I was asked if I would donate my large intestines to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. I didn't have cancer, but they could use the tissue for research. It seemed like a noble cause, and so I didn't ask for my intestines in a jar. I had joked that I wanted them mounted like a snake skin on the living room wall, but my wife was saved the embarrassment. Finally everything was done and it was time to go to the operating room. As they began to wheel me to the operating room I did get a little nervous. This was the first time I had felt nervous about surgery. They gave me some medicine through the IV to help me relax. The medicine made me talk much more than usual. In the operating room I was asking about the types of monitors the anesthesiologist had and pointing out different things in the room. When my surgeon came in wearing a mask, I remarked that he looked like a duck. They probably all got a good laugh out of the silly things I was saying.
Finally a mask was put over my mouth. I deeply breathed the oxygen for a couple minutes. I'm sure when the time was right the anesthesiologist added some medication to my IV, intubated me and put me on the ventilator. I next awoke in the recovery room. The first thing I remember was somebody telling me to be quiet. That seemed to be a common theme when I woke from anesthesia, either being told to be quite or shut up repeatedly. I'm not sure if I just bothered them, or if it was affecting my breathing and oxygen levels. As I woke up I was surprised at the lack of pain. I have cared for many patients with much smaller abdominal surgeries and seen people complaining of a great deal of pain. I thought I would have a great deal of pain, but did not.
I was given a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) pump. This pump allows a person to hit the button for more pain medication. Typically it is programmed to allow for an additional dose every 10 minutes. I was also given pain medication via an On-Q pump. I was told this was a new device. It had a small catheter, which was inserted under the skin at the end of my surgery. The catheter led to a pump which was about the size of a softball. This pump would gradually squeeze in the pain medication over several days. I'm not sure when it got clamped, but several days after my surgery the surgeon discovered that somebody had clamped the pump. I hadn't been getting the pain medicine for some time. The first several days after surgery I also didn't use the PCA pump very much. Several nurses and doctors asked me if I had been shown how to use the pump as I had only hit the button a couple of times. As I said, I was amazed at how little pain I had.
I had a bag attached to my abdomen, an ileostomy leaked stool, or at least digestive juices into the bag. (I wasn't allowed to eat anything for a couple days and then only clear liquids at first.) It didn't seem very real at first, I guess because it's not a normal thing to have.