Sunday, 15 March 2009

Operation! (Bzzzt!)

On Friday I had surgery. It was just about as much fun as you might expect. I was instructed to present myself at the Mercy at 6.30 in the morning and did so, but then had to sit and twiddle my thumbs for three hours in a chair facing a television showing morning television shows. The form-filling-out preliminaries took about ten minutes and then I just sat and waited. There was no visible queue which somehow made it more annoying. Have you ever tried to read a review of three monographs on the Nazi film industry while Spongebob Squarepants is squealing in your ear? By 9.30 the operation was a welcome interruption to Mel & Kochie induced irritated boredom.

I must have looked terrified when I went into the lying-down-on-table room, though, because the three people there to get me ready all immediately began making soothing clucking sounds while putting in the drip-thing, squishing something cold through the tube into the back of my hand etc. I was lying there sleepily looking at the double doors to the operating room and then I was waking up, still on the table but in another room, looking at a clock that said 12.30.

A nurse was asking me what my heart rate was normally. I tried to say that I didn't know (but was it just that I didn't understand the question? If she had asked me what my normal blood pressure was I would have known, but anyway.) Another nurse came and asked me if I did a lot of exercise and I seemed to say yes to this and this appeared to have satisfied them both. Now Nurse #1 was flipping through the pages of forms I'd filled out.
You're a uni lecturer, she told me.
Good hours. You only come in to work about four hours a day.
mm nn no

After the heart rate conversation I felt it would be a good idea if I tried to not go back to sleep in case my heart slowed down any more but I don't think I succeeded. After a bit I was wheeled into another room and lay there, sleepy, curious, and bored while various things happened. My stomach began to hurt and I was given a ‘morphine-like’ pill. I became confused and wished I had brought Voss to the hospital so I could read it while on morphine-like drugs. One of the surgeons who (apparently) did the operation came and showed me two sheets of A4 each with eight full-colour photographs of my ovaries and uterus on them. She pointed out some of the highlights to which I paid less attention than I now wish I had paid, and I think she said I would get the pictures to take to my gynaecologist, although perhaps not because I don't have them now. Or perhaps she knew I would just post them on my blog and so she didn't give them to me. Everyone else in there was wearing blue scrubs, but she had on a really strange dress which was like a normal fitted bodice to the waist, with a scoop neck and cap sleeves, but the skirt was like a full bell with deep pleats folded like the noses of paper aeroplanes, and it was short and pouffy. It also appeared to have a small brass plaque (exactly like a doctor's nameplate next to the door) affixed to the back just below the neckline.

A nurse placed a round of corned beef sandwiches in front of me and another nurse took them away because it was too soon. A bit later the first nurse brought them back again. It was very still and there were few other patients. Someone I couldn't see was quietly sobbing. The nurses and doctors were talking about a caesar, and after a bit I heard a newborn baby exercising its lungs. I could not get comfortable on the trolley because my arms wanted to flop off the sides. I thought about the thing a yoga teacher said to me eight years ago – you have got unusually long arms, Laura - which I have probably thought about more than anything else anyone has ever said to me in my whole life. Based on nothing at all that I could observe, a nurse told me to put my clothes on and go to the toilet. 'When you get up you will see there's a surfboard between your legs' she said. A surfboard? I was very curious about what it could be and was disappointed to discover it was only a big lump of cotton wool. But was I supposed to leave it there? It wasn't attached to anything. I tried putting my undies on over it and the result was ludicrous enough to pierce the morphine-like brainfog. So I left my surfboard on the trolley and went away.

Dorian was there to meet me when I came out of the toilet but I had to wait a bit longer before being told to go home. I have four small cuts in my belly, which is grotesquely distended because they inflate the abdomen with gas: one cut on the navel, one above the hairline, and one at each side of the curve. It's really damn peculiar to think of total strangers fiddling about inside my stomach without my being there while they did it. I only have the cuts to show anyone was ever in there. They have got sticky tape over them. The belly button sticky tape panel goes over the entire belly button, which is gross. I didn't have a shower until early Saturday afternoon, and while I was wiping away the yellow rinse that had been swabbed across my stomach I discovered several creepy dried drips of blood running horizontally across my hips from front to back.

Not looking forward to picking off the sticky tape. That's got to hurt.


Tim said...

Hope the operation did what it was supposed to do, Laura, and best wishes for the recovery.

I only found out about the whole "inflating the abdomen" thing after my recent appendectomy. It's a completely bizarre image.

lucy tartan said...

Thanks Tim. Did your shoulders hurt afterward? The aftereffects of the gas inflation seems to be responsible for most of the discomfort I had afterwards, but I'm sure it's a lot better than having organs injured due to lack of manouevring space in there.

The operation was mainly to have a look in there, so I suppose it achieved that.

Zoe said...

I've luckily avoided the inflated abdomen scenario, but have had that it is the nastiest part. Glad to hear you're starting to feel better.

It's a bizarre world in hospital isn't it? People looking at you funny because there's no cosmetic surgery in your reading (unless you were Meredith, I suppose.)

And compulsory television sucks. Being so tall, I can often just reach up and turn it off when nobody's looking.

Kirsty said...

If you'd posted the images here you would have received all sorts of charlatan medical advice.

Meanwhile there's a shite gift for academics on Facebook that covers the nurses comments...

Best for your recovery and beyond.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

My yoga teacher told me I had lopsided hips.

Hope that old pain business is on its way soon.

Ann oDyne said...

Laughingly, They call that sort of thing "Day Procedures", and it costs a fortune, and that same corned beef sandwich does the rounds of all recovering patients.
If you had a chance to actually eat it, you would have found it icy cold from the frig.
Memo all future patients: take cellphone, cash, and number for dial-a-pizza.
Wishing you the best health.

oh, and that dress you described?
wow, designed by Morphia boutique fer shure.

lucy tartan said...

Yeah, maybe on the dress. I saw her before and after the op so I'm not sure. I will ask Dorian if he remembers it. He told me yesterday that the anesthetist was crosseyed so he noticed stuff I didn't.

I still can't figure out how she got a surgical gown on over the top of it.

Kirsty, I love that shite gifts for academics thing, but I can't figure out how to send gifts. I've tried. It amuses me that the teletubbie department chairperson gift is sent rather infrequently.

Baron, our yoga teachers should get together along with my hairdresser who resolutely maintains that the back of my skull is deformed.

Another Outspoken Female said...

Hope you have deflated nicely and the yukky gas pains have gone. No matter how they downplay it, laparoscopies and anaesthetics are never fun.

Very brave, hope Baz gave you appropriate post-op attention.

How many sleeps to the big day now?

ps: word verificationis fangnant, which seems stangely appropriate

peacay said...

I'm happy to hear of the successful removal of your Mel & Kochie. If ever there was a superfluous organ..

jellyfish said...

Based on your description, I think I was supposed to have this operation last year! But then it was deemed unnecessary. The 'shoulder tip back pain' thing was what worried me the most - FAIL. Hope you are ok.

Stay off ebay! I was once on ebay while on morphine (long story) and I bought a pair of bright orange converse that were size 13 mens (I wear size 5.5 ladies) and a remote control boat. Hrm.

R.H. said...

I was operated on for a knife wound to the abdomen. The next day a group of students were brought in for a look at me. "He didn't know he'd been stabbed," the tourmaster told them. "He thought the blood was from the other bloke."
In those days the Alfred had a smoking room where the roughnuts could congregate. It was a good time really.

Helen said...

Hope you recover soon, Laura, and that you have some couch time with nice warm cats curled up next to you and this wonderful rain outside.

Suse said...

I hope Jellyfish's remote control boat story didn't pop your sticky tape.

Hope you feel better soon.

Ampersand Duck said...

I hope none of the cats leapt upon your painfully deflating abdomen! Cross fingers that the results are what you want.

genevieve said...

Best wishes for no further complications, Laura. Absolutely brilliant hospital post though.

librarygirl said...

I had the sore shoulder experience after a D&C a few years ago - never worked out what it meant (had a general anaes. for that).
Yes, the Day Procedure is a joy isn't it? had a kidney biopsy a couple of years ago then had to lie still so I didn't rupture anything for SIX HOURS.

Hope you feel back to normal very soon.

peacay said...

Shoulder pain comes from the developmental origins of abdo organs. As an embryo the organs were actually high in the abdo and shared nervous supply with the shoulder region. The organs in the lower abdo fold downwards to their usual place but retain the common nerve connection. So when you reef around in there, you get 'referred pain in the shoulder'. Can't recall if it's boys & girls or just girls - but the above info is approx. correct in a general sense.

Elsewhere007 said...

Hope it all goes well, esp with the wedding so close...must add to the pressure.

My BP dropped very low the last time I had general anaesthetic (which meant that it took even longer to get away from the hospital). It was vaguely freaky having nurses freaked by one's BP...I enjoy a hospital adventure to some extent, but only some. Such another world, but so weird with the invasions of one's privacy, reminders of mortality, corporeality, etc.

cristy said...

I hope that you are starting to feel much better Laura. Take care.

Miss Schlegel said...

Many post-operative well-wishes for you Ms Tartan. Cat cuddles are excellent therapy but if you want to come over and let my dog lick your stitches, she would be up for that. If she gets too excited we can just put a bucket on her head. (Or yours?)

"I became confused and wished I had brought Voss to the hospital so I could read it while on morphine-like drugs." Good call. Alternatively, the end of The Aunt's Story where she goes nuts would have worked.

The only yoga class I ever went to I did a windy puff very near the teacher's face.

Meredith Jones said...

Your arms have always seemed normal length to me.

R.H. said...

My daughter had that game (shown in the illustration), you had to operate, using an electronic pointer.

She was good at it, but didn't go on to be a surgeon.

ThirdCat said...

good grief. the whole thing sounds hideous. hope you are recovering...or by now even recovered...sorry, just catching up on blog reading.

Laurel Ann said...

I hope that you are feeling better Laura. Read lots of Jane Austen to cheer you.