Yohan’s Surgery #4 – Before the Knife—the Anesthetic
Everything is fun and games until the anesthesia wears off. The most polite Yohan I’ve ever witnessed was in the recovery room immediately following surgery. He was still under the influence of a light sedative and thanks to the nerve block that numbed his leg from the knee all the way to the toes, he was in no pain whatsoever.
“Thank yhou, thank yhou very much for efrything, he slurred. “Yhou are all wuhnderful.”I don’t think he was addressing any one person in particular, but anyone with whom he made eye contact.
When the nurse gave him cellophane-wrapped hospital bran cookies, Yohan gushed, “These are the best bran cookies I’ve ever eaten!” He was full of peace and love when sending a group text to his closest friends, “I love you guys all so much!” He was funny, extremely polite and grateful for every service rendered, from the surgical team’s work to the small cup of juice offered by the diligent and kind nurses.
The six-hour drive home was long and tedious, but his spirits were high, knowing that the whole procedure was over and done with. The nerve block would last 24 hours and we were well equipped with pain medication. Megan, Yohan’s girlfriend, was waiting with open arms, ready to offer him the care and support he needed. She was up for anything and made it clear that no chore large or small would be too much (the things I’ve asked her to do-yikes!). She’s been nothing short of wonderful.
We all fell fast asleep as soon as we hit the bed (no, not the same bed). It had been an exhausting ordeal, but we thought that we had turned the page, that it was finally over.
Little did we know, the worst was yet to come ….
Yohan’s surgery was more extensive than I had imagined. The list of procedures included a heel osteotomy (the surgical cutting of a bone), a first metatarsal osteotomy, tendon transfers, calf muscle release, plantar fascia release, pinky toe straitening and three more procedures I have since forgotten. In essence, his foot was surgically reconstructed and it was screaming in relentless, merciless pain. The morning’s mild discomfort was getting worse by the minute.
When I left in the morning, he was sleeping soundly and Megan was up and ready to tackle the day. Checking my phone on the way home, I was greeted by Megan’s frantic texts, each rating Yohan’s pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Scrolling from earliest to latest, I saw a 4, a 6 then an 8. Yohan was moaning and groaning in agony. The nerve block had worn off and the medication was definitely not providing enough relief.
Yohan’s doctor and surgeon were both overwhelmingly receptive and helpful, guiding us through the day, advising us on how to safely lessen his pain with a complex combination of medications. It took a long time to get the unbearable pain under control, but by 4 p.m., Yohan seemed much more comfortable.
The respite did not last long. By 9 p.m., the pain latched on with a ferocity I myself have never experienced. The maximum opioid pain medication did not quiet the heartless beast. In fact, it only seemed to enrage it further. So, here we sit, at 2 a.m. in the ER. We wait, along with all the others who are sick, in pain, suffering. We all want the same thing—release from the grips of the tormenter.
A few thoughts……
Don’t let your pain get out of control. Pain is a personal experience and each person is unique. Your doctor wants you to say so if your pain is not manageable. Don’t worry about “bothering” the surgical staff or appearing weak. Pain, if left uncontrolled, will hinder your recovery because healing occurs faster when pain is well managed. Play an active role in your pain management treatments. You deserve the best possible care available.