Wednesday, 27 December 2006

cut up

Monday, after submitting my paper, I checked myself into hospital. I had the afternoon to myself, since my operation wasn't until Tuesday, and amused myself watching the fourth day of the third test (after consideration I will, for Mr Tratt's benefit, write up my thoughts on the ret-urn in another post).

On Tuesday, a nurse came by around 11-ish to shave my knee. After that, I took a betadine scrub shower, and jumped on a trolley to be wheeled downstairs. They punched me full of holes for a little while: for a drip, a hip-catheter (for pain blocking), and one in the back to knock me out from the waist down, in what they called rachianaesthesie (something like, but not the same as, an epidural).

Then, after a small wait, they wheeled me into theatre 13 (unlucky for some) and hooked me up to some machines that went beep. People buzzed around me and occupied themselves with my right leg. It was a very strange experience to see them moving it around in preparation and not feeling anything. Before the surgeon started, they strung up a sheet between me and the battlefield, so during the exciting part I really couldn't see much. To be honest, it was a little lonely there, while everyone else was busy behind the sheet, with only the anaesthetist to keep me company from time to time up in the DMZ. I was very coherent, too, which surprised me. Others had suggested they'd drug me a little to calm me down, but I really felt more tuned than normal rather than less.

Getting back up to my room I was plugged in to 3 tubes: my drip with what I assume was glucose or saline or something, my catheter with marcaine, and another draining blood out of my knee. These were disconnected gradually over the next 48 hours, and by Thursday afternoon I was able to go for little tours up and down the corridors on my crutches and in my Big Lebowski dressing gown.

In between times, I managed to watch a half dozen or so films, read a couple of hundred pages of my book, and make yeoman progress on my thesis, mainly cutting and pasting in the recent paper, and blocking out structure for a couple of sections. On Thursday and Friday I also chatted with the third of my room-mates, a young bloke getting his patellar tendon seen to who had spent the previous summer in Australia, of all places. Also on Friday I had a visit from Liz and Sophie, whose brother had coincidentally had the same operation with the same surgeon a week earlier, and who was in for physio.

On Saturday morning it was all over, and Seb came in to give me a lift back to my apartment, via the pharmacy for my prescriptions.

In all, I was very impressed by the efficiency (from a user perspective) of the whole process. The hospital was clean, staff was helpful and generally communicative and neither before nor after was I burdened by administration at all. Even the food wasn't too disagreeable (although they did struggle with the concepts of cereal and tea for breakfast), which for a hospital is about as much as you can expect.

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