Saturday, June 29, 2013

Surgery in Nicaragua

So this issue with my foot has been a long and drawn out process. I cut my foot open in April and since then it's been infected, x-rayed, ultra sounded and finally operated on. Yesterday was my first surgery in my life and I did it alone in Nicaragua....if you can even picture that.
I went to the hospital and checked in. A little nervous, but still had a bit of confidence, which quickly disappeared. The receptionist called a man to "assist" me to the surgery room. While waiting he asked if I had a family member with me. "No" I replied and was looked at with pure bewilderment. He was probably thinking here's a crazy gringa going into surgery alone. He told me I couldn't take anything with me to the surgery, so I had to leave my phone and wallet with him. This is a reputable hospital, most upper class Nicaraguans, Peace Corps volunteers and Embassy employees are attended here, so I was hoping that I wouldn't be robbed while in surgery. My assistant and wheelchair arrived and again was looked at like I was crazy when he found out that I wasn't accompanied by anyone. This is where my little confidence disappeared and I could feel my tear ducts kicking in.
I was pushed in a wheelchair to surgery. Really?!? I had been walking around on this foot for two months, but for some reason couldn't walk a few meter and take an elevator independently. I was covering my face and avoiding any type of eye contact.
I reached the surgical room and again confronted with bewilderment that I was alone. This is where I lost it. They had me change into my gown and I started crying. When I came out, the nurse looked at me with little sympathy and asked what happened. I couldn't really stop crying, but replied that I was nervous. I self-consciously walk in my breezy gown to get prepped for surgery. I had surgery on my foot, so I'm thinking wearing a bra and underwear under my gown is acceptable. Wrong! The nurse who put in my IV and electrodes made me take off my bra and underwear. Just lovely. I started crying again and tried explaining that I was nervous and this was my first surgery ever, and the fact that I was alone and pretty much humiliated by everything leading up to this. The nice anesthesiologist reassured me that everything would be okay and to think happy thoughts, she drew something on my foot and that's the last thing I remember.
I groggily wake up in recovery with the surgeon and my Peace Corps doctor telling me that everything went fine and that I should rest for the next couple of hours. I dozed in and out of sleep until the drugs wore off. A nurse noticed I was semi-alert, so asked me a few questions: name? age? sexually active?..Wait! What? I have a difficult time jumping into full on Spanish mode most mornings without my coffee, so while still sedated on drugs, I need some time to process. I ask the nurse to repeat herself a couple of times, still with no luck. She then turns to another nurse and says, "She doesn't speak Spanish very well." I was about to flip out on her, saying that I understood that so I can't be too stupid, but I thought since I'm still in their care I'd better not. I finally understood the question when the other nurse asked about a husband or boyfriend. Then the first nurse asked if I had kids? abortions? age I first had sex? age of first period? I answered, but am still confused exactly why those questions are pertinent to my foot operation and especially after the procedure.
Finally I was discharged. This time the wheelchair was appreciated, but still a bit embarrassing. My Peace Corps doctor gave me a ride back to my hotel. And there I sat enjoying a Top Chef marathon in English and chatting with some other volunteers.
My foot is all bandaged up. I get to shower with a plastic bag wrapped around it for the next couple of days and take in all that Managua has to offer while walking on my foot minimally, like cable TV, wireless, fast food, air conditioning. I just hope that on Monday I will receive good news and will have no problems with my foot and no other needs for surgery here in Nicaragua. One was enough.

1 comment:

  1. Tracy LenzendorfJuly 3, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Sweetheart, I am so sorry that you had to go through this alone. It makes me cry that you had this happen to you. You are such an incredibly strong person and have done so many things that none of us would ever dream of let alone actually be able to do the grace you have. I was glad to hear that it went well and that the biopsy turned out OK. It was also VERY nice to see you the Monday. Even if our connection is not great, I love to see your smile. We have our count down going as well. can`t wait to hug my best friend! We miss you more than you will ever know. You are ALWAYS in our thoughts and hearts. I hope you know that. Now we just have to pray for you to have the strength to get through this last part and remain safe and of sound mind. I worry about you sweetheart! hang in there! love you!!!!!