Thursday, February 16, 2012

Losing an Organ (Part 2)

Fortunately, I noticed the signs early enough the appendix hadn't ruptured. The surgeons were also optimistic they could perform the appendectomy laparoscopically. Those two factors significantly shorten the recovery time post-surgery. I'm sure many of you have had surgery before; however, this was my first time so I was constantly making observations about the way things are performed. First and foremost, I'm still incredibly amazed by the fact we live in a world were I can have an organ stop working, I pay a total stranger to remove it, and then have total strangers provide me with 24/7 care for as long as I need it.

My wife is a nurse at the University of Kentucky hospital so it's only natural that I had the surgery performed there. I came away incredibly impressed at the overall quality of the hospital, the entire staff, and the efficiency of the whole process. Of course, there's always a waiting game when it comes to surgery, but the entire day still seems like a blur to me. I went into the ER around 11am and was take straight back to a room. By 8pm that evening, I was being prepared for surgery. Being "prepared" for surgery includes a number of unpleasant details I will spare you. If you're not sure what I'm referring to then hopefully you'll never have to find out.

The effects of anesthesia are different for each person. Some report large blocks of time they're unable to remember. Others slur their words and speak with no emotional filter at all. I remember every moment leading up to the surgery and I remember the moment I started to come to. As they wheeled me into the operating room, they began to place the heart monitors on my chest. They placed a mask on my face and boom, I was gone. Totally oblivious to the world and everything around me. No count to 10. No look at the ceiling for 5 seconds. Just completely gone.

For doctors and nurses who work with this sort of technology every day, this doesn't seem like a big deal. I try to talk to my wife about this sort of thing, but she looks at me like I'm crazy. For someone on the outside though, the entire medial field is truly a phenomenon. As I sat in the hospital bed, my thoughts drifted to the inevitable bill sure to arrive in the mail a few weeks upon my return home. I looked around the room and started to think about just how much it cost to provide me care. I thought about the nurses and technicians, the equipment, and even the hospital bed itself. All were of outstanding quality. Then I thought about the service provided by the surgeon and her team. What would I be willing to pay for all of it? Anything. That's right...anything. When you really get to the heart of the matter, everyone at that hospital has a hand in saving my life.

We often take these sorts of things for granted because surgeries and hospitals are so common in our 2012 world. But isn't it true these people saved my life? In another time and place, my life would have ended at the age of 25. The appendix would have ruptured and almost certainly taken my life. But in today's world, I'll be going back to work next week. So combined with insurance and my own personal funds, I'll pay off my debt to the University of Kentucky over the next several weeks. But is a debt like this ever truly repaid? I never even got a chance to thank the surgeon who performed the appendectomy, she was quickly off to perform another procedure, likely saving another life. My hospital bed is now empty and the nurses prepare to care for the next patient in need. I can't possibly take the time to thank them all...but I hope they all know just how appreciative I am.

I didn't say anything too off the wall as the drugs wore off. One nurse said I just kept saying "thank you." I wouldn't have it any other way.


logankstewart said...

This brings a giant smile to my face. The only surgery I've ever had was getting my wisdom teeth removed, but that's nothing. Keisha, on the other hand, had to have an emergency c-section when Avonlea was born, and like you say, everything was a blur. We walked through the doors and I said "This is surreal." The nurses and staff were moving with competence and efficiency, but also with tenderness and care. They knew she was scared and I was nervous. They also knew how important it was to get the baby out, too. Everything was incredibly smooth and quick and taken for granted. You're right. If this had been a hundred years ago, Keisha and Avonlea likely would have died, but thanks to God and modern medicine, they didn't... and neither did you.

We got lucky with our bill. My insurance at work is practically non-existent. I had a $6k deductible last year before any benefits started helping and a $10k OOP. Total bills for hospital stay and everything was almost $20k. Fortunately the hospital allowed a payment plan, which I participated in from June until December. Then, at the end of the year, they mailed me a letter saying that if I could pay half of the remaining balance (around $1300) then they would forgive the rest of the debt! I was ecstatic.

So good luck with your bills and recovery and all. I'm very glad that you're doing great.

Mary said...


I didn't realize that this had happened. I am so glad that you are ok! It is really amazing to think about how far medicine has come and wonder what it will be like in the future. Also, I am so glad you were home when this happened. I think this may have been a very different experience in the Bahamas!

Jonboy said...

Logan- Glad you enjoyed reading it! I'm very thankful everything worked out for Keisha and Avonlea (nice name, but she's just wayyyy too adorable). The whole experience was pretty surreal. Almost feels like a dream at this point. I think I'll have one more blog on this to wrap things up.

Mary- Thanks for reading! Yeah I have no idea what we would have done had this happened while we were on the boat. I'm not sure I'd want a Bahamian surgeon operating on me!

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