December 8, 2008 – exactly 14 weeks from the date of the injury I finally went in for surgery. I was really lucky to have been booked in so soon (within 2 wks of my consultation appointment!). Apparently a lady cancelled so a spot opened up and I got it 🙂 Never in my life did I think that I would have to succomb to getting surgery. Knock on wood this is going to be my first and last. The operative procedure I underwent was called ORIF (Open Reduction Internal Fixation). This involved the use of a titanium plate and screws to help stabilize the bone in order to successfully achieve full union of my fractured clavicle. The only real risk of doing this is that of an infection – which was about a 1 in 200 chance. No eating or drinking allowed after 12am the night before surgery.
So here’s the play-by-play of what happened:
9:45am – I checked into the day surgery unit, got my ID bracelet and waited to be called.
10:30am – A couple of nurses came into the room, called a group of us out and we were all taken to the change rooms and handed a set of clothes consisting of drawstring pants, gowns, slippers & house coats…they looked a lot like PJs, except really oversized and a not so flattering fit…at least on me it was…I was literally floating in the whole get up. I locked up all my belongings in the locker and was off to the next waiting room.
10:40am – I went into a big waiting room of people waiting to get surgery..and there were lots! Shortly after getting in, a nurse came to look over my forms, made sure I knew what I was in for, I told her I was getting an ORIF surgery and she gave me a funny look as if I knew too much. She also asked me about allergies, some medical questions, checked my vitals, blood pressure, pulse, body temp, weight etc.
“healthy as a horse” she said. “Awesome!” i said.
Then to make things interesting, another nurse came by to ask me if I wanted to participate in a questionnaire about anesthetics and its effect on memory. I figured, sure, why not. She had a really thick accent and I couldn’t really understand her, which may just slightly confound the results of the study, which consisted of simple tests like repeating random strings of numbers forwards and backwards, remembering and repeating groups of words, and coming up with words starting with ‘F’. I remember clearly ending with fast, furious, freak, fear & frankenstein…must’ve been my anxiety speaking.
11:15am – I was given a couple of pain killers then went downstairs to another waiting room. Funny how the rooms constantly got smaller and the seating increasingly more comfortable. Here, there were 7 seats arranged in a semi circle. This was the final waiting room before getting to the OR. No backing out now! Here, I was asked more questions, met the anesthesiologist who told me about the procedure and possible risks, and Dr. V (the surgeon) drew an X on my shoulder that was to be operated on. I was set.
12:20pm – My name was called. I was escorted down another level into the operating room, which was an extremely cold & sterile place. I saw my fractured clavicle xray on the computer screens, bright lights, and way too many sharp, shiny objects.
I felt like I was in an episode of ER except George Clooney was missing…however there did happen to be a guy named George in the room. They told me to get onto the operating table – At that point everything suddenly felt official and the anxiety really started to kick in. I got a bit nervous and kept wanting them to hurry up and drug me. They tied my legs and both arms down first, which made me feel like some kind of stray animal being restrained. Maybe they figured I’d be a wild one?….hmm
I was then given anaesthesia through an IV that was stuck into my right arm. There was a new girl assisting the anaesthesiologist. She seemed to not really know what she was doing. Kind of nerve wracking but all was good. It took hold within a minute or 2 and I was pretty much knocked out for the whole procedure.
The surgery probably took 1.5-2 hours. I didn’t feel a thing and vaguely remember hearing someone say ‘ok, we’re done!’ then being half conscious for the elevator ride up to the recovery room. I was up past 4am the night before designing a book so I was super tired and slept for a good 3+ hours afterwards. The nurses on duty said they tried waking me up a few times and asked why i was sleeping so much. Crazy…I woke up wearing nothing but pants, an industrial grade sling/brace around my body and a really dry throat! Not much pain though, my shoulder was numb.
I got fed me some really dry crackers & apple juice then quickly got dressed and went home.
Dressing Tip: If you’re a girl, strapless tops and dresses are the way to go! Not only does it look good, but it’s very practical and eliminates the need to put your arms through a sleeve. …and if it’s cold out, get a comfy pair of stretch pants.No need to wear super baggy, unflattering clothes.
The surgery went well and I felt much better afterwards than when I first broke my collarbone. Aside from numbness in the shoulder, the pain was minimal and most importantly, the bone is now aligned and clavicle restored back to its original length….and I have a little 4″ scar. Although I was hesitant about going under the knife, I knew I had to do it and am glad I got it done.