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Week two update October 6, 2009

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Two weeks since my operation now. I hope the next few weeks go as quickly. I am pretty much back to work as normal now except I am working from my chair and can’t go to any external meetings. I haven’t gone mad from spending all my time sat in the same chair in my living room – yet. I’ve had at least one visitor every day which is really nice, I am making the most of the attention whilst I can. A friend who had an operation a couple of years ago told me that the novelty will soon wear off and no one will visit. I have been out of the house on three occasions this week. The first time was exhausting and emotional but the second and third were easier. We have brought the wheelchair out with us so that I can sit down if I get too tired or if I am nervous about being knocked over. The embarrassment of going to a pub in a wheelchair is outweighed by the guarantee of getting a seat!

The most frustrating thing is not being able to do simple things yourself such as picking something off the floor, or making lunch, or having a shower, or putting your socks on! I AM fed up with these surgical stockings. I have in my head that I have to wear them for six weeks but I’m not 100% sure. I suppose it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Six weeks of these babies

Six weeks of these babies

I have my first appointment with the physiotherapist in two weeks. No information provided about what I will be doing or what I should bring though. My 6-week check up with the surgeon is also confirmed now for 6 November. I must behave until then.

Scar status: Same as before but the glue is starting to peel off now. My lovely sister has bought me some Bio Oil which I will use as soon as I can.
Pain levels: No more sharp pains every time I sneeze, cough, laugh etc but it is still aching like mad. Seems to have got worse in the last 2 days.
Medication: Paracetamol and diclofenac still. The latter will run out tomorrow so I will have to find something else.

Crutch ability: Few trips out but still not confident. Sore hands.
High point of the week: Going to the pub (albeit in a wheelchair).
Low point of the week: Taking so long to go out and collect a pizza that it was cold when we got home. I cried.
Lesson learned: Recovery is not linear – thank you Maggie for reminding me.
Main achievement: Going out three times and not falling over.
Gains: Weight if I’m not careful. I am sitting on my arse a lot. And there are still lots of treats around.
Losses: Any chance of skiving off work.

One week on September 29, 2009

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I can’t believe it has already been a week since my operation. I did go home yesterday and it is wonderful! I have even managed to find a comfortable enough position to enable me to start getting back to work this afternoon. I will have a follow-up appointment with Mr Witt in 6 weeks and will get a letter about physiotherapy soon (dependant on postal strike, I imagine).

So, some reflections on the past week:

Scar status: Long, dark and covered in glue.
Pain levels: Constant, dull aching but tolerable. Sharp pain every time I sneeze, cough, laugh etc.
Medication: Paracetamol and diclofenac (not sure what good they actually do though).
Crutch ability: Short trips around the flat are fine. Am a bit worried that I don’t really understand what ‘touch toe’ weight actually feels like and might be doing it wrong.
High point of the week: The relief of sitting on my own sofa yesterday and realising the worst was over.
Low point of the week: Morphine side-effects (see earlier post).
Lesson learned: What an amazing boyfriend, family and friends I have (actually, I already knew that).
Main achievement: Surviving. And not crying too much.
Gains: Massive scar; bruises on on my left hand and both arms from cannulas and injections; grabber (note: Bag strap + elastic bands + grabber = portable pick-up tool); wheelchair (on loan); new fold up table to work from chair; new nightdress; lots and lots of magazines and chocolates.
Losses: My mind (for brief moments); my dignity (on occasions); use of my right leg for a few months.

How to put on surgical stockings September 28, 2009

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Thanks to Kay who has posted this brilliant demonstration of how to get surgical stockings on. This activity requires at least two people and must be repeated every day for six weeks:


Home today!!! September 28, 2009

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I’m so excited to be going home today. My hip is pretty sore but I am fed up of being in hospital. My lovely 82 year-old neighbour is also hoping to go home today and we have decided we are going to escape together if anything goes wrong.

I have been having trouble getting to sleep the last few nights since the anaesthetic has worn off. It is impossible to get comfortable and I am not used to sleeping flat on my back. I tried to sleep on my good side but it didn’t feel right. I will check today if there are any positions that I can’t sit or sleep in. I am not really sure what could cause damage and I am terrified of knocking the screws out.

A trip to the outside world September 27, 2009

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I was allowed outside for my lunch today! My first breath of fresh air in six days!

Ben and my brother and sisters came over and picked me up and wheeled me over to the Quad at UCL for a picnic. Hilariously, it was a fresher’s induction day so there were loads of trendy students about. I am sure the blue hospital wheelchair, name bands and slippers didn’t look out of place at all.

Our day trip out

I think Ben quite enjoys wheeling me around. He even went all the way to Uxbridge to borrow a wheelchair from the Red Cross. I’ll have to be nice to him or he’ll abandon me somewhere. After about two hours outside I did start to feel a little sore and tired and had to go back for a lie-down. If even sitting is tiring me out, I’ll definitely have to force myself to take it easy.

Hospital bureaucracy September 27, 2009

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I was supposed to be checking out of hospital in 30 minutes but it appears the occupational therapy box hasn’t been ticked so I am stuck here until tomorrow now. Very annoying. They need confirm whether I need any special equipment at home such as a booster seat for the toilet or something to raise the height of the bed.

On the plus side, I have gone up and down a flight of stairs today which is the last physio thing you have to be able to do before you can go home. It wasn’t as hard as I thought but you have to remember to move your legs and the crutches in the correct order:  good leg up to heaven, bad leg down to hell!

Important advice for anyone having surgery September 27, 2009

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If I have one piece of advice for anyone spending time in hospital, particularly if you are on morphine: take laxatives as soon as they offer them to you. Don’t be like me and think you will be fine without them; you won’t. Morphine and many other pain killers have an awful effect on your body and will cause you more pain and discomfort than any surgery. I have seriously never felt worse in my life.

How I felt on Saturday

How I felt on Saturday

A higher state of consciousness (Friday) September 25, 2009

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Overall, today has been a very good day. I have had the catheter removed (it wasn’t as bad as I had feared, just stung for a sec) and have walked up and down the ward five times on my crutches. I’m no threat to Usain Bolt but I’m so relieved to have done it.

I have had lots of wonderful visitors to come and paint my toe nails, make my ward smell nice and generally entertain me with ridiculous stories.

Now that I am off all of the horrible drugs I realise how out of it I have been for the last few days. I brought lots of stuff with me to watch and read and managed to do none of it. Not even a whole puzzle from Pick Me Up. Just as well the internet wasn’t working before as I would have sent illegible emails anyway.

Ive heard the Features Editor is very good

I've heard the Features Editor is very good

My hip hasn’t been hurting much at all. It aches after I have walked about for a few minutes but otherwise is behaving well. Fingers crossed I can go home on Sunday as planned!

And, I found out I only have three screws in me.

The highs and the lows (Thursday) September 25, 2009

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My blood pressure is usually quite low but the combination of morphine, fasting and not moving has made it fall even more. The physiotherapist tried to get me up and out of bed yesterday but was worried I’d faint so I only made it as far as sitting up on the edge of the bed.

Today, however, I have made it from the bed to a chair and have stood up by myself a few times! Big achievements! I can finally see the amazing view over London from my window.

After my vomiting incident last night I have weaned myself off the morphine. I am not cut out for hard drugs. They have now disconnected me from the morphine pump and have taken out the drip.

Only one more tube to be removed now, the wee-tube. I seriously cannot wait to get rid of this. The reality of having a catheter isn’t as bad as I had imagined but it is a bit of a pain now I am sitting down. It is also preventing me from wearing all of the clothes that I brought with me. I thought I’d be able to get rid of it after I had become a bit more mobile, but it seems the criteria is actually my ability to go to the ‘other toilet’ unaided. This hospital seems obsessed with bowel movements. Everyone gets asked at least ten times a day whether they have ‘opened their bowels’. I haven’t discussed toilet habits this much since I went back-packing nine years ago.

A series of humiliations (Wednesday) September 25, 2009

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I had heard from people that one thing to look forward to would be getting high on morphine. I can honestly say that I don’t understand what people see in it. All it has done is make me feel sick as a pig. In fact, I had the pleasurable experience of throwing up all over myself last night because I couldn’t sit up quick enough and then the humiliation of being cleaned up by two nurses.

Its not big and its not clever

It's not big and it's not clever

Apart from this, the low points of my hospital experience have been the daily bed baths. I know you just have to get over it and they have seen it all before and worse but there really is nothing more shaming that being sponged down by total strangers.

The other humiliation was having my wee bag emptied- three jugs worth – out in front of my friends. They have known me since I was in primary school but they don’t want to see that! I CANNOT wait for the catheter to come out.