“The” Day and Night

March 16, 2005

5:30am. Mark drove his sister’s car (which he had borrowed the night before) to pick up his mom and the two of them went to his sister Betsy’s place.

6:00am. Mark and Betsy (who is a resident at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC)) walked to CPMC to check in for his surgery.

7:30am. Mark is taken to the operating theatre, and Betsy is asked to leave.

9:00am. Sonesh Surana babysits me while Mark is in surgery, and we have breakfast at The Grove, on Fillmore Street, close to the hospital.

11:00am. Betsy calls to say that the surgery is done, and that Dr. Robert Osorio is coming down to the waiting area to talk to us. Sonesh and I race over, and get there as Dr. Osorio is telling Mark’s mom, Kaki, and Betsy that the surgery went very well, there was very little loss of blood (they did not need to use any of the blood that Mark had banked over the last two weeks) and that the mass in Mark’s liver was a benign granuloma, probably caused by a previous infection. Nothing further to worry about.

We all tip toe over to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where Mark has been taken. He is conscious and talking.

An ICU nurse asks Mark if he has any allergies (supposedly to medication). He replies: “Violence.” She then asks him to rate the level of his pain, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the greatest pain he has ever had. He says “2”.

2:00pm. Mark is doing so well that they decide to move him from ICU to Transitional ICU, which is where they put patients that do not need constant monitoring, but is a little more comfortable and not as noisy. Mark is in Room 335, a private room with a door you can close.

A young anesthesiologist (not the one who was in the operating room) comes in to test Mark’s epidural. It is not working properly. (It was knocked out of place by some radiologists who inserted X-ray plates behind Mark’s back twice, because they forgot to expose the film the first time.) In fact, it is not blocking the pain on his right side, where the incision through muscle took place, but is numbing the left side (would that they could move his liver to that side). The young anesthesiologist is to consult the original anesthesiologist to see if he can adjust the epidural.

2:30pm. We all leave to let Mark get some sleep. Sometime while we are ALL gone, the young anesthesiologist comes back, fails to get the epidural working, and leaves Mark in a position that strains his stomach muscles. Mark tries to get the attention of a nurse for about 10 minutes before someone comes to make him more comfortable.

5:00pm. Mark is now getting three different kinds of narcotics, including morphine, to try and ease his pain.

8:30pm. Betsy decides that it would make more sense for her to stay overnight with Mark, because if something happened, she would be better able to deal with it.

10:00pm. I leave to go home.

Sometime during the night, Mark’s respitory function is reduced by the narcotics to such an extent that he loses his sympathetic breathing response. Betsy has to tell Mark to breath about every 10 seconds. Betsy saves Mark from being intubated and hooked up to an artificial lung. Neither of them get any sleep.

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