I can’t say that I often think of a day of medical intervention on one’s body as normally a cause for celebration, of hilarity, or even pleasure.
A nagging pain, and the insistence of ‘Lady of the House’ meant a visit to my GP some time ago. A subsequent uncomfortable, and personal, examination at Stobhill Hospital, near Glasgow, discovered no under-lying life-threatening situation…. so relief was unbounded. However…… the pain was still around, and a visit to another practice GP showed that there were now TWO seats of pain to be investigated…..ugh! An appointment with a surgeon decided that knife-cutting was to be the answer.
We had a family cruise organised and knew that it was unlikely that a surgical team would meet us in Santorini, or Dubrovnik, to perform an operation, due to sensible, not-unexpected, budgetary constraints within the NHS. However the waiting list involved (which was within the guidelines) meant that no such options/decisions had to be made!
I slept better the night before the op than usual, and the alarm gently woke me. Daughter and wife saw me safely into the arms of the Receptionist, medics, and nursing staff, and I was swiftly re-clothed in the double front/back- tied surgical clothing. Strangely, it was printed all over with…. ‘Only to be Worn by Hospital Patients’……as if any non-hospital-patient person would be seen dead in it!
Then the re-questioning began…….again and again. Every member of staff who came near had to ensure themselves that I was who I was. Maybe a label attached to me like Paddington Bear, with all the details, might be more sensible…or is that what they do in a morgue?
The amount of technical information pumped-into ones brain, by the surgeon, anaesthetists (yes, I had two!), and ward staff, before the procedure, is astonishing…..as if one were able to retain it, and if necessary act on it under anaesthetic! On the trolley, going to the theatre, the chat is pretty trivial, enlivened only by me seeing a trolley coming the other way, and it looked as if we were in a race for the same theatre!
For me, the worst part of surgery is the holes they make in you, for blood samples, plasma drips, different anaesthetics, and nerve blocks in various parts of the anatomy….It’s a bit like the Tony Hancock comedy ‘The Blood Donor’ (You-Tube it). They can be painful, and you might well wish to call the whole thing off, before they get the real cutting implements out. But by then the numbing chemicals have taken effect, and no amount of complaining will come from your mouth!
Surgery started at about 9.15, and I wakened in the recovery room just after 11. Professional but very kindly faces asked on a regular basis, how I felt. This I was to indicate, on an index of pain. Since presumably everyone has a different threshold, it has little absolute meaning, but comparatively it gives an indication of improvement level. I like to work on the basis of ‘How would I accept having this for the rest of my life’, and it seems to work for me. I have to admit that I was not a happy bunny for some little time, (after all, they had worked on two parts of my anatomy!) and pain-relief protocols were discussed and applied. This all happened within a framework of daft jokes, laughter, and good-hearted banter. The anaesthetists came to see me and gave their professional advice.
I then had the cheek to ask if I could get up to go to the loo, (‘Permission refused, Mr Monroe, as protocol does not allow it just yet!’). A bladder scan suggested to them that it would not be necessary. Gentle persuasion and discussion of the consequences, allowed a compromise, and my bladder proved it WAS necessary…technology isn’t always right!
Alternating episodes of inactivity, brief walks, and coffee, hot choc, and numerous biscuits passed the afternoon with everyone in a jovial frame of mind (it was Friday afternoon after all!) Lady, and my Daughter arrived to take me home and I was discharged at 4pm. On return home, they indulged in a chilli con carni, whilst I made do with a bowl of cereal, apple pie and custard.
…………..and thanks to a lot of people, it had been a good day!