26 Hours

6:15 am Got up, showered, dressed and walked to the hospital to meet with the surgeon. I told Ron not to bother going with me. I assumed that they would not allow the surgery without the microbiology results, so there was no point in his joining me. I expected to be home again within the hour.

7:15 am As I walked up to the hospital, I ran into my surgeon outside. I told him about the problem with lab work. He asked if I had a print-out of the others. He said it was no problem, we could go ahead with the surgery. Again, mixed emotions. He took me upstairs and personally took me to the registration, so he could translate. Registration consisted of giving them my lab results and medical card. I was registered within three minutes. The surgeon then took me to my room, one of the newly remodeled ones with only three beds in it. One was occupied. He explained that he had to go on rounds and would be back for me. The nurse came in to ask if I had any allergies. The dietitian asked if I was on any special diet. They all did their best to communicate without much English. We did fine. The bed had no electric equipment for adjustments; just the head hand cranked up and down, but it was perfect so no adjustment was needed. We had our own bathroom with a shower in the room. It was beautifully tiled.

8:15 am My doctor came in and said they would be coming for me shortly. Minutes later, a young man came with a concave gurney that looks more like a hammock. He said “Undress!” followed by “NOW!” I got on the gurney and he wheeled me off down one hall, then another. There were so many twists and turns. Looking at the ceiling, I had flashbacks to movies like Coma for some reason. Within three minutes, he had me completely shaved. No foam, no soap, nothing to soften the hair, just swipe, swipe, swipe with the efficiency of a barber.

9:15 am This same young man takes me from the anterior room into the surgery suite, a much smaller room than I anticipated. He lifted me off of the gurney onto the surgical table. I was more concerned about his back than my nakedness. Draped in sheets, the doctor and nurses arrived and started rearranging sheets, blocking my view. The anesthetic was a local. Three needles into an area already hurting. The doctor explained what I would feel, when I should tell him the pain was unbearable, that I may feel pressure, and I may smell burning flesh when they cauterize blood vessels. This is one of the times when knowing self-hypnosis comes in handy.

10:15 am The surgery is over. The young man again lifts me off of the surgical table and puts me on the gurney. When we reach my room, he one more time, lifts me into bed. Then he put a large cloth bag under me while putting a kilo weight wrapped in a towel on my surgical area. PAIN!!! Within minutes, the nurse came in with a pitcher of tea and a cup.

11:15 am Ron found me though he had no idea where the hospital was or where I would be. I was groggy, I think from the trauma of it all. He left and planned on returning later. I fell asleep immediately.

12:15 pm My friend Laszlo came to visit. While he was here, they served lunch. A large bowl of soup was handed over to him to put on my bedside table. No covering on the soup, just a large bowl. The nurse handed me a spoon and a plate with two large pastries. Ron returned and the three of us talked for a while, but I was wiped out and Laszlo left us. I went down with Ron for a cigarette, but ran into my surgeon who told me I needed to be flat for the rest of the day. A new roommate arrived for the middle bed.

1:15 pm to 5:15 pm I slept, waking for minutes at a time, trying to read my book, but could only last about 10 minutes and then off to sleep again. The only interruption was the doctors doing rounds. The head doctor spoke English and asked me how I was feeling. My surgeon gave my history and explained the procedure to the rest of them.

5:15 pm The nurse arrived to hand each of us a thermometer. I start to put it in my mouth, but she motions it goes under my arm. Moments later, she places a plate on my table. I was thinking how wonderful it is that we get an afternoon snack. Actually, it was dinner. One roll, one scallion, two slices of lunch meat, and a cube of margarine, but no silverware. I ate it and went back to sleep.

6:15 pm My roommate from the middle bed went home. I am curious how he managed that so fast. The nurse returned for the thermometer. It was 37 degrees on the dot, but I have no idea what that is in Fahrenheit.

7:15 pm to 10:15 pm I could not stay awake. As much as I wanted to try to stay awake for fear of being up all night long, I could not do it. At 9:00 pm, the two night nurses came in to check on us. Both male, they pulled my covers down, rearranged the weight after telling me I had to take my sweat pants off. Ugh! My dinner dish is still by my bedside. I was wishing I had brought my phone to call Ron to bring more food; I was hungry. Instead, I drank the grapefruit juice he brought, the tea they gave me and one of the candy bars I had asked him to get for the nursing staff. In between everything, I continued to sleep.

11:15 pm I was awakened when the nurse brought in a new patient for the middle bed. Why he was arriving at this hour was beyond me. They set up an old fashioned IV pole. Once he was changed they started him on an IV. Since I was nearest the window, I had it open all night long for the cool air. Neither roomie seemed to mind. The comforters were quite thick and warm, but the fresh air felt great. Being on a busy street, it was noisy, but it did not seem to disturb any of us from sleeping.

12:15 am to 6:15 am As concerned as I was about sleeping, I slept the night through, waking up for moments at a time to try to process the weird dreams, but tiring of that quickly and falling off once again.

7:15 am This time I thought I was awake for good. The anticipation of my doctor coming to release me, was building. He does not normally work weekends, but was coming in for me. Just like in the USA… ha, ha, ha!!! Anxiety wears me out. I was back asleep within minutes, not waking until the nurse came in with thermometers again.

8:15 am My doctor came in, took me to the examination room, changed my bandage and gave me instructions. No walking until Monday at least when I see him again to take the drainage tube out. No shower unless I can keep the bandage dry. Stay flat on my back or sit only. Gravity is not my friend. When I came out, Ron was in the hallway looking for me. We took a taxi home.

Overall impressions: The staff was magnanimous providing for a non-Hungarian speaker. Although antiquated by American standards, I felt safe, comfortable and well cared for during my short stay. I find it difficult to understand how so many thoughts can be crammed into thousands of dreams in this many hours.

1 Comment

  1. We wish you a speedy recovery. Take it easy til you feel you're healed. I know Ron will take good care of you.

    Tom and Beth Besson from Texas

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