So there I was, expecting to be replastered and sent home, only to be told you’re being admitted and having an operation.
I was wheeled up to the Surgical Short Stay Unit where I was given a private room. This was to isolate me from the other patients as I’d just returned from abroad. I was told I would need to be swabbed to check I’d not brought anything like MRSA back with me. The first thing I did was make a list of things I’d need during my stay and send my husband back home to collect them. Once I had those I settled myself in and he left saying he’d call back that evening. I read for most of the afternoon while various members of staff looked in on me. I only had a sandwich for lunch – not surprisingly after the events of the morning my appetite had fled. Before being taken up to the ward, the consultant’s registrar had gone through everything. I’d listened and understood all I was being told – that I had a trimalleolar break, meaning not one but three fractures which would need to be pinned. I’d signed the form attached to the clipboard but I have to say everything seemed so surreal, as if it was happening to someone else not me. After my husband’s evening visit once more my Kindle helped me pass the time. Although being told the noise and movement from the machine clipped to the foot of the bed and working like a pair of bellows on the pad in my plaster might keep me awake, I had a great night’s sleep .
I had no idea that in hospital they wake you up at five thirty. Because it was late May and was light outside I automatically thought it must be around seven. There were tablets to take and my breakfast to order. A health care assistant came in to change the bed and help me get into the ensuite bathroom for a wash. My lack of appetite continued and all I could manage was juice and toast for breakfast. Later that morning my consultant arrived with his team. As I wasn’t someone in for elective surgery, they were hoping to fit me in that day which meant no more food from now on and no more fluids from 11.30. Someone drew an arrow in marker pen over my right knee and they left. My husband visited mid morning and then for the rest of the day I read. Various members of staff popped in and out and then around 15.00 the anaesthetist arrived to explain the op was on and what would happen. Before I left for the operating theatre I had to have a CT scan to check my heel bone wasn’t out of alignment. Soon after my return from x-ray the porters arrived to wheel me to theatre. As I arrived I noticed the clock on the wall said 15.55. After inserting the cannula into the back of my hand the anaesthetist told me he was going to put what he called a block into the back of my leg behind the knee. This would automatically dispense an analgesic into my bloodstream for the first 24 hours after the operation. He then injected into the cannula, telling me it would make me feel as if I’d had a couple of glasses of wine. It did…I felt totally relaxed! The last thing I remember was being wheeled into the theatre and seeing all these faces wearing masks looking down at me.
Someone was calling my name. I opened my eyes and found myself in bed propped up against pillows in what I realised must be the recovery area. A nurse sat next to me. The clock on the wall was showing 18.55. My leg had been re-plastered but I had no sense of pain or discomfort so the analgesic was obviously doing its job. She asked me a few questions which I realised were to make sure my brain was functioning OK. Eventually two porters arrived to take me back to the ward where my husband was waiting. I always believed when you come around from an op that you’d be drowsy but I wasn’t. I was wide awake – and starving! After he’d gone a health care assistant came in and although I’d missed the evening meal she organised three rounds of toast and jam. It was like a banquet – I had no idea something so simple could taste so good! Again I slept well with the bonus I was no longer coupled to that air pump wheezing away at the foot of the bed!
The next morning the consultant and his team arrived and I was told I would be discharged that afternoon. Someone from the Home Care Team arrived to talk to me about home aids and after a discussion it was decided I’d need four items in order to help me get around the house. As access to our downstairs loo, which is off the utility, was considered difficult and I was told getting up and down stairs on my backside would wear me out, I very, very reluctantly accepted a commode. However I was forced to admit after a few days at home that she was right; pulling myself upstairs backwards using my hands was pretty tiring – in fact at times it was downright exhausting. She left me with a walker and said physios would arrive later to make sure I could use it OK. After a tour of the ward they seemed happy and left. So now it was all about waiting to be discharged.
Just before six the ambulance crew arrived. At last, me and my discharge medication were going home. Little did I know the challenges that awaited me there, but that’s for the next and final instalment.