Advice for TAC surgery in Chicago with Dr. Arthur Haney
- Plan on flying in at least a day prior to your surgery, if not two days. You do not want to show up at the airport and find out your flight has been cancelled (this happened to my friend and she had to drive from New Orleans to Chicago in order to get to her scheduled surgery on time).
- Flying into Midway puts you closer to downtown and to the University of Chicago, though flights may be cheaper or more direct to O’Hare.
- There are plenty of shuttles at Midway for you to grab one for your trip to the hotel. (If you are arriving after 10pm at Midway, you should pre-arrange a shuttle.)
- I would not advise renting a car. Most sight-seeing is in a concentrated area. Also, there is plenty of public transportation. We don’t find Chicago’s transit as user-friendly as, say, Boston’s, but it’s available. Go on their city transit website prior to your trip and try to familiarize yourself a big with the various modes of public transit there. Also, with exception in the financial district, their “subway” is UP above the street… “Elevated” = The “El”. Pay attention to which direction you want to travel on it so you don’t walk up the wrong side and then have to run, go down the stairs, up the stairs, and to the correct side.
Day of Surgery
- Take a cab from your hotel to the University. From downtown Chicago, the cost is about $25. We left at 6am and arrived at the University at 6.20am. Just give the cab driver the address, tell him it’s at the University. He will drop you off in a u-drive in front of the building if your surgery is at the DCAM (it probably is there). The DCAM sits diagonally facing an intersection. *UPDATE – I do not know where the surgery is now done, as a new hospital was built on the campus. Check in Abbyloopers if you need to know the exact building.
- Your husband will wheel you downstairs back to the u-drive. (If you are waiting more than 15 minutes for transport to come get you and wheel you out, tell your husband to go find a wheelchair and take you himself. We waited over an hour and a half before Nam finally did this. What a waste. They kept telling us they were on their way, but it never happened). There will be plenty of cabs for him to grab. He’ll park you inside the entrance, run out and grab a cab at the curb, the cab will pull in the u-drive, and he’ll load you up. The ride may be bumpy and you will be nervous about that. Be sure that you have your travel pillow with you (discussed below). And, TELL the cab driver you just had surgery and can he please take it easy.
- You’ll be fine to walk from the street to your hotel room.
- We went home two days after surgery. (Surgery on Monday am, flew out on Wed am)
- Please book a direct flight if possible. At the very least, don’t fly for 10 hours like we did. That was exhausting.
- We took a shuttle from our hotel back to Midway. It was pretty irritating because we had to stop and pick so many other people up. I wish we had just caught a cab. If you are in the shuttle, ask if you can have the front seat. Use your travel pillow. Tell the driver you just had surgery and can he please take it easy.
- As soon as you arrive at the airport, have your husband check your luggage at the curb. You go inside and find a wheelchair (they are gathered at the entrances). Sit down. Stay in this wheelchair until you get on the plane.
- Even if you don’t feel like you need a wheelchair, get one! You don’t want to walk all the way to your terminal. More importantly, if you have a wheelchair, you get to bypass the security line! And, this is not a DFW security line you go through in 5 minutes. The line was a mile or more in length. People had been waiting over an hour! You cannot stand in that. Don’t try. With the wheelchair, you and your husband will be flagged to the side and go to a special security entrance! Woo Hoo! They’ll ask if you can stand and walk through the metal detector – do it. Otherwise, they pull you to the side and you have to wait on a female worker to get a chance to come over and do a very awkward pat down.
- Go to the bathroom before you get on the plane.
- Don’t drink a lot while you’re waiting.
- When you get to the terminal, ask the airline if you can have the bulkhead seating. It’s the very first row behind First Class – lots of extra leg room. If you can’t, then oh well. Do not spring for First Class – not worth it. You’ll be ok. I sat on the aisle so I could go to the bathroom easily if I needed to.
- Don’t get a drink from the stewardess – you’ll just end up having to go to the bathroom. I had to do that and I got through it, but it was difficult. You decide how you feel about it. Certainly don’t get dehydrated! (We were also flying all over the country all dang day, so ours was a different situation than I hope you’ll have!)
- Keep your travel pillow out and visible. It keeps people away from you because they think something is wrong. Good. Stay away!
- At the hospital, they’ll give you this plastic breathing thingy. Take it with you on the plane. If you don’t want to get up and walk the aisle (which could be embarrassing), then puff on that breathing thingy.
- When you arrive, you are probably okay to walk to the baggage claim. Sit down. Let your husband get the luggage. You’ll be okay to walk to the car.
- Dr. Haney’s assistant should send you a file that has a lot of hotels under contract with the university for patient discounts. Call them and see what deals you can get! We personally won’t use the discount sites because of previous problems with them (if there is a problem with the hotel room, the hotel passes the buck to the website and the website passes it back to the hotel, so there is no resolution). But, a lot of ladies have gotten better deals on those discount sites than with the university patient discounts.
- I cannot sing the praises of the Hyatt Regency on Wacker in downtown Chicago loud enough! If you call to get the patient rate, you need to give them the patient code of “Univ of Chi”. That is different than the code that Dr. Haney’s assistant sends you in that file. Our rate was $119/per night. We were on the 33rd floor and had a river AND lake view. It was incredible.
- If you do stay at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker, ask them if you can please have complimentary club access. The 35th floor has the Regency Club. Outstanding. Free breakfast – and we aren’t talking Holiday Inn’s continental deal, either. They had lox! Fresh fruit, cereal, yogurts, juices, pastries, etc. There are always drinks – water, juice, soda – in the fridges in there. Complimentary! They have snacks out during the day, hors d’oeuvres before dinner, and then a fabulous gourmet dessert spread before bed. Instead of trekking to Walgreens (which is right across the canal) for snacks and water, we would just go upstairs and load up! We always brought water back down to our room!
- Another neat thing about the Hyatt is that there is some underground city under the hotel. It’s on the same level as their gym – just keep walking past the gym. I’m sure this does not belong to the Hyatt, but it’s super convenient. After my surgery, this is where Nam went to get all of our food and bring it back to the room.
- You will not need a handicapped room. I thought I might need that for the toilet or shower, but I didn’t. And the regular bathroom was WAY nicer than the handicap bathroom (we had two different rooms).
- We actually had two separate stays: before surgery and after. Since husband will stay with you in the hospital, we checked out of the hotel and then back in. We were disappointed to have a different room when we returned, especially since we had requested the same room and supposedly it was reserved for us. The main thing, though, is to get that club access!
- The “cot” they bring in the room for your husband is actually a twin bed that folds down. My husband said it was very comfortable….way nicer than the vinyl folding recliners we have in Arlington’s hospitals. I’m saying this here so that you will know it’s okay and comfortable for husband to say in the hospital with you. You do not need to pay for the hotel that night.
- We were shocked by the magnitude of our emotions when we arrived in Chicago. We thought it would be a nice mini-vacation full of fun sight-seeing. We spent most of our time crying and praying in the hotel room. We were completely sobered by the reality that we were only there because our Isaac and Samuel were lost to us.
- While you may not have lost a child, the memory of a traumatic situation concerning your previous pregnancy may arise. Think ahead how you would want to combat that. Take your Bible, favorite nightgown, journal, etc…whatever you may need. Talk to your husband about this and come up with a plan of attack to deal with those emotions if they do arise.
- Another unique thing for us was the culture shock. Downtown Chicago is not Texas. The people there were very busy and task-oriented. They did not look at us in the face, greet us, ask how we were doing, share their day or unique stories, smile with their eyes, acknowledge us in passing on the street, etc. They did not respond when we asked how they were except with a suspicious glance. If you are not from Texas, then perhaps this is a non-issue. For us, it was incredibly difficult and actually felt quite hostile.
Supplies to take and purchase
- Insurance cards! Copies of insurance cards!
- Drivers’ Licenses! Copies of drivers’ licenses!
- Your regular daily meds – I always pack just a weekly pill organizer so I don’t have to lug around pill bottles or risk losing my meds.
- I personally have all my current meds typed up with daily dosages. I also included for this surgery a brief medical history (all my surgeries, hospitalizations, allergies, etc.) I had a copy and husband had a copy. (well, okay, I make him carry it around in his wallet at all times even when we are home.)
- Paper/pen for post-op consult with Dr. Haney
- Try to take only one suitcase. Your husband will be toting all your luggage after your surgery – be kind. My Nam said to emphasize this to all the women I speak to. He had a backpack that held his laptop, our big rolly suitcase, and our smallest suitcase that he stacked on top of the big one.
- The clothing you wear to the hospital will probably be the clothing you end up flying home in, so don’t overpack!
- Buy some schleppy pants – velour, drawstring or something similar. Make sure the waistband sits up higher on you – no low rise stuff so that it stays clear away from your incision. You will probably live in these pants for the following week.
- Take some tall socks – I took my ski socks. They are good to wear in the hospital when all you have is their dumb gown on. They will keep you warm and comfy in there.
- Have your slippers with you. You will be walking the halls in the hospital and hotel.
- Take some granny panties. While your incision will be low (just above your hair line), you still don’t want any possible waistband issues. I got these at Target and they worked great: http://www.hanes.com/clothing/hipsters/hanes-classics-womens-tagless-cotton-stretch-sport-hipsters-3-pack
- Of course, I’d suggest a t-shirt and a sweater so you can be warm/cool whenever you need to be.
- Don’t take valuables like jewelry. They let my husband store our luggage behind the desk in the surgery waiting center, which was great, but we didn’t have valuable stuff to keep up with either.
- The all-important TRAVEL PILLOW! Don’t get the round kind for your neck – that won’t work. Get a small rectangular pillow. I got one at Target that had those beanbag balls inside it – it was wonderful! How will you use this? Keep it hovered over your incision. When you have to cough, sneeze, laugh, etc. lace your fingers around the pillow and press down into your incision.
- Maxi-pads. Dr. Haney will send you home with nothing on your incision, which is fine. But, it may weep a bit later and you might want to place a maxi pad over the incision. I didn’t need to do this, but I was glad to be prepared just in case. Also, if you will be on your period during your surgery, the hospital pads are yuck, so you’ll want your own.
- Razor – you’ll want to shave your legs before surgery.
- Chapstick – make your husband keep this in his pocket. When you are in recovery, you’ll want it on your lips.
- Consider taking a water bottle with a straw attached. They only give you paper cups in the hospital and you’ll need to be drinking a lot of water.
- Snacks for your husband while in the hospital room. (Just buy these at Walgreens in Chicago – don’t fly them up with you.)
- We took our laptop and got a Netflix subscription so that we could watch movies in the hospital. I didn’t watch any, but that’s how my husband stayed awake for me all night.
- Not really a supply, but do you have a profile at the Walgreen’s pharmacy? Take your insurance card and get one set up before you fly out.
- Some women have advised getting an abdominal binder. I don’t think it’s necessary and didn’t get one. You need to get your own muscles up and working again asap. Your travel pillow will be more than sufficient.
- I’ve read where a few women said to wax the pubic area prior to surgery. If you already do this, more power to ya. If this idea scares you to death, then don’t worry about it. My incision was clearly above the hair line.
- Don’t forget to shave your legs.
- Remove all nail polish.
- Of course, you won’t wear make-up, lotions, or deodorant when you go for your surgery.
- I’ll repeat this below, but get Colace (or some OTC stool softener). Start taking this BEFORE your surgery.
- Drink LOTS of water the days before your surgery. Make sure you are well-hydrated and your bowels are moving, moving, moving.
- We also made sure that I ate at least one salad a day when we were in Chicago. Leafy greens are a regular part of all my meals, and that’s hard to do when you’re traveling. But, you want to have very smooth bowel movements, so do whatever it takes while you’re in Chicago to maintain them!
- If you are going to be prescribed an NSAID two weeks prior to your surgery (like for a root canal), ask the doc to consider giving you a Medrol Dose Pak instead so that it won’t interfere with your blood thinning.
- Buy a stool softener (I’d just get the softener, not something with a laxative also – but you assess based on your own bms). Start taking it a day or two before your surgery. Do whatever it takes to get smooth, easy bowel movements. You will not want to be straining after your abdomen is sliced open.
- Dr. Haney will give you a RX for Colace and Percocet. Your husband will be able to fill those at the DCAM pharmacy. However, their pharmacy closes at 5. They don’t open again until 8am. Also, my husband noted that they were very very very very slow. He was gone over 2 hours at the beginning of the day getting my RXs filled. Also, don’t let your husband forget to take your insurance card with him from the hospital room to the pharmacy. It’s a long walk that he doesn’t want to repeat. What we wish we had done instead:
- Taken our own bottle of ibuprofen. Take 600mg before leaving the hospital (okay to be honest, I always took 800mg, but I AM NOT A DOCTOR, so always consult with your doctor and follow his orders!). Gone to the hotel. Husband gone across the street with the RXs and had them filled at Walgreens (because your profile is already set up or he has your insurance card anyway. BTW, he will need his ID to be able to pick up the Percocet for you since it’s a controlled substance). The ibuprofen is in you already for pain control so you can wait on the RXs from Walgreens.
- Another reason I would have been able to do the above is because I never used any pain meds. I didn’t even use the morphine pump they gave me at the hospital. I never took a Percocet either. All my pain management was with Ibuprofen.
- Did I mention Colace?
Arriving for Surgery – What to expect
- When the taxi drops you off, you’ll go to the surgery check in. They took me back straight away even though I was 40 minutes early. At this time, hubby will stay in the waiting area. They brought him back to me pretty quick, though – like within ten minutes. He was able to leave our luggage behind the clerk’s desk.
- They will put you in a little curtained area – lots of other patients are in there, too. Not just gynecological patients, either. Everybody is in there for all sorts of things. The nurse will then ask you lots and lots of questions. I was very impressed that I could hand the nurse my self-prepared medical sheet and she could look at it and not ask me those questions again.
- You will get changed into a gown and they will have a bag for you to put your own clothing in.
- Many people will talk to you – nurses, nurse practitioners, the anesthesiologist, anesthesiologist residents, surgical residents, gynecological residents, etc. If you are prone to nausea from anesthesia, speak up now! Say it to everybody! Tell the anesthesiologist that you always get nauseas from anesthesia and can she give you a special cocktail for it, and how about that patch for behind your ear. Emphasize this if it’s a problem for you!
- Finally, Dr. Haney will talk to you. He is wonderful. He takes his time and explains again what he’s going to do. He’ll use your husband’s wedding band as an example and make lots of hand illustrations. Tell Dr. Haney if you have problems with nausea. Ask him if you ought to do a spinal or general. Discuss this at length until you are comfortable with the plan. I personally had a general, but was extremely nauseous the rest of the day from the anesthesia. Dr. Haney told me the next day that in the future I should always opt for a local if it’s available – he said I’m just a delicate flower and that would be best for me.
- When it’s time, they will tell your husband to go wait in the waiting room. That was kind of scary to say goodbye to him – but mostly because I was anxious for five million reasons.
- The nurse and a couple of residents will walk you down to the operating room. You climb on the “table” and put your arms out yourself. At this point, I almost lost it because I was thinking about my sons. I wish I had been prepared to be reciting scripture at that time.
- Dr. Haney will already be in the room putting his mask on and reassuring you.
- After like 2 seconds on the table, you’ll be out (with the general…I don’t know what happens with the spinal)
Post-Surgery (In Hospital)
- After surgery, Dr. Haney will go talk to your husband in the waiting area. He will spend as much time there as your husband wants him to.
- When you wake up, you will be in recovery. I don’t know how long normal people stay there, but I’m sure it’s not the 5 hours I was in there – that’s only because I had such an adverse reaction to the anesthesia and was extremely nauseous. To be honest, I think I was a little high, too, from whatever narcotic injection they gave right before they woke me up.
- I was not in any pain whatsoever. None.
- The recovery area is very busy and very noisy. It’s irritating. Get out of there asap.
- Update: I do not know about the specifics of the new hospital building where Dr. Haney currently does his surgery. Please ask for specifics on Abbyloopers if you need them!
- When you leave recovery, an attendant will wheel you to your room. It is a long, long ride. Seriously, it was at least 15 minutes.
- When I got to my room, they made me physically change beds. That was the worst. I had a catheter in me, was on my period, nauseous, and I really did not want to use my ab muscles. I wouldn’t say this was painful, but I was very tender.
- Get settled! Start drinking water! Sleep as you can!
- You will not be on a restricted diet, so order food! Start eating! If your surgery is in the afternoon, you better hightail it out of recovery and order it quick. Even if nothing looks appealing, order something – your husband can eat it. If for some reason you miss ordering the meal before the cafeteria closes, there is a café that your husband can go buy you food in.
- If you are nauseous, call the nurse. Insist that you get something. My nurse was terrible and argued with me and I called my doctor in Fort Worth (my RE who was supportive of me getting the TAC) crying asking him what to do. I finally had to demand to see the anesthesiologist. The issue of my nausea was solved within twenty minutes after that.
- If you are anxious, call the nurse. She can only give you Benadryl, but it may help you sleep for a while. Again, this was a very emotional time for me because of my sons, so I needed that Benadryl. I only cat-napped really. My husband actually stayed awake the entire night and I was very thankful for him doing that. I was very reassured whenever I would wake up and see him on alert.
- Ask the nurse for the little plastic thing to practice breathing. She’ll bring it to you and tell you to suck on it until the ball gets up to a particular number and that you should hold it there for so many seconds. The first time you do this will be surprisingly difficult. Each subsequent time will get easier. Set new challenges for yourself when it becomes easy. Do this all night long whenever you are awake. (I think it’s something like 5 times an hour…the nurse will tell you.)
- You will have a catheter in you, but at 4 am, it’s a new show. The nurse will come in and take out your catheter. Then, she’ll have you sit on the edge of the bed. That’s pretty challenging. Then – this is the ONLY 2 seconds of pain I had at all – she will have you stand up. The first time you stand up, you will feel a burning singe in your abdomen. It only lasts about 2 seconds. Breathe through it. After you have stood up, she will want you to sit up in the chair for 15 minutes. That will not be so difficult.
- After you’ve done your time in the chair, get your husband and try walking. From this point out, you will want to walk about 15 minutes every hour. The more you move, the better you’ll feel. The longer you sit, the crappier starting to move again will feel. And, movement will help heal your incision. Dr. Haney will explain that to you.
- Sometime between 7 and 9, the residents may come in. If you want an RX for Ibuprofen, that’s the time to ask them. (If you didn’t tell Dr. Haney the day before)
- Dr. Haney will come in and talk with you. He’ll stay as long as you need and answer whatever questions you have. At this time, he will give you specific instructions for your future c-sections. Certainly, he will share that info with your OB/MFM, but he wants you to know it, too, in case of an emergency. You or your husband write this info down!
- After you see Dr. Haney, page the nurse and tell her you are ready to go and can she call for transport.
- A discharge lady will come and have you sign some paperwork. She barely caught me – we were already waiting for the wheelchair that never came.
- Again, if you are waiting more than 15 minutes for a wheelchair, just have your husband go get one and take you himself.
- Take the breathing thingy with you.
Post-Surgery (At Hotel)
- When you get to your hotel room, get comfy. Do not make the mistake of watching Everybody Loves Raymond and getting into a laughing fit. It hurts with the new incision.
- Have your husband go and get food right away. You’ll be ok.
- The rest of the day you will probably doze – and so will your husband.
- Could we have flown home that day? I guess. But, we were both so incredibly exhausted that it was a very good thing to just say in the hotel and sleep.
- Be sure to get up and walk every hour for about 15 minutes (when you’re awake – don’t wake up just to walk).
- Keep doing that breathing thingy, too.
Post-Surgery (At Home)
- Plan on nothing for a week after your surgery.
- That said, after flying all day, I was out working in my garden. The next day I shopped all day (which was too much and I was tired). I also had rides arranged so I could go back to work the following week.
- Keep walking.
- Use your breathing thingy.
- Watch the incision for signs of infection. Take a picture and email it to Dr. Haney if you think there is a problem.
- No driving for at least a week after surgery. The night before I was going to drive to work, we went to an empty parking lot and made sure I could drive. It was no problem.
- A week and a half or so after surgery, you’ll notice the little steri strips starting to peel off and getting icky. Just peel them off in the shower at that point.
- You don’t need to do a follow up with anybody unless you want to. I had to go to the doctor for something else, so I had her check my incision (which was totally fine)
- Take the COLACE! I took it for about a week after my surgery just to be on the safe side.
- Your bladder may act funny – some spasms, having a hard time urinating, etc. This is normal! Your bladder was handled during surgery and she’s not happy! Stay on the lookout for a possible UTI, though I didn’t have one. This cleared up for me by the end of week 2. I had to spend a few days peeing standing up in the shower because I just couldn’t work it any other way.
- Be thinking about whether you want a spinal or general anesthesia.
- If you do IVF or an FET, the RE will want to do a hysteroscopy (maybe) and trial transfer (definitely) on you just to double check everything and make sure the canal is not changed from the TAC (which it won’t be).
- I asked my RE to do an ultrasound and show me the TAC and he printed out a picture of it for me.
- Name your TAC – mine is named Arthur. Haha.