Birthday celebrations were suspended with a trip to hospital. Not as bad as it sounds, no nasty accident, just a small operation in waiting. My name had finally reached the top of the list, and my presence was requested on Thursday, one day before my big birthday. The pre-op interview was conducted over the phone, and I was feeling quite pleased with myself as I answered “no” to all the questions. No, I don’t smoke, or drink, don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, piercings, steel plates or screws, don’t take any medication, etc. etc. One question really made laugh, when I was asked if I take “street drugs”. No, again - wouldn’t really know how to find any. But there was one “yes” answer, to dentures, those tricky things which really make it difficult to blow out the candles on birthday cakes, I’ve recently discovered.
We arrived at the hospital and joined the others, all arriving at the same check in time, taken through to the pre-op area and seated on lazy boy chairs. Everyone could see everyone else, and hear what was being asked. I was asked more questions, more boxes were ticked, more forms filled in, and a hospital band attached to my wrist. There was a bit of excitement when another nurse appeared to query if my nurse was sure she had the correct person. Luckily, I was who I thought I was, so goodness knows what that exchange was all about, perhaps there were two of us with the same name. I was given a hospital gown, long white socks, a blanket, and a bag for my clothes and sent down to the changing rooms, then to return to my seat and await further developments. I had seen some of the blokes walk back with those most unflattering hospital gowns gaping at the back and lots of bare skin showing, so I made sure that my blanket was securely wrapped around so I wasn’t giving a peep show to anyone.
The surgeon arrived with a marker pen and drew on my arm so that she would be sure which arm she was dealing with. Like policemen getting younger all the time, my young lady surgeon seemed hardy to be out of college. There was no worry that the anaesthetist wasn’t old enough, he seemed even older than me, as he drolly related all the things which could go wrong while I was out cold. Soon after, I was wheeled into the operating room, and after three or four tries, the canella was finally inserted in my wrist. “You’ll be out to it in 15 seconds”, the elderly anaesthetist told me. And I must have been, because that’s all I remember.
Luckily I survived my time out cold, the offending lump was removed, and I woke up feeling a little groggy but otherwise well enough to have a cuppa and something to eat. Robin arrived back and I showed him the dressings taped to the top of my arm. “Your arm’s bright red”, he said, ‘just like it’s been painted!” Or like a cooked lobster, or a bad dose of sunburn, perhaps. Sure enough, it was, and I hadn’t even noticed. What I did notice was that every now and then the monitor measuring my blood oxygen kept beeping as the oxygen levels dropped. The nurse wasn’t too worried, just take big breathes, she advised. Seems this is a fairly common happening after anaesthetic. She soon returned with a discharge form for me to sign, a few dressings, advice on what to do if I felt unwell, my bag of clothes, and I was free to go. And with dissolving stitches in place, I don’t even have a follow-up visit. My hospital adventure was over, we drove back home, and it was an early night for me. Blessedly pain free, as long as I didn’t lie on the arm with the stitches.