PERCS: Serendipity All Around as My Worries Fade to Black (Part 3)
Learning To Walk All Over Again for the 3rd Time: Part Three
I didn't sleep much that night before surgery. I wasn't nervous for the operation itself or the challenging recovery to come. But I couldn't stop my mind from running through the various outcomes that might come my way afterward, and how I'd deal with them long-term, if I needed to.
As my mind did its thing on repeat, I watched the clock turn every hour... and I coped emotionally by eating every single snack we had in our room til my cut-off time struck! (The thought of going 13+ hours without food didn't excite me one bit!) At some point though, I drifted off to sleep, only to have my alarm wake me right back up because whether I was ready or not, "PERCS Day" was here!
Eyes open and brave face on, I went through the motions of showering as required with some weird chemical antiseptic given to me by the hospital (that I was ultimately allergic to, as we later found out!). I then got dressed, packed my hospital bag, and quickly went upstairs in the hotel to give one special lady - Nydia - a big hug.
Nydia and I have been on this SDR journey together literally from day one. We both received our "YES" to SDR on the same day back in 2017, and we've cheered each other on through every victory, struggle and mountain moved, since. We're also the only two Canadian adults to have had SDR, so it was extra special to me that our paths would come to cross in St. Louis this week, while we were each there for orthopedic surgery. I'm so grateful for the words of wisdom she and her Mom shared with me, that ultimately helped me sort through the noise and find my courage to proceed with PERCS. And with tears of fear and hope in my eyes, I was thankful to hug them both one more time before my surgery, because they understood the reality of what I was about to do, in ways that few others could.
With that last hug and a quick, teary pic, I went back downstairs to our room, only to find myself tearing up once more as soon as I opened our hotel door!
My friend Nonna had flown in from home to be with me on my surgery day and for the weekend of recovery! How amazing is that?! I can't put into words the peace of mind and heart her presence gave me, that morning, but it truly meant the world to me to have her there. She is "my person" and I love her dearly!
Shortly thereafter, my Aunt, Nonna and I all made our way over to Surgery Registration and Admitting at Barnes, to start the process of getting prepped for surgery. If I thought the surprises were over on this day though, I would quickly be mistaken!
As it turns out, my intake nurse just happened to be the mother of a now grown up young man, who also had SDR with Dr. Park many years ago. He was patient #300 at the time (Dr. Park has since performed SDR on over 4,300+ patients!) and his story as a college football player went viral back in 2015. Even more incredible, I remember watching his news story back then, just months after I first discovered SDR in 2016 while still wondering if SDR was too good to be true! Now, 3 years later - and on the other side of that life-changing first surgery - my admitting nurse was a fellow SDR Mom who understood fully how challenging of a decision it is that I was making. She was simply wonderful, and spent a lot of time with us, reassuring me that this was the best next step I could take.
One more time, I was reminded that NOTHING on this wild and wonderful journey of mine is random, and that I was exactly where I was meant to be. We exchanged hugs, shared a few laughs and took a quick photo together to mark the day...and then once more, I was on my way.
While we waited to be called back to start prep for surgery, a lovely nurse came by and asked if there was anything else I could use to be more comfortable while we waited. We needed nothing more, but soon enough to our disbelief, this GIGANTIC recliner was rolled out to me, to use while we waited in the cafeteria! lol. I felt rather ridiculous sitting in it while everyone else had normal chairs, but we had a few more good laughs about it and joked that this was my Queen's Throne for the day! (If there was a way to do surgery, I guess I'd get to do it in style!
Although my surgery was set for 1pm, that time quickly came and went, and it was clear that the team was far behind schedule. It was 2:30 pm before I had even been taken back for prep, but from there things moved super quick. By a little after 3pm, I was on my way to the OR feeling calm and ready. Once inside, and on the table, I saw Dr. Dobbs, who gave me a reassuring, knowing glance. I nodded and smiled back, with an understanding that I had done my part, and that the rest was now in his hands.
Just as they were about to put me under, I started to tear up. I wasn't scared. Rather unshakably worried about that damn knee of mine...and I couldn't hold the tears of uncertainty back any longer. I also couldn't push back the worry that today might just have been my last with semi-pain-free steps that I would ever take. It was that realization that let the floodgates open.
Noticing my tears, Dr. Dobbs stepped forward, placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder and asked if I was ok, while he paused the staff in the room. I told him I was fine and ready...but that I was worried about my knee. He nodded in a way that told me he knew exactly what I meant, and told me that he would do his absolute best. With that, I nodded, dug deep to trust him, took a deep breath, counted down from 10 (a few times!), and my worries soon faded to black.
The rest really now was in his hands...