Saturday, 10 January 2009

Boredom and Morphine.

Just got back from the hospital.
I learnt three things from my 26 hour stint there.
Lesson 1. Leave your dignity at the door.
Lesson 2. Hospitals are boring.
Lesson 3. Morphine is brilliant.

For those of you wondering why I was in the hospital in the first place, I’ll quickly explain. The NHS as a system, is a big pile of poorly organised shit unless your either really really old, really really young or pretty much dying. Anyone in between is pretty much fucked as I discovered.

And even though my ingrown toenail would have only required a small and simple procedure to fix when it first came about. They decided it would be more fun to dick me about from doctor to doctor and antibiotic to antibiotic for 2 years until it got so bad that a full on surgical procedure would be required to remove the entire toenail. Which is much fun than a simple one, eh? And of course that procedure took 6 months to organise in itself. So well done NHS! What a lovely waste of time and money.

Anywho, so I arrived at Stepping Hill at 7:30am on Thursday and quickly learnt Lesson 1. When you go to the hospital you should pretty much just leave your dignity at the door. There is simply no way your leaving with any, the sooner you accept that the better. Not with all the embarrassing things your bound to do in front of everyone on your ward, like the drug enduced bowel movements or those gowns that leave your ass hanging out for everyone to see. But being honest, I think that’s just the way it is, for example last week during my Pre-Op physical I was asked to swab in a questionable place and I expected the nurse to leave me in the exam-room to do it. Instead she sent me, giant swab in hand, to the toilet. The toilet on the other side of the waiting room.

Fantastic. The walk of shame.

“Hey look at me everyone! That’s right; pay attention to me, the guy wondering through the waiting room with the swab in hand, blatantly about to be swabbing somewhere questionable, gross right? Oh don’t worry, the lock on the toilet doors broken, I’m sure you will catch a glance when the senile old man forgets I went in and swings open the door.”

So anyway, I arrived on the morning of my operation ready to sign in and that's when I learnt lesson two.

The reality of a hospital is the exact opposite of how it comes across on TV, the pace of hospital life couldn’t be slower. Exciting stuff does happen every now and then. But in between the excitement is nothing but long long stretches of waiting and boredom. Broken up with occasional dull repetitive fact checking sessions with the nurses and lot’s of paperwork.
Over the course of my time there, I had my Pulse, O2 stats and Blood Pressure taken at least once an hour. Even before I went into surgery. I was also asked the same set of 10 questions about 70 times. My name and date of birth, which would of course be on the chart at the bottom of my bed, I can only assume that they got some kind of sick and warped pleasure from the experience. They also wanted to find out if I had an allergy’s, previous complications in surgery’s, previous metal work, loose teeth… that sort of thing.

It was frustrating because at first I accepted it as a necessary evil. But after the 20th time, and knowing that as the doctor/nurse asks these questions they were looking at the paperwork containing all the answers from the last time I was asked, and eventually it just got on my nerves.

And then the waiting… oh don’t get me started on the waiting. I was told to arrive for surgery at 7:30am. And like the good boy I am, I did. And I sat in my bed, silently reading Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy for 8 and a half bloody hours before they brought me down for my surgery. Later on I would discover that I was 6TH on a list of 6 people waiting for surgery.
Wait a second. I thought they had a shortage of beds these days? No freaking wonder when they have people needlessly taking up bed space as they wait 8 hours for operations. I could have been out… doing something… or something.
I kept telling myself that there was a reason, a method to the madness. But I just can’t come up with one. I really don’t know why they brought me in a 7 when I was last on the day’s waiting list. There was obviously no chance of me getting in before 2pm.
The other problem is that at the start I felt calm, acceptant and ready for the procedure but as the day and the wait went on, I found myself getting more and more anxious about the surgery. Which is not how I wanted to feel.

So eventually I go down for surgery. Another set of those rather familiar questions, and into the operating theater I went. Which went quite well I thought. Instead of the usual being asked to count to 10 while the anesthetic kicked in, the anesthetist asked me for some clever last words.
Unfortunately “See you on the otherside” was all my brain could muster up before the room faded away. I somehow feel I let myself and the surgical team down on that front. It annoyed me, as I am sure I could of done better. Just obviously not under those circumstances. But don’t worry folks, next time I go for surgery I will go prepared with something clever, quick witted, pre written and ready to roll.

Then consciousness returned and I quickly learnt lesson 3. Morphine is utterly brilliant.

“Erm, my foot feels as if it’s been put through a meat grinder and set on fire” I merrily responded to the Nurses question on how I was feeling.

I don’t remember a lot about my time on morphine except that everything was brilliant. Everything made me happy and most importantly… everything was brilliant. I started to appreciate things that were simply not appreciation worthy. I started telling anyone who would listen about the “brilliant a job the hospital had done on my meat ground flaming foot” and that “People give the NHS a lot of stick, but its pretty much brilliant some of the time”.

I smiled and sat on my bed as they wheeled me all my way up to my ward. I showed what was truly on my mind as I asked for a sandwich from a passing Nurse who was clearly rushing to do something completely different and rather important. I hopped onto my bed enthusiastically crushing my sore foot in rather brilliant manner, throwing up all over the bed and passing out… you know. Brilliantly.

When I woke an hour or so later the morphine had clearly worn off and I returned to my normal bitter self and with one very specific desire. Food.

I had not eaten since 10pm the night before and it was now 8pm. The Nurse brought me a sandwich (Unfortunately not the same Nurse from before, that would have been “Brilliant” weather I was on morphine or not.) and seconds after my first bite I found myself being sick again.

This was a most unfortunate turn of events. It felt like a rather crewel trick the universe was playing on me. I was hungry, but the second anything touched my stomach I was throwing it back up again. I simply couldn’t keep it down. And I tried and I tried and I tried. Time and time again for an hour or so I was brought food, took a bite, puked it straight back up and then went for another bite. Eventually I gave up out of shear exhaustion and went back to sleep.

By the time I could hold down food, which was one of the criteria for them letting me go home (Along with being able to stand on my own, Pee and do the Macarena), it was too late. By 11pm I had returned to my normal state, a little drowsy, but holding down food and quite well in myself, but it didn’t matter as 10pm (The cut of point for discharges) had passed and I was stuck at the hospital until someone could discharge me in the morning.

So that’s what happened, I stayed there till bout 8 the next morning, got taught how to walk on my new crutches by the physio, got given a weird Rocky Horror type shoe and off I went.

So there you have it, I hope that through reading this you have learnt what I have learnt.

Anywho I have gibbered enough.
Thanks for reading.
And a special thanks for making it ALLLLL the way to the end of this everlasting ramble.

-- Dan

Friday, 2 January 2009

Reflections of a Year Lost

Well there it goes.
2008.
Done. Finished. Over.

Someone suggested that I should write a blog reflecting on the last year and discussing the future. But when I thought about it, the sad reality is. I found there wasn’t much to reflect upon. Or at least nothing particularly positive.

To reflect upon the last year is an odd thing for me. To me, life is progression, and for those of you who know me or read my blog regularly, you will understand that last year was NOT a year of progression for me. And if life is progression and this year I made none, did I even live at all?

Sometimes it feels like I didn’t. Everything came to a screeching halt for me. It was like living in slow motion, watching everyone else’s life whizz by as I became more and more frustrated. Helplessly kicking and screaming for it to let me catch up. Sometimes I jokingly refer to it as the lost year. My year wasted.

Unfortunately, I can’t really describe my feelings on this topic in words because the words simply do not exist. Nothing really fits or describes the emptiness I feel when I reflect on the year lost.

So empty that reflecting on it seemed redundant.

So, that’s a downer, eh?

A whole year and nothing to show for it?

Well no, that is not 100% the case.
As I thought about it I realised something I have never realised before.
Maybe this year wasn’t as lost as I thought. Maybe some good did come from it.

When I think about it, being forced to slow down gave me an unexpected gift. Some time to think. And not just about life, but about me and my place in this world. I learnt so many life lessons that I now believe were crucial in making me a better person that I really don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t had that time to learn them. Not only that, but in an odd twist of fate, missing that year of uni meant I had to join a new class upon my return. Something that didn’t upset me as my previous class HATED me. And the weird thing is, my new class is full of awesome people that I get on with a hell of a lot better than my first class. And if I hadn’t of missed that year, I wouldn’t of met them and that thought sucks. So the lost year gave me new friends.

And it’s not like things haven’t improved. Since returning to a full paced life this October things have been awesome.

So a year wasted?
No. I think I have been looking at it all wrong.

And besides, being honest I don't think I have any right whatsoever to complain about that year because it may have sucked. But I still consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world, not only because things have improved since then. But I realise now that even then I had more than most. A girlfriend who loves me, some great friends who supported me and a roof over my head. It sickens me to know that so many people have it so much worse and I sat there and moaned about it at the time. The fact that I even had the gall to complain about my situation this year is genuinely insulting to anyone with real problems.

So that is it.
The final words you will ever hear from me on the subject.
The simple truth and a lesson to anyone reading.
No situation is as bad as it seems while your living it.
As long as you have the fundamentals, consider yourself lucky!

Thanks for reading.

-- Dan

PS - And what’s in the future? Who knows?
More positive thinking I hope!