Day +695: Wake me up before you go-go…

Well, I caused another big ruckus at Hopkins yesterday. Recall two weeks ago, I was the rare patient with the post op bleed and rarer yet second bleed. The incident this time, fortunately, was not life threatening or even traumatic for me but I’ve got a lot of people very upset.

I woke up a little early in the OR, as they were finishing up my procedure. At first, I thought they were all done, but then could hear them talking and could feel some tugging and activity (no pain). My eyes were covered so I couldn’t see anything. I just lay there, quiet and motionless, so they had no clue I was awake until the anaestheologist took the covering from my eyes. I had no idea it was such a big deal until I innocently said something. Wow, what a fuss I caused!

Apparently, this is considered inhumane and horribly traumatic, something that should never, ever happen. I just thought it was great that I woke up so easily with no post anaesthesia grogginess or nausea. I woke up as easily two weeks ago (except not quite as early) and marveled at the beauty of modern anaesthesia and even mentioned before this surgery what a great cocktail they’d mixed for me last time. They offered me immediate psychiatric counseling as well as a standing long term offer in case of any PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) despite my assurances that I am not at all upset, quite the contrary found the whole thing very interesting.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh, they’re just worried about a potential lawsuit.” Although this possibly was a concern, it was clear that these people genuinely cared about my being okay and felt like they’d failed me. My care here has been top notch. My anaesthesiologist and a couple of other doctors spoke with me separately at length. Dr. P is apparently one of their most highly regarded anaesthesiologists and had a perfect record of nothing ever going wrong until now. He was extremely distraught and upset with himself that this could happen. I actually felt bad for him and almost wished I hadn’t said anything.

My surgeon told me that many hospitals use an EEG strip across the forehead to monitor patients for consciousness. She said there will be a board review over my incident, and she hopes it will result in the same policy being implemented at Johns Hopkins. My doctors all told me to quit being a statistical outlier but I can’t help it that I’m a “wonder” – it’s not a path I choose. I try so hard to be a boring patient!

I did NOT like being an oddball having MDS with an unusually high number of chromosome abnormalities at an unusually young age. I definitely did NOT like getting a second, unrelated relatively rare cancer or being among the small percentage of surgery patients with post op bleeds. I didn’t even like being among the tiny percentage of people who don’t get their hair back properly post chemo. But I’m glad this particular waking incident happened to me instead of to someone who would have felt traumatized or someone who would have seized an opportunity to sue and potentially ruin an excellent doctor’s reputation or career. I’m also happy to contribute to prevention of a recurrence with someone else if a new policy is implemented. I like doing what I can to further science, technology, and medicine when it’s with no harm to myself. 🙂

p.s. I also updated my previous post with today’s activities.


  1. I always knew you were special happy birthday, dear cousin. I can’t call and waken you or get you out of the shower. Love you.

  2. Very happy to hear you are up and about and that you are not ready to sue anyone. I agree if there was no harm to you then I might find it interesting as well, of course I would have to be in your shoes to know for sure. One way or another guess you just do not want to be boring 🙂
    Wishing you and Michael a better day tomorrow!

  3. So my patient says, “It wasn’t your fault. I’m sure it was the ’70s!”

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