Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pixie Has Surgery

Pixie had an overnight stay in a Guadalajara hospital this weekend for an operation to remove her gallbladder and fix and umbilical hernia. The surgery was done arthoscopically so she had only four small incisions. She is now home recovering and we are both relieved to have had the surgery go so well. Hopefully this will continue with the recovery.

I thought it might be interesting to share some of the experience of having to have surgery here. Pixie vetoed the idea of any photographs, but gave me permission to share some of her experience.

She had been having problems with her gallbladder since about January. Always proud of her "iron stomach," she was frustrated to have so much difficulty and discomfort after eating. So we knew that she may have to have this surgery at some point after an ultrasound revealed a problem with her gallbladder. During her routine physical last week, Dr. Leon discovered that an umbilical hernia, which she had also known about, had grown much larger and needed immediate attention. She suggested that if the hernia needed repair, it might also be a good time to remove the gallbladder. Dr. Leon agreed.

We scheduled the surgery for last Friday, requiring Pixie to reluctantly turn the Summer Solstice service at our UU fellowship over to others. She had worked hard on developing the service and hated to miss it, but she really didn't want to wait several weeks. We have our friend, Sarah, coming next Sunday for a visit, and she wanted to be better by then.

So we met Dr. Leon at his office at 5:30 AM on Friday. He drives any surgery patients, every Friday, in his car, and there was another woman who rode in with Pixie and Dr. Leon, while I followed in our car. We arrived at 6:30 and immediately checked into a very comfortable room, with a sofa, air conditioning, and cable TV. The hospital is a small one and looks more like a small hotel, with marble staircases with wrought iron railings, sky lights, plants, and quiet hallways with no nurses' stations. There is a central nurses' station on the first floor, and they always arrive quickly when you call. There was a small cafeteria downstairs, which was convenient for me.

A nurse inserted an IV and we were told that they would come get her for surgery when they were ready, but we had no idea when. Eventually, after about 6 hours, they came at 12:45 and wheeled her out to the OR. She was brought back to the room at 2:05, awake, although a bit loopy, and both Dr. Leon and the surgeon, Dr. Gustavo, came into to explain to us that the surgery had gone very well with no problems. They wanted her to spend the night just to keep an eye on her.

Nurses came in frequently to check on her and change her dressings, but it became obvious that they spoke little or no English. I was able to decipher the general conversation, although they spoke very fast and expected us to understand. Since my Spanish is a bit better, and Pixie was a bit out of it, I decided to spend the night, so I could help her get to the bathroom and translate what the nurses were saying (more or less!). She got very attentive care all night. The surgeon stopped by at 9 PM to check on her, and again at 9AM to release her. We paid the bill for hospital and medications, which came to about $850 USD, but we will have to still pay for the Doctor's fees at Dr. Leon's office.

The worst experience for Pixie was probably the ride home. She felt every bump, and, although I tried to avoid potholes and topes (speed bumps), it was, to say the least, an uncomfortable ride. But now she's home, and we're working our way through the second season of Grey's Anatomy we bought at the market last week, glad to be home with the workmen off for the weekend.

Speaking of workmen, they had hoped to be done by yesterday, but it was not to be. They have at least two more days to work, I'd say, so they'll be back Monday morning. I'll post pictures of the finished product later this week, but here's sopme ome in-process photos:

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