I didn’t expect to take this long to update on my surgery but recovery is no joke. So here we are, 9.5 weeks on. I’ll update in a series of posts including the day of the surgery and installments on the aftermath.
I ended up being a bit rushed into the surgery so my pre-op assessment was the Thursday before. This included going over what the procedure entailed again, have a few tests run such as checking my heart was ok, doing my weight and blood pressure and of course taking two lots of blood because why not? Well actually it was to get my blood type and I also had to consent to a transfusion just in case anything went wrong in the surgery. I also met an anaesthetist who confirmed I would be in theatre 15 and was first in. Great, no hold ups then!
Because I was the first operation on a Sunday and also because I had to come off my blood thinners 48 hours beforehand, I was admitted onto the ward Saturday evening. This is where everything started going wrong and I got stressed and panicky. Admission was at 18.00 but I had to call at 16.00 to ensure there was a bed. I rang and was informed they didn’t have the meeting to confirm it until 16.30 so ring back about 17.00. I did and the nurse hadn’t heard anything so she said she’d chase it up and call me back. I got a call around 17.30 saying it was all ok. As I rely on public transport I told her it would be nearer 19.00 that I could get in now which she said was fine and not to rush.
So out we head only to find that there are major issues with the trains and they’re all delayed or cancelled. Luckily they were running in the direction I needed but we had to wait 30 minutes for one. When we reach Birmingham there are yet more cancellations and delays. It’s only 5 minutes on the train from Birmingham to the hospital but again we had to wait around 30 minutes to get the train. By this time I was getting seriously stressed out. I hate being late for things at the best of times. I finally arrived at the ward at 19.30 and was quickly shown to a bed but then just left as it was the time for shift handover. To top it all off my bedside TV wasn’t working! I didn’t want to use it but that was just typical and added to my “oh god it’s all going wrong” panic.
I was eventually seen and sorted out by 23.00. A doctor came to see me and ask what medications I had, any medical issues I had and explain about food and water restrictions plus what lovely cannulas and monitors would be put on me. He mentioned an arterial monitor for blood pressure which I grimaced at so he said they’d do that once I was under anaesthetic! Then I was left to sleep.
The next morning it all started very early. Between 8.00 and 9.00 I saw multiple doctors, my surgeon, my anathetist and had various things strapped to me, put on me or given to me to sign. Risks and consent had to be explained and given. Compression stockings put on. Theatre gown had to be put on. I was getting quite terrified by this time but also just wanted it over with. Sometime just after 9.00 they wheeled me off to theatre. I’d been ok up until this time really but then the nerves kicked in, exacerbated by the fact I was alone as my boyfriend doesn’t drive and visiting hours don’t start until 11.00 anyway so he wouldn’t have been allowed to come and comfort me. My cannula was put in, everyone was reassuring and before I knew it they were knocking me out. Finally!
Next thing I knew I was in recovery. It had taken approximately 2 hours which they’d expected so I knew all must’ve gone well. This was all confirmed later to me; I had a minor CSF leak whilst in theatre but it was so small they’d been able to patch it using tissue from my nose rather than having to take any from my thigh (which was orange with the sterile stuff they use, just in case they needed to). I ended up in recovery for nearly 4 hours as it turned out my ward was particularly busy that day. There were actually 4 of us in the end waiting for the same ward. I was of course feeling very groggy from the anaesthetic and had a sore throat from that and the tube they stuff down there while you’re out but otherwise I was fine. No adverse effects, needed lots of water due to having to breathe through my mouth and just kept dozing.
I finally got back on the ward around 16.00 and ended up in my own private room – room 24 in ward 408 is mine! I was on oxygen for a while and a fluid IV drip but when food came round at 17.00 I was able to eat a full meal. Admittedly that was awkward since I had a huge bandage across my nose so I was trying to breathe and eat through my mouth at the same time, not an easy task. I had my boyfriend with me that evening, was able to call my parents and update friends on Facebook. I was on paracetemol for the pain but it really wasn’t too bad anyway; just a headache like you’d get after a stressful day at work.
So there we go. It all went smoothly and though it seemed terrifying it really wasn’t so bad. As the patient you have the easiest ride, you just have to sleep for a few hours!