The Fine Line 15: Inside Out Under Anesthesia

The Fine Line is a series from Rick. Check out earlier parts of the series here.


It’s not every day you talk with someone who is going to rip out your insides and replace them with better ones to save your life. Now, at my room, as I started to change, my mom showed up, a nurse briefed her while another nurse helped me to the shower.

Transplant Prep

The soap I’d become familiar with, having used it a few times in the past month, this time felt different. Drying off, I put back on my gown and they began to fit with some of the monitoring tools while I was awake.

An IV, some cardiac stickers, a very brief conversation with my nurse, and I was getting wheeled to the elevator. As my journey began, an anesthesiologist made his way over to my side and began explaining the experience I was about to go through as he asked me to sign the form. I remember drinking a foul tasting liquid and him saying “You probably won’t remember much.” And down the elevator went.

Five Hours Later, but Moments for Me

Rick in his hospital bed
An Eifel tower of IV controls next to me, an I-J (Internal Jugular Line) and a Swan port (similar to the IJ but usually on the shoulder) for the anesthesia left me feeling very inhibited. With an N-G tube in, I awoke to the worst taste in my mouth I’ve ever had. It felt like a woodland creature ate Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut at once and just died while defecating in my mouth. It wasn’t great. My eyes searched the room for familiar faces. “Dawn?” Somehow my mom had convinced the hospital that her friend was my aunt and snuck her in. Distracted, but intent on relieving the world’s worst morning breath, I called out for the only relief I could “ICE chips! Ice chips!” Still a little hazy I wasn’t entirely conversational.

After some ice chips, I’d like to say that I was alert and talking fine. But I’m confident that’s only my misremembering events on account of the anesthesia.

But slowly my room filled with family and I was informed of a neat button. It was a button to have direct control of my pain medication, fentanyl, every ten minutes I could push it if I needed it. A product of my misfortune, I had developed a tolerance due to the frequency at which I’d come into the ER lately and my dosage was doubled.

Rick with his transplant surgeon

Dealing with the Pain

There are dangers when being given pain medication. It is important that as patients we remember to try and keep the best control we can when it comes to our reliance on addictive pain meds, like fentanyl.

Within the hour they removed my N-G tube and told me I could eat solid food in the morning. Memories of my nurse are hazy but some conversations stand out more than others: “Wait? What? No, I was just cut in half and my insides were outsides, I can eat solid food tomorrow?”

She replied: “Probably, the important milestone we get you too next is walking and then passing gas.”
“Well, I happen to be talented in both of those arenas” I told her.


Check back for more from Rick’s series “The Fine Line”

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