This is my
personal diary of having the Nuss procedure at age 23.
12.13.01 - 9:40AM - SURGERY DAY!!
I just arrived to the hospital waiting room at the Childrens Hospital
of the Kings Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia for my Nuss procedure.
Dr. Nuss if performing my surgery today. I am so excited!!. This
place is like a giant playroom. Toys are everywhere and lots of
kids running around. They even have a TV playing a children's movie
and a game station where you can play video games. It's kinda funny
that I'm a grown man in this childrens hospital. They are calling
peoples names to go into surgery. I am not until 1PM but I missed
my physical I was supposed to have yesterday so that's why I am
here so early. I am wearing my regular clothes, jeans and a sweater.
I have my bag with my which has my CD player for entertainment after
surgery, some slippers that I can put on without bending down, a
couple of books, my toiletries and some sweats for when I am able
to change in the hospital. I have heard that entertainment is not
an issue at this hospital. After all it IS a children's hospital.
So I didn't bring much to do. I have not eaten since 6PM last night.
They told me not to eat after midnight. My mom swears that the earlier
I don't eat the better I will feel when I awake from surgery. (Turns
out she was right) I am not really feeling nervous at all. I have
been just kind of pretending that I am not having surgery and keeping
a REALLY positive attitude. I am actually kind of excited about
it. Just relaxing in my seat has really helped. About to read a
A nurse just came and got me. I was put into my gown; they are light
pants and a shirt that ties in the back. They gave me a bag to put
all my clothes into. I was also given totes, the socks with the
tread on the bottom. They also gave me some cream that was put on
the back of my hand to numb them for the IV. I am very comfortable
and back in the waiting room again. Reading my magazine.
The nurse came and got me to go into the back to start surgery.
The anesthesiologist had been to talk with me about 15min earlier.
They explained everything about the IV and the epidural and asked
if I had any questions, I didn't. I was escorted into the operating
room. It was a HUGE room with very bright lights. EVERYONE was so
warm and friendly. I was hopped up onto the operating table, a very
long thin table. I was lying on my back and they placed the IV into
my right hand. A nice nurse was massaging my left hand to comfort
me. Then the anesthesiologist came in to put in the epidural. I
was instructed to lie on my side and curl up into a ball as to show
my spine. Again I had a nurse holding my hand talking to me and
asking me questions about my job, I was not nervous at all. I felt
very warm and comfortable. In no time the epidural was put in and
I was rolling over onto my back again. It didn't hurt at all and
I couldn't even feel a thing. Then they put a mask on my face and
asked me what flavor I wanted out of like 10 different ones. I asked
for orange and the next thing I new I was smelling a wonderful orangey
scent and drifted off into LA LA land. Nothing about the operating
room was scary or upsetting. It was sort of fun actually.
A nurse just called my mom at the waiting room to let her know that
everything was ok. They had just put the bar in.
Dr Nuss came and told my Mom that the surgery was over. The surgery
went very well. Except there was an unusual problem when they were
inflating the lungs after the surgery (which is usual to inflate
the lungs.) They have these tubes going from the lungs, out my mouth
and into a bucket of water. When the tubes stop bubbling in the
water they know that the lunges are fully inflated. But for me the
tubes never stopped bubbling, like there was a leak in one of my
lungs or something. They had to put in a chest tube through my right
side in order to monitor it after surgery. Dr. Nuss had never seen
this before. He thinks they will be able to remove the chest tube
He also said they had some problems putting the tube down my throat
for the anesthesia. Dr. Nuss estimates that they will keep the epidural
in for 4 maybe 5 days for the pain. The pain will be the hardest
part to deal with. They were slowly having me come out of the anesthesia.
It will be 45-60 minutes before my mom will get to see me. Dr. Nuss
also had pictures from the surgery that he gave my mom while I was
still out and explained what they meant. Dr Nuss told my mom that
I felt very comfortable and not scared and felt very calm when waking
up from the anesthesia.
My mom was allowed to go into the recovery room and see me. I was
wrapped up in 5 blankets cause at first I was totally freezing and
quietly asked them to warm me up a bit. My mom said I looked a little
pale. I was hooked up to heart and lung monitor, epidural and IV
- but didn't even know it at the time of course. The worst pain
was where they put in the chest tube to monitor my lungs. This tube
is not normal for most patients and when I looked down and saw all
the tape on my right said I asked the nurse what it was and she
told me not to worry about it. So I didn't. When I woke up from
the surgery in the recovery room I was wondering what I was doing
there for a few seconds. I was like, "Where am I? Why am I
in a hospital?" And then I remembered that I was having surgery.
And I started laughing inside thinking, oh my god that's right I
really did have the Nuss done and got all excited about what my
chest looked like. I was thinking, ok so this is it huh, I am officially
post-op then…but I don't feel a thing - my whole body was
just numb. And just continued to lay there, very comfortable and
almost in disbelief that it was already over.
I was wheeled up to my room (737) and installed in my home-away-from-home
for the next 5 days or so. I was already in my own bed in the recovery
room so there was no bed switching, thank god. The nurses just rolled
me in and set everything up and answered any questions my mom or
That evening I was in a lot of pain where the chest tube was inserted.
I asked to have some morphine. They gave me lots. See the problem
was that the epidural was in the area of my upper chest, where the
Nuss was performed. So I had pretty much no pain in my chest are
where the bar was. It was that damn tube they had to stick in me
and it was below the epidural site. So the only control I had over
the chest tube pain was shots of morphine. Which was fine with me
;-) But before I had that first shot the pain was not like I wanted
to cry but like I didn't want to talk or move. Once I got the shot
though I was ok. I started to listen to my relaxation CD with headphones.
It really helped take the edge off and put me in a good mood again.
My friend Jim just called to see how I was doing after surgery.
A few minutes later a nurse came in and gave me some Valium to help
relax. That was nice and in a few minutes I was so calm and relaxed;
pretty much pain free. So I decided to turn on the TV and watch
I just finished my first breathing exercise. I did really well.
It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. My mom was with
me so we just chatted for a while as I drifted in and out of sleep.
I still felt very comfortable and warm. I continued with my breathing
exercises about every hour or so, pretty much whenever I woke up
I would use the breathing device. So with all this drifting in and
out of sleep I hadn't been paying attention to my morphine levels.
See, I had this morphine button and could push it every half hour.
Well I forgot to push it for quite a while cause I was in and out
of my sleeping and. . .
I woke up in agonizing pain where the chest tube was. Keep in mind
that the pain is still not from my bar. That was feeling fine. But
that tube coming out of my lower right side hurt so bad I was crying.
It wasn't a full out hard crying but I was in LOTS of pain and I
was so upset that it hurt so bad that I was crying a little. So
the nurses saw how bad I was feeling and gave me a lot of morphine.
After that I was drifting in and out of sleep but (and this is important)
I remembered to push the morphine button every time I woke up as
to not feel any pain. And I told my mom that if I was asleep for
more then an hour to push it for me. This REALLY helped.
The anesthesiologist came in to see me. Nothing really important,
just looked me over and asked how I was going.
My first x-ray of my new chest. They come in with a rolling portable
x-ray machine; it's nice that I don't have to go anywhere. They
just roll it over your bed and ask you to lift up your back. Excuse
me? I just had a steel bar placed under my sternum not 15 hours
ago. It wasn't easy. But with the help of 2 nurses and my mom they
were able to get the COLD metal film holder under my back. ZAP!
X-ray was finished and time for my first liquid breakfast. It had
chicken broth, apple juice, I can't remember what else. But it was
tasty even though I wasn't really in the mood to eat anything.
I got bored and asked the nurse if I could watch a movie. She brought
me Aladdin. Cool. Not a second after I started the movie the physical
therapist came in. She said I had to sit up in a chair for one hour.
So she helped me get out of bed for the first time (not bad at all!)
and I sat up in the chair. It felt really strange! But I was not
in pain. When time was up I was ready to go back to bed to lie down
and rest. All that sitting really made me tired! It's hard to sit
up straight for that long. They gave me some Valium only this time
they gave it to me orally instead of through my IV and I was so
happy cause I wanted to start taking meds orally early as to not
shock my stomach, as many people do when they get their epidural
out and end up vomiting all over the place.
They came and x-rayed me again to make sure the bar had not moved.
I called my friend Barry and told him how I was doing. Honestly
I was not in the mood to talk to anyone so I made the conversation
short. My liquid food diet was delivered again. This time I had
some broth, Italian Ice (YUM!) , and Ginger Ale. Nurse Beth came
and gave me some Zantax for my reflux digestion and against heartburn.
I was doing fine. Just kind of wanted to rest in bed and not do
anything but lay there.
I fell asleep…again. The first couple of days you really do
sleep a lot. I didn't feel like doing much more.
I woke up that afternoon feeling very restless and anxious. I wanted
to sit up in a chair and just get out of the hospital bed. My mom
helped me sit up in the chair but it didn't help, I just felt, blah!
So the nurse gave me some Benadryl to relax me and I got back into
bed. I listened to my music, my mom gave me a foot massage and I
fell asleep right away. It's good to have something familure to
relax you. Like I had my relaxation CD. I just kept getting anxious
in the hospital bed. I felt really confined to it with all the tubes
A doctor came in and removed my chest tube. Thank god, I was so
happy to get rid of that stupid thing that was causing most of the
pain. I had to turn on my left side, which was so very painful.
I had to take 3 deep breaths and on the 3rd I had to hold my breath
and the doctor pulled it out. The pain was so bad that I got the
shakes and my teeth were chattering. Then I got really cold and
I had my mom put my socks on my feet and cover me with blankets.
I tried to relax and listened to my music again and fell back to
sleep. I didn't feel like doing much but sleeping.
The physical therapist came in and walked me around the 7th floor.
That was so much fun. I was so happy just to get out of that hospital
room for 5 minutes. That's what I really needed. The nurse told
me I did really well for a 23 y/o Nuss patient. After that I was
feeling really good and wanted to see my chest for the first time.
I couldn't believe my eyes. I was standing there in the bathroom
looking in the mirror at my new chest. It was amazing. And perfect.
Ok so it was a little bloody and really swollen but I got the idea!
SATURDAY - 12.15.01
I was up walking in the morning. Even to the 1st floor to the vending
machines to get some food. I didn't have much energy the rest of
the day. I mostly slept and rested the whole day. My friend Jim
and my dad came to visit me. I wasn't much entertainment for them
but it was nice that they came to visit me.
I was feeling so much better today. My dad was staying in a nearby
hotel and came to visit me from 9:30-11:00 am. My mom and sister
came at about 11:00 am. I was very upbeat walking and talking. I
just felt no pain at all and was so happy that I could get in and
out of bed by myself and walk around when I wanted to. Before I
felt really confined to the bed and I really hated that.
I ate some chicken fingers for lunch. YUM! The pain was starting
to come back but it was no problem, just a click of the morphine
button and all is gone, haha. I laid down to rest. I was very restless
and couldn't sleep. I just didn't like the hospital bed very much.
It just wasn't comfortable unless I was drugged up. They came and
gave me some Valium. I really just wanted peace and quite so I asked
my mom and sister to leave the room so I could rest.
My mom and sister came back and I was awake and up. I walked around
the floor with my mom, which was really nice. I had my first small
bowel movement earlier that day which was exciting since I had not
gone in all that time. I walked with my mom a couple of times around
the 7th floor. After that I was getting tired and wanted to rest
My mom and sister left to drive back home. Dr Nuss came later in
the evening and checked on me. I was doing great he said.
They removed the epidural this morning. WOW! The pain was absolutely
excruciating. Not the actual removal of the epidural, that was no
problem, but the pain after. It was like my chest was in a vice
grip and someone was squeezing it as hard as they could. The nurses
have a pain scale from 1-10 and they ask you what level you are
at when you are in pain.. I told her it was at like 15. The nurses
gave me a lot of morphine through my IV and I was ok in about 30
minutes. But boy oh boy did it hurt!!! That day the pain was worse
than any other day of the surgery. By early evening they had the
pain totally under control. I had my last chest x-ray. It looked
good and I get to keep this one! Dr. Nuss came to see me again,
he came to see me everyday. He was very happy with my progress and
everything looks good. They said they found a good combination of
drugs to keep my pain under control. Yah!
I can't wait to go home! I was so ready to leave the hospital. I
was just tired my room, tired of all the people and couldn't wait
to get home to my own comfortable bed! My dad will drive down to
pick me up this afternoon. He is bringing pillows and a blanket
to try and make me as comfortable as possible on the ride home.
It's a 3-hour car ride. Then, totally out of nowhere, I got the
hiccups!!!! Bad and wrong!! With every hiccup it felt like someone
was jolting my insides around. It hurt so badly and I was trying
everything humanly possible to make them stop. Finally, after what
seemed like forever (which was like 10 minutes) they went away.
I was the happiest boy on the earth. Really.
I was packed and ready to go. The nurse went over some details about
my meds, when to take what and stuff like that. They also gave me
some papers telling me what to do and not to do for the next couple
I left the hospital with my dad. I can't tell you much about the
car ride. I had a pillow, which did help a little. I was in minor
pain during the ride but I can't think of anything that would have
made the ride more comfortable. I was just glad to be home and well.