And so, I find myself rising early on a chilly Wednesday morning, and heading down the valley with my mate Carl to Chez Morriston for what should hopefully be a day of sleep and then being sent home. Oh, how wrong can I be? Already, I knew I was in trouble when I turned up at the wrong ward, actually reporting for duty at the emergency surgery ward. They tutted and sent me to the correct ward, where a dozen or so other patients were waiting to also spend the day asleep and being sent home.
The poor harassed Andrea, nurse to the day cases, was stressing as she checked out everyone's notes, prepped the
Sure enough, just after 4 I walked down to the theatres, and laid down on the stretcher. A quick glance at the clock showed it was 4:15, and within seconds the anaesthetist started to administer the sleepy stuff. I'd been reading Pseudonymph's post earlier in the day about volcanoes and Tsunamis so I dreamt peacefully of a tropical island, with palm trees and white sand, but a very dark and thunderous sky. Then suddenly, I noticed I was in a hell of a lot of pain. I couldn't work out where, but the voice shouting "Rik!" at me made me realise I was still asleep and I came to on the recovery ward. I awoke with a start, looked around to see the guy who'd been by my side when I went under, and asked what time it was. "6:10," he said, "and I have to go, but nice meeting you" before he dashed off. As I lay there, squirming in considerable agony, the nurse gave me some morphine. And then some more. And then a bit more. I was watching the clock, and knew that John and Tania would only be allowed to stay until 8. The time was getting closer and closer, and I was begging the nurses to get me out before they both had to go home. After nearly an hour and a half, the post op team deemed I was comfortable enough to release me back to the ward, and promptly dropped me a foot or so on the bed as they started to move me. I realised the agony was from my abdomen, and any movement from below my chest was severely restricted. I was taken back to the ward, and greeted with the sight of a very worried looking John. I burst into tears, knowing how much I didn't want him to see me in pain. They moved me onto my bed, where I was breathing oxygen and taking more morphine. Shortly afterwards, Both Tania and John left anyway. I don't remember much, but I know I just laid there, crying.
A fitful night of grasped sleep, being woken every two hours to check my 'obs' and to be given more pain relief, I finally got woken up shortly after 6. I laid there, completely immobile, looking at the ceiling. I knew what was wrong, and so did the nurses. I was constipated. I was in danger of drowning in my own shit.
The problem was, to do the surgery, the docs had inserted a bicycle pump into the cavity they wanted to open up to put the large titanium mesh (presumably cut from a deep fat fryer somewhere), and had pumped in loads and loads of air. Once the operation is complete, this air passes into the bowel, where it is normally then farted out by the patient. The problem I had was that the muscle that allows you to push had been completely severed and sewn back together, so the gas wasn't going anywhere. And to top it all, me being the gas bag that I am, it was being added to. I was looking and feeling like a michelin man, and it got so bad I even asked the nurse if there was anyway they could puncture me. Obviously, this wasn't a good idea, but I would have done anything at that point. I'm not sure, but I reckon even my pee was now starting to come out fizzy.
Two young blonde and fit physiotherapists appeared. "We know what's wrong with you, you just need to sit up." So, imagine folding an already inflated balloon. Once again, the wave that followed meant I blacked out. I warned them I was going, but they told me I was putting it on. When I did pass out, I gather they just left me to slump back onto the bed, and stormed off in a huff. I told this to the sister later that day, and she was less then impressed, and vowed to give them a ticking off. I woke from the blackout to see Tania beside me again. I told her what had happened and what the doctors had decided to do. I was to go for an xray.
Sure enough a couple of hours later, I was lying on a very cold xray machines (Why are they always so cold? Why doesn't someone make an xray machine heater? This time next year Rodders...) with my distended belly pointing upwards. They took 3 xrays, and that evening my surgeon appeared to confirm something I'd know for years. I was full of shit, I was a complete gas bag, and all I currently could do was take the piss. I needed to get things moving, and with friends like him, who needs enemas? Tania and John again visited for an hour or so, and then 10 minutes or so after they left, the nurse had the unenviable job of squirting some cramp inducing liquid up my back passage with what felt like a fairy liquid bottle. Seconds later, I get a message "Your sister's calling. Do you want me to get her to call your mobile?"
"What, now? The world is about to fall out of my bottom, and you want me to have a conversation???"
BLS was insistent, so I took a 30 second call as I lay there, bare-arsed, on top of a nice and shiny chrome bedpan.
"I can't talk for lon..... *ack* *creek* *gargle*... I'll phone you tomor... *Sploosh*" was the entire conversation I think.
Suddenly, the gates of hades opened, and in a scene reminiscent of one of those landslide videos you see on a disaster documentary, a deluge of filth and mire started to cascade southwards.
2 hours (yes, 2 hours) later, and the cramps had gone. I was still giving the occasion 'preep' and still looked like a michelin man, but most of the blockage I presume had gone. I was cleaned up and settled into a comfortable sleep for the first time in what felt like weeks, before I was awakened again an hour or so later by what sounded like a punctured inflatable doll playing a trumpet, very slowly, and just the one note. This must have lasted 2 minutes, and cries of "Please Nurse, stick a cork in him" and "My eyes are burning" feel on deaf ears. Suddenly, I felt confident enough to sit up, and asked the male nurse if I could have a hand to see if I could stand up. As I actually got onto my very shaky feet, I felt all my previously disorganised internals fall back into their proper places, and I could now even make it to the loo, where I could finish what had been started 3 or 4 hours earlier. I returned 2 or 3 times further during the night, and even walked there unaided the following morning. When the day staff returned they were more then happy to see me up and about, and I sent a text first thing to let Tania know I had been discharged.
I am now back home. I am whinging for Wales. I have the remains of a pulled and stretched belly button which seems to be oozing marmalade, and it's itching like crazy. I can't drive for the next two weeks, and I'm not going to be able to do any lifting for the next 4 to 6 weeks. But one thing everyone has noticed, I look considerably smaller in the middle area. I'm still very swollen, but t-shirts are now hanging off of me. I knew it would be painful, but I also knew it would be worth it. Tania and John both made it so much more bearable, and your comments, dear readers, made it all the more entertaining.