Monday, June 1, 2009

An appendectomy

At first there was this uneasiness, as if the morning visit to the toilet was not exactly satisfactory. By evening my stomach was on fire. I managed to drive 10 k.m. to my house convinced that I had appendicitis. This was Thursday. Visits to the neighbourhood few-bed hospital on Friday morning reduced the pain a little after an injection shot. But the pain was promptly back and would not go away even after a double strength pain-killer was prescribed. Since the ultrasound did not reveal any signs of appendicitis, the doctor hesitated. But by Saturday evening the doctor did not want to take any more chances and I was promptly packed off to the Manipal hospital, Bangalore. I was hesitating - even then! - but my wife would not hear of it. The reason I was hesitating was the total absence of any other symptoms of infection, such as fever or vomiting. The pain was of course numbing. I think I have a high tolerance to dull pains (not to sharp pains, but I am getting ahead of myself here)

I stepped into the hospital and started shivering like a malaria patient.

I was immediately taken to the emergencies and casualty ward. By the time the doctor on duty arrived, he was peppered with calls from other senior doctors of the hospital - my boss and my wife were using their network.

Appendicitis it was. A quick ultrasound scan confirmed that.

I was moved to a room and put on Intravenous (IV). This was my third night without anything solid in my stomach. I was given a few pain killer shots. The pain was brought under control.

Around midnight the anesthetist came over to take my signature. He explained me that it would be a general anesthesia. I don't quite remember the name of the drug I would be administered. I was to be administered the anesthesia through IV and mask.

As he left he said, "best of luck for tomorrow."
He said that twice.
Best of luck!!! Why best of luck? I thought this was a minor surgery!

Earlier in the evening, the doctor explained me that they would remove the appendix through keyhole (laparoscopic surgery). They would make 3 holes - one, a 10mm cut through my navel to insert a camera, second, a 5mm cut about 4 inches directly below the navel, and third, another 5 mm cut on the left of the stomach, away from the appendix (which is on the right) so that the cut does not get infected. These two 5mm holes were to serve as entry point to surgical instruments. Prior to that my stomach was to be bloated with carbon-dioxide gas. This would facilitate access. Neat!

Hospital is all about nudity. To the nurses and other staff you body is just a piece of meat. The next morning, the barber came, stripped me to my knees - exposing me completely - and proceeded to shave me from chest downwards and did not stop till he had shaved off my thighs.

Continuing with nudity ... do you know what suppositories are? These are pencil-like, approximately 2 inch tube of medicine. Since I was not allowed any oral ingestion, and since they did not want to puncture my behind with needles ever few hours, I was given regular dosage of paracetamol and pain killer using suppositories. The nurse would come and turn me around and push two tubes into my rectum. The body is supposed to absorb the whole tube in around 10-20 minutes. I used to feel funny initially. Then you give up.

Sunday 9 a.m.
I am wheeled into the pre-op. I am told there is a slight delay as there is an emergency cesarean operation in progress. I wait for about 15 minutes and then I am wheeled into the Operation Theater. Some people slide me from the stretcher to the Operation Table. The Operation Table, I notice is actually split in the middle - a lot like my bicycle saddle - so that it takes in the body contour. Someone puts a cap on my head. They are all masked to so I do not recognize anybody ("Hmmm..."). Someone is humming (Good sign - the surgeon is relaxed."). One chap ("must be the anesthetist") comes and injects through the IV. Immediately, my head and ears pop inwards. A very unusual sensation not very discomforting but not extremely pleasant at the same time. I fight it off. In a few seconds I am back to normal. Now I am afraid to close my eyes, just in case they think I am out and start off (pretty dumb of me, I know). So I keep my eyes open. After a few moments another IV shot and ...

When I wake up I am in a different room. I have no recollection of anything that happened. I feel absolutely relaxed as if I have just woken up. Very refreshed. I move my hand over the stomach and I feel warmth on the back of my palm. I realize that the operated area is being exposed to infrared heat. Shortly after I am wheeled back to my room. It is 2 p.m. on the clock.

Some experience.

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