Home: The Day of Surgery


The Day of Surgery

For me the day of surgery seems to have faded into brief snatches of memory and I've reconstructed it as best I can with the help of fellow hip replacement patients.

Most people find it reassuring to know, in advance, what will happen on the day so they can prepare themselves for what is to come and importantly aren't made anxious by staff who are doing what seems like routine tasks to them but is totally alien to you.

Nil By Mouth

If you are scheduled for a morning operation then your day of surgery will really start at midnight when you go nil by mouth. No food or drink must pass your lips from then until after surgery (though you are allowed to take any agreed medication with a sip of water. Once you've had your last snack (at 11.59pm) then you can nod off until it's time to leave for the hospital.

Arriving at Hospital

In the old days, you'd have been admitted to hospital the night before the day of surgery but this takes up an essential and costly bed for no real reason and, anyway, who wants to stay in hospital longer than the have to.

I was asked to report to hospital by 7am and I arrived just as the doors of the clinic were opening. Checking in took about 1 minute and I was escorted to a room to wait. Butterflys going mad in my stomach!

The day of surgey is stressful and you will be doing quite a bit of waiting. Everyone sheduled for morning surgery is called at the same time and you've no idea if you're going in first or last.

Bring things to keep yourself distracted from the thought of food, drink and the operation.

Preoperative Procedure

In the first room, I was asked if I'd agree to be added to the National Joint Registry. The NJR keeps a list of all joint replacement operations and is involved in quality control. I readily agreed and I'm sure you will too.

It was the National Joint Registry of Australia that first voiced concerns about the Depuy ASR implant that has recently been recalled.

A bit later my consultant, Mr Witt, arrived to "consent me" and discuss anesthesia. Before undergoing any operation you must be able to give informed consent. That means you must be fully aware of what is about to happen and of any possible hip replacement complications. Mr Witt talked me through it all and I signed the form.

Don't be disturbed if your surgeon arrives and asks you what you are having done, he's doing this to test your understanding, not because he's forgotten!

blood pressure

Mr Witt then produced a giant sized felt-tip pen and marked me up for surgery. It was hard to read upside down but the general gist was to say this is the leg and it needs a total hip replacement. In that way there would be no chance of doing the wrong op on the wrong leg.

We discussed anesthesia and I agreed with his choice of regional anesthesia - specifically a spinal (the one he and his anesthestist used regularly for this procedure). I had been considering an epidural but wasn't fussed if I had that or a spinal as long as it was a regional. I don't do well with general anesthetics

A few minutes after Mr Witt left the anethesist arrived. He asked me some questions about my and my family's history of anesthesia and allergies and gave me a brief look over. We again agreed that a spinal was the right choice.

I was then transferred to the general waiting area. I wasn't there for long before I was called into a small office where a nurse took my blood pressure and put labels on me - wrist and ankles.

Back to the waiting area - this is where it started to get tense as I knew that the next call would be the one taking me down to theatre. I was advised to go to the loo.

Down to Theatre

surgery2

A few minutes later I was being escorted to the theatre waiting area. The hospital had gone to great trouble to make this a quiet, peaceful area with soft chairs, dimmed lights and a large candle. The huge TV did spoil the meditative atmosphere - but I guess they have to try to please everyone.

I waited here for about 15 minutes and was then asked to change. My clothes went into a bag to be sent up to the ward and I donned the hospital gown, paper knickers and a green thrombosis stocking on my not-to-be-operated leg.

Time passed slowly but it wasn't long before I was called.

There is a room outside theatre where you wait some more and it is here that you are given your anesthetic. I was asked to lie on my side and the anesthetist explained what he was doing. I remember him saying something about feeling changes in my leg and then ..... zzzzzz

Recovery Room and the Ward

I was waking up being pushed into the recovery room with a nurse repeating "It's alright you've just had surgery". I stayed with her for a while - drifting in and out of sleep and was then taken to the ward, where I promptly fell asleep.

When I woke up I felt fine - no anesthetic hangover and no catheter. Instead I now had a matching pair of green stockings, a pillow between my legs to stop them crossing over, and various lines with pain relief and fluids and an oxygen mask.

Nurses came regularly to check my vitals, give me something to eat and drink but I spent most of the time sleeping. There was no pain just a bit of tenderness.

My day of surgery finished early as I soon fell asleep but the nurses came back regularly during the night to check I was okay.




Related Links: 

Preparing for Surgery 
Anesthetics 
Preparing for Recovery

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