Or, The Tale of My Surgery Continued.
They came for me when I was in the loo, trying to remove a teaspoonful of over-concentrated and therefore stingy urine from my bladder. So timing-wise that all worked out reasonably well. I had to remove the dressing-gown, climb up onto the trolley, arrange the surgical gown so that I was not sitting on it, to allow the doctors to remove it, I suppose, without wrestling with 14 stone of inert woman in the process. And then I lay back, and the two theatre nurses wheeled me down a succession of corridors (all ceilings uniformly boring) and into a rather cold and small operating theatre. There the Big Pink Anaesthetist awaited me.
More precisely, she awaited my veins, which took one look and ran, so the next few minutes got increasingly frantic as she and a nurse took it in turns to pat, pat harder, and finally vigorously slap the back of my left hand in an effort to get at least one vein to show a little pride and stand up. Normally I have visible hand-veins. I have no idea where they went. They even checked my blood-pressure to make sure I was still alive and pumping (yes I was, though why said pressure was normal instead of rocketing I do NOT know – venous conspiracy). Eventually they thought they saw a shadow and the Anaesthetist went after it with a needle.
A little digging about ensued, which May endured very patiently, and then they attatched a drip. The nurse then added a syringe-ful of ‘sedative’, which ran like a cold cold ache up my arm, and was not very nice either, but instantly made me feel wheeeeee!, and I said to myself, blimey, that’s quick-acting stuff. They – no idea which one – held the oxygen mask to my face, asking me to take a deep breath, and I obediently did so, and, that’s it.
I vaguely remember being wheeled back to the ward, because the doors took some wrestling with and in the end they just used the trolley with me on it to bash them open.
I vaguely remember noticing I was lying slightly turned on one side, and slightly propped up, and that I had been half-awake for some time. There was a man who had just had gall-bladder surgery near-by, and who was in bad pain, and kept giving little wheezy grunts. The nurses were talking to him, trying to work out where the pain was.
Now it was definitely some time later, and I was awake enough to move around a bit. My ribs and shoulders were aching so much I had no idea what my lower abdomen felt like. A nurse I had never seen before spotted me moving and came up at once to offer me – oh, Nectar of the Gods! Oh Votaress of Ambrosia! – a glass of water and a cup of tea. She helped me shuffle into a somewhat more comfortable and tea-consuming position, and then went and fetched the first in a series of several very welcome drinks. I was too out of it to notice the first little plastic cups of tea came with milk (I try to avoid milk – I get eczema when I overdo it), and then a little too self-conscious to mention I didn’t want milk having been tipping it into myself with wild abandon. In any case, NHS tea is so disgusting drinking it black is something akin to taking an emetic. Nevertheless, because of the wooziness, the caffeine addiction, and the appallingly dry mouth, it was one of the most lovely things I have ever tasted.
There is absolutely no privacy on a day surgery ward. The poor invisible gall-bladder man had been stunned into silence with pharmaceuticals. The three women opposite me, who had gone in for much the same operation as me, where recovering as follows: A had only had a hysteroscopy and polypectomy. She was up and getting dressed and feeling very much OK. They had expected fibroids and it was a rather nice surprise not to find any. B was in a lot of pain, and was being filled with pain-killers. A little later she felt a lot better and was able to sit up and have tea too. C, who was my sweet lady, was totally unable to pee. She didn’t even feel the urge to pee. She was being given water and tea by the gallon, but her bladder was incommunicado for some reason. They won’t let you go home until you can pee, so she was getting a little, well, nagged about it. Me, I was becoming uncomfortably aware that my left hand hurt a lot, even if my incisions didn’t, and I had cramps very like period pains, and, even worse, that I seemed to be sitting in a puddle. At this point the nice tea-dispensing nurse asked me if I wanted to try and get up and go to the toilet myself, and with her help (and behind closed curtains) I clambered laboriously off the trolley and into the nasty dressing-gown and my knickers, to hold a rather unpleasantly thick and mattress-like pad in place. I had been sitting on a large absorbant pad, and it was soaked with blood and dye and therefore the most extraordinary brown colour. I shuffled to the loo and managed to produce one very small pee, and then spent some time mopping the somewhat alien-looking dye from my underside. It was so stained with blood and with that red-brown disinfectant they paint you all over with I have no idea what colour it was supposed to be. Two incisions, both covered in sticking plaster, one in the tummy-button, one just above the pubic bone. They simply weren’t sore, which was weird, as everything else hurt.
When I got back to my trolley-bed, the nice nurse asked if I felt up to getting dressed now, and I carefully put my things back on and clambered back on to the mercifully cleaned-up trolley, as standing was making my shoulders ache furiously. She then went to call H and tell him he could come and collect me. At this I recalled my Mission to Know with a start and asked her if I could speak to the consultants about what they had found up there. She smiled: ‘They came round to see you a while ago, but you were still asleep,’ she said kindly. Seeing me look bewildered, she pulled my notes out from under the bed to see if she could make sense of them. She wrestled with the Infamous Doctor’s Handwriting for a few minutes, and then went to phone the junior consultant at her clinic at another hospital, which she had clearly had time to clean up for and go to – Good God, how long had I been out? – to ask her to speak to me briefly. She agreed, and I shuffled to the phone.
At this point it gets a little confusing, because to be frank I was still pretty much a drooling zombie, and my shoulders were distractingly sore. I am very sure she said they found no endometriosis, because I asked ‘are you sure?’ several times, and she patiently said ‘yes’ several times. I think she said they did find some scar-tissue from the operation I had when I was 18, but had removed it all with a laser, and that it wasn’t a problem. I also remember her saying my ovary looked good, but I completely failed to ask the important question: ‘Good for a cyst-riddled PCOS ovary, or, you know, actually good?’. My fallopian tube was clear. That explained all the dye I was sitting in when I woke up. Did I know they were going to do that? Yes, I did, but had somehow forgotten about it until that point. As for the inside of the uterus, they removed some polyps and ‘other bits and pieces’. There was no fibroid. There was ‘an indentation’. Again, I forgot to say ‘there was a what?’ and just drooled gratefully.
H turned up soon after, looking worried, bless his heart. And found me able to stand and talk coherently for up to, oh, three or four minutes. He waited while the very very nice, helpful, thoughtful tea-dispensing nurse removed the horrible drip needle from my hand, and while I was handed boxes of pills and sheets of paper and instructions on how to use the two, which only sort-of went in, whatever I may have said or nodded to. I didn’t get to say good-bye to sweet lady C, as a consultant had been asked to come and talk to her bladder very firmly about relaxing and emptying and so on, and the curtains were drawn around her and her husband. I have been wishing her all the best ever since. I hope she got to pee and go home.
I still really don’t know what time H came to collect me. I think I was in surgery for less than an hour, so I must have spent a good couple of hours lying zonked out of my mind in a small puddle of my own blood, which, as thoughts go, cheers me up not at all.
And after that, I had the most overwhelming sleepiness and cotton-wool brain for days. H took Friday and then Monday off work to look after me, and I spent an awful lot of time lying down dozing, or being bored. Read? HAH, I say, HAH. Ditto knit – I got overexcited and started working on some lace, but being addled, got the math completely, disastrously, by a factor of 50%, wrong. I was extremely bloated and had referred pain from the gas in my shoulders and ribs for several days – only truly comfortable position, flat on back – and the stitches duly made their sore, bruised presence felt. Also, sticking plaster on lower incision big problem, as, to be frank, one was not shaved, and one was not entirely keen on being waxed by one’s medical dressings neither. However, the bleeding from the hysteroscopy and biopsy and polypectomy and whatever-the-hell-else they did had practically stopped by the same evening – I merely spotted for five days. Oh, yes, and entire back of left hand and right up left arm to nearly elbow sore, bruised, puffy, and STILL TENDER. Nice one, Big Pink.
And then, just when I was recovering very well and even ambling up the road to the shops and back, the stitches got infected, and took to oozing in a very horrid manner. Also, swelled, so the thread was cutting into me like a cheese-wire, which was incredibly uncomfortable. I showed the sorry mess to the GP, and got antibiotics, which are working, thank you. Also, so much for disolvable stitches. The one in my tummy-button caught on a dressing after a week and ripped out. After a few moments blinding pain and frantic swearing, in which I thought I had ripped and not the stitch, I dared to look and discovered it was, thank heavens, the other way around. The one lower down, I begged H to remove after I went insane and spent six hours standing in the rain a week and a half after surgery, watching plays on an outdoor stage. All of me felt perfectly fine except my feet (obviously) and my lower stitch, which started to tear me, so out it came. Instantly, the constant nagging pain of the lower stitch vanished, and I have been fine and more-or-less energetic ever since. I go back to work tomorrow.
So, where the hell did my fibroid go? What in fuck are ‘bits and pieces’? Can I safely come off the pill yet? Has the bleeding thing been solved? And do you know when I am going to next see the consultant and find out? The appointment letter arrived Friday. The 24th of September. That’s when. Two months away. TWO FREAKING MONTHS. And which, of course, is also the day I am supposed to enroll to do my MA, and will therefore also need be Other Side of City at more or less the exact same time.
Language filthy enough to convey my irritation has yet to be invented.
Tomorrow, I shall describe my latest visit to Dr Alternative. Also, how I am doing with the whole appointment-moving shenanigans. Also, bitching, because I could just about eat my own foot with frustration at this point.