Considering this was all done through the Public system and I didn’t pay a cent, I’m very grateful. I went to the Emergency ward of Alun’s hospital (ok he works there, he doesn’t own it) about a month ago with really bad pains in my lower abdomen. I’ve experienced a lot of trouble with my ovaries in the past and have had operations for them before because I get a lot of cysts, so I thought this was what it was…it definitely felt the same.
But scans revealed ‘fatty tissue’ on my kidney (does that strike you as alarming? I was worried but Doctors were very blasé about it and didn’t think it was anything to worry about), a twist of fat in my colon (is my body just made of FAT at this point?) and some big gall stones on my gall bladder.
Well…that explains the pain. Lol.
So I had that day off work and the next, cradling warmth to my tummy and feeling very sorry for myself indeed. They sent test results to my Doctor who booked me in to have a colonoscopy a few weeks later. He didn’t mention anything about it and seemed to be of the mind that it would be a quick “looksie” (my word not his) in my intestines (I didn’t want to ask how – I just assumed a big hose up my bottom) and that would be that. They’d send the results to back to him and we’d figure out our next move from there.
So when a Nurse from a HOSPITAL called me about my UPCOMING SURGERY a few weeks later, my anxiety went through the roof.
“You’ll have to do bowel prep (huh?) days before your surgery and take that day off as well as a day or two afterwards to recover”
The Nurse did a ‘pre-surgery check in’ with me, asking me all sorts of health questions and making sure I was okay to undertake the ‘short day surgery’ the colonoscopy required.
No one told me it was a big deal!
So I took that day off work.
The day before the surgery, I wasn’t allowed to eat anything, but I was allowed ‘clear liquids’ so I drank a lot of water, cordial and clear juices and had a really nice salty, savoury broth for lunch. Mmm. I was heartbroken to not be able to eat the lovely rice noodles and beef strips in the broth, but oh well.
The day of the colonoscopy:
I was anxious, but mostly I was in pain. My bottom hole (sorry) and all the skin around it felt like it had been torn away by the copious amounts of toilet paper I used as the ‘bowel prep’ (vile tasting liquid I had to drink loads of) entirely ‘cleansed’ my bowel so I spent HOURS on the toilet . It was horrendous how painful it was. I felt like the awful liquid (it was literally water) coming out of me towards the end stages was heated lava that was burning my undercarriage. NOT FUN.
Alun took me to hospital, bless him. We checked in and sat together and I tried to keep my eyes open. When you have to poop every 20 minutes throughout the night, you don’t tend to get much sleep. I was so tired!
The Nurse asked me to remove my clothes and underwear and to put on a paper-like blue gown. I sent Alun off as he would be bored for the next 5 HOURS while I would be operated on and in ‘recovery’ afterwards. I read an entire book in the 3 hours where I just waited to be seen. I was in a hospital ward of both men and women ( I found that slightly uncomfortable) of all ages – mostly older people. There were about 8 beds and each had curtain partitions around them – I guess to give a sense of privacy and that you had your own ‘room’ but the sense of being crowded/crammed in together still hung in the air. There were Nurses and Doctors constantly walking around in the ward, checking on patients who had come back from surgery and preparing those about to go in.
It was an efficient conveyor-belt of Hospital staff, patients and operations.
Ding! A patient was wheeled away.
Ding! Another patient would be wheeled back minutes later with someone fast asleep in their paper blue gown.
Ding! Doctors would check over them, nod and walk off. Nurses would ask the patient’s name and wake them “you ok?” and at the patient’s sleepy nod, they would nod and also briskly walk off.
The Hospital staff seemed to work in a clockwise direction of duties:
- Welcome new patient – get them to put a gown on and lay in bed and wait.
- Prepare patients who were about to be operated on, ask medical questions (are you allergic to anything, do you have all your own teeth? Have you responded well to anesthesia in the past etc)
- Patient would meet with the Anesthesiologist “Hello, I’m here to give you anesthesia before your operation…”
- Patient is wheeled away briskly to operating theatre
- About 25 minutes later, the patient was wheeled back in, asleep. Nurses would check their oxygen levels and wake them to ensure they followed commands/were okay.
- About 10 minutes after that, the patient would naturally wake on their own and sit up in bed.
- A Nurse would appear and ask if they wanted tea/coffee and sandwiches/biscuits.
- That patient would then be served a small bite to eat and a drink. Minutes later they would get dressed and off they would go – home.
- Their bed would be stripped, sanitised and new blankets and pillows laid out.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
I saw patients constantly being wheeled either out to be operated on or in from operations. Everyone seemed fine. It was a very efficient business but I couldn’t help feel like a cheeseburger. Add meat to bottom bun, add pickles, add sauce, add bun on top, wrap in paper…next.
I didn’t like the feeling of being just another body to be operated on, fed and sent home. It made me feel almost invisible in a way. I felt awful about it because on the surface, there was nothing to complain about. Nurses were polite, sandwiches were offered, everyone was fine…and yet…something was missing.
My anxiety decided to appear about 10 minutes before I was to go in.
The Anesthesiologist introduced himself. I could almost say his lines for him, I’d heard them so much. He was a young Asian guy and had kind eyes over the top of his blue mask.
They wheeled my bed into the next room – which was the operating room! I thought all this time that patients were being wheeled far away in corridors but really, I was about 20 meters away from where my bed was.
A dark guy in a yellow shower cap greeted me “Hi Janet…I’m your…” and I cant remember the rest. A combination of anxiety, stress and feeling physically knackered got in the way of my listening skills. He was on my right. The anethesist appeared at my left and started wiping my hand with sterile wipes. A blonde lady in a blue mask started to talk to me “How are you feeling, honey?”
“A bit scared” I admitted, feeling like time had sped up and events were racing by too quickly. I looked down at the Anesthesiologist who was smacking my left hand and frowning at it, annoyed.
“You have very tricky veins”
Tears sprang to my eyes and I suddenly missed my Dad.
“I…I don’t like needles…can you hold my hand?” I asked the blonde Nurse. She looked to be in her 50’s and had a kind “Mom” vibe about her. Her blue eyes twinkled and she gripped my hand firmly while the guy with the yellow shower cap rubbed my arm reassuringly.
“Sharp scratch” said the guy to my left.
“Nope, that one didn’t work” he dabbed at my sore hand with a tissue and pressed hard (ow!) to stop the blood flow.
“Just imagine yourself somewhere else” the Blonde Nurse said, I could tell she was smiling under her mask as her cheeks had bunched up “Where would you rather be? A nice tropical beach somewhere with a cocktail? Hmm?”
Home is where I feel most comfortable, to be honest.
I felt another hard pinch on my left hand as the needle went in. I felt as if the anesthesiologist was trying to shove a tree branch into my veins, it hurt so much.
“There we go, that one worked” he seemed pleased about it.
The guy in the yellow shower cap asked me to lay on my side. I did.
I don’t remember anything else. Haha. I was out like a light.
When I woke up, a Nurse was walking up to check the oxygen tab they had around my finger “you okay?” she asked. I had the distinct feeling she wouldn’t care if I answered or not. I was right, she’d walked off to check on someone else before I could answer. Hmm.
I felt like I blinked, and was then being asked if I wanted a sandwich. I declined that but gratefully accepted the offer of biscuits and a cup of cold water.
After not eating for 2 days, the water and biscuits tasted like the best things ever.
I blinked again and a Nurse was asking if I felt okay to get dressed.
“Is…Is Alun here?” I had trouble concentrating and felt really woozy.
“We rang him but I think he said he’d message you directly”
I checked my phone (I felt so wobbly and weird on my feet) and Alun’s text “I’m here, Gorg” awaited me. I smiled reading it and felt instantly better knowing Alun was outside and ready to take me home. I got dressed and felt like I was in a dream…things didn’t feel real.
A Nurse walked me out to Alun’s car. I felt so relieved that nothing went wrong in the ‘surgery’ and that I was okay. I felt so happy to be going home.
So everything went well. Doctors told me there were no problems in my bowels and everything was as it should be. I should be relieved but I would rather have had a problem and resolved it so I don’t have to go through that pain again. I should be relieved the ‘operation’ (putting a tiny camera up my bottom and through my intestines which were ‘blown up’ with gas) went well and nothing terrible happened…but I just felt…used, somehow.
I haven’t felt like ‘just a body’ before and it was unsettling.