A few seconds in to a dream, Steve the recovery nurse brought me round from the anaesthetic. Bald on the top, with silver hair at the sides, and fairly rotund, Steve was the most beautiful and wonderful man I have ever met, bar my husband. He asked how I was. “BRILLIANT! I’M ALIVE!” I shrieked with joy. “Hello Steve, aren’t you lovely? Thank you for being so lovely. You’re very very good at it.” I asked for a drink of water and he brought me one. I fell even more deeply in love. It was the best water ever, and I was at pains to point out both how great the water was and how great Steve was for getting it. It turned 6pm and Steve clocked off, only to be replaced by a new Steve the recovery nurse, which was handy. New Steve was just as magnificent a person as old Steve, and I loved him with all my heart too, and eagerly told him so, laughing uproariously the whole time at the joy of not being even slightly dead.
Jo the anaesthetic nurse walked past. “Look! It’s Jo! Hello, lovely Jo!” I shouted, waving gaily at her. I noticed that another recovery nurse had the best hair I had ever seen on a human being. So shiny, so neat, so perfect. It was imperative that I told him as soon as possible, however just then, Damian turned up. I clasped his hand and waxed lyrical at him about how he may just be the best person ever to have lived. He looked slightly embarrassed and said that the biopsy had gone well, enough material had been recovered to work with, the results would be back in 5-7 working days and I should recover well. “I already have!” I declared, giggling to myself like an idiot “I’m ALIVE and I feel AMAZING.”
During the long, painful labour with my eldest daughter I was given morphine, and it was useless. All it did was make me puke and ramble on at length about Zammo from Grange Hill. It didn’t touch the pain at all. Now, I’m seriously considering developing a light morphine habit. It does wonders for my personality. So there you have it; brain surgery – officially a hell of a lot less painful than childbirth. In terms of pain, the wound initially felt like I’d banged my head on the corner of a cupboard door or something. Oramorph soon sorted that out. Through the night, it felt like someone had given that part of my hair a really good yank. By the next day, it was no more than a dull ache, easily managed with paracetamol. Even that was unnecessary a couple of days later.
The holes made by the stereotactic head frame were more of a problem than the actual wound. “Unlikely to even break the skin” my arse. My head was like a colander leaking blood at first. Brush my hair out of my face, knock a frame hole and bleed like a stuck pig. Think a bit hard, bleed like a stuck pig. They didn’t hurt, but the little horizontal holes have definitely scarred my forehead. Luckily the back ones are covered in hair, and the front ones sit in pre-existing wrinkles, so age is my friend here.
Once declared well enough to leave the recovery area for the ward, and I was satisfied that everyone in the room had been fully brought up to speed on just how bloody great they were, I was taken along to my own room, probably to shut me up. I texted A and the kids to let them know I was ALIVE, with many, many more exclamation marks and emojis than I would normally accept. 🙌 🎉 🎊 🍾 🥂 😃.
Alice the nurse made me a cup of tea. It was actual nectar. I told her how wonderful she was, a queen amongst women, and that her tea was a culinary work of genius deserving of several Michelin stars. She brushed off my praise, explaining that she had used a whole teabag just for that one cup, unlike the normal tea served on wards, which use about 4 bags per urn. Of Jeremy Hunt’s many crimes, cost cutting to the point of serving undrinkable tea to poorly people must figure near the top. Damn your eyes, Jeremy!
A came for a quick visit, and couldn’t stop laughing at my ridiculously sunny demeanour and permanent, daft grin. I introduced him to Alice.
This is Alice. Isn’t she just wonderful? She makes the best tea known to humanity.
I suddenly worried that maybe she didn’t consider her tea making skills foremost amongst her achievements, and thought it best to clarify, just in case, so I bellowed:
BUT SHE NO DOUBT HAS MANY OTHER TALENTS!
Phew. That was all the bases covered. Both her finely honed professionals skills and goddess-like skills with tea fully recognised.
Because I’d been under anaesthetic for some time, Flowtron boots had been put on my lower legs to ward against a thrombosis. Like velcro leg warmers, they have air pipes going in to the top, middle and bottom. An electronic pump inflates the boots in a rhythmic pattern, squeezing your legs and keeping the blood flowing. It’s really quite nice, if a bit noisy, like a massage from someone with a bad flatulence problem. The problem comes when you want to go to the toilet. You need to call a nurse each time to come and unplug you from the farty leg tubes, and *apparently* according to someone who definitely isn’t me, if you don’t want to disturb the nurses with such a trivial request, and just decide to unplug yourself, a load of alarms go off and everyone gets a bit worried and you have to pretend to know nothing about how it happened and lament that the machine is probably on the blink. Apparently.
Inevitably, my buzz had to get killed sooner or later. Having had my anti-convulsant drugs early, at around 6am, I was now overdue the second dose of the day, so asked Ian the night nurse for them. No go. He said that all drugs had to be re-prescribed post surgery, and as it was now evening, he’d have to phone an on call doctor to process the request. It would probably take a few hours. In the end, they arrived at 1am. To put it mildly, this seems REALLY FUCKING STUPID. You list all the drugs and supplements you’re taking at the pre-op review, and are specifically told which to have on the morning of surgery and which to skip. You have to bring them all with you on the day of the operation. The medical staff know which drugs you’re on, and what operation you’re having. Why not predetermine which drugs need to be taken post operatively and which require review? Those several hours, waiting for the anti-convulsants, absolutely terrified of having a seizure, with a fresh hole in my head weren’t as chilled as they could have been. I was mostly stressing about chucking a fit and blowing the top of my head off like a dolphin or fountain. It’d be a fairly spectacular way to go, but not much fun.
Ian tried to calm me by asking if I wanted to hug Eeyore. That threw me slightly. Had I sustained some brain damage during the op and now heard normal conversation as very weird statements? Was it some strange double entendre? In the end, it turned out that he thought the mask for my CPAP machine was an Eeyore cuddly toy.
Thank goodness it was his eyesight and not my brain that was the problem. Or was it? Throughout the night, Ian would shine a light in my eyes, whilst asking my name, date of birth, what was the month, the year and who was the PM. The first four questions were easy. In fact, I was even able to say that it was August before midnight and September afterwards. But the PM…..?
David Ca…. no. Not him anymore. What’s the new fella called?
I’m going to blame it on the Parliamentary summer recess and the fact that politics had not been in the news much that month, in fact Theresa May in particular had kept a low profile during the recess. I got it in the end, but it was kind of scary to flail around, grasping wildly for an answer to what should be a really easy question. The constant political questioning and lack of seizure meds didn’t make for a good night’s sleep. Thank goodness I’d be able to go home the next day.