I had had enough of my left foot hurting. What my primary care physician thought was an ordinary bunion, turned out to be a ball of arthritic calcium encasing a nerve on the first major joint of my big toe. It hurt. A lot. Walking, standing, even having a blanket on it at night were excruciating. Surgery was scheduled: the podiatrist would carefully chisel the arthritis ball away, freeing the nerve, then immobilize the joint by screwing a plate over it, into the toe bones.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
It was routine, she said; she does thousands of these surgeries a year. I signed the consent forms, had the bloodwork, washed my foot the day of surgery, and headed to the same-day surgery center at my local hospital with my dear mother-in-love, Barbara. My husband, out of vacation and sick time, would be at work. No worries, I had said; this is routine surgery, in-and-out in four hours. I made my nest in my recliner, as I had researched "foot surgery" on Pinterest, and that seemed to be the thing to do: have books and the TV remote nearby for serious foot-healing couch-potato'ing.
At the hospital, I dressed in the gown and put the surgery cap on along with the anti-slip socks. I was ready to start the journey to a non-hurting foot. I was even looking forward to the surgery itself: a good nap would do me good, I thought, chuckling to myself. The IV was administered, hugs exchanged with Barbara, and I was whisked off to the operating room.
My doctor was in a good mood, as were the techs and nurses. It was a busy day for surgeries, and things were on schedule. I was taken from the flight deck to the OR itself, where I looked up at the lights. It seemed like they were made up of hundreds of sparkling, shining diamonds. Someone said, "OK, time for a nap," and I felt the sedation meds hit my arm through the IV.
Everything went wrong
I don't remember much after that. I remember my mother-in-law's voice calling my name, her voice urgent and loud. Between her voice and waking up in the intensive care unit 24 hours later, I don't remember anything.
When I had left the OR to the recovery room, my doctor checked on me and I was doing well. A mere fifteen minutes after that, according to Barbara and medical staff, my right hand started twitching (it was at this point Barbara had started calling my name). I launched into full-blown grand mal seizures. Not one, or two, but five, over several minutes. It took all the anti-seizure meds in the same-day surgery recovery to stop it.
My left lung collapsed. I was in respiratory distress. I coded.
I was resuscitated and intubated: a tube was put down my throat so a machine could breathe for me, and given drugs to put me in a medically-induced coma as I tried to yank the tube out of my throat when they tried to get me to wake up. Barbara tells me that I had all manner of wires and tubes in and out of me. Tests were run: CT scans, EEG brain scans, X-rays, blood work.
The only thing they could narrow the cause to was that I am in an elite group: in the small, tiny percentage of people (less than 1%) allergic to the sedation drug propofol, which is commonly given in surgeries, especially "twilight sedation," which I had had with my foot. Normally, with the previous eight surgeries I had had, I was under general anesthesia. The foot surgery was the first (and last) twilight sedated surgery I've had. It was the only time I've had propofol.
It's the drug that killed Michael Jackson.
The next day, memories are sketchy and run together. I remember waking up to my church's worship pastor, Bruce, standing beside the hospital bed and saying, "Hi, Terrie!" as I was waking up. I remember asking him what had happened, and where was Greg, my husband.
I remember my son and his girlfriend visiting me, and Jacob's green eyes six inches from my brown, looking intently at me. I remember my mother coming, and kissing me, and Barbara seemed to be ever at my side. I remember Greg in his wheelchair holding my hand. I was in the intensive care unit for two whole days, drifting in and out of sleep, before moving to a regular room.
Family members and medical staff started giving me patchwork-quilt descriptions of the nightmare surgical recovery. My throat hurt, and my chest hurt, and I seemed to itch all over. It was the propofol getting out of my system.
I had experienced the "rare" variety of side effects from a routine sedation drug. The seizures, decreased lung function, trouble breathing, itchiness, and drowsiness, and inflamed veins were all related to a life threatening allergic reaction. All the tests came back negative for epilepsy (a chronic seizure disorder) or head trauma, so doctors determined it had to have been this routine, every-day sedation drug that killed me.
Jesus has a plan. I know full well that the moment things went south for me, Barbara was praying and upon her relaying the news to Greg, he was praying. Prayer warriors from all over lifted holy hands in prayer, and God heard them. Jesus has a plan.
A routine, normal surgery that's performed thousands of times of year turned deadly. Laying in the regular hospital room, I thought about this. We go through life swimming along, doing all the things, and our Christian walk becomes routine. We read the Bible and go to church. How much of this is routine, and how much of it is fueled by sheer passion to know Jesus on a deeper, more intimate level?
Once saved, we're saved--but how much more abundant and powerful could our walk and witness be, if they weren't "routine"?
(C) 2018 Terrie Bentley McKee All Rights Reserved
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