By Lanny Barnes
“Wow, that was fast,” I thought as my eyes shot open and the recovery room nurse stood over me and told me I was done and everything had gone well. “Amazing, that was the best nap I’ve had in a long time; is surgery supposed to be that easy?”, I thought.
The last thing I remember was the nurse wheeling my bed into the OR and them asking me to scooch onto the operating table while trying not to moon the nurse behind me through my fashionable yellow hospital gown. After they strapped me to the table and I cracked a joke about making sure they had the right twin and making sure they were going to cut my legs and not my arms, the anesthesiologist came in and started putting something into my IV. He told me it was just a relaxant as I mumbled something about how fast that stuff worked as and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room.
I’m not going to try and pretend there wasn’t any pain or nausea or anxiety. There was plenty of that, but it seemed to go pretty well. I have only gotten one other surgery and that was my tonsils. Compared to that, this seemed like a breeze. The hardest part was the wait and build up to the surgery.
Our mom drove us up to the Olympic Training center on Wednesday where we’d be staying for recovery post op. We had our pre-surgery appointment with the surgeon on Thursday and our surgery was scheduled for Friday. As we drove up to Colorado Springs, we had to decide who was the “lucky” one to go first with the surgery. Tracy announced that she wanted to go second so the surgeon was well practiced by then so I countered and said, no problem, I’ll go first while he is alert and still awake. I really wasn’t excited about going first, but I knew Tracy didn’t want to and as the older twin, I had to step up
We met with surgeon and he went though the surgery and told us what to expect and also what we would be allowed to do after the surgery. His instructions were very plain and simple, “just don’t mess it up”. What he meant by that is, stay off your feet and don’t let your athlete instincts take over and try to hit the ground running with 6 three inch long incisions in your legs.
Tracy and I thought we’d be up to the task and were actually looking forward to what was probably the first time in our lives being couch potatoes. But as active people it proved to be much harder than we thought.
The day of the surgery I was scheduled to report to the hospital at 10:30am for a 12:00pm surgery. I wondered if I should bring the doc some snacks as I didn’t want him getting low on blood sugar while I was on the operating table during his lunch hour. Speaking of food. Tracy and I weren’t allowed to eat anything after midnight the night before and could only drink water after that. For athletes that hardly ever go four hours without eating, we knew it might be a challenge. So Tracy and I set our clocks for 11:00pm and had a “last meal” party in our rooms. We both woke up hungry despite the party the night before. I felt bad for Tracy having to wait until her surgery at 2:00pm, but then again, she did volunteer to go second !
We got to the hospital and there seemed to be a buzz amongst the nurses and staff. It wasn’t often they saw twins and operated on them for the same thing in the same day. I guess the had to have a special meeting the night before to work out the logistics to make sure they didn’t mix us up the day of the surgery. I guess we could have made it easier on them and wrote our names in big bold letters across our foreheads, but as a twin, it’s always more fun to see if people can figure it out.
After the surgery they got us as stable as a person could get with anesthesia and major pain meds pumping through our veins and sent us home. I was lucky enough to have a longer time in recovery than Tracy which meant more jello. Tracy and I were both starving when we got out of surgery and ate enough to feed a small army before crashing into another deep sleep.
We spent the next few days at the Olympic training center confined to wheel chairs, which only managed to confine us to the large two block size compound. We wheeled ourselves to and from meals and our physical therapy and spent the rest of the time lying in bed with our feet up on a tall stack of pillows. After a few days they took the drains and bandages off and gave us the green light to go home. Once at home we graduated to crutches and have been given the green light to walk normally on Friday. A week after surgery, but warned not to walk for exercise or run. We can start easy spinning on a bike this weekend, and will be able to resume full training at 6 weeks.
The surgery was successful and we are confident that if we don’t “mess it up” we will be back stronger than we were before and ready for the Olympics next year. Thanks for all your support and prayers. Besides sore butts from to much sitting Tracy and I are doing really well. We’ll keep you posted on how the recovery goes.