see this... YOU SUCK!!! I can completely understand you wanting your money and I have no problem with that but how DARE you do that to a person right before their surgery. You have proven without a shadow of a doubt that money is the almighty Higher Power there and people be damned. You people make me sick! You made sure I do not want to come back and will only be back if I HAVE to be!

Anyway- after that fiasco we finally go on to another waiting room and are called back immediately. We go into this little "room" that has a curtain door, they ask me to go give a urine sample, get into a gown, take some blood, and then I get to start meeting doctors. I remember Dr. G from Anesthesia who was a nice guy that told me what they would be doing anesthesia-wise and that they would give me something to relax me before going back. Dr. A who was assisting Dr. BC also came in and introduced himself. Nice man as well. He was chastised by the nurse though because he didn't mark on me what was happening on which side. That was kind of funny. Dr. BC passed by the room and I THOUGHT he never bothered coming in to see me before the surgery but Vin says he came in, tried to show Vin what he was going to do, talked to me, and tried to get me to sign something but I was out. I don't remember ANY of it. I thought he didn't bother talking to me at all so now I feel like a weinie.

My IV line was put in and Dr. G told me they would be giving me something to help calm me so I wouldn't be anxious before the surgery. I was very thankful for that because I was nervous but didn't want to seem like a wimp and ask for anything. I was given the relaxing drug and then I honestly don't remember much after that. I don't remember saying goodbye to Vinny. I do remember being wheeled down a hall and into a room. I also remember Dr. G telling me he's putting an oxygen mask on me and me saying okay. Then I was out for the rest of the day. No counting backwards from 100 for me. LOL.

When I woke up it was to bright lights and a bunch of people moving around telling me "hi" and asking if I heard them. I could also see Vin fade in and out of my sight on my right side. Then the nausea started. The ONLY thing I could think of at that point was that I was going to be sick!! I finally croaked out through a sore throat that I was going to throw up as they ran for a container and for meds to stop the nausea. Then I faded in and out a little more to Vin's voice telling me he has a surprise for me, something about Bret Favre's book, and that he doesn't think he will bring the kids in. I remember telling him I didn't want them seeing me like this and okay. Then I slept for another hour or two.

When I woke up this time I realized I was in the SCU (Special Care Unit) and a nurse was asking me if I was alright. My throat hurt (from the tube they put down it) and I was still somewhat nauseated but felt okay. Respiratory therapy came in and had me suck in through this tube to test my lungs, said I did an awesome job (it hurt so bad but I knew that the deeper you breathe the less chance of bronchitis and pneumonia you get so I breathed in for all I was worth and darn the pain!).

I finally gathered my senses enough to wonder why my back wasn't hurting and feel around on it. There were NO cuts to my back! My heart dropped because my biggest fear the whole time was them having to open me up completely across my stomach. When I felt my stomach and noticed it hurt and there were cuts there, my heart sunk even lower. Luckily at that point a nurse decided to look at my incisions and I saw that I had a bunch of small incisions in my stomach but not one big one. Relief set in somewhat and I figured that they just hadn't been able to save any adrenal glands and must have had to do it through the front for some reason.

Vin came back around 8pm that night and told me that they were able to save part of the left adrenal gland but couldn't save the right because it was too close to the vena cava (?) vein. I asked him if he knew why I was cut on my stomach and he said he didn't know either. :( We let my oldest son come in and I got to talk to him and let him know I was fine. He and Vin left shortly after that with me telling them to let Lil Man and Sis know I loved them and then the nurse told me about my Morphine drip and button, let me know they were giving me steriods (DEXAMETHASONE), meds for nausea, another pain medication as well through the IV, and that I had a catheter in.

I would love to say at this point I went back to sleep and slept all night but it didn't happen. I instead proceeded to feel VERY wired and woke up every hour on the hour until 6am the next morning. Throughout the night I had a heavy feeling in my chest and pain in my ribs and neck like I had been hit by a truck. The Morphine may have taken off the edge but I was never without some form of pain or discomfort even when I told them as much. I'm not big on pain meds so that's not a huge deal to me but the minute I said "ALOT of discomfort" they seemed to ignore me. I guess all that was from the carbon dioxide they fill your chest cavity with while doing the surgery. LOVELY stuff let me tell you. Ugh.

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