I was scheduled for surgery 2 weeks after confirmation of pre - cancer cells in my cervix. The surgeon would remove all the bad cells (more on this later).
The surgery required a 3 day stay. I have no doubt that in the US, the surgery would be a day procedure. Japan errs on the side of caution with these things. When giving birth, a 5 day stay is normal. (One reason behind Japan's long life expectancy?)
The first day, check in was from 14:00. There was not much to do. It was a bit boring. Thankfully, Leon came with his computer and we did math homework together and Dave visited at night.
I think the main reason for staying the night before the operation is they want to check up on you and make sure you do / don't do certain things. No eating and no drink other than water after 7:00 p.m. Take a laxative at 9:00. Also the following day, lots of checks happen quite early in the morning.
I was in the maternity ward, so there were a lot of wailing babies. Nurses also come and check on you every 3 hours. I had a fitful sleep.
The 2nd day: No water after 7:00 a.m. Laxative suppositories administered. I.V. drip in place (a bit painful but OK). All fun stuff. I wanted to take a walk outside, but with a drip and my surgical outfit on, I was confined to the ward. Dave came from 13:00 and the operation was set from 14:00.
At 14:00, they wheeled me down to the operating room. There were 2 nurses and 2 doctors. They quickly got to work. The hardest (read painful) part was the epidural administration. After that, I soon went numb from my chest down. The actual operation was quite quick. Just 15 minutes.
After, the doctor showed me what he had cut. It was horrific. I had no idea, that much was going to be cut out.
Dave meanwhile was waiting in the operation waiting room. The doctor took him to a smaller room, explained how the operation went, how I was and to his chagrin showed him my cervix in a bowl. It made him sick.
After the operation, I was wheeled back to my room. I was still completely numb. The nurses put electric air compression socks on my calves to keep the blood moving. Over the next 5 hours, I slowly got my feeling back—starting with the chest down.
The 2nd night was quite uncomfortable because I was hooked up to an IV, a catheter and I had pumping socks on. I couldn’t move from the bed and I couldn’t move IN the bed easily. Also, nurses came every 2 hours to check on me.
The 3rd day: At 6:00, the nurses removed the IV and checked I could walk. I COULD, although I felt weak. At 7:30, the doctor did his checks. Everything looked OK and the catheter removed. At 8:30, the wee check. I could wee, so we were free to go. I felt weak but OK.
My overall thoughts:
- I am happy we discovered this BEFORE it became a bigger problem.
- I am thankful we live in a country where medical care is universal and affordable.
- I am amazed we don't have to wait for consultations or the operation.
- I am astounded at the level of care. All nurses and doctors were friendly and professional.
- Finally, I am thankful that universal health insurance means medical care is not ridiculously expensive. The cost for a surgery and 3 days in hospital??? 50,000 yen. (about $500.00) And that is the highest price. If you earn less, you pay less.