Sunday, 6 October 2013

Day +6

That's what they call it on the 6th day after your op when you're in hospital. So far ( happily ) no-one has asked me " Have you opened you bowels yet ? This seem to be a favourite pre-occupation of all nursing staff , more so than "Are you in pain ? " or "Have you got a pulse ? "

The nursing staff were in fact absolutely angelic , to the point that , if your pulse was about to expire, you'd happily change your will and leave your entire personal wealth to the Florence Nightingale Brigade or whatever their charity is called. When you're lying in bed in excruciating pain at 2am and a small sliver of light appears from your doorway and a gentle voice calls out " Would you like some more pain relief ? you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd died and gone to heaven.

So the operation is over and I now have a brand new knee. I almost won't be believe it until I see an Xray. It is the most bizarre feeling in the world to think that there's a mechanical joint in place of the one I was born with.

I have to admit that the prospect of the operation was enough to reduce me to a whimpering wreck prior to admission. The day itself was nerve-wracking in that my operation was delayed by 6 hours. By the time they wheeled me down to theatre ( not the plush seated, red velvet-curtained stage sort ) I'd resigned myself to the thought that the surgeon would now be punch-drunk with tiredness having operated on at least a dozen others before mine , since the wee small hours of the day before and would therefore fit the wrong knee to the wrong leg.

Being wheeled, horizontal , on a hospital bed through the bowels of the building prompted me to wave at strange passers-by, as if I were being taken to the gallows and this was my last contact with humanity. They all seemed happy enough to be waved at and many waved back in a puzzled sort of way. It's that same impulse you get when standing by the riverside watching a passing boat.

The pre-op room where you are anaesthetised was clinically white and postered with dire warnings of what might happen to the patient if everyone present didn't dowse themselves in anti-bacterial goo. These stopped thankfully short of a yellow warning hazard triangle enclosing a deathbed patient in black but were nonetheless scary enough to make me check that everyone present had suitably self-sanistised themselves to within an inch of their lives.

Suddenly , you get the green light and you're pushed, feet first, into the blindingly white operating theatre itself, almost as if making a stage entrance, complete with follow spots but no applause. At this point, you have a nagging doubt that the tube from the drip that's attached to the cannula on the back of your hand has somehow become twisted and you're not receiving the precious analgesia that will guarantee a complete knock-out whilst the op is in progress. It seems churlish to ask the anaesthetist if everything is OK , as if doubting their professional competence is a mortal sin and one which will guarantee to get their back up and ensure a rough ride hereafter. I decide to say nothing.

Stranger still is the surreal conversation you inevitably strike up with the theatre team, to drown out the noise of the industrial sized, mechanical implements , fresh form the steriliser ( one hopes ) , which are being lined up bedside. As if already under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs ( maybe that tube wasn't faulty after all ) the conversation ranges from Pink Floyd to Krispy Kreme donuts, which was as good a place as any to drift off into the land of nod.

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