I can’t really compare my experience here with surgery in Canada, as I was only a child when I had a tonsillectomy. I wasn’t present for my father’s surgeries, so I only have my own experience in Cayman to talk about. I’m sure it’s a mix of British and American style procedures. My surgery was in a private, for-profit hospital, but the team was completely British or Caribbean.
I thought I would describe in greater detail what it’s like to have surgery here, at least from my point of view.
After ten days of having no ibuprofen or aspirin type medications, and 3 days of no alcohol, I checked into the hospital. I’d had breakfast at 6 am as my surgery wasn’t scheduled until 2 pm. I’d had nothing to eat or drink since 6. I arrived at the hospital at 10:45 where they took me to my room. For my first surgery I had a room to myself. This time I had a roommate, also waiting for surgery.
I was given a hospital robe to wear; yes the glamourous kind with the open back. It makes it very easy to go to the bathroom, but awkward for getting in and out of bed and up and down off stretchers without baring one’s butt.
I was also given some disposable foot covers and hat. I put on the hat and one foot cover, leaving one foot uncovered for the bathing that was to come. I was started on an intravenous drip to keep me hydrated. I would have nothing else to eat or drink before evening.
Unfortunately, even though I wasn’t drinking anything, I had to walk my IV pole to the bathroom with me at least 3 times, all the while trying to keep my robe from opening wide at the back.
The nurse came in to wash my foot very carefully for 3 minutes. Those were her instructions. She then put the disposable slipper on that foot. Not long before my surgery she came in to put the antibiotic dose through the IV. In the meantime, my surgeon popped in to say hello, give me post op instructions and make sure I had my post op shoe from last time. That saved us $45!
Not long after my antibiotic dose, someone from the anesthesiology team came in to wheel me to the operating room. There I met my OR nurse, an older lady who was very kind and very thorough. She checked and double checked my file to ensure everything was ready and I was ready, etc.
One thing I noticed at my first surgery was that everyone in the OR was male. I have seen many more male nurses here than I ever worked with when I was a dietitian in a hospital. I don’t know if that’s happening everywhere, but I like the balance. This time, the first nurse I met was female and the member of the anesthesiology team who did my pre op interview was female. The anesthetist was a man, as is my podiatrist.
Once in the OR, I felt something happening to almost every part of my body. I was getting a clip on my finger and a blood pressure cuff on my right arm, while the anesthetist was putting something into my IV that made my left hand feel temporarily frozen. My surgeon was preparing my foot and I was also getting little snaps put on me in various places, I assume to connect to sensors to keep track of my heart rate and breathing. I was given an oxygen mask to hold over my nose and mouth, and I took deep breaths while I listened to the sound of my own heartbeat in the room. Occasionally, the blood pressure cuff would inflate. They started the anesthetic and I was feeling very calm and very drowsy.
I woke up in the recovery room with someone removing a tube from my very sore throat. I had those little nodes in my nostrils connected to a tube leading from an oxygen supply. My foot hurt more than the first time. I was very sleepy. They wanted me to wake up, and I did, very slowly. I was taken back to my room. My roommate had returned while I was gone, but the curtain between us was closed.
The nurses must have had a shift change on the ward, as they had last time. I had a new nurse. I had been given something for pain in the recovery room, so my next dose would be at 8 pm. They brought me a meal of soup and crackers and ice water. Oh, I was thirsty! The soup wasn’t exactly clear, but it was ok. The crackers were dry and flavourless, so I broke them up and put them into the soup. That made both soup and crackers more palatable.
My husband texted our family to let them know things had gone well. I got some nice texts back from them full of love and good wishes.
Before I could eat, my nurse came back to take me for an x-ray of my new foot. That went fairly quickly. I’ll need another x-ray in a few weeks.
I was still sleepy, CNN was on the tv, my husband was sleepy, and we were both dozing off. My roommate was told she could go home. She just got dressed and walked out. I wonder what kind of surgery she had!
I finally got another dose of painkillers and another dose of IV antibiotics. As soon as the antibiotics had run through, I was allowed to get dressed. I’d kept it simple with a dress, but I still had some difficult moments trying to keep my weight off my foot while I went to the bathroom and changed into my clothes. I discovered those snaps all over me. I was tempted to keep them and take a picture. I felt sort of cyborg-ish! They came off easily, though, much more easily than the adhesive tape holding my IV line in place in my hand!
The nurse helped my get my things all into my bag and helped me into the wheelchair while my husband brought the car to the front door of the hospital. I got into the back seat so I could put my foot up on the seat, buckled up and away we went.
It was pouring rain when we got home, so my husband had to get a bag for me to put over my foot. I have to keep the dressing dry! I hobbled up the stairs and into the house in the pouring rain.
I had instructions to keep my foot elevated above my hip and no weight-bearing. That was a little difficult going up the stairs to our condo. Later on, my foot swelled up so much I thought it would burst, even though I immediately sat down and raised it onto a pillow.
I had meds to take before bed which helped with both the pain and swelling.
I will describe in future posts what it’s like to recover from bunion surgery, but I’d love to hear if other hospital surgery experiences are similar. I found the first surgery to be a little easier on me, although the surgeon said the second one was easier for him. The staff was busier this time and I didn’t have a private room. I also had more experienced staff on the ward last time, but I have no complaints about the care I received.