Something many people who have never had surgical procedures don’t know is that after they make you take off all your clothes and get into that backless gown, make you take off your jewelry, take out your contacts so you can’t see, and then stab you with needles to start an IV, they wheel you out of the prep room away from your entourage and put you in a room all alone to wait. This is the scary time because there is no one there to distract you. You are alone, uncomfortable and all you can think about is what’s about to happen. Once they have given you time to sufficiently freak yourself out they send in a friendly looking doctor who proceeds to tell you all the things that can go wrong; stroke, heart attack, blindness, anaphylactic shock, infection, uncontrollable bleeding, you name it, it could happen. In my case, my doctor really wanted me to understand the statistics. “So Stephanie there is a 3 percent chance that during this procedure or afterward a blood clot could travel up to your brain and you could have a stroke. 3 percent means that out of every 100 people who have this done 3 of them have strokes.” It was very hard for me not to explain that I have taken math courses up through BC Calculus and graduate level statistics. I understood all too well the significance of a 3% complication rate, did he? Since I didn’t have anything nice to say I erred on the side of polite and gave a quick nod that yes I understood.
“Ok then, ready to go?” and what else are you supposed to say? “Ok let’s spin this giant wheel of death and hope it doesn’t land on stroke!” I wonder if anyone has ever said, “no thank you, after this conversation I would rather not.” Again, I just nodded
Once inside the operating room it was time to “prep the area.” To perform the angiogram, a small tube/catheter is threaded up through the artery in your leg. The point of entry is just below your hip on your leg. Two nurses walked over and proceeded to lift my hospital gown so that what Katherine Jenkins on Dancing with the Stars calls “naughty bits” were exposed for the entire world to see. I tried not to squirm, remembering that I had cancelled my last bikini wax appointment before leaving for Mayo. Telling myself these nurses are scientists and professionals I tried to ignore the embarrassment I felt and focus on breathing. That is until one of my scientific and professional colleagues whipped out a Schick Quattro razor and started tidying up down there. I decided to try a little bit of humor to make myself feel better saying, “oh I didn’t know there was a spa treatment with this procedure.” I couldn’t tell but I think one of them smirked from under his surgical mask. Oh yes, did I mention both of my nurses were young men probably in their twenties? As they continued to “prep the area” they both went back and forth arguing whether the total gym or bowflex was better at strengthening your lats. Evidently the endorsement of Chuck Norris for the Total Gym was the tipping point. Bowflex loses by a wee margin of Walker Texas Ranger.