April 8, 2014, 7:00 a.m. With sponge side foaming from an orange liquid, I began my microbial scrub in the shower. Each little area over my entire body, I began self talk: “This is it. You got this. You will heal quickly.” At this point, everything seemed so real, and unreal. I was in a state of unusual calm and petrifying terror of being cut open and having my pelvis sawed into pieces. I was caught in a state of opposing forces that cannot easily be explained. And somehow, I was suspended in neutral.
I got to the hospital on time and quickly checked in with my pre-op nurse, Judy. An older woman with an easy nature, she helped put me at ease with her down-to-earth personality and answering all my last minute questions. She reassured me that Dr. Bellino is “one of the best” and she has never seen him frazzled. The head resident drew her initials on my hip to which it was to be operated. I think the pre-op the staff asked me about 100x “What is your full name, date of birth and the procedure you are having today?” No room for error.
Next up was Dr. Schaffer, the anesthesiologist. Since most of my fears related to being “put under” (I have never had surgery before) I was happy to meet the man who was going to be responsible for suspending me in a state of unconscious limbo. I immediately got a good vibe from him, he was very nice and easy to talk to. He answered about 100 questions of mine and again assured me “Dr. Bellino is one of the best.” He was happy to read my healing statements as I was going under and coming out of anesthesia. In fact, as he scanned the piece of paper with the healing statements, he said, “Funny, this is what I usually tell my patients.”
Before I knew it, he gave me a bit of “happy juice” in my I.v. and I was rolled into the O.R. I remember sitting up and leaning over as the epidural went in. All of a sudden, I was moaning and groaning that I was going to pass out. Apparently I had a vagal response and my heart rate went just below 30. They quickly remedied the situation and I was feeling myself guided flat on my back, each arm being stretched out to my side and strapped down, as if it was some sort of crucifixion. Then…nothing.
It didn’t seem but 5 minutes later (actually, the operation took 4.5 hours) that Dr. Schaffer was in my face reassuring me gently, “Your operation went well. You will feel comfortable.”
I was in recovery. My blood pressure was low, which is normal – especially with an epidural. I remember suddenly having extreme nausea and moaning and groaning and dropping the f- word “Please make it f—ing STOP!” as the world spun around me. It was like having the stomach flu and you are at the point where you just want to die. I heard a lot of hustle and bustle and they placed a patch with medicine behind my ear and gave me some anti-nausea drugs through my i.v. Once that subsided, I asked if I will have a private room (haha!). (note: At Stanford hospital, you can ask for a private room at pre-op as it costs the same as a shared room. Its not a guarantee, but worth asking). At least I have my priorities straight.
Before I was released to my room, Dr. Bellino visited me and told me the operation went “very well” and that I was “rock solid.” He looked tired but kept his direct and professional manner with an underlying energy of sincerity and compassion. My surgeon succeeded in the left periacetabular osteotomy, and giving me my life back.