I was so busy not being bothered about the build up to my surgery, that I completely forgot to consider the aftermath. I was somewhat surprised to find myself in significant pain after the procedure, because I’d bizarrely forgotten that… surgery hurts. After being in theatre for 3 hours, I woke up in recovery choking from where a breathing tube had been in my throat, briefly opened my eyes long enough to acknowledge the voice that was saying, “good girl, well done!” and then was out of it again. I take forever to come round from general anaesthetics, longer than I should. For some reason, it’s a thing my body likes to do – cling to the drug induced sleep.
(You will have to excuse this post, I am quite exhausted and out of it still)
“I’m leaving at 7.” My dad said as he got back in the car at 6:57am. I’d been sat in the car while he made a small pit stop. I got out of the car and wandered through the spookily empty hospital. I’d never seen that hospital so empty before, seeing as it’s the biggest hospital in London, arguably the country (and I think I read somewhere that it’s the largest newly built hospital in western Europe). Uni Pal met me half an hour later, and we watched people slowly trickle in to start their shifts as we sat and chatted away. Somehow, we found the day surgery unit. They wouldn’t let Uni Pal through to sit with me, but made her wait as they wanted to talk to her (… and then never talked to her). Nobody could find my notes. Anywhere. Two doctors and an anaesthetist came to see me, each one asked for my bloods to be checked because I hadn’t taken my medication for that morning (as instructed)… an hour later, I still hadn’t even seen a nurse. When the nurse turned up, she had no idea I had any health problems because… I still had no notes. Eventually the surgeon had to come and make me sign another consent form, as my notes seemed to have grown legs and decided they wanted to see the world, and without the consent form I’d already signed in clinic, the surgery couldn’t take place. It took them a further hour and a half to find a wristband. The lady came to take me to theatre to discover that nothing had been done, I didn’t have my notes, and nobody had printed any wristbands (especially important, as I have an allergy to one of the medications they wanted to give me). The doctor who wants to send me off to another hospital to go through a treatment plan that consists of a living hell had been discussing me on the phone with them in preparation with the surgery, and that made me all uneasy, because I am not a fan of being discussed.
The anaesthetist tried to put a cannula in my hand, and then I pointed at a vein in the opposite forearm and told him that it was the only place he stood any chance of being able to get a line in. To my surprise, he chose to use that vein.
“People don’t usually listen when I say that.” I said, expressing my surprise,
“Why not? Life’s too short not to listen!” He smiled. He turned around with a few different syringes in his hand, and less than a minute later (and only a couple of minutes after entering the room) he was saying “Off to sleep. See you later.”
There was the familiar awkward moment where I wondered if the anaesthetic was working (once before there was an issue with my central line and the anaesthetic didn’t send me to sleep for minutes and minutes – to the point that they double checked all of the syringes and the bottles they had drawn stuff up from, then just used the gas to help it along). I listened as my heart rate decided to increase, and the light-headedness hit me right about the same time, and then I was out. Except I don’t remember falling asleep, I just remember briefly waking up in recovery and coughing and coughing because the breathing tube had irritated my throat, which hasn’t happened before (apart from when I woke up in the PICU when I was 17 and ripped out my breathing tube before the doctor could deflate the balloon that keeps it in place… They almost had to intubate me for another 24 hours to let my trachea calm down).
I was taken back to the ward at 1pm, I next woke up at half past 3. People kept asking me for my arm and stuff, but I had no control of my body. It wouldn’t listen to me, and I didn’t feel attached to it. I’d try to move my arm and twitch my foot instead. I couldn’t talk to say I was in pain, because I couldn’t really open my eyes and could only manage to groan. The first point at which all of this changed, was when the nurse walked over to find me with blood down my front. Clots were just dripping out of my mouth. She told me to tell someone if it didn’t stop, and gave me a bowl. When I tried to drink, I immediately retched and spat out a bowl full of blood clots again. There was a lot of blood in my stomach, and in my mouth, and all I could taste was the sweet metallic taste of it.
I was so dizzy that I couldn’t move my head. The registrar and the consultant both kept hanging around, and eventually it was the doctors that were taking my blood pressure. Turns out that their presence, and my ridiculous dizziness, was explained by the fact that my heart wasn’t too impressed with the general anaesthetic so had decided to decrease my blood pressure.
“Very low.” The nurse said, tapping the numbers on the machine, “You need to drink more.” I didn’t, because a) I physically couldn’t drink, b) I was on IV fluids, c) I’d literally had a systolic blood pressure of half the blood pressure she was pointing to (admittedly I’d felt absolutely awful at the time and been in quite a situation, but my brain was satisfied that I’d had much worse).
I laid there by myself, in pain, while everyone else had relatives sat with them. I imagined my dog, and thought I was cuddling him, and then started crying a little bit. Then I cried for my mum, who was out with her friend. Then I just kept randomly crying for no reason at all, which the nurses said was the anaesthetic messing with me. Uni Pal and Uni Mum both messaged me as I laid there all high, which seemed to calm my brain down a lot, and I called my mum but she didn’t have a lot of time to talk as she was with her friends.
The hospital let me go at just past 6pm, when my blood pressure suddenly decided to pop up to near normal levels in a very short space of time. We seized the opportunity, and left. My dad was actually pretty alright. Usually we don’t talk, and he says negative things or speaks with an aggressive tone when he does address me. I usually dread being around him, to be honest. But he actually seemed a little sympathetic for once, and cooked me an entire broccoli (because all I wanted to eat in the entire world was broccoli).
For the first 27 hours I refused pain relief of any form. I don’t like taking medications if I can avoid it. Also, I’d set myself some weird personal challenge. Part of me decided I was pathetic if I took pain relief, and part of me thought I didn’t deserve it. The rest of me decided it would just endure the pain. Physical pain isn’t something that majorly affects me and I have an absurdly high threshold for pain (I walked around for weeks with a broken arm on more than one occasion, and yeah I could feel it and it hurt, but it wasn’t enough to bother me).
It has to be extremely bad pain for it to bother me, and bother me it did. I wasn’t sat there rocking or anything, but it stopped me being able to think about anything else at all. It was not fun. I hadn’t been prepared for any pain, and certainly not at that level. After 27 hours, my mum got home, walked over to me, and told me that the dog was not getting his antibiotic (for an ear infection) until I took the opiate-based pain medication she was holding out for me to take. This was a good tactic, and resulted in me taking the pain medication… which then knocked me out for hours and made me high as a kite when I woke up.
And that’s how I’ve spent the last few days – drugged up to my eyeballs and still in pain on top of that somehow. I’ve done nothing but sleep, and when I’ve been awake the world has been very strange because hey, opiates. I did however manage to look after next door’s chickens and rabbits (all 30 of them!) again last night and this morning, despite concerns from everybody as to whether I was ok enough to do a responsible thing (I took so long that my little brother ended up climbing over their fence to come and make sure I was ok).
Things I have written in the notes section of my phone whilst clearly under the influence of pain medication include:
“We have to help Dorothy and Ross” (I have no idea who Dorothy and Ross are, we don’t actually know people of those names, but according to my brain they need our help).
“The buckets know the penguins are coming Lance, we have to warn them” (I mean… what even… was I thinking?)
Other amusing incidents:
My mum told me I needed to test my bloods, my response, in a very serious and urgent tone was “But what if they don’t know the answers to the test?” And then I walked off somewhere.
My dog walked past me, I told him I loved his face and he didn’t reply, so I shouted, “I don’t know what your name is but you are RUDE!” and continued to call him rude, until he brought me his toy to play tug of war, and I decided to tell him off for snatching things instead… I then almost cried because he was chewing his “defenceless” toy, and “rescued” it from him.
So erm… yeah.
This post was brought to you by: my brain under the influence of Codeine (which is metabolised to morphine, potentially explaining why I’m a little dopey).
I will post something better when I’m back in the world of normality, but I don’t know how long that will be, so I thought I’d just post an update.