Other than the fact that we were getting up at 4 AM to get to the hospital by 5:30 AM ahead of my 7:30 surgery, I was feeling pretty good. I'd mastered the art of getting around with my single crutch, I was able to shamble with no crutches at all under controlled circumstances, and I could get by.
But getting by was about where this was going to max out, so surgery to replace my busted ACL and PCL looked pretty good, all things considered. daisy_knotwise bundled Katie and me into the minivan and we headed off through the morning's snowstorm, arriving only a couple of minutes late.
They hustled me off to the surgical prep area, where I divested myself of all my worldly possessions, donned a hospital gown, and waited for Gretchen and Katie to come along after parking the car. I got weighed so they'd know how much anesthesia I'd need, they shaved my knee, the surgeon came by to touch base and mark the bad leg with a marker (always a good choice!), and a nurse inserted an IV. Before too long, they rolled me off into surgery.
I looked up at the bright lights for what I swear was less than a minute as they put a mask on my face and knocked me out.
The surgery was supposed to take about three hours, but it actually ended up taking about five. The surgeon found a bit of torn meniscus (about 5% of the total) and trimmed it back too, which is a good thing. And he reported to Gretchen that there were no arthritic or degenerative changes in the knee, which was also a good thing.
I woke up in the recovery room listening to music. This is the new thing, apparently, as it helps the patients wake up better. I'd picked the Beatles as a good bet and it probably would have been a better bet if I could actually hear both tracks of the audio. For some songs this didn't matter, for others it mattered a whole lot.
They eventually rolled me off to my hospital room, which I was sharing with Wayne, a friendly fellow with a large family who was recovering from a stroke. Gretchen and Katie came up to visit for a bit, but left before long, as Gretchen desperately needed sleep and I wanted to dial into the conference call with the folks from Oracle who wanted to explain their take on software development. So I listened to an hour-and-a-half of conference call just after coming out of surgery. Take that, Jim Hendry!
They brought dinner about the time that the conference call ended -- the exciting clear liquids diet. I drank the soup (which was about like miso without the scallions and tofu), ate the gelatin, drank the fruit drink, drank water, and stopped to look at the Jolly Rancher candy bar that they'd put on my plate.
I turned it over to read the ingredients, the last of which is "sulfur dioxide". This is, as you may know, essentially the same as saying "contains sulfites", which I and the hospital know that I'm nicely allergic to.
I rang for my nurse and asked why the kitchen was intent on poisoning me. She thought that was a darned fine question and took the tray away. Unfortunately, the only thing to replace it with was a couple of packages of soda crackers, but it was better than nothing.
And off I went into the night. Except for one little detail.
I couldn't pee.
This is apparently not uncommon after surgery and general anesthesia. You put the system to sleep and various parts of it wake up more slowly than others. During surgery, they'd inserted a Foley catheter. Sometimes, they just leave them in for a while during recovery, but they'd popped mine out.
By 11 PM, when I still couldn't pee, they figured it was time to make sure there was something in my bladder, so they ran a quick ultrasound. Yup, that was a full bladder, which meant that the Foley was going to have to go back in.
This was particularly annoying to me on a psychological basis, because my father had needed to be catheterized following his cancer surgery and had never managed to get weaned off the catheter, so he had to catheterize himself for the rest of his life. Now, as they explained, this was not at all a likely outcome in my case. Of course, that doesn't help a lot with psychological issues.
But I needed the Foley pretty badly, so I got it. And 750 cc of urine later, my bladder was much relaxed.
Except I was having a lot of trouble sleeping, because something was burning where nothing should be burning. This eventually culminated in a pretty full-fledged claustrophobic panic attack. I was lying in the dark, in my knee immobilizer, with an IV running off one side, the Foley running off the other side, and a CPAP mask on my face.
I didn't know I was claustrophobic before this. Surprise, surprise!
I rang for my nurse and asked if it should still be burning. She said "No" and in the subsequent conversation, it turned out that they cleaned the site with Betadine, which is iodine-based. Of course, I'm allergic to iodine too. We'd agreed before surgery that it would likely be ok in a topical application, but that doesn't apply so much to the inside of the urethra.
The nurse kindly took a syringe full of saline and cleaned things out, after which I slept much better.
And that was the way it was on day one.