Ah well. Here I am again, albeit briefly. I don’t know HOW you’ve coped without my moaning and whining, but I am back now, so we won’t give it a moment’s more thought, eh?!
Since we last met I have had my Euphemism Operation. Right before Christmas. Most intriguing that was too. I hate hospitals, and most doctors and some nurses. The NHS can make quite a mess of you. But in this case (touch wood) I seem to be fine. It’s interesting – I had so much extensive experience of the NHS when with my ex-hub, Alias Troubadour. Many different departments, in and out of hospital for years with him, I was. And I grew to see that people in the so-called caring professions can be hellishly callous. You don’t have to be paid great sums of money to simply be kind, polite and have basic time for people who are sick and scared, and suffering indignity. So that was where a lot of my experiences were forged. (I speak of St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. Maybe its improved now, what can I say? Other than Alias Troubadour was never going to be an easy patient.)
Yet my experience with the hospital here – so much nicer. It’s been almost 2 years coming, this little op I had, and I waited for it where we were living before, and my number never came up. I grudgingly went along here, to get re-registered for it (having moved quite out of town and borough, so messing up all the bureaucrats’ locations of me). First I went to my doctor – who agreed immediately I needed the op and didn’t try and put me off. Then I got an appointment at hospital that came up within 2 weeks. When I went to that appointment, they immediately confirmed I needed the op, and put me on a waiting list. I expected to wait another 6 months to a year. But no. Two weeks later, I am having the op. Isn’t that the quickest NHS turnaround ever??
Fast forward to me waiting on a hospital bed and crying in fear. Of dying under anaesthetic; or of waking up if I did, with brain damage. I was constitutionally unable to understand that since my brain talks at me constantly, how can anyone possibly switch me off like a lightbulb without actually accidentally killing me?! I am here to tell any of you with the same fear – they can, they do, you wake up, you are fine. Or at least, speaking for my groany self, I was fine.
This is despite getting on the wrong side of the Anaesthetist (lets call him Alias Mr Quill Pen) who when he came to see me and asked if I had any questions, was asked if he was properly certain he wouldn’t be accidentally killing me, nothing personal, I would be saying this to anyone standing infront of me with your job right now, I end, with a sort of smile, but again, so close to tears. He tells me I navigated the worst part of the day already, statistically, by getting driven here. Logic was so not what I needed. Later the doctor comes, a warm hearted family man kind of person. I cry again, in a day of never ending embarrassments. He takes my hand and says: ‘What’s going on here? What’s wrong?’ So softly and kindly. I just say I’m frightened, and he pats my hand more and says, ‘no no no, you’re going to be just fine. Dry your eyes now, and I’ll explain exactly what we’re going to do, see here, dry now, as you need to see, I’m going to draw a diagram…’ All quietly, and calmly and making eye contact. A rather more officious woman doctor comes in after and adds as a tail to the otherwise successful stopping me crying procedure – ‘Don’t cry anymore, or your blood pressure’ll go up, then we won’t be able to do it and you’ll have to get all worked up again another day.’ Gosh, thanks, that’s helpful. But anyway. I return to my word search (the only thing I can do to distract myself when under extreme pressure and forced to be still).
Then its time, about an hour later. I walk in to the theatre’s ante room, feeling like I am going to my doom. I sit and then lie on a gurney bed, as instructed. I discover all the people buzzing round me are Aquarians, after quizzing them in desperate fits of conversation making. This is a bit reassuring, as it means they will be paying a visionary level of attention to my wellbeing. Goody. I chatter to Alias Mr Quill Pen, who seems to have come to terms with the fact I am going to be awkward and troublesome and terrified. He cracks a joke. The surrounding assistants, all with names beginning with the same letter of the alphabet (lets call them Lester and Larry) , are all chatting away over me and to me, and laughing, while busily attaching things to me. Then suddenly, Quill Pen says – ‘Hmm, that’s the anaesthetic…’
It’s not like American TV at all. There is no mask over the face and count back from 10, be asleep by 9. Nope. An insertion to the back of the hand (very skilfully done in this case, its left hardly a mark now, a week later), a slight sensation of cold to the wrist inside…and a very odd feeling of someone blowing up a balloon inside my body that is crowding out my brain, but not at all in a scary way as I had feared. There is simply suddenly no room for me in my own head. ‘Oh,’ I say, ‘I feel really weird…Someone please hold my hand?...’ And I feel one of the smiley men take my hand firmly.
And then someone is taking a mask off my face (they put the oxygen mask on your face during the operation, as well as a tube down the throat which gives you a killer sore throat for a couple of days, but not longer). She is asking me to lift my head a little. She is smiling warmly at me and telling me it’s all over, gone well. I feel like I am emerging from the longest and best sleep (of about 40 minutes) I have had in many years. (Considering Fluffhead, this is actually true, it was.) I am trying to navigate my voice, and hear myself slurring and thanking the nurse, and the doctors and the assistants and Mr Quill Pen. This is quite funny. Apparently people coming out from anaesthetic can be unpredictable and hostile on occasion. (Woe betide anyone waking Alias Troubadour, for example – duck, you sucker…) It is quite nice to know my inner most self roused from deepest sleep does the equivalent of giving out a massive Round Robin Polite Thankyou Note. Quite unlike my grouchy waking self.
Amazingly, within 20 minutes I am fully awake and totally not nauseous, as I had feared I would be. In fact, I am ravenous and exceeding thirsty. (No food from 7p.m. the night before; no water from 6 a.m. – op at about 11 a.m.) I am wanting to walk about, and in fact go home NOW. Of course, they don’t let me. I have to drink loads, eat something, prove I am able to pee without pain or any other hiccup, and take several laps of the room over a couple of hours without swayage. I accomplish it all masterfully, especially the drinking of 5 hot chocolates.
I am chatting to other people waking up and starting to wander about in the Recovery Ward. One woman, in for a termination I think I heard, gets up, dusts herself off after half an hour, and winks at us as she leaves. She has been the most cheerful person in the room all day – we all assume she is off for a cigarette, as she kept saying she fancied one earlier. Half an hour later there is a panic as she hasn’t come back, and you’re sposed to lie down, really, for 2 days after anaesthetic, as your blood pressure can suddenly drop and you’ll get all feeble and maybe faint. So you’re sposed to rest. But no – she’s absconded. Security get called, nurses search. We all feel a bit dim for assuming she was just popping out. She calls, from home, 3 hours later, and says she’s on the way to the pub with her husband. The nurses are beside themselves – partly as they are cross they spent so much time looking for her when they had other people to care for; and partly because she hasn’t even had the needle out of her hand, and will have to go to the doctors to get it done. As to the wiseness of going home so soon and then to the pub, they to a one purse their lips, shake their heads and say she’ll be back in here by nightfall.
I never find out if this is true, as I am discharged sooner than expected as I keep frolicking about with a strange amount of energy. (It’s actually easier to folic in a very understated way than to sit, as my Woman Bits are in Fiery Pain.) But I have done all required, so I am given pain meds and a discharge sheet and instructions that Stanley is to check the wound site every day in case of infection. (This turns out brilliantly for him, as he is a sort of Mad Scientist type: he fetches a headband with magnifying glass lenses and a light on it, and examines the wound every day with a gratifying degree of seriousness to detail. The headband is for the construction of small models, but hey, how useful is it proving?)
Apart from a Fainty Turn the next day (due to attempting to still frolic, and getting the blood pressure lowering thing, just as predicted) I have been doing well. I have been sitting for a week now on a ring shaped cushion, saying ‘oww’ a lot and getting Stanley to do most of the lifting. Fluffhead is a very active package and needs lots of running about for. You don’t realise how much of it involves lifting till you can’t do it.
And there were pluses to the whole thing. Stanley and I have seen loads of each other. Usually, we are always dividing our time, or passing like ships in the foggy old night – he is up and out just as Fluffhead and I emerge of a morning; gone all day, then a brief hello before he babysits Fluffhead so I can make dinner; then half an hour sitting and eating and chatting and watching something….then Fluffhead and I are off to bed. This is partially because I have not got the Fluffhead sleeping by himself thing sorted at all; and partly because I am genuinely exhausted by the time he is ready to sleep. At weekends we tend to split the time, each of us getting some alone time (sorely needed), and each of us getting some Fluffhead time. There’s hardly ever time for any US Time. So all these days of me not being able to move much and Stanley being here all the time are brilliant. We have had time to watch whole films through, and finish extended conversations, to cuddle, to go out for small walks with Fluffhead.
So there we are. For a person who spent most of the week before the op contacting her friends and telling them it had been very nice to know them; and in the case of Mr Hooting Yard, requesting a nice obituary on threat of a haunting were this not done…I am greatly pleased to be still alive, un brain damaged and able to finish reading his latest book, sometime in the misty far awayness that is so much closer now; that island of 2012 we are all sailing ever closer to.
Not dead! Not dead! Yay!!!!