The problem with having a general anaesthetic is the I wasn’t in much of a state to remember what was going on after the operation. Does that read as though I am moaning? Perhaps I am. I have missed writing and the achievement I feel when I do another post and I worry that I will fall out of the habit of writing. It is now 48 hours after the operation and I am beginning to feel like my old self again.
I guess the main indication for that is that I am back in my shorts and I only have a jumper and a t-shirt on again. I find it a bit bizarre but because of the nature of the operation I was allowed to keep my underwear, shorts, socks and shoes on so rather than just having my hospital wristband as a souvenir, I now how several. I still have that wrist band on actually. It will probably stay a while before one day I will just pull it off.
I am not sure why I keep it? Perhaps I am trying to show the world I am different again, though maybe it is about remembering the procedure and honouring my bravery (I am really unsure about writing that word) and the many people involved in looking after me. Perhaps I am getting all hooked up in the Armistice remembrance. After all it didn’t escape my notice that my operation did take place on the 11th November at around 11 o’clock.
What do I remember about the operation? Safety is paramount of course, I lost count of how many times I was asked the same questions by receptionists, check-in nurses, pharmacists, anaesthetists, surgeons, and anaesthetic nurses. The consultant surgeon had to come and check my heart and lungs (much to his annoyance though not focussed at me) because the junior doctor hadn’t done it when I had my pre-op assessment (I think she felt my fitness indicated it wasn’t required despite being hospital policy).
The production line aspect of waiting for the operation is not helpful if like me you are rather sensitive to noise levels. Up to twelve patients are waiting in an area, six facing six, and all those questions are being asked at random moments as staff work their way around the booths. In the two and a half hours I was waiting there I only felt really overwhelmed once but I managed to stay, and I think it was only when I went to the toilet and sat there in silence that I fully understood the pressure I was under.
I walked to the operating suites escorted by a nurse, normally porters would do this but I suspect an official handover takes place and my care is given over to the anaesthetists. When I walked into the room next to the theatre with the anaesthetic nurse there was the consultant anaesthetist, her registrar, and a fourth year student waiting for me; there was not a trolley however. The nurse went off to find a trolley whilst the consultant checked my details (surprise!) and then I looked at all the bits and pieces around the room, the gas exchanger thingy doesn’t seem to have changed much over the years, but everything seems to have shrunk and become smoother.
When the trolley arrived, I sat on it and laid back, surprised by still keeping my socks and shoes on (I was quite glad about the socks, operating theatres tend to be freezing in my experience). All of a sudden I was surrounded by the group. The nurse put stickers on to connect the heart monitoring wires and then put the blood oxygen monitor on my finger. At the same time the consultant was showing the student where to put the cannula in and doing it. The nurse then put the sticky plaster thingy on around the cannula. Finally the registrar put a breathing mask on covering my mouth and nose and apologised for having to press a bit harder because my beard stopped getting a seal.
I glanced at the clock, it seemed to be nearly ten to eleven (nothing is certain without glasses). I think I felt a moment of panic then, though it may have been earlier, thankfully it was too late to try running away. The registrar asked me to breath deeply but I couldn’t detect any difference for maybe ten breathes or more but then I could hear my heart beat start slowing. I had closed my eyes in order to relax but the consultant asked me to keep them open for as long as possible and so I did.
As my pulse slowed, the consultant said that she was going to put in the real stuff now and pushed a bolus of something through the cannula. It was so cold and I briefly wondered if it had to be kept that cold to keep it stable. The cold spread up my arm and I remember no more.