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Taking Charge of a Surgery

After I had signed up for a minor surgery, I called my Area Reference Person, who’d had many surgeries herself, and she gave me the direction, “Go in as counselor. Or, even better, go in like you’re leading a workshop.”

Three months earlier, my doctor had told me that the surgery had to be done under a general anesthetic, but I knew from RC that I would recover faster and think more clearly if I could avoid it.

At the pre-operative visit I met with the anesthesiologist. He and I discussed the general anesthesia, and then I blurted out, “Couldn’t I just have a spinal?” He broke into a big grin and said, “Sure! We can do a spinal.” I almost fell over with surprise. It was like he wasn’t allowed to suggest it but was hoping I would ask.

I told myself that my doctor might not agree so I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high. When she called to check in a few days before the surgery, I asked her about using a spinal and said that the anesthesiologist was willing to do it. She replied, “Sure, we can do a spinal.” Again, I almost fell over with relief.

As for “leading a workshop,” I tried to be over-the-top [extremely] friendly with and complimentary to everyone I met in the hospital. I asked everyone’s name, told them repeatedly that they were “the best,” passed on compliments about them I’d heard from other people, and asked them tons [lots] of questions about themselves.

Right before the surgery, I spoke with the resident doctor who would be assisting my doctor with the operation. She had a Middle Eastern last name, so I asked her if she was Muslim, and she answered, “My parents are.” I considered that a “yes,” because she was connected to the religion by upbringing and from having relatives who identified with it. I apologized for all the anti-Muslim sentiment being expressed in the news and told her my husband had recently attended a rally in support of our neighboring Muslim community. I also told her that if she and her family were forced to “register” as Muslims, I would too. She squeezed my hand and thanked me several times.

During the surgery, I listened with a headset to a CD of relaxing songs, but it ended up being background noise most of the time. I kept my attention out better when I found out [learned] all about my buddies in the operating room. I wasn’t chatting with the people actually doing the surgery, but either the head nurse or the anesthesiologist was always near my head. I now know exactly how many grandchildren they each have; where they live; their hobbies; their pets, or feelings about pets; what holidays they celebrate; and more.

I complimented and joked with the two men who came to wheel me to my next location. My new best friend was the attending nurse in the recovery room. I soon took her “under my wing” as one of my workshop attendees and found out all about her life.

At the end of the day, I felt triumphant for having kept my mind active and conscious with a spinal anesthesia, and I felt proud about and satisfied with my connections after “leading my workshop.”

Sophie Glasser

Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

(Present Time 190, January 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00