Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"Ohhh...he's a puker..."

This morning we arose at 5 a.m., got ready, and headed to the surgery center so M could get his long-broken shoulder repaired. To catch those of you up to speed who may not know, M has had problems with his right shoulder since high school. Too much volleyball. This, of course, did not keep him from living, eating and breathing volleyball throughout college, nor did he stop playing once he graduated. The shoulder has been getting gradually worse, until finally this year he decided he couldn't take it anymore. Part of that had to do with it being painful to pick up his own child. He made an appointment with an ortho surgeon, and we bet it was a torn rotator cuff.

Turns out, we're not so good at diagnosing shoulder problems. He suffered, instead, from a torn labrum, which is this little ring of cartilidge type stuff that lines the socket of your shoulder, keeping the ball of the joint in place and moving only where it's supposed to move. When your labrum is torn, there is nothing to keep that ball in place, which means it goes where it's not supposed to and causes pain. We were actually pretty lucky he never dislocated his shoulder, which can happen quite easily with a torn labrum.

So Dr. Rothrock (doctor of athletes and all-around good guy) scheduled the surgery for today. Turns out he's not so good at diagnosing the weather. But that's another story. We got there at 6, he was in by 8, and finished by 9:30. His labrum has been sutured to these little metal posts that were planted in the shoulder bone, and he now sports a helluva sling to keep his arm immobilized while he heals. Dr. R is very pleased with the procedure, showing off his handiwork with color photographs (!) of the labrum, shoulder and sutures. I'll see if I can't get 'em scanned in for ya. Dr. R told M that Scott Rolen had the same thing (torn labrum) and so now M thinks he's all rock-star with his cool Rolenesque injury.

While the surgery went well, post-op didn't so much. M does not handle general anesthesia well. Okay, he doesn't handle it at all really. First time was for the cryo treatment on his eye, and he tossed his cookies and then dry heaved for hours after. Second time was with the appendectomy just over a year ago, when he aspirated and then had to do breathing treatments. This was number 3, and we warned everyone we came in contact with today what was going to happen. They did what they could, fine doctors and nurses that they are, but there isn't a thing in the world that will smooth the way for my M.

Some quotes from the docs and RNs:
"Well, we threw everything and the kitchen sink at him..."
"He's got the entire medicine cabinet in him..."
"Typically only 5% of our patients get sick, he's one of 'em..."
"Ohhh...doesn't matter what we do...he's a puker..."

That last one was my personal favorite.

It wasn't bad, really, compared to the first time with that cryo treatment, and even M, in his drug-induced stupor, said, "I'd rather have this than aspiration." Yeah, no kidding. Me too. It was still hard to watch him not feel well, but he got it out of his system and then appeared to do much better.

Of course, that could be because they put yet another cocktail in his IV.

This, naturally, knocked him out all over again. And so there we sat. Me and the nurse, Cathy, who was wonderful. We watched him sleep, and we watched the snow fall, and Cathy would say, "How far away do you live?" and I would say, "Oh, about 15 minutes." and she would say, "Without snow." and I would reply, "Yep."

Finally, Cathy decided that we needed to get on the road, and that M was probably capable of at least semi-consciousness, and so we started working with him. He totally kills me how he can become completely lucid and capable of following directions when he has to, even though he's pumped full of meds. We woke him up and he asked, "Is it over?" "Yeah, babe, it's over. I'm going to take you home now. How do you feel?" "I have a funny taste in my mouth." "Yeah, that's because you threw up." "Oh."

So I pulled the car around, which despite our carefully parking in the center of the garage to avoid any snow accumulation still had a soft coating, and we loaded him in. So began my trip home, not exceeding 20 mph and mentally screaming at the other drivers to stay the hell away from us. I'm pretty sure I wasn't unlike new fathers driving their babies home from the hospital for the first time. I found myself wishing I had a flag or something that identified that I was carrying very precious cargo, and praying that I just get him home safely so he could start recuperating. The last thing he needed post-op was to get into a car accident.

Katie had called to offer Shawn's snow driving services, and that's probably what got me home okay. I just gripped the wheel, tried to find the ruts, and said to myself over and over, "If I crash, Shawn will come get us. If I crash, Shawn will come get us." Just knowing I had Shawn available made all the difference in the world, I think.

So now we're home and warm and snug, and with our 75 vicadin tablets waiting for the shoulder/arm block to wear off. M is snoozing on the couch, and I think I just may join him. Thank you to everyone who has called to see how he's doing. Keep those calls coming. He should be up for talking later this evening, and I'm sure he'll want to visit with ya'all over the phone.


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