I woke up in the PACU to a nurse gently asking me, “Stephanie are you awake? How do you feel? On a scale of one to ten, how is the pain?” Then I remembered the pain I had felt on awakening after my biopsy surgery and tensed. I waited for it to hit me but it never did. I had a headache but was not in any considerable discomfort. When I say this I know I sound tough but I did notice that when I was waking up they were pumping quite a few different syringes into my IV line. I’m sure some (if not all) of them contributed to my calm, comfortable, and sleepy demeanor. It was then that I realized I could see out of both eyes. I tentatively reached up to feel my head. No bald patches. I looked up to the nurse who was pumping yet another syringe into my IV and asked her “how did we do?” She smiled and answered, “Dr. M’s post op report says that the surgery was uneventful and that the outcome was successful. I would say you did just fine.”
Through my now syringe induced drunken haze I laughed. I felt giddy. I had rolled the dice…and…that’s what you get for waking up in Vegas…wait…no …this was a hospital…but it looks like emerald city…with my two McDreamy’s in blue scrubs…no.. where was I again? The relief that I felt plus the narcotics cocktail swimming in my veins made me suddenly tired and woozy. My hospital bed was in an upright position and as I began to doze off my head fell forward. My nurse noticed and in that same gentle voice she told me, “You can sleep Stephanie, let me lay your head back.” She put an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose and told me to breathe deeply and started to recline my bed back so that I was laying flat.
As she did this I had one fleeting moment of sobriety. I had been sleeping sitting up since my biopsy because the pressure in my head when I laid down could cause a blood vessel to burst and hemorrhage uncontrollably. Dr. M had told me that I would need to continue to sleep like a mummy rising out of its tomb for a few weeks longer after this surgery in order to give all of the blood vessels that he would cut and cauterize time to heal. I tried to tell my nurse this as she slowly lowered me back but I didn’t have much of a voice left from where the ventilator tube had been down my throat. The oxygen mask muffled my rasps which probably didn’t make any sense anyway. I laid back and gentle voice nurse took off my shower cap and tucked some of my loose hair back into my Katniss braid. My mom used to do that at night when I was little and sing me to sleep. It was so nice to lay down and relax and I was so sleepy…why had I not wanted to do this again? Sleeping isn’t bad it feels nice…
My nurse walked away to attend to another patient and I took another deep breathe from the oxygen mask. When I did I felt a strange pop inside my head and for some reason someone was pouring warm water on my face. I didn’t mind except wouldn’t it get on the floor and make a mess? Okay now it’s running down my neck and chest it’s going to soak the sheets and my hospital gown. I tried to sit up but when I flexed my abdomen and hip muscles I felt a sharp pain from deep inside my leg. I guess I still hadn’t quite recovered from my angiogram the day before. The jolt woke me up a little and I realized that the stuff running down my face and in my hair onto the floor wasn’t water it was my own blood. I couldn’t sit up, no one could hear me through the mask, and worst of all, it was filling up. When I opened my mouth to breathe I remember the metallic taste and choking on it as it ran down the back of my throat. I fumbled trying to get the mask off but I had three different IV’s with tubing wrapped and taped to my left hand. (Why didn’t I use the right one? I’ll never know.)
I had the dexterity of a five year old so I did what any five year old would do. I laid there and put my hand straight in the air opening and closing my fist. Hopefully soon it would be my turn to be called on.