We arrived at the surgery center at 5:30 am last Tuesday, 15 minutes late. No one appeared to be at all perturbed about our lateness, which made me wonder if such an early arrival was really necessary. The pre-surgery prep seemed to consist of answering the same questions I had answered at least twice before; undressing and donning a surgical gown made entirely of snaps and ties; and me scrubbing my leg non-stop for ten minutes with some unidentified red liquid. I read the instructions on the bottle; they cautioned against using it on a child less than two months of age “…as it may cause chemical burns.” Well, that was reassuring.
The last thing I remember was moving from the scrub-your-leg-until-it-falls-off chair to a different chair in the pre-surgical prep room. The next thing I knew I was eating Chees-Its and being urged to drink from an unlabeled bottle, perhaps of water. Since I remembered having been loudly and persistently exhorted not to ingest anything after midnight the night before, this confused me. I pondered the apparent contradiction while wishing the Chees-Its were not quite so dry and that the the bottle was a can of Coke Zero. Eventually my mind, always quick to solve conundrums like this, seized upon the only logical explanation: the surgery had been cancelled and I was being fed this meager breakfast in apology.
Not wanting to embarrass the nursing staff by pointing out all the inconveniences to which I had been subjected, I ventured a question. “Did the knee replacement already happen?”
It turned out that it had, and all my supposed inconveniences were in support of the surgery. Hallelujah! *
I was whisked away in a wheelchair to the medical transport van and driven, with an accompanying nurse, across half the Twin Cities to the recovery facility. This turned out to be a portion of the third floor of the Omni Vikings Hotel in Eagan, so called because it is next door to the Minnesota Vikings training facility. When the Vikings have a home game, the opposing team stays in this hotel. My surgeon is part of the orthopedics practice that is The Official Sports Medicine Provider of the Minnesota Vikings, so if the Vikes are ever considering me as a draft pick, they already have my MRI and X-rays.
After one night in the recovery facility, Smokey brought me home. The elevator — remember The Elevator? — came in very handy to get me up to the bedroom.
Smokey and I had swapped sleeping locations because it was a straight shot from his bed to the bathroom, whereas the path from mine threaded a narrow lane between the dresser and a minimum of one dog. We also had swapped our chairs in the living room: I got his electric recliner and he got my upper-crust office chair.
We used the wheelchair to get me from the car to the garage and the walker for everything else. Tonight I even navigated a few steps unaided. It is tempting to put the walker aside and walk on my own, but caution rules. I do not want to fall! My first PT appointment is Monday, and I will see what exercises I must do.
* This was the ninth surgery I have had in my life. For all the others I was fully or mostly conscious for the transfer from bed to gurney, the rolling trip to the OR, the medical staff chatting among themselves as the get ready the OR ready, and talking with the anesthesiologist about my anesthesia. And having him/her put the mask on my face and me attempting to count backward from 100 before going under. This was apparently a different type of anesthesia, something like a date-rape drug.