A six o’clock start, sub-zero temperatures with a little added wind chill and an appointment with a maxillofacial surgeon who’s going to re-engineer my mouth. Not a great start to a Friday and the subsequent weekend.
To be fair it’s not exactly a big op, it’s neither open heart nor brain surgery, but it’s the biggest op I’ve had since my hip replacement in 1992 and the way it was described to me it involves some excavation in order to access and remove an ectopic tooth. As I headed off to the hospital, conveniently within our community, I wouldn’t say I was scared but I was certainly apprehensive. I wasn’t exactly relaxed.
Fair does it all went very well. I ‘checked-in’ and was shown to my day room where I was visited consecutively by staff nurse Carol Owen, the Anaesthetist Helen Smith and the surgeon himself Malcolm Cameron. Carol told me what to do to get ready how to operate the TV and took my order for lunch. Most important though she checked my vital signs and noted that my systolic blood pressure was higher than would be expected. Note the comment above about not being relaxed.
Helen explained how she works. She told me that she does lots of work with children and they prefer to take it slow and that’s how she does it with adults now. Malcolm of course just want to check that we were agreed about what he was going to do.
Soon after 0900 Angus Sutherland came to wheel me into theatre. He told me he would be assisting Helen but his profile suggests he’s a little more qualified so I’m not sure what his role was. However we chatted and it seems he’s a bit of a runner and that both he Helen will be running the Cambridge Half Marathon this weekend. Whilst this was going on Helen had installed a cannula, I felt a little dizzy and I was gone. This was before we went into the operating theatre. All very low key.
Shortly after 0930 I woke up in the recovery room with no recollection of the previous half hour. I was now looked after by Carla Garcia Reyes, surprisingly the only ‘foreigner’ in my team. She got me sipping some water before I was deemed awake enough to go back to my room. I was very surprised how quickly I did seem to recover. I’d heard that general anaesthetics knock you out and that you feel pretty miserable for some hours. But no., not me today anyway.
Back in my room it’s a matter of monitoring my vital signs, systolic now OK, watching the TV, reading the paper and snoozing. Lunch came at 1200 and then I was visited again by Helen and Malcolm before Carol brought in my drugs and said I could go at 1400.
So everything went well and, by the way, I was not a burden on the NHS. I am a BUPA member so I went private. I keep that membership for the day I need a second hip operation and it was handy to be able to use it for this one so that I could chose the date and location of my op.
Maybe the bad news was that it is plastic free Friday and there’s no way healthcare can operate to the high standard it does without plastics: from the disposable gloves, Carol reckoned she gets through over 20 every shift, through the tubing for connecting the body to necessary sources of drugs to the housing of the increasingly sophisticated equipment. So plastic free Friday it was not for me and my view on this whole plastics debate is that we’ve got to be selective and keep repeating the reduce, reuse, recycle, recover mantra. It’s a matter of horses for courses.