Pop Goes My Lung: Into the Operating Room

I think the first time I really cried was in that tiny, 8x10 room.
Seven days.
It took seven days for it all to sink in. I was about to undergo a pretty major surgery. Someone was going to be inside my rib cage, messing around with the very thing that keeps me alive, that allows me breath. That's pretty terrifying once you let it sink in.

And I cried and cried. The whole time. I think my mom even cried with me. And then my dad showed up and did the typical dad thing and was all "ohmyyoucrazywomen. I'm going to go get a milkshake" Which made me cry even more, because I was on an NPO (nothing to eat or drink). They both just kept reminding me that this was the hard part, and after this I would get better. This was the clicking as we climbed to the top of the rollercoaster.

We waited and waited. Somewhere around 7:30 that evening the phone in my room rang, it was my surgeon, she briefly explained the surgery and said she would be on her way to the hospital soon and they would take me down as soon as she got there. I shot LT a simple text saying I was heading to surgery soon, then stared at the blank walls trying to calm my mind.

One of the resident doctors came in with a sharpie and began detailing surgery spots on my rib cage and back. He wrapped up his sketching session, and smoothed my gown back into place. Luis was his name. He had an accent, and somehow his quirky demeanor momentarily helped me feel at ease.

The clock closed in on 8:30 as the nurse walked into my holding cell and told me it was time to go.

It's funny the things I remember. Being stopped in the hallway to sign a handful of forms. The head anesthesiologist being very upset that I had not been given a pregnancy test the entire time, and having to sign paperwork saying I was aware of that and would not sue the hospital. The girl going over the entire surgery with me step by step, detailing that I would be put under full anesthesia, a breathing tube inserted down my throat, an art-line placed in my wrists for monitoring my heart, two incisions on my right ribs - one under the breast for tools, one a bit further down for a camera. The tools would act as sand paper, tediously used to scar up my lung.  The bottom incision would then encase my new chest tube, a bigger chest tube, a more painful chest tube. They warned me of the pain multiple times that evening but it wasn't until I was laying there just a few yards from the operating room doors that it hit me.

I was so nervous the muscles in my left leg were twitching to the point it looked like I was tapping my leg. I gave a half-hearted "brr!" but I know no one believed it.

Reliving this now as I write it actually has me in tears. I remember my mom and dad kissing my forehead as they headed into the waiting room, with a simple "See you in a little bit kiddo. Love you" And like that I was on my own. Wasting no time, I was wheeled into in the operating room, lifted onto the operating table, the nurses piled warm blankets on me to control my shivers but they had no effect. They were nervous shivers, not cold shivers.

I remember a lot of people in the room. At least 6 or 7. I remember being so, so cold, and wondering why operating rooms were so sterile and white, couldn't they just add some cheerful paint. I remember commenting on everyone's bright, colorful hats. I remember one girl slipping a pale blue hair net on me, gently tucking the stray strands of hair behind my ears. I remember the anesthesiologist began messing with my left arm, inserting the art-line with a quick but painful prick in my wrist, and another girl rushed up and took my right hand, holding it and squeezing it. She kept telling me softly that I would be alright, she would be here the whole time.

I remember being so.freaking.scared.

I never even saw my surgeon. The nurse to my right was talking with me, just fulfilling her job description I'm sure, calming the patient and ensuring their comfort. I began blinking more, and longer. The anesthesia was running through my veins now. The blinks became lazier and my mind began to blank. I let my eyes stay closed as my grip on her hand loosened. I remember her thumb gently stroking my hand as I faded away from the reality of that cold, white room.



♥ Marcy ♥ said...

Chelsea... I am in tears woman! Oh this makes my heart hurt!

Michelle W said...

ive had surgery three times. all between 2nd and 8th grade. thankfully, i havent had to endure any since then but i feel ya. the journey into the operating room is the scariest fucking thing ever. when i was in 2nd grade, i was getting my tonsils taken out and i was young and didnt know what was going on. that trip into the operating room was no big deal. the two surgeries after that though? i knew what was going on. i knew what surgery was. i knew it was scary stuff. those two were tough.

and the one surgery, the room was painted a mint green...it didnt help haha

Jen said...

Ok I am sitting here bawling...hugs!

K said...

I can't even imagine how scary that must have been! So glad you are feeling better and that you have such a great group of people taking care of you!

Jenn @ West Sac Honey said...

Aw Chelsea that's so scary I'm glad the nurse held your hand I'd be worried!

Nikki said...

Jesus girl could you make me bawl like a baby any quicker?! That's gotta be scary.

Kerr said...

I feel like all I have to say is oh my god but oh my god! I am glad I know how this ends...well, enough that I know you are writing about it. Do you know why your lung collapsed? Or is that coming....keeping me on my toes!

Aly said...

My heart breaks for you while I read this!! You're one tough cookie!

Carolyn said...

OH. MY. GOODNESS. Could you have written this any better?!?! So glad everything went well!

Candis said...

Oh man! How scary!!

I remember when I went in for my c-section I was shaking like crazy from the nerves. My husband kept asking for blankets cuz he thought I was cold... I didn't have the heart to tell him it was really from my nerves until later!

Mateya said...

I was getting a nervous twitch just reading this! I would have been freaking out!

undomestic mama said...

That has me in tears! I just can't imagine. I'm SO happy you're doing better now.