Five Faves, and another convo with my doctor (I’ve really got to stop calling this guy)

April 3, 2013 | 31 comments

–> I’m guest hosting the Five Favorites meme over at Hallie’s place today, so come join me over there! <–

Five Favorites (hosted by Hallie, originally the brainchild of blogging mastermind BooMama) is where bloggers share five of their most helpful discoveries — the items could be anything from products to prayers to TV shows. These are always fun posts to read, so I’m glad to be joining in this week! I’ll even explain the existence of this picture:

Me...reading a book about eight months pregnant...during Holy Week

“But wait!” you say. “Aren’t you supposed to be preparing to have foreign objects inserted into your neck today? How on earth can you be messing around with blog posts at a time like this?”

Yes, well, about that: it’s been rescheduled for Friday. With all of the upheaval around this procedure, I’ve felt like Charlie Brown trying to hit Lucy’s football, only if the football were filled with explosives or live wasps or another material that would cause something terrible to happen to Charlie when he kicked it.

But wait, it gets crazier. I called the vein doctor again to confirm the new date, and the following conversation ensued. (He is a very kind man with a touch of a lovely Southern accent, so you have to picture all of this being said in a smooth, soothing voice):

Me: Sorry to bother you, Doctor! Just wanted to check to make sure that Friday is the new date.

Doctor: Yes, that’s correct. We thought it would be better to do it closer to delivery.

Me: I know there was some concern about anesthesia and its impact on the baby, since the hospital where we’re doing the procedure doesn’t have a labor and delivery ward. Were you able to touch base with my OB about that?

Doctor: I did talk to him, and we came up with a solution.

Me: A solution, you say? Oh, hurray! I love solutions! [Sound of foreboding music mysteriously begins playing behind me.]

Doctor: We thought we could go ahead and do it without any anesthesia or sedation.


Doctor: Yes. That’s a great solution since then we won’t have to worry about the impact on the baby.

Me: [Drops phone, goes into convulsions.]

Doctor: I don’t think it should be too painful. I’ll just make the incision in your neck, then once we insert the tube carrying the metal filter into the vein…

Me: [Hears nothing else. Now curled into the fetal position and losing consciousness.]

I don’t think I could possibly articulate my feelings about this situation better than Rebecca Fletcher did when she commented on my last post:

After reading the details of your procedure…I don’t want to live in this world anymore.

Yes. Exactly.

I will note, though, that the battle is not over yet. I made a few comments to the nurse like “I sure hope I don’t start violently shaking and screaming profanity in the middle of the procedure, as I am wont to do when I’m nervous and in horrible pain!” and “If a patient were to find a five-year-old bottle of Vicodin in the back of her medicine cabinet and take a couple before the procedure, would the doctor know? — just theoretically”, which I think may have inspired them to take a second look at this decision.

(For those who asked why this must be done before delivery, it’s because I’ve been put on the Snakes on a Plane life plan for 2013 where everything must be difficult in increasingly bizarre ways. Oh, and also because the doctors are worried about more clots coming loose and/or forming during labor and in the postpartum period.)

But anyway, enough about Unanesthetized Medical Procedure Friday. Head over to Hallie’s to hear about why I’m considering naming this baby Fujitsu Scansnap!


  1. Rebekka

    But still with local anesthesia, RIGHT?

  2. ex-new yorker

    I was waiting for you to describe your realization that the conversation took place on April Fool’s Day, maybe, but I guess not… (Though that would have been terribly unprofessional of your doctor.)

  3. Cassandra

    Hey, bummer about that. Thought I’d chime in to be helpful, since I *live* to be helpful.

    Jacinta, the now-canonized saint of Fatima, had to undergo a surgery to remove two of her ribs without anesthesia. Just 9 yrs old, and she offered it up for poor sinners.

    I’m sure you’re up to this.

  4. Cassandra

    Oops! Sorry, I forgot that we’re out of Lent and my last attempt at being helpful is too late. It’s Easter, so here’s a “Laughter is the best medicine” try.

    Since you’re a self-proclaimed geek and dealing with lack of anesthesia, I thought this might make you laugh. But first imagine my impression of Richard Nixon (with both hands raised wagging the Victory sign, head lowered, flapping cheeks) solemnly saying, “I am NOT a geek!” Yeah, nobody else ever laughs either…I like to think it’s because they’re too young to remember him; not because they think I “doth protest too much.”

    Anyway, it’s looking like I’m going to have to undergo surgery myself due to an old Chess injury. Seriously, a *Chess* injury. About twenty years ago in my first chess tournament, I spent the entire weekend with my elbows on the table with my head resting in my hands. By Monday I couldn’t feel anything in either pinky or ring finger. I’m thinking, uh oh, carpal tunnel, but no, just an ulna nerve injury.

    I’ve had minor issues with this over the years, but a few months ago I did something to really aggravate it. I’ve just about reached the end of the “What if things do get better?” 6-week waiting period, so I’ll probably get to have a surgeon “move” my ulna nerve. My doctor says “no big deal” as if having a scalpel next to a major nerve is nothing to worry about. My alternative is to wait until my fingers curl up into a permanent claw.

    I’ve had some time to reflect on my prospects, and I’ve decided to request a local and not get general anesthesia. I have less than virtuous reasons for this:
    1) There is always a chance, esp amoung first time anesthesia patients, that you may never wake up. This is just my arm; I’d like to save my first anesthesia exp. for something more dramatic–like when they crack open my breastbone to yank out a lung due to my return to smoking. Then I’ll have more serious things to worry about than not waking up, like “will the chemo make my hair fall out?” and “you really *do* promise not to take my scapular off in OR, right?”.
    2) If I’m conscious, the doctors and nurses can’t goof off in OR. I’ve seen movies! They’re all goofing off until it gets serious. Just before I left the Service, I had all four impacted wisdom teeth removed at once. The Army dentist dropped the first one down my throat and tried to choke me to death. After that, he stopped flirting with his cute assistant and got down to business. I was out of there in about 30 minutes. If I’m conscious, I can crack the whip in the OR.
    3) And of course the most important reason–it’s cheaper! I’ve got a high out of pocket deductible. Got to cut corners where we can. Heck, since this whole thing is about not being able to feel anything, maybe I don’t even need a local.

    OTH, wouldn’t it be cool if it turned out not to be the chess injury, and it’s leprosy that I picked up overseas? They could chop off my two fingers and I could be the Anti-Thomas Covenant. I could be “Cassandra the Believer”! I could travel the Land fighting the Despiser with the Law and the Prophets instead of that silly old Staff of the Law….
    ….well, I can dream, can’t I?

  5. Sharon

    Oh,my, Jenn. You will be in my prayers.

  6. Abigail Benjamin

    Alright, this sucks. But I’d like to share a little conversation I had with God while going down to my baby’s emergency heart surgery twelve hours before the formerly fine newborn was supposed to be discharged home.

    Me: “Really God?”

    Him: Silent nod, ‘yes’

    Me: “You know I have an an anxiety disorder. I’m the worse Mother to send into this situation. Normal women would freak out at emergency heart surgery for their newborn. Why are you sending me there?”

    Him: (gently to my heart) “How do you cure anxiety.”

    Me: (pouting) “Exposure therapy”

    Him: “What is going to scare you after this?”

    Me: “Nothing”

    My kids heart surgery was easy peasy lemon squeezy. For her, for her doctor and for me. You can do this!

  7. Cam

    Can you just say: “No! No! No!”

    Because I have to admit, that, with my jaw dropped, were the words going through my mind as I finished reading what he’d said.

    Still praying for you.

  8. Angie

    Praying fervently for you and new baby Fujitsu Scansnap! Thank you for keeping us up to date and in such great detail. (typed I, after awaking from mild fainting spell brought on by the idea of your “difficult case”) I will immediately and much to the relief of my husband, stop whining about my sprained elbow which was incurred during a particularly gruesome bout of Red Rover, Red Rover. Well, maybe not…because I am kind of a whiner. But you girl, you rock! And please, please, please know you are being lifted on all high in prayer and good thoughts. Much love!

  9. Hantchu

    Well, it does sound wretched. If they let you bring an IPod into the OR, however, let me recommend a recording Glen Gould’s “A Sense of Wonder”. There’s nothing as good for keeping one quietly distracted as this amazing performance of Bach on harpsichord. I got great results during both foot surgery and dental work.

  10. Paul H

    Wouldn’t they at least use local anesthesia for the incision?

  11. Miranda

    Hey Jen, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time but this is my first comment. You are in my prayers and I hope God gives you comfort. I’m a surgery nurse and work with cases like yours. The only pain you’shoud feel is when they numb the area. I know your nervous and scared and I will say a rosary for God to ease your heart and mind. Good luck and God bless you!

  12. Mary

    And I freeze in my spot at the threshold of the dentist! I am praying for you, that sweet baby, your doctor and the whole day to be fueled with Divine courage.

  13. Anne McD

    Oh, Wow. I couldn’t go through getting my wisdom teeth out without going under. You poor thing– I’ll pray. Have a strong drink after. The, um, baby is going to need it!

  14. Jenna@CaIllHerHappy

    You’re not just April Fools-ing us?

    Oh Jen. Praying for you so much. I hope you have a nice list of things to offer up. I am certain that all of your prayers will be heard and answered with this one!

  15. Monique in TX

    I will try to remember to lift you up in prayer as I have Various Unhappy Organs removed on Friday. I have surgery rescheduled from Wednesday to Friday, too! We can suffer together! Talk about a fellowship opportunity. Thank heavens they’ve said I can have all the anesthesia I want. Big hugs, and don’t forget to tell Fr. Dean or Fr. Johnathan you want Anointing!

  16. Jack Regan

    One thing I’m always thankful for is that, as a guy, I’ll never have to give birth!!

  17. Ironic Catholic

    OK, that’s just…BAD.

    Like everyone else, I really hope they are OK with a local. That seems entirely fair. I would really, really push for it. There are no nerves in the veins, so it shouldn’t hurt after that, right?

    Don’t comment much, but man, if there were ever a time to comment….


  18. Marilyn H

    You are doubly in my prayers now! Wow. May the blessed mother hold you in her mantle the entire time. And may the Lord give you peaceful distraction during the procedure so you aren’t even aware of what’s going on and it’s over before you know it.

  19. Jennifer

    That is just nuts, Jen. Wow. I really really hope I will not be following in your footsteps with this clotting madness, it just keeps getting worse. I think I might have said “try again, that won’t work,” but then again you’ll do anything in this kind of situation. I will be praying praying praying.

  20. Martha

    Okay, seriously… I’m sure they’ve looked into all the options, but I’m pretty sure I’d vote for:

    1) scheduled c-section (I mean really, you know the joys of delivery and coherence;it’s overrated).

    Followed by…

    2) procedure while still in coma-like state.

    3) wake up, check out baby boy, und voila!

    What am I not getting? Seriously, you need to present them with a bullet list. It’s how they speak. You should know!

  21. Becky

    Interesting that this has been moved to a Friday. Nothing foreboding about that, I hope.

    Anyway, good luck!

  22. Teresa

    Hi Jennifer – It’s funny ( in an ironic way) because my 8-year old daughter has heart defects and has undergone multiple cardiac catheterizations. She just had one last week. After, the interventional cardiologist tell us that he had a lot of trouble gaining access in her femoral vessels and that one had closed off completely. As Clare is facing many more procedures, I asked him what they would do if they couldn’t gain access in the groin. Oh we just go in through her neck instead, was his cavalier answer. I almost passed out at the visual. Then I read your posts, and am saying so many prayers for you and your baby. (I, too, am pregnant with my sixth and heard you speak two years ago in Massachusetts when we were both pregnant with our fifths.) At least Clare gets to be under general anesthesia during her procedures! I pray that the doctors figure out a way to keep you comfortable and the baby safe at the same time.

  23. elizabethe

    Jen. JEn. JEN. JeN. OMGoodness. jen.


    look at the bright side. At least you’re not having that laser eye surgery thing done where you can’t even close your eyes while they are slicing into it.

    (funniest comments ever on this site, btw, way to go commenters).

  24. Caitlin

    Pretty much the only things that came to my mind while reading this were profanities, so that would be unhelpful. At least this is something you could hold over your son for the rest of his life. Oh, you thought you would lie about XYZ? Remember that time that they…(insert procedure description, I can’t bring myself to)…. because I was pregnant with you? Yeah, I’m a hero and you have a lot to live up to.

    Of course, you are too much of a mature, wonderful parent to act in this way, but just sayin. 🙂

  25. Susan Leary

    Dear Jennifer:

    Long time reader, first time commenting!

    I hope this is good for a laugh.

    Only recently, after prayer and much resolve, I was able to submit to the “puff of air on my eyeball” glaucoma screening at the Optometrist’s office. Well, I think it is a glaucoma test, but maybe they were just torturing me with an air puff for no reason. Now, I am happy to say that I am able to force myself to submit my head to the metal head grate thing while the Optometrist takes his sweet time torturing me by making me wait and wonder when that horrible puff of air will hit my eyeball (or more likely) eyelid, in which case we will start the torture over. If I can do that, surely you can submit to the simple procedure you have described.

    In all seriousness, I will say a rosary for you and I am praying for you.

    • Amy @ Consecrated Housewife

      Hahaha…I HATE that “puff of air” test. Come to find out I have a really fast blink reflex too and usually after torturing me 5 or 6 times to get it to take for just ONE eye they give up and just have the optometrist do it “the old fashion way” and check for glaucoma during my regular exam.

      Of course, every technician I get says “oh, I’m really good at this” Right, ignore my years of experience with this horrible machine and the 20 plus other technicians who said the exact same thing and let the torture begin! Sigh…

    • jen @ Saving Kaia

      I think I’d have pretty much every surgery possible WITHOUT anesthesia if it meant I could skip the glaucoma test. I’ve fulfilled that requirement for the year but I was not a fun patient.

  26. Rebecca Fletcher

    I stand by what I said…now more than ever! I will certainly be praying for you! It will be a mere memory before you know it!

  27. Lauren S

    Jen- I don’t know if you’ll read this before Friday, but I had my filter taken out last year without any sedation or anesthesia. It’s uncomfortable and feels very strange, but it’s not really painful. I’d say getting your cervix checked when you’re 36 weeks pregnant is MUCH more painful than this procedure. Not sure if that helps but I’ve been there and I think you’ll be okay!!

  28. Lauren S

    Oh and I should add- they went through my neck both to put the filter in and to take it out. I also had some of the procedures through my groin- but it’s really not more painful through the neck, even without sedation. And a year later I have no visible scars even though they went through my neck twice on one side and once on the other for my various procedures!

  29. Margaret

    Hey Jen, I went through something very similar with me 3rd child. I had a pretty serious/life threatening actually situation and got a call the day before the scheduled c-section that I should go to the hospital “now” because the 2nd surgeon was only available today to help with the c-section and I also had to have another procedure prior to the c-section. I hung up the phone proceeded to vomit then grabbed my bag dropped my kids off to my sister (in tears) and headed to the hospital. I’m a critical care nurse so I gave everyone who touched me the third degree; my only sanity. I thought my husband was going to have to be admitted for a heart attack. My OB kept saying “I’m so glad you’re a nurse” but I was hating it only because I was envisioning everything that could go wrong. I also had to have a tube stuck in my neck without sedation only after tubes were stuck in both femoral arteries and my wrist but the dumb dumbs in the first procedure gave me anesthesia by mistake…something else to stress about. Then they proceeded to take me to the main OR because the L&D OR wouldn’t take me and my husband wasn’t allowed to come in. They had a cooler full of my family’s donated blood in the OR ready for transfusion. I was preparing for the worst…thinking about where I would be if I died…I found myself begging God for Heaven. I asked for 1 minute to prepare myself before they put me to sleep. I had been annointed already and been to confession….but I wanted that last moment to bargain with the Big Guy. Next thing I new I was in recovery and was being told I had a healthy baby boy and all was good. That was 3 yrs ago.
    I had a healthy baby girl 4 weeks ago and life is good!
    Praying for you and your trust in His Plan!!!

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