Friday, June 1st 2012
At the start of the day (7 am), we had to go through the same weary process as last time but it was easier today because, firstly, we knew what to expect and, secondly, we had their assurance that I would be treated second in the queue.
After the usual interviews (nurse, anaesthetist, surgeon), I was gowned and sent up at 10.30 am, where there was another little wait. I was taken into the preparation room at 10.45 where a cannula was inserted into the back of my hand, an oxygen mask put over my face and an injection given, supposedly to relax me. Then the anaesthetic began to enter and I lay there staring at the ceiling seeing how long I could stay awake. The next thing I knew was waking up as if from a light doze and looking at the recovery room clock: 12.35.
The next thing I did was look around the room taking in all the details. There were three other patients and then a fourth was wheeled in. He was so far gone he could have been a corpse but within 10 minutes he was chatting and laughing with the nurses.
I then checked the possible side effects I had been warned of: was I dead? apparently not; did I feel queasy? no (two cups of black coffee in quick succession helped establish that); sore throat? yes, definitely; was I confused? no: what was there to be confused about? was I dizzy? no.
There was quite a delay before a bed was found in a ward for me, and this wait was, I think, the worst part of the process. I had no hearing aids, no spectacles, no mobile phone, so I just had to lie there and keep myself company in between inveigling nurses into conversation.
At last I was taken up to the 6th floor and transferred from the couch to proper bed. But I didn’t care about that. Far more important was the fact that Tigger could at last join me. Best moment of the day.
We then settled down to wait. I had been told that as soon as I had woken up and had a wee (to make sure the body was working again) I would be able to leave. I woke up and had lots of wees (all that coffee), but I was still not allowed leave. I had to wait for the pharmacy to produce the medications I was to take home (and they insist on a bed visit to explain to you what is clearly written on the labels…), and then for the discharge letter to be produced together with a report for my GP. I was finally released at 5.30 pm.
I was ready to go home on the bus but Tigger insisted on paying for a cab to take us. We found ourselves out in the streets during the Friday rush hour but the driver cleverly took to the back streets and even if the actual distance was a bit longer than by the main roads, we arrived much sooner than we would have done by going that way. When he told us the fare, we were amazed: it was unbelievably cheap!
We didn’t go straight home. Knowing I had had nothing to eat since 9 pm yesterday (except some biscuits provided with the coffee at the hospital), Tigger took me to dinner at Jamie’s Italian, just down the road from us.
So far I feel no pain, apart from the sore throat. That may change when the hospital’s pain killers wear off, but if so, then all being well, the pills they have given me will help.
Apart from the inefficient organization, I have nothing but praise for both the hospital itself and particularly for the nursing staff from whom I received assistance, sympathy and great kindness at all stages. They came from many nations and included both men and women, but all were equally helpful and solicitous for my wellbeing and morale.
We hear so many criticisms of the NHS (mostly for faults that are the result of ill-conceived government policies) that it is important to remember and publicize the fact that it offers a brilliant service and that we should be proud of it and do our best to support and defend it from the depredations of those who would curtail and damage it.