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.