Monday, February 23, 2009

$5,189 Hotel Room

We had to arrive at 6am on the morning of the surgery, (my surgery was scheduled for 7:30am). Neither John nor I slept well the night before, or even the previous night for that matter. They took me into some prep room where I changed and got my IV. The IV definitely hurt, but at least the nurse got it in on the first try. I did almost pass out though! Geesh! I felt better once I laid down. I did have to have it in my left hand, since they were going to be operation on my right side, but at least the lady put it in a place where I was still able to use my hand w/o pain. (For my first surgery the lady put it right on my wrist, and I couldn't bend it).

Waiting for the surgery was really awful. John tried to distract me, but it wasn't that easy. We took a few photos to pass the time:
The targeted area

Ready to go!

One last normal looking shot
About 20 minutes before go time the OR nurse, anesthesiologist, and another lady came in to talk to me. They were all really nice and said they would all take good care of me. One lady had a cupcake printed head scarf on and I found out that she would be giving me my breathing tube. I asked her to be extra careful, and I think she was! Only the right side of my throat hurt after I woke up.

Then 10 minutes before go time my doctor came in to go over some last minute things and to ask any questions. I honestly can't remember what she said. I did ask her if she was ready, and she said she was.

I gave John one last kiss and then got wheeled into the operating room. I remember seeing quite a few people and then the lady with the cupcake scarf asked me to roll over so she could put on the heart monitors. Then that was it, I was out cold.

The next thing I remember (slightly being conscience) was needing to pee. The recovery nurse gave me a bed pan but I couldn't go. She said I probably just feel like I have to pee because I had a catheter. Excuse me?? I had a catheter? It makes since since my surgery was so long, but I had no idea! Patients are so vulnerable when they are under. I was thankful that the nurse was REALLY nice in dealing with me since I was so out of it.

I'm not sure how they knew I was ready to be moved, but right when I sat up and the bed barely moved I started throwing up. It was AWFUL! Especially when I told EVERYONE that anesthesia makes me nauseous. I thought they gave me something to 'help' with it, but was supposed to make it go away. Yeah right! Getting sick on top of everything else was just awful. I was already in so much pain and the added pain was miserable. I think I was throwing up the whole time I was on the move.

I FINALLY got to see my family at 4pm! I couldn't believe that John had to wait 8 hours to see me. I felt so bad. I know if the situation was reversed I would have been besides myself. I was still so drugged and nauseous when I saw them that I could barely keep my eyes open. Luckily my mom, dad and uncle left as I was in no shape for any type of conversing.

Once I got in my room I just slept. Here is a photo John snapped of me:
Don't I look awful?? Talk about going through a poor body. Even though I'm trying to sleep I still had my puke container handy. I had so many cords everywhere IV, the drainage tubes, the oxygen, and the calf expanders (to prevent blood clots). The drains totally grossed me out. I didn't realize they were held in by stitches, and I was worried that if they hung down they would pull on my neck causing more pain. They never did though as they were pinned to my gown. I was still paranoid, so every time I got up to go the bathroom, I made sure to hold on to them.

I don't remember much from that first day except being in a lot of pain and being so tired. The nurses were constantly coming in to check my vitals and I was also having blood drawn often to check my calcium levels. John sat by my side all day and helped me with whatever I needed...basically helping me those calf expanders. I am so thankful he was there and and in the moment I wasn't appreciative enough. How can you repay someone who sat by your side for three days straight? Ok, so I know I don't need to repay him, but still...he was so incredibly self less for those days. He didn't even leave to get dinner on that first day, but got some cereal at 9pm that night. He was going to stay the night in the hospital, but I told him not to, as he needed to be well rested.

I had one of the best night nurses that first night. She was so nice and prompt with everything. Every time I had to go to the bathroom I had to call her in to replace the calf expanders and she was nice enough to also take my vitals while I was awake. I think I was awake every 2 hours that night.

The next morning around 6:30am my doctor's crony came in to check on me. She really had no bedside manor, but she said things were looking good. A little later breakfast came in and it wasn't too bad! At least I had a bit of an appetite, which I didn't have the day before. A little bacon and eggs hit the spot.

I had a great daytime nurse, Julie, who was actually my nurse for all three days. John showed up and sat faithfully by my side, then my parents showed up WITHOUT calling John first. That was the only request I asked of them. (Just to make sure I was up for seeing visitors, as most of the time I wasn't.)

My good friend Rebekkah was supposed to drive down the morning of the surgery, but her daughter got sick and wasn't able to make the trip. Her daughter was better by the next day and she and her husband stopped by on their way to the East Bay. It was a total surprise and great to see her.
I actually didn't look at my wound until I left the hospital. I was afraid it would make me nauseous to think of what I just had done to me. I had no idea the incision was so long. I also thought I totally looked like the bride of Frankenstein with the stitches in. Well minus one incision, and the sweet hair do.
John was staying with his good buddy Scotty during the nights, but on Saturday he met John for lunch, (cheese steaks). After they ate Scotty came by to see how I was doing. I was pretty impressed as I know if the situation was reversed John wouldn't have been as comfortable. I'm becoming more and more grateful for dependable friends, and Scotty is definitely one of them.

It was slightly nerve wracking having the nurses taking my vitals all the time. At one point I was told that my blood pressure was a little low, and then I was also told that my calcium was low. In addition I guess my lungs didn't sound very good, so they gave me a breathing apparatus to practice getting air deep in my lungs so I wouldn't get pneumonia! There were so many other things to worry about then just my incision, although I think I was the only one stressing out about them.

I felt pretty good all day, however later in the evening I got more tired. John did get me up to walk the halls so I could remove the calf enlargers. I had also tried to take a pain pill on an empty stomach and it totally made me nauseous. From then on I had to have it crushed and mixed with apple sauce. John was also awesome in the fact that when I'd get a meal he would tell me what it was, but he made it sound sooooooo good! Such a smart man as I ate it with no hesitation.

On another note, I was SO lucky I didn't have a roommate. I couldn't imagine having one for 3.5 days. I had one after my first surgery and I was only in the hospital for 24 hours, and let me say that was 24 hours too many. Especially one who SNORED SO LOUD. Even though I didn't have a roommate my next door neighbor was so loud that it was like she was in my room. I think she showed up the during my first night and all I heard was a bunch of moaning and her yelling for the nurse. I just couldn't believe she could be in that much pain, because I was in a lot of pain and I wasn't being vocal. I couldn't help but think she was faking it or just looking for attention because she was SO over the top. Finally a nurse went and shut her door and then I heard her mumble 'bitch'. Like we all want to listen to her? I'm sure having the door shut made her quieter for the nurses, but not for me.

She continued to be just as loud throughout my whole stay. She would always be yelling into the intercom 'WHERE IS MY NURSE? I NEED MY NURSE NOW!' If anyone went into her room that wasn't a nurse she would yell at them to get out. My daytime nurse, Julie, told me she hadn't even had a surgery but was in there for kidney stones.

Near the end of my stay I heard one nurse telling her that she needed to poop before she was released and if the suppository didn't work then she would have to have an enema. Things were quiet for a minute, and then there was a shriek, which I assumed meant she got a suppository.

After that there was more moaning that got louder and louder until she yelled 'I'M SHITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTING!' No joke! Then a nurse went to her room and shut her door to 'give her some privacy.' What a scene.

My nighttime nurse on Saturday night was AWFUL. Well he had big shoes to follow in after my other nurse and he failed miserably. First of all he had on the STRONGEST cologne which did not help my pre existing nausea. You could just tell he didn't like his job and didn't care about me. I didn't need him to 'care' about me, but it would have been nice if would have showed some compassion. He was sloppy and he even forgot to turn on my IV antibiotic. I knew the routine. I'd get the liquid antibiotic for a half hour, then they were supposed to flush out the IV for 10 minutes after that. He came in an hooked it up and 30 minutes later the machine started beeping so I called the nurse and some other lady came in. She stopped it from beeping and that was it. I knew something wasn't right so I had to call them again and then the male nurse came in and said that he never started the IV, so I had to wait another 30/40 mins. I couldn't believe he forgot. Laying in that bed I was so vulnerable and dependable on the nurses. I shouldn't have had to worry that they were doing their jobs right, but I learned after that.

On Sunday I woke up feeling pretty good despite the rough night. I was just glad that Julie was back. I still still didn't get a lot of sleep, but I felt a bit better than the day before. Little did I know that would not last. My doctor's crony came in again to remove one of my drainage tubes and after that I didn't feel too hot. John showed up after that to be my assistant, even though I didn't have much for him to do, as I continued to sleep. My doctor did show up on her rounds with her two young boys. They were really cute and gave me a thyroid cancer awareness bracelet. She said things were looking good, but my calcium levels were still low.

Here is a photo John took of me resting. (As you can see my ear plugs, water, puke container, and apple sauce on my table.)
Self portrait which was similar to one we took after my first surgery:
Two years ago:
I was taking doses of a single tums, but later they upped it to two capsules. I took them and then they caused me to be really nauseous. It was really bad, so I called the nurses station and told them I needed something to get rid of it, and then when I thought the nurse entered my room, I looked up and it was my mom! What the heck was she doing there? John wasn't even there, as he was getting lunch, but when he showed up he felt really bad that he wasn't there to help me. Some nurse finally came in and said that she thought I had already gotten some meds but I didn't. Meanwhile I had to tell John to tell my parents to leave as I was in no shape to visit, (another example of why I wanted them to call before they came over.)

Finally Julie showed up in a panic to help me and as she gave me the anti-nausea meds my hand started to burn, which meant that my IV had punctured through my vein. Then she had to scramble around to give me a new IV, all the while I'm feeling like I could hurl at any moment. She sticks me once, and it felt kind of weird, and for a good reason...she had gone through the vein. Luckily she got it on the second try and was able to give me the anti-nausea meds. That whole scene totally wiped me out. I was so exhausted that I told John to call my family and tell them not to come by after dinner. He did not want to be the bad guy to tell them that they couldn't see me, but I really needed him too. I felt so awful.

Despite the call he made, my mom still showed up later and woke me up! I was so mad. She and my sister had brought John some cookies, which was really nice, but they could have called him before knocking and coming in the room and waking me up.

That night I had another male nurse who was better then the guy the night before, but still not the best. We established a pretty good routine, and at least he didn't forget to turn on my antibiotic IV. He even set his watch for 30 mins so he could come in and turn the machine off before it started beeping. (During my first night it started beeping and I had no idea what was going on!)

Once again I woke up feeling good on Monday morning, and was really excited for John to show up so I could show him how much better I was doing. However that was before my doctor's crony showed up with 3 cronies of her own! No joke and they all looked totally scared. She came in strutting her stuff and had one of the dudes remove my last drain. I thought she might introduce them or tell me who they were, but nope. All business. The removal of the last drain was totally awful and I think I had a bad look on my face, because she asked if I was ok. I told her yeah, it was just really uncomfortable. After that I felt like crap again, so by the time John showed up I still felt bad.

Since I had my last drain removed it meant that I could be discharged. My plan was to get discharged after lunch since normally after I ate I felt better and wasn't that tired. Of course my lunch was late and then I didn't realize that it took time to get discharged, so I didn't get out of there until around 3pm. Poor John was so stressed out because he had to park illegally in front of the hospital, and was worried he was going to get towed.

The ride to my Uncle's house was TOTALLY painful as the streets in S.F. are anything but smooth. Every bump was so painful. I am so thankful I was able to stay at my uncle's. My parents had been staying there for a few days and my mom was in total clean mode getting ready for my arrival. My uncle also gave up his bed for me which was totally unexpected, and totally appreciated. I mainly just slept while I was there and watched a few movies. I was glad I got to hang out with my parents since I couldn't really visit while in the hospital.

I can't believe I had to stay in the hospital for 3.5 days when I thought I might have to stay 2 nights. This surgery was much more serious then I thought it was going to be. I also can't believe I was so nauseous for three days after surgery. They must have given me a ton of meds.

I felt really good yesterday and even had a positive attitude. I was hoping that was a good sign but I don't feel positive today. Monday's always seem the hardest because John is back at work.

I'm still having a lot of pain in my neck, limited mobility, and the random sharp stabbing pains. I'm wondering how long they are going to last. I also noticed today where my first IV was is a hard little ball. I'm hoping whatever it is is on the outside of my vein.

On Saturday I got a statement of my hospital charges. Any guess on how much it all cost? Here are a few expenses:

- Pathology exams on the lymph nodes = $691 each
- 338 Additional minutes in the OR = $15,886
- 338 Additional Anesthsia = $7,774
- One night in the hospital = $5,189
- Hydrocodone (pain meds) = $4.20 each

Grand total = $63,928

Isn't that outragous? I'm not sure how much we will have to pay of this, but hopefully it won't be too much. I just can't believe it's $5189 to stay the night in the hospital! Doesn't that seem outrageous? I'd expect more perks for that price.


Big D said...

Thanks for the blow by blow description. When you stand in the hallway as much as I did, you really don't get much of an update. I'm glad that the operation is over. The cost of the operation did not surprise me. Just think what the birth of the octuplets cost. Good luck on your recovery. Hawaii is calling.

Maggie said...

I am so glad you didn't have to endure a roommate (even though there was a crazy lady next door)! And I am so glad you made it through, despite the crappy cost and questionable staff. I know it's hard, but I hope you can stay positive!!! Hugs.

Transplanted said...

Hi there, you don't know me but I found your blog when I was looking for pictures of thyroid ultrasounds. I had a biopsy last week and I've been kind of anxious to get the results back. I know that it might be uncomfortable to hear from a stranger about something so personal but I wanted to let you know that reading your blog about your experience has kept me really calm. I hope that my results come back benign but if they don't I feel like I have an example of how to handle the situation with honesty and humor. Best wishes and I hope your recovery comes quickly.

Sarah said...

The Bride of Frank's hair is awesome. I think you should be her for Halloween some year. You can tell everyone how your made your scar with eye liner, but at one time (like 50 years earlier because this takes place a long time from now) you actually had a little scar on your neck. People will be so impressed with your story you'll instantly win the prize for best costume ever. The party will be fantastic.

And at $5,189 a night, you'd think they could shut up the shitter in the next room.

Glad you're doing well! Take it easy and rest up.

Mauleigh said...

Wow. Except for the pain and the complete boringness of being in the hostipitol, I feel like I was right there with you. Which I was in spirt of course! So glad you're going to make a full recovery and be cancer free in 2010!
PS love Big D's reference to Octomommy.

Daniel and Brianne said...

Glad that you are feeling better! What an ordeal! I can't believe the price of things....such a rip off! For that price you should have got a plush suite with servants there to hold your puke bucket for you!

Small Town Girl said...

Glad you are feeling better.
The hospital expenses are no surprise to hubby had gastric bypass surgery 3 years ago at Stanford.....we had what they considered a "semi-private" room...that was $5192/day for 2 days. He had a roomate the entire time, that constantly had 2-3 visitors, and the phone was ringing every hour. The operating room was around $60k. What was frustrating for us was that going in we were told the surgery was typically $45k-$55k. The total bill: $96k!! Ouch! I was so irritated (since it was billed under my insurance) that I asked for a detailed billing of everything!! One of the "fun" ones for me: Warming blanket: $100.
Oh well. It's 3 years later, and he is a much better person!

Bri said...

What an awful experience, but that's what it's like when you have to go to the hospital some times. I hope you're back to normal soon! The expenses are unbelivable, thank goodness for health insurance.