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March 13, 2012 > ...On Becoming Bionic (chapter 3)

...On Becoming Bionic (chapter 3)

By Margaret Thornberry

Good news! I passed the treadmill test with flying colors, so surgery is ON for March 5th! I did manage to peg along fast enough on the treadmill stress test to get my heart rate up, and there's nothing in view on the EKG that indicates a problem. I appreciated that the staff were kind enough not to laugh at me as I attempted to clutch my hospital gown shut while keeping up a good pace, in spite of the many wires attached to various parts of my anatomy.

My pre-op hospital visit was informative and... interesting. I have mixed feelings about the active part I am expected to play in my starring role as surgery patient, having somehow gotten the notion that all I had to do was become unconscious and stay that way until everything was done. It seems I need to practice breathing! No, seriously! I now have a small machine with a tube, which measures how deeply I breathe and how much air I can take in. Using this device exercises my lungs before surgery and will help keep them working well after I spend so much time prone and breathing shallowly during surgery, while I'm conked out, missing all the fun.

Another job for me - washing, washing, washing! All the bed linens I'll be using before the surgery and all the clothes I'll be wearing to the hospital and afterwards until the incision closes up, must be clean, clean, clean! And me too! I have a special yellow soap and sponge to scrub all over, the morning before the day of surgery, then change into clean, clean, clean clothes, then stay away from anything tainted (guess who doesn't have to change the kitty litter? ha-hah!). And another complete scrub last thing before going to bed. In honor of the occasion my toes are now adorned with bright turquoise polish... Go Sharks!

I know Washington Hospital has an outstanding kitchen, as I'm a member of the Niles Rotary, which meets there for lunch. But, while the menu I'm choosing from during my hospital stay is tasty and varied, the wonderful lamb stew they occasionally serve is not listed. Darn.

And the last 'do-it-yourself' item... I'll be learning how to give myself anti-coagulant shots in the hospital, which I'll be administering for two weeks after I get back home to reduce the possibility of blood clots. I keep telling myself, "If my daughter's childhood friend could manage insulin shots at age 10, I can do this!" I had been thinking about the Ken Burns special on the Civil War, and how damaged limbs were amputated without anesthesia or antibiotics in the 1860's, but when my blood pressure kept going up I decided that wasn't the best image to hold in mind. In reality, the most difficult part of the whole procedure for me will be doing without my usual espresso latte first thing in the morning before surgery.

Wish me luck!

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