Friday, 21 September 2012

In recovery

Stop shouting! Can't you see I'm trying to sleep here? The nurse running the recovery room is working at full volume. It's bad enough that the automatic blood pressure cuff keeps doing its thing, but I really wish she'd stop shouting. Enough of my brain works to register that the recovery room is filling up very quickly, so she's probably a bit stressed, but also enough of my brain works to register that all discussions are being carried out as if the patients are wholly unconscious which, of course, in a recovery room we're not.

I'm aware of being back in my room, of DH being there, of the plumbing consultant being there. "How much did you take out?", I ask. "A foot", comes the reply. "I thought this was a bowel operation", I retort, before losing consciousness again.

A nurse tells me what's going on. There's a catheter, which doesn't really bother me at all, and a saline drip into my left hand to get my fluid levels back up. There's a morphine PCA machine into the same cannula - opiates on tap, I bet there's a few people who would wish for those; and Paracetamol infusion too. My calves are sporting the latest in compression boots, deflating and inflating alternately to prevent DVT, and there's a tube feeding oxygen into both nostrils as well as the automatic blood pressure cuff on my right arm. In short, I am tethered to all four corners of the bed. I am also desperately thirsty but have to ask someone for even a sip of water. This is ok when DH is there, but when he goes I have to ring for a nurse and surely they have better things to do than give me water?

It takes until 6 pm until I'm fully conscious. The operation has taken 4 hours and is a great success: a good anastemosis (join) between the two pieces of bowel and, mercifully, no stoma.

But the after effects are horrible. The laxative is still working, so there is still brown water moving out of my bowel but now it's mixed with post op blood and I can neither stop it nor do anything about it. There's nothing to soak it up but my gown and my bed; I try and explain but no-one seems to understand that I'm not bothered that it's happening but I am bothered that I'm lying in it. I'm also aware that my period is due any minute and I can't feel anything properly so I don't know for sure what's going on. By 9 pm I am sweating and hot and feel horribly sick, but there's no vomit bowl in reach and I can't move. I ring for a nurse - the only action I can take - but no- one comes quickly enough to spare me vomiting all over myself. By the time someone comes, which feels like ages but is probably only a couple of minutes, I have given in to the embarrassment and disgust of lying in a tethered heap of my own shit and blood and vomit and cry and cry and cry. Properly feeling sorry for myself crying. Finally, gentle nurses come and clean me up, change my gown and my bed  as dignified a manner as possible, give me anti-emetics and calm me down.

The night passes in a whirl of activity: more vomit, more cleaning up, more observations. It's a wonder anyone gets any sleep at all in hospital, it's not the most restful place. By the early hours I'm still vomiting and the possibility of a naso-gastric tube is being discussed (apparently this helps, not sure how). Thankfully 6 am is the final hurrah, and I can get some sleep at last.

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