I got to wear 2 gowns for about 30 seconds – as long as it took me to cross the hall from the dressing room to the pre-op area. They pointed me to a bed, closed the curtain, and off came the butt-crack-covering gown. This was fine as I wasn’t going anywhere after that, but think of the laundry costs to accommodate modesty…
Smiling at me through a gap in the curtain was Melissa, the nurse in charge of checking me in. She asked the obligatory questions – name, date of birth, what procedure are you here to have, have you removed all of your clothing and jewelry, is there any metal in your body, do you go by “Gary” (for when they yell at me to wake up from the anesthesia)? These are all part of the protocol to make sure I was the right patient in the right place getting the right procedure – and some or all of these questions would be repeated multiple times in different stages of the process. I wouldn’t say it gave me the warm fuzzies but I understood why it was necessary and hoped that if there was a disparity discovered that the person asking would be alert enough to put on the brakes and sort it out.
When I answered “C4-5 ACDF” to the procedure question, Melissa said “don’t tell me you’re a medical professional until after I’ve put in your IV!” but I blurted out that I was a doc. Turns out she did fine in the end.
Around me and across the way were beds filling with patients off to various surgeries. I could overhear snippets of conversations going on discussing the surgeries, risks, conversations between doctors and their patients (You’re having some more hydrocephalus? And are here for a shunt? I hear you got to leave the hospital for a day – where did you go?). These took me back to my days in med school and residency where working in teaching hospitals meant dealing with the sickest of the sick and repeat customers.
Then in wheeled “Miss Lillian” across from me. I could see her since someone in the procession of my surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurse anesthetist that came through to see me had left the curtain open but I could hear her better – the staff were having to yell at her because she was easily in her 80s and deaf but as she shouted “they made me take my hearing aids out”. “Do you go by Lillian!” the nurse shouted, asking what she wanted to be awakened with. “They call me Miss Lillian!” she shouted back.
Eventually it was time to go – the CRNA gave me 20 mg of versed (related to valium) and I felt it immediately, and we were rolling to the operating room. I don’t remember much after that until I woke up in the recovery room.