On the day of my surgery, we woke up before the sun and made our way to a specialist heart centre in London (there was a surprising number of people on the road at 5:30am). We watched the sunrise shoot oranges and purples over the London skyline as we parked the car, and then got onto the tube (which was also surprisingly full). I stood up most of the way, watching businessmen and gym fanatics sitting with headphones in their ears and papers in their laps. I didn’t look like I was about to have heart surgery, and I liked that nobody gave up their seat for me, because that made me feel like I wasn’t about to have heart surgery.
I don’t have any thoughts to share with you about life, or the world, or how to get out of a rut. So instead I will just tell the story of the last few days, starting with the guy who poked my heart, and probably ending with an apology about how boring this post was to read, and how appallingly it was written (I am going to try my best, but sometimes that is just sub-standard).
The surgeon came to the ward and walked me down to theatre himself, which surprised everyone. As he opened the doors for me to walk into the cath lab, I was hit by a blast of cool air, and a surge of adrenaline that seemed to come out of nowhere. I told myself to get a grip, and laid down. The staff were very friendly. They all introoduced themselves, and then checked who I was about a million times. Because my veins are impossible to get a needle into, they gave me a central line instead (which was very painful because the vein was scarred). Then they medicated me out of my mind (seriously, they gave me enough drugs to sedate a horse.) I felt like my body was floating up off of the bed, but when I tried to warn the staff that they needed to tie me down, I was so drugged up that all I could manage was a groan. I remember getting very annoyed at myself for not being able to form words, but I felt really dizzy and my eyeballs felt really warm inside my head so I soon began to think about that instead… Then everything felt like it was moving… And then I woke up to the doctor telling me that the first procedure was over and done with, and he was going to implant the device (which I have named Reginald). I was high enough to have no inhibitions, and ‘with it’ enough to be nervous. The combination of these things was that I freaked out a little. Or at least, I did internally. I was still slurring my words and feeling pretty out of it, so I’m not sure what I said to everybody else. They gave me some diamorphine (medical heroin), and this is where the fun really began.
I woke up back on the ward almost three hours after I’d left it. I say that I woke up, but what I actually mean is that I briefly opened my eyes – acknowledged the pain from Reginald, and then I was out of it again. For three hours I was so drugged that they couldn’t wake me up, I kept forgetting to breathe, and my eyes kept rolling into the back of my head if they managed to get me to open them. I couldn’t talk, so I just kept groaning, and I was actually pretty scared that I couldn’t stay awake. I would hear the machine alarming because my oxygen levels were too low, and then realise that I hadn’t breathed for an insanely long amount of time. I could hear people saying my name, and I wanted to ask them why I couldn’t wake up properly, but my mouth seemed to have been disconnected from my brain. I fell asleep trying to drink. I fell asleep injecting myself. I fell asleep trying to talk. I didn’t even know I was falling asleep. I was imagining things that felt so real, and then somebody would say my name and it would startle me and pull me back to reality. They decided that I had been given waay too much diamorphine, but despite this I still felt like I’d been shot. They sat me up too soon and the wound from the central line and everything started to bleed.
I was the last person left on the ward, and I was still so out of it that they wanted me to stay overnight. The staff seemed to find great amusement in the fact that I was still so out of it. This made me want to hit them. I’ve no idea whether I told them this or not, because I was still so drugged up that I don’t even remember how I got out of the hospital and into the car. I do remember that every single bump in the road hurt, and that being in a moving car while you already feel like you are floating is very disorientating. They sent me home with a heart monitor and various leaflets about the surgery and Reginald.
I’m pretty sore. Reginald has taught me that you can’t really do anything without engaging your chest muscles, and so most movements of the upper half of my body pull at the wound above him, making me whine like some sort of animal. The other wound is pretty sore too. I have to ask my family to get things for me. They want to help, and they won’t let me get out of the bed that they’ve made up on the sofa for me, but I feel awful asking them to run around for me. My health and I have already burdened them quite enough already. I’m about to go to university and get out of their hair. The last thing I want to do is tie more knots and become matted in, because then they will have to cut me out.
Yesterday I received a small parcel in the post. I thought it was strange, because I hadn’t ordered anything, but when I opened it, it was a book. A very philosophical book from the lovely person who sent me a card the other day. If you’ve read this blog before then you’ll know how much stuff like that means to me; it really cheered me up. Another thing that has really cheered me up is my dog. He seems to know that I’m a bit delicate at the moment, so he’s being super gentle around me, and has spent most of his time laying by the side of the sofa, periodically resting his head in my lap to make sure that all is well, and demanding affection frequently (as per usual).
Last night I had a dream that I’d been shot in the chest. When I woke up the wound over Reginald hurt a lot, and it was bleeding under the dressing. It took me a few sleepy seconds to work out that I hadn’t actually been shot, but had instead rolled over in my sleep and pulled at the healing wound.
Today my mum helped me get dressed and then took me shopping for university supplies. I had to use my arch nemesis (the wheelchair). My little brother decided to push me… Being pushed around in a wheelchair by a twelve year old boy… Is terrifying. He either went really slowly, or ridiculously fast. There were multiple crashes. He liked to leave me in everybody’s way… But I couldn’t push myself, so I was grateful for his assistance.
Two people who I used to go to school with were working at the checkout in the stationary shop. I don’t really know them well, but they were both in the popular crowd and effortlessly confident from what I remember of them. I’m not confident. People that they used to hang out with made my life a misery on multiple occasions, so I instantly found them terrifying by default. My brother and I left Mum to pay and went to wait outside the shop with her. She looked at me like I was being ridiculous, and I know that I was, but I wasn’t in the mood to be judged. I was already judging myself enough for three people, and I didn’t need them adding to it.
A lot of people I know are at music festivals right now. The staff in theatre asked me if I had any plans for my bank holiday weekend as they got me all prepared, and I couldn’t help but laugh. When they found out that I want to be a doctor, they started asking me about the more distant future instead, and I’ve spend the last couple of days thinking about what I want to do with it. I made a short list, and it goes like this:
1) Teach myself to write (better) and draw with my left hand, 2) Go to and graduate from university, 3) Go to a music festival, 4) Drive around Italy, 5) Go to California, 6) Meet a guy, settle down, have kids, and have a boring life (because to me the kind of life that everybody else calls boring is heaven. I need no more, and more bizarrely, I don’t want more. I used to, when I was younger, but now I’d do anything to go back to ‘boring’) 7) Help people – raise money for charity, start my own some day? Become a doctor, volunteer with a charity that provides medical care for people who don’t have access to it 8) Be awesome
Friday wasn’t a great day, but I just kept reminding myself that there were plenty of people in the world, and in fact in the very building I was in, going through much worse things. The point is that just like “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, your ‘boring’ is someone else’s dream.
I’ve already rambled on about quite enough nonsense. I will write something worth reading soon (maybe I should add that to the list above), but for now this is the best I have. If you read it to the end, then thank you very much.