Jump to content

Five Years Ago Today......

Fay A.

Recommended Posts

I had my second Thoracotomy. Five years ago, at 8 PM, the anesthetia from surgery was wearing off and something wasn't right with the Epidural Catheter inserted in my spine. I had been asking for pain management for several hours, but sometime around 9:30 I dozed off for a few minutes. The following day I was told that the Pain Management Physician came to my room to see me, but decided that because I was asleep I couldn't be in that much discomfort. Around 10 PM I woke up in excrutiating pain. For the next several hours I tried to find a position that didn't feel like I had been cut in half, but I had been cut in half, and the epidural catheter wasn't working. And because I had the Epidural Catheter in place no one ordered any other pain medications. The Nurse kept calling the Pain Management Doc on call, but he wasn't answering his page. Sometime around Midnight I sat up on my knees in the bed and I closed my eyes and I crawled inside my own head to escape the pain. I was like that for about 5 hours. I heard voices that sounded like they were coming from very far away. And I opened my eyes but the room was a big blur. I had had a steady stream of tears running down my face all night long. My face, the front of my hospital gown were soaked. The words that brought me back to the room were spoken by the Nurse who was telling the pain management doc "She's been like that for hours."

So he tells me he has to check to see if the epidural catheter is working properly. I don't have any idea what that means. What it means is he uses a Tens Unit. This is a device that can deliver quite an electric shock....a way for them to be able to tell if the epidural catheter is in place and if it is delivering any pain medication to the spine to keep my incision numb. So he gives me a mild shock. I felt it, and I told him so. He says he has to test one more area...this area is evidently right where the surgical incision is located. I want you to imagine having a strong burning electrical current running through an area that has been cut through with bones removed less than 24 hours earlier. It hurt so bad that I screamed and my back arced and the stitches felt as if I were being torn in half again.

Because I arced from the pain and electric shock the TENS unit came out of the Doctor's hands, and was hanging by the metal clips to the skin just above my incision, and continued to deliver a strong electric current. It took several moments for him to grab the device, remove it, and turn it off. He apologized, told me that the catheter had slipped out of place. He put it back into the area where it belonged (I think I was in shock by this point), then started loading me with pain meds.

I was reminded that there is a way to cope with intractable, horrific pain. I was reminded that I could take it, and come out the other side.

I am defiant. And I am protective of others now. I see the negligence...the callus way people are treated. And I try to insure that others do not go through what I did exactly 5 years ago tonight. I take my elderly neighbors who do not have family nearby to their medical appointments. I visit them in the hospital frequently, and I make sure the nursing staff knows I expect these friends to be well treated.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Fay,

That sounds just awful. I have a tens unit myself & right after I was sent home (same day as surgery - lovely HMO's), the thing malfunctioned. I know how badly the thing can hurt when it is not operated properly. You are very lucky that no permanent damage was done to your spinal cord.

Thank God for your strong will.

Hugs & prayers,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also know what post thorocotomy pain is without meds. My epidural fell out! Finally they got a PCA set up but said they would send to central supply for the cord and button for me to push, hours went by, I was in tears. Finally a nurse came by and she told me I did not need a button that I could "press here on the box" . No one had told me that and I was not familiar with this make and model. What a night! Thanks goodness no one hit me with electric shock on top of that! Donna G

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fay: what a awful experience you had. What a powerful story. You are a good writer, but I think the subject matter made it easy. I am glad you can write about it. I will likely never forget it. I guess we all learn compassion through suffering. Thanks for increasing the comapassion in this world a bit.

Don M

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh my gosh! This just freaks me out. My husband just had a liver resection with an epidural for PM. It was not terribly effective. He has lung surgery coming up on May 9th and he is not sure if he wants to try an epidural again. He has used Tens units before and he know how they can hurt if not set right. I can't believe that is how they test to see if the epidural is working. I know Ken will say "no way" now. I just can't believe you had to go through all that. What a dreadful experience. As if dealing with this disease is not enough to go thru. Thanks for sharing this experience, I really doubt we will use the epidural next time.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I'm so sorry you have to live with such a horrible memory. That sounds like the nightmare from h----. I can't think of any excuse for a human being to be treated like that. I hope that others, facing surgery, will know that it shouldn't ever be this way. I know I stayed right with Mike 4 years ago, in April, when he had his lung removed. I wanted to make sure he didn't lay there helplessly needing anything. Fortunately, his experience was nothing like yours. He made out exceptionally well and his epidural worked like a charm.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Fay,

EEEERRRRRRR!!! Remind me not to go to that hospital. I still cannot believe that you were left there all those hours. How heartless, to let a patient linger in pain all that time. You should have sued the bums for pain and suffering... I mean that could have had some bad ramifications on your surgery.

Bad News....


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.