a man lying on a surgery table with 3 healthcare professionals around him

Am I Dreaming?

Last updated: July 2020

Walking into an operating room for the first time can be an intimidating experience. The “theater” I entered at Mt. Sinai was small, someone might even describe it as intimate. It was cold; by that I mean the temperature was about 65 degrees. There were seven people in the room scurrying about, taking care of business, cleaning up from the previous procedure and getting ready for mine. As soon as I walked in, everything stopped, and I was greeted with a unified “good morning.” The nurses, three women and a man, and the male anesthetist were all smiling. Their warmth took the chill out of the air. The male nurse put his hand on my shoulder and lead me to the operating table for the TURBT procedure.

Shaking from fear and cold

I sat on the edge, legs hanging over. I was shaking from a combination of fear and cold as he untied the back of my gown. From the time I sat down, I was in physical human contact with someone in the room; the nurse talked softly to me the whole time reassuring me and asking if I needed anything. The anesthetist told me what was going to happen.

“I want you to hold a pillow close over your abdomen and lean forward, curving your spine.”

That forced the vertebrae the spread to open a path to the spinal column.

“I’m going to give you some local freezing.”

Local numbing anesthesia

Once he located his spot, he gave me five quick shots around the area. They hurt, but the freezing took effect very quickly. I could feel the area go numb.

“Stay forward and relax, and don’t move.”

The nurse had his hand on my shoulder, and he settled me. I could feel the pressure of the needle entering my back, no pain but a dull sensation that grew the deeper the needle went in. He had to find a space between the vertebrae to allow the needle to enter the spinal column to inject the freezing.

“Steady, steady, that’s it, all done.”

No sensation from the waist down

The freezing moved quickly, the nurse urgently laying me back getting me in position, feet in stirrups in a matter of seconds. All of a sudden my body, from the waist down, was dead, I had no feeling whatsoever. I had a moment of panic before the anesthetist spoke to me.

“That went very well, just relax, I’m going to give you a sedative to relax you. Start counting back from 100.”

“100, 99, 98.”

Waking up in the recovery room

I think I saw Dr. Zlotta smiling over me but the next thing a knew I was waking up in the recovery room.

“Mr. Van Horne, how are you feeling?”

Am I dreaming? Is someone talking to me? I opened my eyes and through a fog saw a nurse at the foot of my bed. Blonde and smiling, stethoscope around her neck taking notes.

“Welcome back, how are you feeling?”

“I’m not sure.” I looked down, my legs were still there but I couldn’t feel a thing.

“You’re in the recovery room, just relax, the doctor will be here in a few minutes.”

I closed my eyes trying to comprehend what had just happened.

To be continued...

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