Home sweet home
I’ve been home for two nights now and still in that post-operative hazy state, not sure which way is up and trying to adjust to a whole new situation and a significant process of change.
For a week or so before I went in to hospital I was unusually weepy and emotional. I had some dreams about the hospital, the first two were a take on ‘The Secret Garden’- wandering around Chapel Allerton Hospital and its grounds and finding beautiful laid-out gardens populated by kind and funny people- the usual dreamy quirks and weirdnesses. The last one was a nightmare, with bodies marked up for various forms of unpleasantness (this is the gentlest description possible, no need for detail!) I felt tired too, closing down pre-op, preparing for post-op, life (new bed, chair, aids, a freezer full of nice food).
The operation is a watershed. The pain and impairment of the arthritic hip eclipsed by the acute effects of a major operation, a big ‘insult’ to my body. My hip was dislocated and the top of my femur removed, replaced by a metal sphere attached to a pin hammered into my thigh bone. The socket part of the joint was ground down and re-lined with a ceramic replacement. Lots of muscle and other tissues were cut away then everything sewn back together. Blood is lost, lots of drugs administered- for sedation, anaesthesia, pain relief, prevention of blood clots, and drugs to treat the side effects of other drugs- and I was attached to various drips and monitors. This is all quite amazing and marvellous, and it has quite an impact! The operation site all needs to heal and the joint start to work again. I just watched a video of the procedure. It feels useful to describe it back to myself, to own it as something that happened to me, to my bones and muscles and skin. So much autonomy is lost in hospital, the vulnerability is very raw and real. There’s a lot to process and to heal.
So how did it go, looking back nearly 4 days on? My main concern that morning was a horrible caffeine withdrawal headache and several hours (7am-midday) longing for a cup of tea. During that time I met the doctors, who were absolutely lovely, a big bloke, the surgeon, from India, and a petite woman, the anaesthetist, Arabic name, Dublin accent. They talked it all through with me and I was marked up on the correct thigh, with an up arrow in case they thought it was my knee that needed doing. I got into bed and drifted back and forth listening to music and the radio via my phone- hard to remember it now. Then when they finally came for me, a wave of apprehension and backed-up fear.
Being wheeled into the ante-room for anaesthesia is when control is surrendered. It seems to be the job of the anaesthetist and the technician job to make you feel comfortable, both physically and emotionally, which they did beautifully. We talked about the vulnerability thing and the technician (another lovely big bloke) told a story about how he had been shaking like a leaf before an op at the hospital where he was working, carried out by people he knew and trusted. So.. cannula in for an excellent cocktail of happy drugs, then the spinal block in my back. It was chilly (because the bugs don’t like the cold apparently) so they wrapped my top half (the only half which could feel anything) up warm and I got the phone set up to listen to music. A first listen to the Young ‘Uns new album purchased specially and saved up for the occasion and some of Emily Portman’s beautiful ‘Coracle’ album. Inspiring and moving, a great distraction from the hammering and grinding going on down below. Then it was done and I was off to the post-op ward.
Next instalment tomorrow- this takes up quite lot of energy!