Saturday 4 November 2017

She's so there

Last time I wrote seems like a lifetime ago.

It was Monday. It's now Saturday at 06:30 and I'm yet to have a nurse bounce through the door to subject me to morning obs and questioning. I'd hoped I'd be able to write about the experiences by either pooter or pen but it turns out that laying flat on your back and looking like an extra in The Matrix pod scenes is not exactly conducive to well considered prose. Or at least being able to physically write. Not to worry, you probably don't want to know the details.

It's a little like the other week. My flatmate asked me about what would be happening day by day so I gave a redacted précis up to day five post surgery when I glossed over things and said he didn't want to know. He pushed the subject. So I told him. He won't make that mistake again in a hurry. Mind you, it does mean I'm still giggling at the thought even at this time.

So anyway. A timeline... Sort of.

I was woken late on the Monday to be told by the lovely Julia that I would be first in theatre and she'd wake me at 4am so I could have a last drink, followed by a 6am wake for, err, procedures. You don't want to know. Now I've being going to the theatre regularly for best part of forty years and this seemed a little extreme, whatever happened to the polite five minute bell telling you to take your seat? And presumably this meant there'd me no drinks in the interval. Or that they'd be an interval.

Spoiler: being woken is a thing.

So 4am wake, have water taken away, sleep. 6am, wake, told to lay on my side whilst she [redacted] and then asked to wait for a bit before going to the loo, showering and dressing in the sexy gown that clearly hadn't been designed by Carine Gilson. No tea.

She also told me to expect a stream of visitors and why they would be there but owing to the lack of tea it was fairly unlikely I'd remember any of it. Time whizzed. I'd read a few paragraphs, there'd be a knock at the door, someone would come in, look at my notes, ask me questions I'd just been asked, say something new - which I wouldn't remember of course - and then bustle out. I had this mental image of a queue of them in the corridor drawing straws as to who would be next. I suspect they were trying to catch me out, but I never confirmed more than name, rank or serial number and nor did I let on that if they just gave me tea I would tell all.

Ooh, sun is up and the sky is both dark, brooding and depositing rain on the downs. That's nice. Did I mention how nice my view is? No, well it is, but I can't show you as the hospital blocks blogger picture uploading. And lots of other things. But I digress...

Finally the surgeon came in, and I think I signed a confession. I sent my last message at 08:02 and with that things got interesting, my bed was prepared, I was told to lay down, connected up to machines that go bing and wheeled down to anaesthesia. Do you remember the peculiar feeling I reported during the Contrary Roadtrip when I'd wake to feel the bed moving, well this was worse and I tried desperately to record every detail of the moments. Inevitable morbid thoughts aside it did also mean I knew how to direct visitors to the refreshments area - very good apparently not that I would know - which was nice.

The nice anaesthetist explained he'd give me something that would be like a glass of champagne and then something to knock me out. Ooookay... They also wired up my bionic arms ready for the intravenous drips. Which I didn't look at. And, finally, I got the "shot of champagne".

At this point I'd like to complain. I've drunk a lot of Champagne of the years and I know the stuff pretty well and that was *not* like champers by any stretch of the imagination. Shocking stuff.

He started asking if there was anything I liked doing. Errrr. Or someplace I liked to be. Errr. What was with the smalltalk? Seriously dude, focus! Eventually something in my memory reminded me this was the distraction thing, a bit like counting backwards from ten so I said yes, the island of Šipan and before I'd even stepped off Postira...

..."Hello Victoria". Huh? Who are you? Why are you in blue? Where am I? Where was I? Okay this is weird. Must. Wake. Up. And then it came back, I saw a clock and could see it was after 11:30. Maybe that champagne was stronger than I realised. In what seemed like an eternity but could be tracked with a few ticks of the second hand I managed to say the one thing I knew I had to say first...

Were there any complications?

Which probably didn't come out as clearly as that. She confirmed there wasn't and continued to monitor me as I gazed around trying to clear the fog in my head. I was aware of two things 1) I so needed to pee and 2) there was no pain. I was assured the former wasn't needed owing to the catheter I'd forgotten I would get and as for two well, it turns out there was no pain. And another spoiler: so far there has been none. At least not from the surgical site.

Just before noon I was wheeled back to my room, wired up to a constant monitor and handed my phone so I could tell the world I was still alive. It was 12:05.

Four hours and three minutes to correct a lifelong problem. I can live with that.

Back in the present: Nurse has just turned up and told me I'm the only patient who didn't press the call bell in the night. *model patient face*

Anyway, so there I was, hooked up to a machine that every so often would take my blood pressure with a constant flow of nurses to check things were okay. I was also starting to realise just how little of my dignity would be left as pretty much everyone who came through the door would lift my bedding, have a look at the dressing and nod approvingly. Well that's alright then.

Dinner was... Interesting. You see I had to remain flat. And the dinner was mostly clear liquids - with straws - and a bowl of sorbet, with a spoon. I can't fully explain how awkward this is so I'd like you to go in to your kitchen or whatever, get a bowl of ice cream and then eat it laying flat on the floor without lifting your head.

Incredibly I managed to do this without dropping any. And oh my it was good. In fact over the next couple of days the only accident I had was with a single piece of jelly as it has what can only be described as poor adhesion qualities on the spoon.

As day became night the routine was established, I'd drift off, wake - sometimes - when a nurse came in or the blood pressure thingie squeezed my arm, I'd be compos mentis for a few minutes then I would drift off again. I slept a lot. And still no pain. Well, almost no pain, by now my back was whinging lack a very whingy thing and it felt like agony. It turned out it was trapped wind which I was aware of being an issue as whilst my insides were rearranged air would be caught and had to dissipate somehow. Once I realised this is what it was I started to drink peppermint tea through the night and became Farty McFartface in a bid to release the pressure.

I am such a catch.

I also learned to wiggle a little to at least change slightly the pressure on my back from constantly laying down. So that was nice.

Wednesday was just like Tuesday, just with no not-champagne-at-all and lots of drifting off, feeling achy and working on the William Tell Overture in Fart minor. I couldn't really get the tune right if the truth be known. Breakfast was liquids, apple juice, tea and jelly which seemed great until I managed to let a piece escape as mentioned earlier. But otherwise, all good.

It did occur to me that this would do wonders for my weight loss as I was maintaining a decent calorie deficit in spite of the lack of exercise. Talking of which, I must blog about how I managed to lose weight so quickly, there's science and everything.

Lunch was liquid. Dinner was liquid. And as well as the constant sipping of water I had a liquid drip.

I was warned that a big problem is boredom. It's difficult to talk when on your back if you have visitors. I couldn't read more than a page or two at a time and that involved four or five hand changes per page so I could read every word. I'd answer messages on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, but miss lots out as I could answer maybe half a dozen before I couldn't hold my phone any higher. I didn't watch the TV in my room as I'm frankly not interested and besides it was at the wrong angle so it would have been difficult. So I slept.

The night was better. As my dressing remained dry they allowed me, with help, to get on my side. Which was fab as it give my back a rest but also made me sooooooo aware of the leg pressure thingies which sequentially inflated around alternate calves to try to prevent DVT. I think.

Now normally I sleep on my left with my left hand under the pillow, but with the bionic hand - aka a pair of cannulas - this was difficult. Plus I had to have a pillow between my legs to keep the pressure off my lady bits. Yeah. Fun.

Still, it was better than being permanently on my back and whilst I also had to have help going through the different positions it wasn't too bad a night, especially as me needing to change place coincided with when observations needed to be done. On the bright side at some time, early in the morning, the puffa boots came off and I've not had them since.

By Thursday things were definitely better and I was in to the routine. Wake. See Nurse. Take paracetamol. Have breakfast. Have bed bath. Chat to house keeping. See various other people. I was still meant to be flat but I could now at least move my legs a little to alleviate the stiffness. And, more importantly, Thursday was Tea and Toast day. It was also a year since I heard, whilst in New York, that a close friend had died so I had tears, lots of tears. Tears to the point that I had to give my nurse a précis of what happened so she wouldn't presume it was something else and add it to my notes.

Then she took my drains out. A few fewer connections!

And so the day wore on. I was checked, I had a liquid lunch. Again. And I chatted if I wasn't sleeping. The night was definitely better and I was grateful that I hadn't had a repeat of the epic end-of-days hot flush that I'd had on the Tuesday evening, in fact nothing close to it. I also discovered how much little things matter, like being able to brush teeth or the morning bed bath. But what I really liked is that I no longer cared about just falling asleep, even with the door open, it's not like I could go and close it.

And then there was the tea and toast.

My first solid food since Monday and it was epic. I will just say that I was a little miffed about some decidedly unhelpful comments about the clear liquid diet. Different hospitals and surgeons set different rules and I appreciate others might do it differently but I really didn't need to know about this, all I wanted to do was do *exactly* as I was told and recover quickly.

Friday dawned with... Breakfast. Other things too, but this was actual breakfast, tea, toast and Rice Krispies. Oh my. But... there was more. After breakfast I was offered a choice for my lunch and my dinner! Okay so it was still low residual but the chef and kitchen in this place is really good so I was most definitely not complaining. Friday was also a big day in that I got to sit in a chair for thirty minutes. Which was... Uncomfortable. I could feel my dressings pulling and things down below are a little sensitive so I kind of perched on the chair as I exchanged messages with the boss trying to get around the hospitals block on certain types of communication so I could do some stuff. For the record, if you ever stay in the Brighton Nuffield...
  • Cellular coverage is poo, as the nursing staff confirmed. It's pretty much non-existent on Three.
  • The hospital dataz is good but...
    • WhatsApp works but only for text/image messages
    • Skype works but only for text
    • Three "In Touch" just doesn't work
    • VPN. Not a hope
    • SSH? See VPN
    • And no Google Photos, nor can I upload images to my blog posts.
We decided it's because they have a transparent proxy that won't allow any transmission of packets in the guest network to the outside world. Heigh ho, at least the staff are lovely and the food is excellent!

So anyway as I was saying I was in the chair for thirty minutes and whilst it was weird standing for the first time since 08:02 on Tuesday and me suddenly feeling a little queasy from the whole lot of gravity going on things were okay. In fact things were better than okay. It was a really good day and I had such an amazing and intense feeling of well being.

The only glitch in the day was when the bionic hand started throbbing around one of the cannula and after the sixth throb and my realising the skin around it was rising I had to press the button and call a nurse. It was removed, the throbbing went and the other was taken out late in the evening when I was woken at 11pm for a last check. In fact the night was brilliant, I moved myself from back to side a couple of times and when I woke at six I decided that... well you know what I decided to do, I wrote, after all, I finally can.

Which brings me to now. Of course as I'm now allowed to sit up I can write again, even if I do keep remembering things but can't be arsed to go back and edit the above to include them. I've had breakfast and I'm waiting for my bed bath before being allowed to sit in a chair for another thirty minutes. The nurse did pop in and ask if it was okay that she did someone else first, which of course it was as let's face it I'm not going anywhere.

Is it lunchtime yet?

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