Sunday, July 12, 2009

In Bad Humors

The wires in question.

On Friday, July 10, I spent the day in Prague's Motol hospital to have the stabilizing wires removed from the reconstructed AC joint in my left shoulder. You'll recall that I had reconstructive surgery on my shoulder at the end of May.

I thought it was going to be pretty routine, but my most recent visit ended up being one of the most sickening experiences of my life.

I was given three shots of local anesthesia in my shoulder while in my hospital room.

Then, I was wheeled into an operating theater in Motol just like my first surgery.

Then the surgeon basically reopened my old entrance wound to gain access to the wires.

At first, it didn't feel so bad. Pretty routine. I couldn't really feel anything. And my shoulder was blocked from my view, thankfully, by a large surgical blanket.

But then the pulling and tugging began.

It felt like the surgeon was trying to pull my entire skeleton through a keyhole using a pair of pliers.

It was more the feeling of what was happening rather than any searing pain.

I got very dizzy and almost passed out while he wrestled the wires out of my shoulder. I was breathing pretty hard. The whole thing took about 30 minutes or so -- a very long 30 minutes.

Both times I've been at Motol hospital for shoulder surgery, a nurse has come in and wrapped both of my legs in bandages just before going under the knife. I asked my surgeon why, and he laughed and said he didn't really know. Someone else told me it is to prevent thrombosis. I looked it up and it said "compression stockings" are often used. The bandages they put on me were wrapped pretty loosely, as you can see. Weird.

I related this story to a good friend of mine in the United States, who had shoulder surgery himself a few years back, and he was incredulous that I hadn't been given some sort of drugs to distract me while the removal of the wires occurred:

"Jesus, Grant, The doctors over there practice medicine as if it were the Middle Ages. Did they bleed you to get the bad humors out? I can understand not putting you under. Anesthesiologists have to be prepared to breathe for you if something goes hinky. But you should have been so loaded up with opiates that you'd have been cracking knock-knock jokes while they pulled out the wires. There's just no excuse for this."

All I can say is, I am glad that's over! Jeesh.


  1. Oh dear.

    I have been reading your blog backwards and just got to this post. I am so sorry you had this experience. You should have been sedated as the very least. That was barbaric.

    Your legs were wrapped for a couple of reasons. One is to prevent blood clots. But also our legs can tend to become edematous after these surgeries. It happened to me each time, even though here in the US they put inflatable cuffs on your legs during the surgery.

    Your surgeon laughed and said he didn't know? Is this Dr. Sweeney Todd?!?! Please consider a trip to the US next time you need surgery!!

  2. The thing about my legs being wrapped is that they were wrapped so loosely. I can't believe that that would have any effect in terms of preventing blood clots. The wrapping was so gentle. That may have been what Dr. Todd was talking about.