For all the reasons outlined in the previous post I only managed a catnap or two and the morning eventually arrived to a further round of obs, being ignored totally by the catering lady with the breakfast tray (remember the hated NBM?) and then I was visited by a Doctor in scrubs so obviously kitted out for theatre. He had a clipboard with him which turned out to be my consent form for the operation. The first few questions were fairly straightforward and then it started to get a little bit worrying. After explaining the procedure and confirming I understood what was to be done it came to the slightly worrying part when he showed me the list of potential problems that might occur although he was at pains to point out that they were extremely unlikely and this was merely a legal requirement. As the list included stroke, stoma (colostomy bag) and death, I was glad he seemed so sure they were unlikely but it did focus the mind somewhat.
I had no option but to sign as it was clear I could not continue as I was and he told me I would be in theatre about 1200. No sooner had he departed than another young man in scrubs appeared and I briefly considered employing one of the nurses as my social secretary as it seemed I was the most popular man in the hospital that morning. He got me to confirm my name which I did fairly monosyllabically, not out of rudeness but because he immediately launched into his spiel about being my anaesthetist for the procedure and what was involved. About half a sentence in and it was obvious that he was from Northern Ireland and my mischevious nature quickly kicked in again, I just cannot help myself.
If anything the young man said required an answer I continued with the monosyllabic ploy and lots of what I was once taught is called “gurgling” i.e. non-verbal communication. Years ago I attended an interview course and I am apparently quite good at it. After a while of this I cranked my already thick Belfast accent up a notch or two to almost caricature levels and said, “Tell me this fella, what part of the home country are you from”? The look on his face was priceless and even under the circumstances made me smile. He told me he was from Fermanagh and we had the quick “old home week” so beloved of my countrymen before he finished up what he had to tell me, reassured me all would be fine and told me he would see me in the theatre shortly. For no logical reason I felt marginally more comfortable that he was from my homeplace although it would have made no professional difference had he been from Belcoo, Belgium or Belarus. Strange how the mind works.
Next to appear was a porter with a wonderful bit of kit I had never seen before which lifts one end of a hospital bed a couple of inches and is motorised so it allows one person to do the work of two when it comes to shifting beds and patients. I really fancied having a go on one but it never came to pass. Accompanied by one of the nurses we took off the relatively short distance to theatre where I was again greeted by my “new best friend” from Fermanagh who introduced me to a rather large group of people in scrubs all bustling about so I just smiled a generic hello to all of them and let them get on with what they were doing. Then he got on with what he was there for and in no time flat I was way off in the arms of Morpheus (fast asleep if you are not into the classics). I was expecting the “count down from 10 to one” routine I had gone through 30 years before during my previous op but no such nonsense here, one minute I was awake and the next I most definitely was not.
I do not know exactly how long surgery was and how long for recovery but I know that it was about 1230 last time I looked at the clock in the theatre and it was after 1630 by the time I was “compos mentis” back on the ward. What happened in the interim was quite amusing even under such relatively serious circumstances.
I started to come round in what was presumably the recovery room and through one half-open eye I had a brief look round although I quickly learned not to move anything more than my head as it hurt! I could see a lot of bright lights above and all around what looked like slabs. Do not panic, I do not mean slabs as in a morgue (I wasn’t that morbid) but slabs in a fish market or fishmongers and my still befuddled brain came to the conclusion that somebody had put me to sleep in Billingsgate Market or somewhere similar although I could not for the life of me imagine why. One of the staff must have noticed signs of life and said to me, “Hello Mister Campbell, do you know where you are”? I replied confidently (I hoped) and obviously intelligibly, “In the fish market”, what a ludicrous thing to say. The reason I know I was able to be understood was that I heard a female voice say, presumably to a junior member of staff, “It’s OK they are often like this, he will be fine in a little while”. After that it was lights out again in the Fergy household until I awoke in the land of the Cheerful Sparrows with a member of the nursing staff fussing round me and taking the inevitable obs etc.
I was going to write here I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach by a horse and then I considered just how common such terms are in writing and how ludicrous they are albeit hugely descriptive and valuable in a literary sense. Thankfully I have never been kicked in the stomach by a horse so how would I know? As a child I was butted in the backside by an ill-tempered goat but it is hardly the same. In the interests of satisfying my undoubted pedantry here shall we just say that I felt like I imagine I would have felt had I been kicked in the stomach by a horse. I do sometimes worry about the tangents my mind takes off on when I write.
I was certainly in no mood to eat which was probably just as well as I was still not allowed anything orally which made sense as they had just cut a large hole in my abdomen and been messing around in there so best to leave it well alone for a while. Because of this I was not able to take tablets and so my pain relief was paracetamol through the drip. They did tell me that if I required it that I could have oral morphine although I did not quite understand how this squared with the nil by mouth concept but it was certainly on offer. They must have thought I was in a lot of pain and whilst it was undeniably uncomfortable it was not unbearably so and I do not like taking medication of any sort at the best of times. In my own home I do not even have a packet of aspirin.
I did feel fairly drowsy which I suppose was a combination of the anaesthetic wearing off and the physical trauma of the day so I dozed on and off until the ritual of the handover at about 1930. Somehow I had missed the morning one at 0730. The ward basically works on 12 hour day and night shifts although sometimes staff work a “short” day of eight hours. During handover all the incoming staff are escorted round the ward by a senior member of the outgoing and the notes of each patient are gone over, including what has happened to them on that shift, changes of medication, proposed procedures and just about anything else of note. I’ll bore you with a story about handover later on if you do not lose the will to live before the end of this saga.
I am sure you will appreciate why there are no images taken on this day and the one which is at the top of this entry is of my bedspace taken much later (you can tell as there are no IV stands evident!). I just thought I had better put something to liven the page up a bit.
Plenty more medical musings to come so stay tuned and spread the word.