Thursday, March 17, 2011

Waking up after surgery the pain was horrendous -- in my thumb!

The last thing I remember was the anesthesiologist telling me not to panic if I was still intubated when I awoke again as they taped a surgical cap to keep my hair off my neck.  I was still intubated (breathing assist tube down your throat) as I awoke to the sounds of the beeps in the ICU so I could not tell the nurse of the awful pain in the thumb on my left hand.  Half an hour later they removed the tube and I could complain but that was a long half hour.  Turns out, they had taped the pulsimeter (measures heart rate and amount of oxygen you are breathing in) to my thumb at such an angle to activate the arthritis pain I have in the joint at the base of my thumb. 

Soon after giving me a chip of ice to ease the soreness in my throat, they got me out of bed to do two things, sit up for awhile and most importantly, weigh me.  They had weighed me going in and were weighing me know to find out how much extra fluid the heart-lung machine had left in my body.  Turns out I was an overachiever at 20 pounds.  This excess fluid was what so distorted my face that my sister didn't recognize me when they let her into the ICU before she had to go back to NJ.  This is common but a friend of mine told me that the ICU nurses often don't warn family that their loved one will not look normal because of the fluid as it happened to her when her father had a mitral valve repair.  She said, "you are sure this is my father?", as she checked his wrist identification band.  Interesting that we hide more as we "fatten" than as we slim down.

So I sat up for several hours as the morphine wore off and they tried to give me some food and water and other pain relief.    Close to midnight, I was transferred to a room on the surgical recovery ward.  The ICU nurse had let my daughter know so everyone family wise breathed a sigh of relief.

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