The Big Day

Warning, this is going to be a long one!

We arrived at Southmead bright and early after a five o’clock start (which was very much out of character for my poor boyfriend who does get up early for work but it wasn’t quite the same).  After much fussing about what needed to go in which bag and what needed to be where, we went into the theatre waiting room.  Having felt so sick and nervous yesterday, I actually felt quite excited and possibly too hyperactive for the environment!  We were one of the first to go into the waiting room and there was a flurry of people who came after us. Just after seven, names started to be called. Every time a member of staff arrived the anticipation built. When it felt like nearly everybody else had gone, my name was called and we trotted down to a ’Mediroom’. I was provided with some glamorous hospital gowns, a DVT stocking and a bonus pair of XL baby poo brown slipper socks! I felt like a bit of a celebrity because I had so many visitors.

The anaesthetist arrived first, went through all the necessary questions and then told me I had two options for my anaesthetic. Although I had psyched myself up for a spinal block and sedation, she said that since I was so young and fit, she would be quite happy to give me a general anaesthetic. Although I have been trying to feel brave about the whole thing,  when someone told me I could have the option that made me least aware of what was going on, it was a bit of a no brainer. Particularly as she said my operation was likely to be longer than a standard hip replacement, due to having two previous surgeries on my hip. She was very pleased to be starting her day with an uncomplicated patient, anaesthetically speaking and couldn’t have been more friendly and reassuring.

Next in swept two men in snazzy burgundy scrubs. I could only understand one of them, as the other had a rather deep Scottish accent. They were also lovely and introduced themselves as two more members of the surgical team. There was a minor drawback, in that the consent form I had previously signed didn’t seem to be with the rest of my notes. So off they went on a treasure hunt to see if they could relocate it. Here is where I’d like to make a comment about men and administrative organisation, but I won’t.. They returned empty handed, although once I had signed a replacement, the original was found, so at least there was no doubt about me consenting to the op.

The lovely doctor men told me that my op had the upgraded title of a complex total hip replacement and that they had a range of implants available in addition to plans a,b,c,d,e and potentially more which was due to my childhood Perthes as opposed to the standard geriatric arthritic hips. I like to think it’s because I’m special! The all important arrow was drawn and off they went.

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My next visitors were two fresh faces medical students. People keep commenting on how young I am, but seeing them made me feel old! I had a lovely chat with the girls about how I got to this point. Although I would never want to do it myself, you could tell it was pretty exciting for them to be watching my operation.

The next visit wasn’t quite as enjoyable. A nice man came to take some blood from me. Now I’ve always been told I’ve got super good veins for blood taking, but him and my veins weren’t quite so compatible. Even though he asked me which arm I preferred and we settled on the left, that didn’t go quite as planned. He did however have more success on the right. It’s funny that even in hospital, I still get a laugh and an expression of disbelief when I tell someone my age and that I’m having a hip operation!

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My penultimate visitor was a very smiley doctor conducting a research questionnaire about patients with allergies. I was patient number one of day one and since I have no allergies, I was a quick and easy start to her day.

Finally it was time for a quick toilet break and then off to theatre. My OH was able to get a long awaited coffee (and later I found out, a slice of lemon drizzle cake too). It felt like an awkward walk of shame to theatre. When I was a child, I was put to sleep in a different room and then wheeled in. This time however, I walked into the theatre, to find the four surgeons getting their gear on and chatting about the football. My anaesthetist and her assistant continued to be wonderful as they hooked me up. The first thing that went in was a painkiller, which made me feel completely high! Not a feeling I enjoyed, but I was soon oblivious to it.

I woke up back in the ’mediroom’ (not that I could recognise it). I couldn’t really see, the pain was horrible and I just kept crying. There were three lovely ladies looking after me in recovery, they quickly pumped me full of painkillers and by the time my six foot tall, blonde comfort blanket came in, the pain was under control though the tears weren’t! Eventually, I got my emotions under control and was feeling triumphant.

Once the nurses were happy I was wheeled to my room. I had visions of being in a ward with five other people, just like I remember from being a child. But in fact, I’m in a private room with en suite shower room, a television and a big window. Much more like a hotel than I anticipated.

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The rest of the day has been a muddle of feeling very drowsy, perking up and then feeling rubbish again. I’m taking all the drugs I get offered and particularly enjoying my foot pumps, which is like a blood pressure pad on each foot. The challenges of the afternoon have been; being very itchy in hard to reach places,  going to the toilet (I’ll spare you the details), trying not to dislodge my cannula or oxygen and sudden overwhelming nausea whilst on the phone to my parents (bad timing). I had signed myself up for spag bol for dinner and although the anti sickness drugs kicked in beautifully, I tried to play it safe with some toast, but after one small bite it didn’t end well! I knew many daily activities would be difficult without bending or twisting, I hadn’t accounted for vomiting. I’ve gone a good 15 years without being sick!

Massive props go to my boyfriend who not only got up at the crack of dawn to bring me, but has been a complete rock all day. He is even transcribing all of this for me, as I’m not quite up to it myself.

Roll on tomorrow and getting out of this bed!

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