The wake up
Within (what felt like) seconds I was awake. Then I was asleep. Then someone mentioned drugs. Then I was asleep again. Then I felt like someone was giving me a leg massage – wishful thinking. Then I was hot, very hot, hottest day of the year in fact- sweet. Then I was hungry. Then I sneezed and felt like my chest was gonna explode. Then I was asleep etc etc.
This carried on for a while until I woke up properly and then boom I was back in the room. Feeling GREAT and talking way too much. “Am I rambling?” I ask Will. “You definitely seem awake now”.
This of course was the drugs talking and over the next few hours the anaesthetics would wear off.
I then remembered why I was there and cautiously took a peek under my gown. Wow! They looked pretty from what I could see. Bandaged up and bruised but two clearly defined bumps in the right place in the chest area was a good start.
I had a self administered morphine drip which could give me a small shot every 5 mins if I wanted it. I was also taking paracetamol, ibuprofen, codeine, some blood thinner, laxatives, antibiotics and I wore an oxygen mask because of the morphine. I was also connected to a machine which was working on my calves to prevent DVT (it’s basically a similar sensation to a blood pressure machine which alternates between legs constantly expanding and contracting) and I had a very hot blanket over my chest to keep my boobs warm. Oh and I had/have four delightful looking drains which remove fluids from my boobs via thin tubes (which I have to empty every morning and night for 2 weeks). Joy!
Luckily there was also an ice lolly. BEST ICE LOLLY EVER! 😋
I came out of surgery about 4hours after it began and went straight into the recovery room. Then at about 7-00pm I was put into my own separate room on the ward (with my own toilet!).
The ward Sister looked after me and checked on me every hour checking my blood pressure, oxygen levels and pain levels. I had a buzzer in case I needed them for anything. They were like angels. I was also shown how to empty my drains which I’d have to do on discharge and most importantly measure the amount of fluid coming from each drain. Yuk! They were pretty disgusting and the smell was so putrid, indescribable.
I wasn’t using my morphine drip that much (3 times in 4hrs) not because I was trying to be brave but because I genuinely didn’t need it. I was of course lying still in bed not doing anything. The Sister asked if I’d like to try coming off the morphine to see how I got on, to which I said “yes”.
An hour later I needed the toilet. From a pain perspective I was feeling fine, but I wasn’t moving around and hadn’t got out of bed so I felt very stiff and uncomfortable. Small movements created tightness and twinges of pain so I hadn’t really pushed it. I was pretty exhausted. I was sitting/sleeping pretty much upright so the Sister gave me a tip about how to get out of bed (which she used to give to her spinal patients in the past). She told me to roll onto my side, drop my legs off the bed and lever myself up using my elbow so I’m barely using my chest muscles. I gingerly started to move, taking deep breathes with every movement. A snails pace. Gently does it. Little pauses. Then BOOM! An incredible surge of pain struck me like lightening down the right side of my chest and I instantly threw up.
“No, no, no, no, no I can’t do it! Too much! Way too much! ”
Lesson learnt. Back on the morphine drip. Pee in the bed pan.
I Skyped Archie and Elsie shortly afterwards. Archie was fine. We had a good chat and he wanted me to show him around the hospital room. Elsie however didn’t recognise me – or at least was so totally confused by my image on the other end of a phone that she didn’t know how to react. I’m not quite sure what was more painful. Trying to get out of bed or that my daughter who smiles at everyone looked at me without expression or interest. Just blankly. It broke my heart. I’ve since researched this and children up to 12 months struggle to process 2D images – so at least there was a reason. It didn’t make it any less painful 😔.
Over the coming hours I stocked up on my morphine and drugs, rested some more and then had breakfast. There was also a handover to the next shift of staff and Stacey was looking after me. She was brill! Very funny, but I wouldn’t want to mess with her. I needed the toilet again. I nervously pressed my buzzer. Excellent Stacey didn’t come. “Can I have a bed pan please I need a wee” I said. “Just wait a second I’ll go and check” said the nurse. “Shit!” Stacey came in “Up you get Liz. Come on, you can do it. I’ll help you. You’ll seize up if you stay in bed and it’ll prolong the recovery”. She was right. She grabbed my elbow and slowly helped me up avoiding any stretching of the chest area. I’d made it upright. It felt amazing. I stepped onto the floor and then successfully made it to the toilet – yay! Then a thought. Would I be able to wipe my own bum? YES!!! I was on fire! Boom!
The kitchen staff on ward J23 were brilliant and bonkers in equal measures. I love my food and by 8am on Thursday 22nd June having gone without food for 35hrs I was on the edge. I’d never been so excited to see bran flakes, orange juice, toast and marmalade and a cup of tea (milk no sugar 😉). The kitchen staff all knew my name by the end of my two day stay and although I didn’t get any of their names I repeatedly told them how important they were to me – which they found hilarious. I’d say “Seriously number 1 person – Mr Turton. Number 2 – you guys in the kitchen”. Food is so important and I know hospital food gets a bit of flack but the food and food choice was amazing. They of course were shocked when I asked for a photo 🤣
- Sexy DVT socks? Check.
- Enough drugs to sink a ship? Check.
- Enough information to send you crazy. Check.
- Four drains with dolly bags? Er yup because they’re attached to me. Check.
- Pain level? Mild. Tick
- Mobility? Ok. Tick
- Registrar happy? Yes. Tick
Liz, 29th June 2017