By Sylvia L. Ramsey
The afternoon before the bladder cancer surgery, I began my pre-operation procedures. That lasted through the evening and most of the night. I really had wanted to spend that evening with my children and husband, but instead, I spent it in the bathroom. This type of surgery requires that the entire digestive tract be cleaned out, and that is absolutely no fun.
In addition, I had to be at the hospital at six the next morning. I arrived at the hospital, checked in and went to a room to wait for the next step of my journey. I really wanted to sleep. I was exhausted. My husband, who was battling prostate cancer and COPD, insisted on coming to the hospital with me. My sons assured me that they would take care of him.
I was in the pre-op room for quite some time while the nurses stuck me with needles and made sure I was ready. The anesthesiologist came in to explain how they would put me to sleep. He said they would give me a couple of shots to relax me before I went into the operating room. Once I was on the operating table, they would give me some "gas" to breathe that would put me to sleep. He assured me that he would be there to make sure everything went smoothly with the anesthetic. The room stayed busy with people coming and going. I just wanted to go—get it over.
The doctor came by to see me in the pre-op. He said he would not know which procedure he would be able to do until he found out how far the cancer had spread. If it had penetrated the bladder wall, he probably would not be able to create an Indiana pouch, the method I preferred. It was possible I would wake up to find that I had a traditional ileal conduit. The decision would be based on what they found once inside of me. I think that was the most difficult part, the not knowing what to expect when I awoke.
After that, a couple of people dressed in scrubs came with their gurney to take me to the operating room. Those shots that were supposed to relax me did not work. I was not relaxed at all. That ride seemed to take forever.
I finally arrived in a sterile room where people in scrubs and masks were bustling around doing all sorts of things. I looked for my doctor but did not see him. The anesthesiologist put an intravenous needle in my arm. He said I would soon drift off to sleep. That seemed to take forever, but finally everything seemed to fade away. That was the last I remember until I awoke.
I was told that I had been on the operating table for 11 hours. My blood pressure had dipped low, causing problems. I have to believe them because I have no idea what occurred once I went to sleep.
Check back here to read more from Sylvia. Plus, read more of her story on HealthyWomen.org:
Living With Bladder Cancer
Two Diagnoses, One Couple, One Day: Could it be Possible?
Lots of Questions and No One to Talk To
Preparing for Surgery and Staying Positive
It's Not Leprosy, It's Cancer
Learn more about bladder cancer and about Sylvia L. Ramsey, cancer survivor, advocate, author and public speaker, at: www.bladdercancersupport.org, www.authorsden.com/sylvialramsey1 and www.sylvialramsey.com.