Day 0: Surgery

So today was the big day. I live in Edmonton, so of course Mother Nature opted for a late-March blizzard which made my morning walk all but enjoyable. Still, ~15 blocks in the cold with sharp snow blowing into your eyes is nothing to complain about, right? Right.

I don’t have a picture for today. Those will begin once I get home and have a webcam to capture these oh-so-wonderful mugshots.

Anyways, I arrived at the hospital on time, put on one of those provocative gowns, failed to tie it up properly in the back, got an IV put in, made some chit-chat with the porters and was wheeled on up to the surgical ward. My surgeon came out, shook my hand, answered my few final questions, and then walked away, politely snapping on a pair of rubber gloves like he was about to do a cavity search at an airport security terminal as he did so.

I was then wheeled into the surgerical theater–#2, to be exact–and greeted by about 15 people. Anesthesiologists and their residents, doctors and their residents, my surgeon and his assistants, surgical techs–there were so many titles being thrown around, I became dazed about halfway through the introductions.

“We’re all here for you, Graham.”

If that’s not reassuring, I don’t know what is.

Here’s what they told me during all the appointments leading up to my surgery: “Everything is going to work out just fine.”

Here’s what they told me 5 seconds before putting me to sleep: “This procedure should take approximately 4.5 hours to complete. You’ll have a breathing tube inserted into your right nostril which will run down your throat, so you may have a scratchy windpipe for the next few days. Good luck.”

Here’s what they told me after the surgery: “We ran into a few complications, so the operation took 6 hours. We also had to insert a catheter into you, so it may hurt to relieve yourself these next few days. Oh, you’ll also be eating through a syringe for a minimum of 2 weeks.”

The news got progressively worse, right up to the mention of that God-forsaken catheter. The pain I experienced while trying to pee for the first time after that surgery was like nothing I’ve ever experienced (and remember, I once shattered my foot into 7 pieces after a graceful Superman dive off the roof of an elementary school). It led me to 2 conclusions:

  1. I never want to contract an STD.
  2. I never want to get old.

And now for the short talk on pain. There was virtually none… in my face. I was numb from my eyes right down to my chin and, as a result, was drooling everywhere. However, every muscle and joint in my body hurt. Apparently when you’re asleep, your body still feels pain. So if the surgery is extremely painful, your body responds in its natural way by clenching every muscle it has control over. The most painful part? My bum. Imagine clenching your buttcheeks together for 6 hours straight. You can’t, because if you’re conscious, you won’t be able to focus for that long. When you’re asleep, it’s another story. Let me tell you something: it will leave you in a state that absolutely inhibits you from sitting, bending, or moving in general for quite some time.

In any regard, everything turned out okay in the end and, after a few shots of morphine, I have a feeling I’ll be falling asleep in a timely manner tonight. That is, if the nurses stop interrupting me every hour to check on my vitals.

20 Comments

  1. Hi Graham,

    I am getting the surgery done in 12 months time. I have been really worried about the recovery process. Thank you for your effort and time to share your experience with us. You have been most helpful. 🙂

  2. Nice to meet you, Mark! I actually laughed out at loud at the thought of a grown man wearing diapers to avoid the feared catheter. =)

    Let me know how the operation goes!

  3. Yo Graham! Awesome postings! The best one so far. My case is simular to yours. I am still pre-op, but will find out my surgery date this month! Im excited for the end result, but VERY, very scared of being catheterized! Anyway, I’ll make them promise me not to place on in me. I’ll wear adult diapers. thank you again for your website! Regards, Mark

  4. haha going straight into pizza hut after <3 XD

  5. Being around others who are eating was so frustrating during the recovery! Ya’know what, though? You’re going to appreciate every single bite so much more once you can eat solid food again.

    Not being able to sing in the shower was a big letdown for me. I guess we have to resort to humming for a few months. =)

  6. oh and another thing i tried to sing one day XD (of course im alone at home) and im like nope just be quiet steph . shhh hahaha i was sad. XD

  7. haha i try not to be boring i feel as if your enthusiasm and sarcasm is on the same level as me haha love finding people like tht btw this is veryyy useful and verryyy entertaining i needed to smile have been less motivated and then when i read about taking showers in the morning brushing teeth etc. it makes sense and the showers do help get me off my couch potato bum.lol and this chocolate you speak of i am obsessed with XD haha try to stay away from it as much as i can ^^ switch that out with pizza then we got a deal haha yet thts not healthy either XD can only enjoy tht once in a great while and i am craving pizza but not willing to being able to blend it.cuz i have this blending guide saying you can basically blend anything and put it in a syringe…not happening that just ruins the idea of pizza will ruin it for everyone i think haha and that salmon you were talking about sounds so good omggg haha i was so mad when i found out my family went out to red lobster without me well i didnt know until my mom slipped up i got furious lol but then later on got a get well soon card from my aunt with a 25 buck giftcard to red lobster XD then i felt bad XD

  8. Hey, a real message this time! I’m glad you’re finding this useful (or at least entertaining). It’s incredible how much it helps knowing you’re not the only one dealing with the frustrations of being unable to talk, sing, eat, smile, laugh, and so on.

    Tell your mother that if these “rewards” she speaks of are made of chocolate, I’ll gladly pick them up one day. =)

  9. ahh sorry computer being funny with me let me start over haha Hello Graham, my name is stephanie and i am 18yrs old ive had a very rough past month since i got this surgery and i feel like hell visited my face. this was seriously a tough month and actually have someone i can relate to is so great. when my mom found this website of yours i was reading your introduction to this procedure and i was just amazed. i find this really helpful and true and lol my mom she said if she was someone important who gives out rewards shed probably give you too many to count haha. so and i agree i hope others see this i havnt seen this till now unfortunatly i had some rly bad days in the first week it was a nightmare this is the worst situation i could have ever dealt with but now im actually being able to see my face the swelling took a good 4 weeks and i am so happy with everything..well for the moment hoping nothing will go wrong in the end lol. so you will see me probably comment alot on your stories lol this truly does help and i want to say thank you so much for taking your time to do this. you are very much appreciated right now 🙂

  10. Hello Stephanie. I’m guessing there’s some conversation missing from that comment. 🙂

  11. Hey Graham,

    Thanks for the reply. Well as such my work doesn’t require extensive interaction so hopefully a two-week break should suffice. I guess i can simply sit at my desk looking all swollen and not say a word :p

    Anyways, my only concern was the studying part. I really hope that 3 weeks post-op (or preferably sooner) i can muster the mental strength needed to study. Which is why i’m pushing to get the surgery done by mid-Jan maximum.

    thanks again!

  12. Hi Fahd,

    I returned to work 2 weeks after the surgery, but I was still unable to speak (for the most part). If you need to interact with others, I’d take a month off from your job.

    You should have the mental stamina to study effectively at 3 weeks post-op. If your surgery is 4 months after surgery, you’ll have no problem acing your test!

  13. Hey Graham,

    Just a couple of quick questions. I’ll prob be undergoing the exact same surgery as you in 2-3 months. I was wondering how long did it take you to resume work after surgery?
    Also after approx how many days do you think a person will be in a condition to study at home after having surgery.

    Only thing that’s concerning me is that i have a major exam about 4 months after my surgery and i cant afford to sit home idle for a month or two while i’m recovering.

    Hope you can offer some advice 🙂
    Thanks alot!

  14. Hi Ivy! That’s brutal that you had a few coughing fits during those first few days. That would be so frustrating!

    I think one of the most enjoyable parts of recovery is that you can look forward to being a bit “cleaner” each and every day. You’ll soon be gurgling and keeping your mouth a bit fresher. Eventually, you’ll be able to brush, and that will feel fantastic!

    Good luck with the next week or so!

  15. Hey Graham!

    I’m on my sixth day of recovering from jaw surgery and your blog has been a godsend in preparation for it. I would have been incredibly unprepared if I hadn’t stumbled across this.

    As for my first couple days in the hospital, I never want to have to go through anything like that again. I was just getting over bronchitis when I got it done, and figuring out how to cough without opening my mouth too much and then dealing with the spew of saliva that came from it just about sent me over the edge.

    Anyway, I’m home now and am feeling 100x better compared to when I woke up from surgery. The catheter and breathing tube were traumatizing to say the least.

    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your blog!

    -Ivy

  16. Hey Mycha,

    Haha, the feared catheter… I’m not sure. I’m under the impression that most hospitals require a catheter be used for surgeries that are longer than a couple of hours just as a precaution.

    It’s only painful for the first day or 2, and it’s not actually bad for you. You’ll be able to survive the discomfort–I promise!

    …And think of the stories you’ll have to tell your friends afterwards.

  17. Hey Graham, just want to start off by saying this website is awesome with helping prepare me for my surgery. I’m 17 and I’ll be having Double Jaw Surgery in 2 weeks (Dec.10) also. Is it required for them to put a catheter in me?

  18. Vince, that catheter is by far the worst part of the surgery!

    Glad to hear you’re already past that obstacle.

  19. Hi Graham,

    I just had my double jaw surgery on 10 August. I am 4 days post-op at the moment.

    My worst day was the surgery day. I felt so much better after my urine catheter and tube out of my left nostril 1 day after the surgery.

    Thanks for your blog. It is an inspiration to me and I am creating one similar to yours.

    Sincerely,

    Vince

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