Each morning I wake up, I try to stop my mind going back over the events that occurred at the hospital,three days ago. I am writing this because it is therapeutic for me to write down what happened and if anyone feels that they have advice to give ,please do.
I was very apprehensive about going for my op. I read the booklet that the hospital sent with all it’s scary complications, which they “are obliged to tell you”.
The Rev. had booked us a room in the Hotel next door. This was apparently a state of the art hospital, built for the private care of Arabs, with an hotel attached for their families. It was never opened as such and now belongs to the NHS. Due to my growing apprehension and the proximity of the hospital, we decided to go to the cinema. Les Miserables was amazing and passed the time.
Next morning with a slight tremble of the legs I arrived at the ward at 7.30 a.m as directed.I settled into my plastic covered reclining chair and felt quite peaceful. The nurse who booked me in was very kind, when she saw that I was a Revs. wife, told me about her church. She got me ready for my theatre visit, and told me that I was the first on the list as the other person hadn’t arrived. This was a relief as I wouldn’t have to wait long. That person did arrive and I sat in my chair for another 5 hours.
Before “the list” started a young woman bounced into the room, she introduced herself as the Registar. She was carrying a very large handbag that was open with a chain on the handle. I remember it because she kept moving it around. She was very confident about her own abilities, and informed me that she would be carrying out the procedure. She gave the impression that she did this kind of thing all the time, and the consultant was in the room but because the procedure was long ,he often went for a cup of tea.
Now, I should know better. In my long nursing career, registrars have caused me more grief than any humble houseman or the most self-important consultant. They are the “teenagers” of the medical hierarchy. Not quite the grown up ,but they think that they know everything. Anyway, she explained all the complications that could arise again, and reassured me that they only occur in 1-2% of cases.
About 12.30, she bounced in again and said that they were getting set up for me. She asked me how I was feeling and I said that I wasn’t worried as I was in her hands, She patted me on the shoulder and said that was the way to look at it.
A nurse ushered me into a darkened room, I counted about 8 people in a very small room, most of the space taken up by a large trolley. I recognised 2 nurses over by the wall, one being the lovely girl who had admitted me. About 4 of people were in a glass fronted “cupboard” in the corner. I noticed that it had a door that opened onto the corridor. I could see people walking past, but I hoped that thy couldn’t see me. Thankfully someone eventually closed the door.
The operating table was so narrow that arm rests hd to be attached so that I could put my arms by my sides. I would be grateful for these later. In the corner leaning against the wall was a smiley man in “scrubs”, I took him to be the consultant, although we were never introduced.
There was no time for modesty or dignity. stickers for ECG leads were firmly stuck all over me, and a freezing radiology patch slapped on my back which had just been baking in my plastic chair. I can’t remember what I said, but I hope it wasn’t too strong! A sterile drape was stuck to my leg, but repositioned twice.Local anaesthetic was injected into the top of my leg so that plastic sheaths could be inserted into a vein. There is no way on God’s earth that a “local” numbs the area sufficiently! I have watched films about spies being tortured,and at this moment I would have told anyone anything and given away secret information or confessed to any sin you like. I hung on to the arm rests with the grip of iron!
I was given some sedation into my arm. Now, sedation is NOT analgesia,(pain relief) it just befuddles your brain and makes communicating your discomfort with others difficult.
If I had to take a patient for a procedure, to look into their stomachs, bowels and other internal bits with cameras, I always stood by their head, or held a hand, so that I could observe them and communicate their needs to the Doctor and vice versa. The nurses on the other side of this room seemed far away.
Once the tubes were in, Doctor Large Handbag started putting in the catheter wires, from where I was it looked as if she was shovelling them into my body, as if she was unblocking a drain. She called for wires by letter such as RV SR or whatever,. By the Fourth I had an excruciating pain in my back, I groaned, “Ooops, sorry “, she said ” that was me!”. I KNEW it was. By number 5, my chest felt as if someone had put a block in it and was squeezing it from the outside. I waved weakly and groaned some more. “I have very bad chest pain “I heard myself say. “Well, you shouldn’t” said Dr. Large Handbag. I knew that too. “Hasn’t she had Morphine?” she shouted at a Nurse. Now they remember the analgesia!
The smiley man in scrubs came out of his corner and asked on a scale of 1-10 how bad the pain was. “9!” I replied. At this point the Radiologist is out of his cupboard and doing a scan. This entailed pushing a mushroom shaped probe under my sternum and ribcage. My body was now wired for pain and all my nerve endings were up and shouting ouch!
I was very grateful to Mr Radiology though, because he recognised the problem at once, although Dr. Large Handbag took some convincing, and I was scanned a second time. Dr. L.H. had stuck the catheter through the wall of my heart. So Smiley Scrub man, Mr Radiology and Dr. L.H. went off for a bit of a conference. Thankfully the Morphine kicked in , and despite my head spinning like top, the pain subsided.
Large Handbag came back. “So sorry she said, WE, will have to abandon the procedure here. It would be different if we were trying to save your life but this is elective surgery.” ” It would be dangerous to continue but you must be disappointed.”
Firstly, it was beginning to sound as if it was my fault for electing to have the surgery, and I wasn’t sure who “WE” were.
Disappointed???, ME? You bet your bottom dollar Madam! The Rev. had to get cover for 2 parishes, my son left his wife and baby to travel 150 miles to look after his younger brother and sister and we had to book an hotel room to be at a hospital 90 miles away for an appointment at 7.30 am which turned out to be in the afternoon!
Thankfully my bleeding heart was not bad enough to need a drain, and the wires and tubes were removed with a fair amount of bleeding from my leg which now boasts an enormous colourful bruise and four holes. I was transferred to a ward where a chirpy male nurse gave me some water and told me to lie flat for an hour.
I was gradually put into a sitting position, and monitored. My guardian went off to supper, and my blood pressure plummeted. I always watch the monitor to pass the time. No one was about so I waved at the nurses station feeling a bit dizzy and sick. Someone came and looked at the screen and tipped the bed up . I felt much better. A houseman did another quick scan and announced that I could go home! We decided to stay in the Hotel for safety’s sake.
As I had not been out of bed at all, the Rev, walked me around the corridor to make sure that I could stand. My leg throbbed a bit but I was OK. We asked if we could have some paracetamol to take with us. No, was the answer I had some earlier and they would have to get the doctor back. The Rev, was told to go to ASDA and get some.
We slowly made our way back to the Hotel, and I slept like a log despite my leg. Must have been the Morphine and sedation I suppose. We left for home mid morning but had to go to our local hospital to get bloods done.
This morning a letter came through the door from the Hospital, I am back on the list to be seen in 3 months. What do I do, can I go through it again, can I find a different team of Cardiologists. I will write a letter to Patients Opinion in the hope that things improve for others. And, what of my prayer cover? I am still alive, they didn’t do me lasting damage, so I thank you all , your prayers were necessary. I pray God will direct me further in this.