Surgery, Benzos, Tattoos and Hall & Oates
(original post November 7, 2015)
As I was lying in a hospital bed yesterday morning awaiting outpatient surgery, I was thinking that I might get to chronicle the happenings of the day just in case anything interesting occurred during my hopefully short and relatively painless stay.
Up to that point, my visit had been fairly uneventful. I checked in, changed into the standard open-in-the back robe (and a pair of lemon yellow non-skid socks), had my vital signs checked and an IV started. Of course, there were the questions – full name, date of birth, what is going to be done to me and, very importantly, on which side of my body will this occur. Oh, and the allergy questions including the strange looks when I mention benzodiazepines and fluoroquinolone antibiotics.
Later, a nurse came in and actually asked me more about the benzos and antibiotics. She was genuinely concerned – none of those looks like I was “one of those” individuals who probably needed to be “on something.” She made sure the antibiotic I was receiving was not a quinolone. She even put a red allergy wristband on my wrist with the words “benzodiazepines” and “fluoroquinolones.” I was impressed.
The anesthesiologist came in about an hour later. (My surgeon was running behind.) I told him I was quite calm and had no anxiety, so I would not be needing Versed/midazolam or any other benzo. He said he would not use benzos –only general anesthesia. Wow. He was listening. Two years earlier prior to ankle surgery, even though I had specified time after time that I was allergic to benzos, I was still given midazolam.
In another hour or so, I was wheeled to the OR and transferred to the operating table. (Love those nice warm blankets!) As I lay there, I heard a Hall and Oates tune coming from somewhere. I mentioned that it seemed to be odd music for an OR. That started a discussion about old bands and tribute bands. I learned that the anesthesiologist is going to see The Machine (tribute band for Pink Floyd) later this month. I mentioned I will be at the Get the Led Out (tribute for Led Zeppelin) concert next month in Harrisburg. The discussion was interrupted when he saw my “benzo survivor happy, joyous, free” tattoo and actually read it out loud. I had an opportunity to briefly describe my withdrawal to him. He seemed to understand. Cool stuff.
In a few moments, the oxygen mask was on me, the little “burn” from the propofol was felt in my arm, and I was on my way to wherever you go when you are put under.
In about a nanosecond, I was groggily waking up in the recovery room. The surgeon came by and said something about not being able to repair my hernia laparoscopically because of scar tissue from earlier operations, so he had to do it the old-fashioned way – with a big incision. Bummer.
When I returned to my room, the nurse got me a drink, took my vitals, and gave me the discharge do’s and don’ts. There had been some talk about me being admitted to the hospital, but I was allowed to go home. I really did not want to take a chance of them giving me a benzo or opiate in the middle of the night. I don’t need to start a brand new chemical dependency under the guise of medical treatment.
So, here I am with my faithful, non-addictive ice bag across the right side of my black and blue lower abdomen. It has served me quite well. Thank you very much.
Al in all, it was a pretty good experience despite the pain and some of the nasty side effects of the propofol. I think my insistence, maybe even stubbornness, about getting no benzos opened a few eyes especially when I didn’t stay for admission. I can use this recovery time to learn how to build a website – something I have never had time to do.
Of course, there is the Get the Led Out concert in a few weeks. I should be nearly fully healed by then. I wish my friends currently in benzo withdrawal (and withdrawal from other psych drugs) would heal so quickly.
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