My latest excursion to hospital, and one that I will admit I was absolutely dreading, was for a kidney stent fitting. Owing to the septic infection I suffered, it had become blocked. Not completely, or it would have shrivelled up and died within three weeks or so causing me to loose the right kidney. Because I like to do my ‘homework’ about any procedure I am to be put through, I went online to find out more about what it all entailed and read some real horror stories of others who had had the procedure done, so as you can imagine, I entered the hospital with a sinking feeling and very reluctantly.
On Thursday, our merry band of fellowship, brought together in comradeship; and kindred spirit for a few days and nights spent together in a closeness that many would never experience, began to break up. First to leave was Mrs C. We parted company with hugs and good wishes given as if we had known one another for a lifetime. Even her close family, who’s acquaintance had been made at visiting time, made fond farewells as if we were all close friends. It was strange. We would in all likelihood never see each other again.
Mrs C was soon replaced by C who, following the very swift cleaning of Mrs C’s bed following her departure, was soon its new occupant. We hit it off straight away. She was a teacher in Halifax at a High School, so really not all that far away from me in the grand scheme of things. In the meantime, M was very down. Remember that she had hoped to have keyhole surgery and therefore be returning home on Friday at the latest. As it had turned out, this was not to be, and she was very down and upset, Of course we other members of the Ward 8 fellowship tried our best to console her.
Personally I was not in a bid fat hurry to be discharged from the hospital. In practically the opposite scenario to M, where she had a large family who were all eager to get her home and would be no doubt assisting her, I would be arriving home to an empty flat until such time that I could arrange for K to return from respite. Not exactly a pleasant prospect I am sure you’ll agree. In fact the best day for me to be discharged would be Monday, as the Day Care staff could then collect K from respite and then bring her back home in the afternoon.
Br was the next to depart. And to M’s delight, she was also allowed to leave on the Friday, which left me and C the sole occupants of Ward 8. Mr N paid me a visit that day to announce that I could go home on the Saturday. I asked if it was possible for me to remain until Monday and explained my dilemma about being able to get K home. I was in luck. There were plenty of empty beds over the weekend and hardly any admissions, so I was free to remain until Monday. I would make the best of it and have a wonderful bath every day! With lots of bubbles!
C and I ( she had had her keyhole surgery on the Friday) were now firm friends. It was during one of our conversations about the fact that I would be having follow up chemo, that I learned that she had had chemo following breast cancer. She told me about the wigs you could have to wear, and showed me a picture of herself with long hair before her chemo therapy, one taken after she had her hair cut very short for the chemo, and a recent one at a wedding. All of her photos were on an iPhone. I was very impressed by not only the quality of the pictures but the iPhone itself. Hmm, I thought. I wonder if I could get one when our current contract runs out? I was very impressed.
During Friday night, we had a scare. The fire alarm went off. It didn’t scare me as I was already awake, but C nearly jumped out of her skin. It seemed ages before the fire brigade arrived to turn it off. It turned out it was a resident up in the Penthouse suite who had accidentally knocked the alarm whilst showering. ( Yes readers, this Burley Suite has a sort of hotel on the top floor where people can stay.)
The weekend flew by. I still wasn’t eating much, I still wasn’t sleeping very well, spending large amounts of time at night walking around the corridors and usually frightening the nurses as they sat at their station. Just a good job I didn’t have a white nightgown!
Both C and I were going home on Monday. After breakfast, we packed our suitcases and were ready for the off. My transport arrived and C and I promised to go for a coffee if we bumped into each other when she came to our town, as she frequently did.
The journey home was uneventful. The ambulance driver carried my suitcase upstairs for me, and I then spent time unpacking and putting all my things away. It was strange to be back home. I longed for K’s return in the afternoon. It was no fun being home alone.
“Sandra. Sandra! It’s all over!” Someone said. I opened my eyes. Several blue clad persons, including my lovely young student nurse were hovering in around my bed. There eyes were fixed on something behind me to the left. I was offered a drink of water from a straw clad beaker. My lips and mouth were dry. I drank it thankfully.
“We’re a little concerned about your blood pressure Sandra, its very low. We’ll have to raise it before we can take you back to the ward.” Hmm. My blood pressure is always low I told them. It never reaches 120/80. As I was to eventually find our later, the epidural also lowers your blood pressure. At one point as I lay there, it dropped to 65/ I was encouraged to drink more water. Eventually my blood pressure was high enough for my return to the ward. As my bed complete with me in it entered the ward door, I remembered to wave to my fellow companions. From that point it was an endless round of being constantly monitored, especially my blood pressure which again took a dip.
M still hadn’t gone down to theatre. I kept drifting into and out of consciousness. On my left hand were two cannulas with two more on my right. One of them on my right hand was really painful. I had a catheter attached to my bladder. From the waist down I was completely numb. I could feel nothing at all. B’s magic concoction of epidural pain killers certainly worked! Eventually, M left for her operation. She was hoping that Mr N could do a keyhole which would mean she would be home in a few days. I kept drifting off to sleep. I had told everyone not to visit today as I would be ‘three sheets to the wind’ I asked the others what time I had returned. Roughly about dinner time. I had been down a while then!
Various persons came to examine me, ward staff kept a constant vigil of checks blood pressure, temperature, breathing, oxygen levels, checks on my bladder function, etc and this continued into the night. Eventually M returned, some four hours or so later. Apparently following her op, her breathing had not been too good. She has Asthma, and in a similar law to my blood pressure, they would not return her to the ward until her breathing was stable. She and were kept a very close eye on all through the night, and were constantly monitored.
“In the morning, we will remove your catheter so that you can get out of bed and sit in the chair. You can also have a bath or shower as well. We want you to begin to move around as it helps to ease the wind pain.”
Blimey! I couldn’t wait. I wasn’t very comfortable in bed, there is only so much gazing up at the air conditioning outlet above your head that a body can take, and as nice as the recent bed bath by two of the nurses had been, the thoughts of being able to soak in a gorgeous mass of bubbles in that huge bath was really something to look forward to. Roll on tomorrow!
We came together four strangers, having never met before, to share for a few days and nights a closeness and comradeship brought about by the common experience we all went through. Ward 8. The fellowship of Ward 8. M across from me in the opposite bed arrived on the same day, and would have her operation on the same day. Br on my right hand side had been here some days, and was desperately trying now to eat and drink something and keep it down. Mrs C over in the far corner had also been here some days. She was helpful and filled M and I into the nuances of the ward, showed us where everything was, explained about baths, showers, meal times, and other tips for making life bearable whilst being part of this exclusive club.
On the Monday of our arrival, M and I were hardly left alone in order to have time to think. One body and another visited the side of our beds, taking blood pressure, temperature, blood, administering two, yes two enemas to each, one about tea time and the other later that evening. I was not concerned at all about tomorrows impeding operation, but I do hate waiting, so I was so glad to be informed that I would be the first down in the morning at 08.30am. That suited me fine! M was informed that hers would be later, about dinner time.
A lovely young student nurse came to ask me if I would mind her watching my operation? Of course I didn’t mind at all. I was also asked if the removed organs could be used in research and again I consented to this. Everyone seemed to be asking the same or similar questions as they filled in their paperwork. Mr N my consultant came to see me as did his registrar. All were polite and friendly and were willing to answer any questions or reassure you of procedures to be taken. Before you knew it, it was 22.00 and time for lights out. Hurray! ALL the lights were turned out including those along the corridor! It was nice and dark, my favourite state to induce sleep, and I turned onto my front and slept like a log on my tummy, because I was sure it would probably be a long time before I could do so again after tomorrow.
Before I knew it, it was 05.30 am and my usual time to wake up. I quietly tiptoed out to the toilet outside our ward door, and then had a circular walk around the H shaped ward simply for something to pass the time. I knew I wouldn’t get back to sleep, once awake that’s it. I made my way to the Day room and turned on the TV. I didn’t want to disturb the ladies in the next ward to the day room, so I had to keep the volume low. I watched the news. Another few turns around the ward to kill time and then it was soon time for me to walk down with my lovely student nurse to the operating theatre.
“I’ll give you all a wave on my return!” I told my three trusty companions on Ward 8. “See you soon!” I had been told I would be down there about two and a half hours or so. We walked down together chatting away about this and that, I remember a lift was involved somewhere along the journey. I was in a fetching gown tied around the back. On arrival at the preparation room, we were greeted by staff all dressed in blue hats, blue tops and blue trousers. I had to lay on a trolley type bed on top of a green ‘bag’ with grab loops at each side to enable them to lift me from there to elsewhere. My student nurse needed to change into her operation outfit and she went off to find one that fit her. She returned looking just the part though her top half was a different shade of blue to the trousers.
Next, I was wheeled into the anesthetic room where I met ‘B’ my anesthetist who was in a very jovial mood, cracking jokes left right and centre. He had me sit up whilst he administered his ‘concoction’ of pain relief drugs into an epidural in my spine, then I lay down whilst he injected the anesthetic into my hand. I drifted off to the land of nod.