Tuesday 14 July 2009

The operation blog...

As I've previously mentioned, I recently had a hernia operation, so I figured I'd do a bit of a blog all about the day and the recovery in general...

Annoying for me (someone who rather likes their sleep), I had to be at the hospital for 7.30am - and figuring I'd be in fairly swiftly/have too many "yes" and "no" answers to be providing to a myriad of box tickers, I didn't bring my current book with me (Chuck Palahniuk's "Pygmy") ... so I have to say the two hour wait (as I later figured out - I'd taken my watch off) was a bit on the dull side. Mind you, I had plenty of time to admire the robes and disposable slippers I was given.

Plus there were indeed numerous people coming in and out - nurses, anaesthesiologists etc - so that broke up the wait ... as did a trip to the toilets to employ the use of an electric razor I'd been handed. So that made for an interesting however many minutes that used up...indeed.

In the absence of any watches or clocks to tell the time, I soon found my bed being wheeled on ahead to be prepared for the operation, and then not long after that I was being escorted to some room (forget the name) where you promptly expose your arse as you hoist yourself up onto the bed so you can have wires stuck to you and get the anaesthetic thingymyjig inserted into your hand.

It reminded me of my later high school years, I think it was Year 10 or 11 when there was a weird fad that kicked off involving gripping tightly at your wrist, elbow or armpit to slow/trap the blood flow in order to see how big you could get your veins ... interesting ... but that was essentially exactly what they did to find your vein - my first injection of sorts (i.e. a sharp thing stabbing into you) for years. I did try the "hold your breath" trick to take the edge off, but the sudden increase in my heart rate as a result wigged me out (the monitors were by this time plugged into me).

Then - the bit I was genuinely interested to experience - the general anaesthetic itself. I saw the syringe go towards my hand and the guy start injecting, he then asked if that was kicking in, and I remember saying "it's not really doing much" - and then that's where, for me, time and space ceased to exist. I don't recall passing out, which is strange I guess, but it was all as if someone had editing out a chunk of my life ... seemingly a bit under two hours ... as best I can figure it from the time written on my hand, and the time when I got my first pain killers.

Then I heard what I now remember as meaningless, garbled medical jargon and general nurse chit-chat happening around me - I was in the recovery room/bay/whatever. It was exactly like I'd expected this moment to be, just as I'd seen it on telly and in the movies - rolling eyes, muffled groaning, an oxygen mask planted over your face, and an insanely woozy feeling.

I was asked how I felt, and I remember saying "like I've been punched in the balls" ... then the nurse laughed. I was in quite a bit of pain, but I'd not lost my sense of humour - but to be honest, humour is the best thing to have when you've got a bunch of people poking and prodding around below your belt line, and then you being nearly as helpless as a baby when you wake up after the operation.

Next then - back to my bed bay from before - then it was a blur of cups of water with straws in them, digestive biscuits, and my first pills (Codeine and Paracetamol) - plus numerous nurses, numerous tests of my blood pressure (all fine by the way), and a visit from the doctor. Mind you, I was still pretty caned, so the information more or less went in one ear and out the other (at the time of writing I'm still waiting on the letter I was supposed to get from the hospital which would explain exactly what they did to me in the operation, which would be a big help, as goodness knows what it says on the carbon copy of some form I got later on that day).

I do remember being told that my stomach muscles were "very strong", to which I responded "ah, well that's good to know" - and indeed it is, and that means no supportive mesh had to be inserted.

A while later I was finally ready to get up - the anaesthetic had basically worn off, and I was ready to get up and get taken home - so after a rather painful maneuver I was back on my feet, then very quickly my arse, as I got dressed again - although the nurse had to put my socks and shoes on as I simply couldn't stretch that far.

I then recall being a smidge perturbed by the absorbent pad that had been resting under my arse - all covered in yellow iodine wash, and my own blood (indeed a large portion of me was similarly coloured). I then got seated on a very comfy recliner and dozed until my Dad came to collect me - but I do remember seeing the young lady who escorted me to the operation walking by, she gave me a thumbs up or a wave and I returned the gesture.

Then, after getting my pills and various bits of info, I decided to walk out of the hospital ... which wasn't my wisest choice, I have to say. For one, it took me sodding ages to walk anywhere at this stage, so the walk - which had been only brief that morning when I entered, was now taking bloody yonks as I shuffled forth in gasping discomfort.

Mid-way I simply had to sit down for five minutes to stop me fainting from the exertion, then a little further walking proved too difficult and I had to get wheeled out to the car - which really, was the astute option I should have gone for back at the comfy recliner.

A gentle ride home in the car, and I found myself back at home in the mid-afternoon. I stood in quite a bit of pain and gobbled down a chocolate raisin bar, and apparently looked very pale and washed out (unsurprisingly, of course).

Then - to bed - but first, an agonisingly slow climb up the stairs - the beginning of more than two weeks of the assault on my dignity, patience and general mindset.

I had my entertainment area set up for me, and set about watching Transformers on DVD (I'd watched the sequel days prior at the cinema) ... beyond this point it was two and a half weeks of every meal in bed, only being able to get at best a "whore's bath", changing my dressing and exposing my eyes to a skanky looking 5-to-6-inch incision all bruised and scabby, and sweltering as a week of agonising and frustrating humidity washed across our country. Not only that, but no sooner was I back than I'd found out Michael Jackson had died - so it was a weird old time, and indeed, seeing MJ videos on Freeview became one of the "flavours of the month" so-to-speak, during my bed-ridden recovery.

As I write this I am finally just able to have dinner back at the dinner table, and be out of bed for most of the day - although I'm still only really able to sleep on my back, or sort of on my left side ... ish ...

Anyway, some of the other flavours of my recover were:

Top Gear, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Friends repeats on Freeview ... speaking of Freeview, not being able to get UHF-57 sucked, and the choppy reception UHF-60 was getting was a nuisance too ... so from a limited selection of channels, and an even more limited selection of good channels, I only had a handful of channels to watch.

So - I finished BioShock after the first agonising week (about 3 days after the operation my stomach muscles ached so bad I could barely breathe, least of all call out for a new bottle of water so I could take more pain pills - I instead sent a text asking for water, ha!)

The main theme of my recovery though, was DVDs - lots of DVDs, among which were (in no particular order):

Red Dwarf Back To Earth
Dawn of the Dead (twice, two versions, plus extras)
Diary of the Dead (DVD extras)
Terminator 2
Toolbox Murders (original, and remake)
Mountain of the Cannibal God (plus extras)
Universal Soldier (plus extras)
Planet Earth
Zombie Holocaust (aka Dr Butcher MD)
Zombi 2 (aka Zombie Flesh Eaters)
Zombi 3 (aka Zombie Flesh Eaters 2)
Ghostbusters (plus extras)
Ghostbusters 2
Halloween (remake)
The Devil's Rejects (plus the 2.5 hour Making Of)
House of 1000 Corpses (plus extras)
X-Files (various "funny/light hearted" episodes mainly)
Gumball 3000 (2008 - videotaped from the Extreme Sports channel)

Mercifully I was able to get back online after about five days, as you do quickly feel detached from the world just lying in bed being waited on hand-and-foot (which, by the way, gets real old real fast) - and you start feeling a bit down not being able to fend for yourself, having to get someone to wash your hair for you, or wash you below the knees because you simply can't bend that far, finding a simple visit to nature becoming a drawn-out ordeal etc...add to that the dreadful humid weather (I prefer Autumn/Winter) and I wasn't in the best of moods most of the time, not that I was moaning and whinging, I was just generally switched off and zoned out - focusing on whatever DVD was playing just to take my mind off it all.

Still, like I said, at the time of writing this I'm now finally able to be up for most of the day, and compared to a couple of weeks ago I'm sitting (generally) comfortably, am much more flexible, and am generally in a much better state of mind ... there's still a ways to go, but progress is definitely faster now than it was initially - I really was buggered out for quite a while there, longer than I'd expected (and hoped) too.

So there we have it, a run-down of my first ever operation, and the testing recovery afterwards.

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