I've had surgery before, but those were always of the “this is a useless part of you that's causing trouble and we're going to cut it out” sort. Also known as the “very low risk” sort. Obviously cutting my chest open to drain infected fluid out of my lungs was not in the same ballpark, but everyone assured me it wasn't too risky... while pointing out that I would want to make sure that my living will and... um, dead will(?) were up-to-date.
Honestly, though, I wasn't that worried about the surgery – not because I'm brave like a lion, but because I was so damn thirsty after fasting for 24 hours that “when can I have a drink” trumped “possible death” on my list of mortal concerns. The nurse assured me that I was well-hydrated thanks to the IV, but she knew and I knew that even the tastiest IV doesn't exactly wet a guy's whistle.
My anesthesiologist was the same guy who worked on Trelina when Jasmine was born. I've met him twice now and I still have no idea what his name is, and only the vaguest idea of what he looks like without his surgical mask on, but he did a great job with Trelina, so that also went a long way to setting my mind at ease.
(One interesting note: I'll bet I'm the only dude reading this who's had an epidural. That was part of my anesthesia cocktail that day.)
I was taken down to the staging area and met all the people who would be cutting me open that day. I remember, very dimly, being given the epidural (probably just because of the novelty). And then I went to sleep.
The next thing I remember, I was in the ICU. I had apparently woken up and started talking before that, but (surprise, surprise) I don't remember any of it. My nurse helped me scoot from the gurney into my ICU bed. My left side was a solid block of pain. I didn't even want to look at it or know what had happened there. I just knew it hurt and somebody needed to get me some drugs STAT.
Here's what happened: The surgeon cut a long, swooping incision under my left shoulder blade and around my side to get into my chest. Then, after cleaning up the abscess on my lung and clearing out as much of the infected fluid as he could, he cut two more holes in my side – one above the incision and one below – and threaded drainage tubes the width of cigars into them and between my ribs. Then he stapled the incision closed and sent me to the ICU, tubes and all.
Next came the fun part: recovery.