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The gigantic pajamas and the robotic anesthesiologist

Everything went well with the breast cancer surgery yesterday. I was lucky enough to get an early slot, so I didn’t have to lie there starving all day. GC was allowed to stay with me until surgery.

You know those shapeless blue hospital gowns? They gave me the usual gownage, but I also got great big pajama pants this time! There was room enough for me, GC and Duncan in there! (Not that we tried.) I was thrilled with the pajama pants. They were the highlight of my hospital stay.

All the staff at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital were friendly to me, except the anesthesiologist, but I’m pretty sure he’s a robot so that’s okay. But seriously, if I’m literally putting my life in his hands, the least he can do is pretend that my life matters even just a little tiny bit to him. This guy barely looked at me, never smiled, and he only talked to ask the questions absolutely required of him: Any allergies? Any dentures? Any implants? Not only did he not seem human, I got the impression he didn’t think I was human either. It was creepy.

A couple of hours after surgery he showed up at my bedside, looked at my chart, and walked away. Didn’t even glance at me. (I wonder if he chose anesthesiology because he prefers unconscious patients?)

Okay, I know I’m going on and on about him, but on top of everything else, he bruised me! In pre-op, two different nurses tried to set up my IV, but failed. I have tiny uncooperative veins that hide when people come after them with needles. The nurses gave up and left the IV for the anesthesiologist, who left a great big bruise on my arm. I would totally forgive him for that if I liked him.

When I came out of the anesthetic I was crying, which is pretty normal for me. Do you cry when you’re coming out from under too?

My left leg hurt a lot. The recovery room nurse, Claire, was lovely and calm and she kept pumping pain meds into me until it didn’t hurt anymore. They have excellent pain meds there and they’re not afraid to use them. I think I told her I loved her.

Once I was pain-free they sent me back to the day surgery unit. The nurse immediately moved my blood pressure cuff to my left arm and told me that for the rest of my life should always have blood pressure taken on the left arm, as well as any blood drawing. That’s because I’ve had lymph nodes removed from my right armpit, so there’s a risk of lymphedema.

Then they let GC come and visit for a bit. The surgeon got called away so we didn’t get a chance to talk, but she told the nurse to tell me everything went well.

GC brought me home in the afternoon and I slept for hours and hours. Then we ate Chinese food and went to bed and slept for hours and hours. And so ended another successful day on the road to recovery.

24 comments to The gigantic pajamas and the robotic anesthesiologist

  • Yay! I’m so happy to hear it went so well and you’re home and recovering so nicely. Here’s to a super quick recovery, too.

  • XUP

    Sometimes I’m comforted when robots perform important tasks like keeping me alive. It makes me think they are infallible because they’ve directed all their energies into perfecting their career skills instead of dividing their energies between career and social skills. It seems pretty standard that most genius types have big issues in other areas of their life. In any case, your robot seems to have done his job well (what’s a bruise in the grand scheme of things after all?)

  • Glad everything went well and they were generous with the pain meds. And pants! I had an anesthesiologist once who kept making inappropriate jokes but I was too high to care; the nurse who took care of me kept commenting on the size of the pre-op shot he gave me. The surgery was painless, except for my neck and shoulders hurting, apparently from the tube down the throat. I complained to my doctor, but all she said was, “That wasn’t MY doing.” ?!? Fortunately, I’ve never seen that anesthesiologist since. Hope things continue to improve for you!

  • Thanks Toni – this surgery is a pretty easy recovery. I feel almost good as new already.

    XUP, I’m not expecting health care professionals to be stand-up comics or expert schmoozers or anything like that. I just think that anybody who expects me to trust them that implicitly should at least be able to look me in the eye, smile, introduce himself, and ask me how I am. Even if it doesn’t come naturally to him, any social half-wit should be able to fake it.

    Abby, I was warned about the possibility of having a sore throat afterwards from the tube, but it didn’t happen. GC had surgery earlier this year and he was awake for it but they gave him so much spinal block (I think) that they couldn’t let him out of the day surgery ward for 11 hours after surgery because he was frozen for hours and hours longer than he should have been.

  • Not all anesthesiologists are insensitive and robotic boors though (as with surgery) technical proficiency is often valued more than bedside manner. Which, if you consider the outcomes, is not a bad thing but it would be best to have health care practitioners with skill and compassion.

  • Exactly deBeauxOs. And it’s interesting how we expect both technical proficiency and bedside manner of female health care practitioners, or those who work in traditionally female roles, like nurses. If a nurse were to avoid eye contact, refuse to smile, and barely grunt at her patients, we wouldn’t attribute it to her having devoted all her energy to her professional skills. We consider her social skills to be part of her professional skills. I would argue we have a right to expect the same of doctors.

  • I’ve only had one surgery (emergency c-section) but I’ve had two anesthesiologists, and from their kindness and consideration, I had developed a theory that anesthesiologists have the best bedside manner, that’s it’s part of their job requirement. I mean, it was the anesthesiologist who told me, “It’s a boy.” Your experience obviously blows my theory out of the water.

    Glad it went well, and you’re comfortable at home.

  • Oma

    When I had the surgery at the Hull Hospital the surgeon acted like your robot … before, during and after surgery. But I would have married my anesthetist if he’s asked me he was so very kind, concerned and competent. The surgeon was NONE of the above. I am glad you received competent and, for the most part, kind, care.

  • XUP

    Well, ya, it would be nice if everyone you had to deal with had fairly decent social skills as well, but if I had to pick, I could do without the smile and eye contact. But I know when you’re in a vulnerable position like pre-op you need all the reassurance you can get.

  • Noam Deguerre

    it was cheaper to have all 4 wisdom teeth out together; the hygenist was a former student who’d received a good grade, so imagine my surprise when i recovered before the surgery and asked (no one seemed to have noticed) “um, should i be here?” the second one took, it all went fine, lucky me with the timing! there’s no way i’d let that “professional” in a room with my unconscious body (undesireable as it may be) without a guarantee that he would not be alone…sadistic persons do avoid prosecution by becoming health professionals- remember jack the reaper?

  • Kay

    I’m please that it went well for you.
    Last time I had a general anaesthetic I woke up with the words ‘Gosh, I’m hungry. What’s for supper?’ The nurse seemed a little surprised by that!

  • Gillian

    I, too, woke up in tears, and was very upset by it. I’ll take you along for moral support if I have to go to the hospital.

  • Woodsy

    Apparently, I swore like a nasty drunken sailor while waking up and for about half an hour after waking up. How embarrassing…

    I want a friendly smile too when someone has their life in my hands, but I have learned that some people just aren’t able to share their humanity… maybe it’s how they cope with the fear of screwing up.

  • Woodsy

    Hmmm… I meant, “has my life in their hands”.

  • Nat

    Glad they gave you good meds, maybe robot doc is the QCH’s answer to the doctor shortage… they look human but… LOL.

    And I cry after any sort of anesthetic including the dental stuff.

  • Lana

    I wish you speedy recovery, take care of yourself. Yes, not every person in hospital friendly, but as long as he is competent, i will choose him over smiling and uncompetent fool.

  • Lucy

    Glad to hear the surgery went. All the best for your recovery.
    Re the double standard in people’s expectations of female vs male health-care practitioners, I would argue that that double standard exists in many (most?) other professions that involve any amount of social interaction. I can say from experience that it’s certainly true about students’ expectations of professors/teachers! My students expect a lot more from me than from my male colleagues. I am expected to be nicer or to be a “mommy” even to the ones who are my age or older!

  • Deb

    When they were trying to give me an epidural for Kati’s c-section, the anesthesiologist was like a father figure. He told me that if I were his daughter, he would recommend a general that day (I was upset already because my ex husband was late for the birth) instead. I took his advice and didn’t regret it.

  • Tom Sawyer

    Go easy on that Chinese food. Could be high in fat, sodium, and MSG.

  • Bonnie

    I had minor surgery when I was 31 and I remember when I was waking up in the recovery room it felt very dreamlike. I lay there with my eyes closed and heard the nurse softly ask “how are you feeling”. I softly replied “fine”.
    “Do you know what day it is?”
    “Yes, it’s Sunday”
    Do you know where you are?”
    “the Civic Hospital”
    And then in her angelic voice she asked “Do you know we had to amputate one of your legs?”
    My eyes shot open and I sat bolt upright and to my relief the nurse was actually talking to the older gentleman in the bed beside mine.

  • Lisa in Toronto

    Nice to hear you are back at home!

  • Lo

    I cry when I wake up after being under too!
    As for the robot, it’s too bad the personality isn’t there. I have started calling people on that shit but you probably had more important and serious things to think about. That being said, those robots are highly trained and know there stuff…..

  • Glad that it went smoothly, well, apart from that freezing fellow.

  • Hello just figured i will let you know i had a issue with this blog coming up blank as well. Must be gremlins in the page.