Mike the Surgical Nurse

April 5, 2012 at 11:01 am (Hospitalizations, Medical) (, , , , , , , )

I was admitted to the hospital on Thursday evening and had an emergency ventral hernia repair on Friday night. A lot happened throughout my six day experience, most of it pretty bad. I promise to give a more detailed account soon. But I had this singular experience on Friday night that I wanted to share all by itself, so that’s what I’m addressing in this post. More information to come.

As a member of the human race, the idea of a group of strangers standing around my unconscious naked body while it is being cut open and organs lay bare, makes me a fair amount of nervous. Even when I know it’s the best option to heal and feel better, once I have signed the necessary consent forms in pre-op I am now given a gentle sedative just so I can remain functional enough to follow instructions and pay attention to what I’m being told. And as this surgery was completely not on my radar when I went into the ER the night before, and there had been some crazy drama in the hours leading up the surgery, I was pretty emotionally wrung out and keyed up at the same time, which is difficult on a body.

I don’t remember from my previous surgeries if pre-op always seemed so rushed, or if it was this experience on its own, but there were two nurses and two doctors asking me questions and examining me all at the same time, while also instructing Ninja as to what he should be doing as well. I was really losing grip on any sense of stability, and that’s even after I started employing meditative techniques that I practice specifically for situations like these. I was also in a great deal of pain, which didn’t make things easier.

The sedative starts to slow down my heart rate and my breathing, and I see the socks. At first, I wonder if maybe the Versed is affecting me in a whole new way and I’m seeing things now. I take a quick assessment of the space around me, to see if anything else seems odd or unusual. Nope, the only unexpected thing in my line of sight is that this person has the bottom of their scrubs tucked into a pair of pink and green argyle knee socks.

Not actually Mike. I chose this photo because these are, colorwise, the right pinks and greens. Also, I'm pretty sure Mike is the hairy-leg kind of guy.

I unfocus my attention from all the bustle and questions and fear and take a moment to look at this argyled person. He was about six foot three or four inches tall, with a state-school-football-player’s build. He had rusty red hair tucked into the surgical hair net, and a short, just slightly wild looking red Van Dyke. The last two thoughts I remember in this slow-motion Matrix moment was that a) boy, it’s been a long time since I found a tradtionally-masculine-looking, cisgender man attractive, and b) boy, I find this traditionally-masculine looking cisgender man attractive. (I admit, I had no way of knowing if Mike was cisgender. I was more musing on the fact that he ‘read’ that way to me and it wasn’t a deterrent.)

“Nice socks.” I break out of the reverie and find myself feeling the Versed more, as usually complimenting someone I find attractive pretty damn nervewracking.

He starts talking to me, and all of a sudden I’ve completely forgotten that in just a few moments, someone is going to be slicing my belly open and unkinking my intenstines. He gets me into the stretcher to wheel me into the OR (which he calls “his”, even though he’s not the surgeon) and usually at this point, Versed or no, I’m beyond comprehensible thought. Instead, I’m able to help transfer me to the operating table while discussing our tattoos and how he flies home to Mississippi to get his done because that’s where the artist he’s been going to since he turned 18 is.

I have to get an epidural to help with post-operative pain, and because of my body shape I have to hold this kinda uncomfortable position while the anesthesiologist does whatever he needs to. Mike helps hold me in position, and we talk about my experience of getting songs trapped in my head when I go under general, and how he wishes they could allow patients to request what music they listen to before they go under. I don’t remember what was playing, but I remember we both liked it.

Should have known this was an odd looking "oxygen" mask

I laid back down on the table and went through some last minute positioning things. Mike rubs my arm as my eyes begin to tear up a little, because I realize that I’m going to be in the same position for an unknown amount of time and oh yeah, that’s because they’re going to cut me open and blah blah Del is made of meat and people die on the table and blah. He tells me I’m going to do fine, and the anesthesiologist puts a mask over my face and tells me to breathe the “oxygen”.

(That’s the one part of my actual surgical experience that pissed me off. Normally, they do the whole, “This is the general. Take deep breaths and count backwards from 100.” It’s purposeful, I know what’s happening, it’s all above board. This time, it was a little underhanded. I mean, I totally think they did it that way because I was having such a hard time emotionally they didn’t want me to have an anxiety attack when he said, “Okay, we’re about to begin.”)

The next thing I am aware of is being wheeled into post-op. I desperately try to figure out if Mike is there, but I’m too out of it and can barely keep my eyes open. I never see him again.

The PS to this story is that at another point later in my stay, I am seen by some surgical assistants. Either Ninja or I mentions Mike, and all of them go on about what a great guy he is and how they like working with him. Ninja then mentions that it would mean a lot to me if he would come by for a visit. I must have turned six shades of red.

He never came. But meeting Mike, and the emotional support he gave me through the scariest part of the whole experience, is something I not only won’t forget, but will strive to give to others. Ordeal workers need Mike the Surgical Nurse too.

"It's going to be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."



  1. Eric S said,

    Dude, I am NOT wearing those socks for you. Sheesh!

  2. Leigh said,

    Really glad to hear something was positive about your experience. 🙂

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