This is the third part of my “diary” that describes a new and innovative medical treatment that I have undergone in hopes that it results in a major change and improvement in my life. Parts I and II can be found preceding (scroll down) this posting on Marc’s Blog (mk4567blog.wordprss.com).
After six tries Rosemarie and I finally made the trip from Fort Lauderdale to the Coral Gables area of South Miami without screwin’ up. Construction detours threw us a mickey one time, the wrong address entered into the GPS had its turn, my mis-read of an exit ramp off the turnpike resulted in a sudden map-unfolding panic… Well, you get the picture, our once savvy built-in GPS-level sense of direction and never-get-lost track record is slowly decaying…another sign of growing old.
Anyway this time, on time, we walked into the hospital shortly before 6am this morning. The mission today: no more pre-exams, no more hurdles or hoops to jump over and through, no more waiting…Today I will undergo a surgical procedure that will place the Inspire implant inside my body. Ain’t science great!
My almost-famous and soon-to-be internationally renowned doctor, Rolando Molina, is the only surgical M.D. performing the Inspire implant procedure in South Florida. He is one of those rare and unique doctors you luck into. He truly gets it; he understands how horrible my life has been and knows how much this moment means to me. He has prepared me well. I know and understand everything that is about to happen to me along with the variety of outcomes that can result. I’m ready, bring it on!
Like most everyone, for me it is a rather daunting experience to be sitting in a cold hospital cubicle, wearing an awkward hospital gown, awaiting who knows what and abandoning all my rights as I sign hospital legal forms in total blind faith that nothing will go wrong. Meanwhile, deep deep deep deep inside there is this ever-so-present “what-if” residing somewhere in my guts…what if something does go wrong. Hell, I am old now. My body is sending me new and crappy signals almost daily that anything is possible and none of it is good. No! I stop myself. This procedure is too important and I need to stay optimistic, up and positive—hard to do, feeling very vulnerable in an awkward hospital gown.
Okay, I have signed my life away and kissed my wife see-you-later (“goodbye” is not the right word to use here). I’m off as my bed, with me along for the ride, is launched on a trip traveling down winding hallways, through double-opening doors and eventually arriving at its destination. The time for this trip is probably less than a minute, but it actually took five months from the day I first learned about this new procedure for persons suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea to when I am finally rolled through the doors of Operating Room 11.
Here, there is assembled a team of medical experts all dressed in greens scrubs. Each one is busy doing whatever it is they have to do to prepare for his or her role in the process of putting to sleep, cutting, dabbing, poking, inserting, monitoring, etc…my body. It has become totally theirs and at their mercy for the next few hours. “It” is moved from my rolling bed and placed on a narrow slab. It’s right arm is extended outward, resting on its own exclusive wing. Once my body is secured on this slab, immediately, it seems everyone in the room descends upon it and begins doing something to it. One is putting a cuff around the lower leg, another is wedging a pinching instrument on one of its fingers while still someone else is wrapping the upper arm in a blood pressure cuff. I lose count of the things happening to me all of which are performed with the artistry of a fine symphony orchestra. An out-of-sight anesthesiologist whom I met while I was in pre-op is positioned behind my head. She reaches over my face and places a soft robbery blue-tinted mask over my nose. “Some oxygen, just take deep breaths.” My mind is too full of visuals to think. I just respond: deep breaths.
“Okay, now it’s off to dreamland,” or something like that says the voice coming from behind my head. One, maybe two seconds more of reality and that’s it for me.
Sometime around two hours later, I open my eyes. I am not in some cloud-filled environment and no one has wings or halos…likewise there is no fire and no one has horns. I figure I’m still on planet earth and living. Yes, there is my lovely wife, Rosemarie, hovering over my right side. Life is good…again.
I have three “wounds” and each is covered with bandages: one on my neck, one on my upper right chest and one on my right side against my ribcage opposite the upper arm. All have accompanying pain, but it is negligible compared to the knee replacement surgery I had a month ago. This I can handle.
My wife tells me Dr. Molina explained to her that everything went perfectly, other than the nerve at the base of my tongue (the “hypoglossal”) was a little more obscure than usual and took time to locate. But eventually, success all around and after turning the unit on for a brief test, it was working properly. I was then glued up (they don’t use stitches) and sent to recovery with good grades for behavior.
In fact, the procedure went so well, and I reacted equally as well, I did not have to stay for the night. So here I am at home busy typing away tomorrow’s posting. All that’s left now is the waiting…until June 9th when my Inspire implant will be activated. Then, I will soon learn if I will achieve the 78% rate of lowering the number of times my tongue collapses, shutting off my air supply and depriving me of hours and hours of sleep every night of my life. So, stay tuned next month for both breaking and breathing news!