I’m one of those people who takes things in her stride. I’m pragmatic, sensible, practical: if something needs to be done I do it, worrying about any emotional ramifications later. You’ll rarely see me panic or cry and I’m a big fan of the band-aid method; if something difficult needs executing (that’s someTHING not someONE), do it as quickly as possible to minimise future discomfort.
I imagine I’d be a great person to have around in a nuclear meltdown, alongside Jeremy Hunt who seems determined to never go away. Keep Jeremy away from the hospitals, though.
Before last week I felt pretty much indestructible, unflappable. You could call me in a crisis and I’d be the friend to talk you down from panic, to tell you everything is going to be OK. I’d be the friend who could organise kids, food, babysitters, a clean house: SORTED. It’s all under control. Don’t worry, Alice has this in-hand, Alice is infallible.
And then I went into hospital.
It wasn’t a surprise. I’ve been waiting on this operation for a while, a laparoscopic procedure to blast out my endometriosis. It’s something I’ve had done before 13 years ago so I wasn’t too worried, knowing what would happen, when it would happen and how I would feel. The op was planned for 3 o’clock in the afternoon and I expected I’d be home by eight, recuperating on the sofa with my loving and caring children tending to me (in my fantasies my kids don’t have a 7pm bedtime and are allowed to boil kettles).
In reality it was awful, and was the first thing in a while that made me realise I’m not indestructible.
The first thing that got me was the pure fear of the anaesthetic. I’d been given a leaflet at my pre-op assessment that listed something like one person per 13,000 dying due to general anaesthetic and, though in my rational mind that figure took the elderly and very poorly into account, it terrified me. I mean, I’m a woman who hates flying because I’m borderline convinced I could be doing a better job than the pilot, so the feeling of submitting my entire body to being knocked out so someone could do whatever they wanted to it was scary as hell. I knew the surgeons were there to do a job and that job was to make my body better, but what if they laughed at my knees or judged the shape of my earlobes while they were at it and I was fast asleep?
That weird train of thought was an extra bonus alongside all the scary premonitions about, you know, dying.
I went down for my operation at about 5, returning at 7. And, once I was over the initial euphoria about still being alive, I felt AWFUL. Having primed the anaesthesiologist that I usually get sick after anaesthetics he’d pre-empted my illness with medication, but it didn’t work. I went through three different types of anti-sickness drug before I could move my head without feeling vommy. So that was fun.
The one golden lining (I can say that now the experience is over) was haughtily telling the post-op nurse in the recovery area that this was the worst spa I’d ever been to, and if they wanted their clients to feel relaxed they’d have to turn the lights down and work on the ambiance. She complied and then ribbed me about my post-anaesthetic weirdness for the next hour, which I was totally fine with as I was on a morphine drip.
It was about 9pm when I finally cried for the first time, feeling so sick and sorry and helpless, realising that as I couldn’t move there’d be no way I’d be re-united with my kids that evening. I KNOW, I CRIED. Alert the elders, hell has frozen over.
I felt so wretched and wasn’t sure if I’d ever feel human again.
By 11pm I’d managed to eat most of an egg sandwich (the middle, not the crusts) and two slices of cucumber, but only because I was holding out some hope that forcing down food would make me feel less sick. It didn’t.
My night was a restless affair: I was up once an hour, the pain from the gas they used to inflate my abdomen during the operation feeling absolutely awful. Worse than childbirth. At one point I buzzed my nurse, telling her quite seriously that I thought I was about to die and would she mind getting me some oxygen and a doctor, and maybe a priest for my last rites though I wasn’t religious so wasn’t sure of the exact protocol. She laughed and levered me out of my bed to walk around, the only thing that would make the gas dissipate from where it was hanging out around my lungs. Much fun as I couldn’t stand up without getting sick again. OH GOD.
This nurse was a godsend, though. She was so lovely, so caring, and tucked me back into bed each time I was up, fluffing my blankets and making sure I was warm and cosy. Without my mum staying in hospital with me she was the next best thing.
I went home the next day, getting in to my own bed all grey and weak and not even that hungry (unheard of). And that is where I’ve remained since, despite a brief and pretty silly venture into the outside world yesterday as a warm-up for the school run I knew I’d have to do today.
It’s funny, I totally imagined myself back up and running as normal today, working, walking, cooking. Not so. Instead I’m snoozing at every opportunity, trying to keep prodding hands and little tight arms away from a tummy that’s so swollen it could be full of a five month old foetus.
I’ve learned how important it is to realise that, yes, I’m not infallible, but that’s OK, I’m only human and to nurture myself properly I have to listen to what my body wants me to do. Which right now is to sleep a whole load and eat Byron’s spicy wings with blue cheese sauce (if anyone fancies bringing them to me right now I will be forever in your debt).
I’ve also done a bit more research into the time off one is supposed to have after this kind of surgery, which is around two weeks rather than two hours. So I’m working on resting a bit more as prescribed, with the upside being that Dry January is proving much easier than last year.
Things might be a bit slower round here until recovery arrives, but I can’t wait to come back with a bang (and a refurbished uterus). See you soon!