Thursday, 6 December 2012

Tales from hospital part the first

So here we are, it is done.

I did mean to blog before I went into hospital, but time ran away with me and I was still packing my hospital bag at bedtime the night before. If I had posted, it would have been full of fear, because all of a sudden I got really scared and nervous about having it done. Even on the morning of the surgery I briefly considered not going through with it, and had to give myself a stern talking-to.

So on Monday morning I was up at Unacceptable O'clock and ready to get in my taxi at 6.30am. It was still pitch dark and felt like the middle of the night. The driver did attempt some conversation but soon gathered from my incoherent grunts that I was attempting to pretend I was still asleep in bed, and that this taxi ride was just a bad dream, so he gave me up as a bad job and instead silently delivered me to the door of the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

I dragged myself through the hospital, pausing briefly to to breathe deeply the tantalising smell off coffee from the AMT kiosk, before hauling myself through the corridors to the far end of the hospital, past the plush bit and into the section that looks like it belongs in Calcutta.

After wandering about wondering exactly how much it would cost to put some signs up so people would actually know where to go, I found the Chesterman Suite, where people go to wait to be cut up.

I had been too keen. Almost no-one else was there, but it did mean I could bag myself a comfy seat on the burnt orange sofa near the television, and opposite the fish tank.

I filled in a form, and a menu for what I'd like to eat on the ward when I came round. I remembered the advice I'd been given by people who have experienced the gastro-offerings of the RBH, and chose the simplest thing on the menu, which turned out to be fishcakes, mash and baked beans, with orange jelly to follow. More of that later.

After a while, the room had filled up and I got chatting to a couple of other ladies. One was having her shoulder replaced, the other surgery on her cruciate ligament in her knee.

Then Mr Nugent started having chats with us. He drew two fetching arrows on my legs - "So I remember to operate on both" - and told me what he'd be doing. I was surprised to hear that I was going to have not metal pins but some made of something dissolvable, so that ultimately I won't have foreign bodies in me, which I hadn't thought much about but still felt pleased on hearing.

After Mr Nugent, a lovely anaesthetist came round. I didn't catch her name, but as Paul the Doctor had advised, I mentioned wanting a Des and Remi, and ankle blocks.

"I always do ankle blocks," she said. "And I can do you a Des, but I'm not sure about the Remi. I always use Des though, the hospital would like me to use something cheaper but I only use something that I'd want used on myself if I were having surgery."

Reassuring! I warmed to her and was glad that if anyone were in charge of me not dying or feeling any pain on the operating table, it was her. She had fab hair too, all pre-Raphaelite.

Then we waited.

The anaesthetist came back after a while, and let me know that she'd worked out her list and I would have surgery probably about 12.45.

"So have a cup of tea now," she said. "You must be gasping. And then only water till 10.45 after which nothing."

A cup of tea! Fantastic.

Sadly, I was too lazy to walk to the cafe and instead went to the League of Friends kiosk nearby which, while friendly and helpful, made possibly the worst cup of tea I've ever had. Still, it was wet.

I did get so bored waiting that in the end I lay down on the sofa and went to sleep. At which point, naturally, they called me in.

I had to walk to the operating theatre, and then the lovely anaesthetist chatted to me while she put me out. Next stop, Recovery.

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