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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

here's my toenail story:
i was under 18 so i got my parents to do the whole thing! we got sent to a private BUPA hospital in macclesfield. the wait was just as long, i think it was about 8-4. me and my dad watched T4 and rugby. i got special sexy paper hospital knickers though, no bare ass for me.
when i went under anisphetic i said a simple "ok guys see you later!" and woke up crying because i didn't know where i was.
was also sick when i ate. and when i tried to get up.
got home for about 10pm though. 14 hours.

it doesn't matter though because YOU got morphine and I didn't. cry cry cry.