Posted by: glenswatman | March 22, 2014

20140311-20 OPERATION TIME

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TUESDAY 11 MARCH – We’ve been warned the electricity will be off all day.  I set about sorting the kitchen, lining the shelves and rearranging things and find that with the new shelves by the kitchen door I have plenty of space.  We also tidy the shed and find Maureen has even left us things like “Roundup” weed killer spray.  Reckon we have well and truly dropped on our feet here.


WEDNESDAY 12 MARCH – Not sure whether we are privileged here or if the whole of England is basking in unseasonably warm weather but we sure are happy to be able to spend so much time outside in the warmth.  We’ve been using the showers at the club house but today test out the shower at home for the first time.  I figure I can heat the bathroom nicely by putting an electric fan in the hall and angling it in the bathroom door way.  The water is piping hot and there is plenty of room to manoeuvre in the shower cubicle and even a seat.  I get to the end of our unpacking and think I will be able to find what I need in the future.  After lunch we drive the 7 miles to Norwich University Hospital for Steve’s first appointment with Dr Matt Lawes.  The Coney Centre has a spacious waiting area with a cafe selling snacks and drinks.  Steve is called in bang on time and we meet Matt and specialist nurse Amanda.  They are both very friendly and quickly go over Steve’s treatment to date and current status.  Matt seems much less strict that Dr Gilleece and says that we could go abroad if we wanted to and there wouldn’t be any problem with the insurance companies whereas Dr Gilleece said if we went and there was a problem she would have to tell them we had travelled against advice.  Not that we want to travel abroad at the moment but it is nice to know.  Matt says Steve can have his lumbar punctures and chemo here and books the appointment and also his next consultation in 2 months time.  Nearby is the Big C cancer help centre and we call in to see what is on offer. It’s much like the other MacMillan centres with help, advice, complimentary therapies, library, drinks etc.  In the lounge area we bump into Emma.  I’ve been in touch with her on Facebook as she has the same type of leukaemia as Steve and has had a transplant.  She’s an avid traveller and off to Prague this weekend, even though she is only 10 months post transplant.  (Still feel we did the right decision by playing cautious).  I’ve had a letter from St James telling me my operation date and asking me to call to confirm.  Think it’s pointless as I spoke to them when they gave me the date in the first place.  Anyway I opt to call and am shocked to hear that my operation may be on hold.  They have just heard that Mr Smith will not be returning at the moment and is on compulsory leave.  Now they have to find another suitably qualified surgeon to take on his operations.  I must phone back on Friday to find out what is happening.  In Taverham we register as NHS patients at the dentist before returning home.


THURSDAY 13 MARCH – I’ve been pondering my operations options.  Researching on line it looks like they don’t do splenectomy operations at Norwich so I have few choices.  We shop at Sainsbury’s en route to the hospital.  I have a 10.45 appointment about my foot and was asked to arrive early to get an x-ray in beforehand.  Steve drops me off, preferring to wait at the Big C centre.  After going to reception I am asked to wait until my name is called.  The waiting room is heaving, and the queue at the cafe endless.  An hour later I go back to reception where it seems there may have been some misunderstanding.  I am then sent off to X-ray which takes ages.  After another wait I see the specialist who says everything has heeled well but to keep wearing the boot until next week when it will be 6 weeks since my operation.  It’s 12.30 by the time I get to Steve and I’m starving.  We call in to The Village Inn for the carvery but there is a huge queue of people trying to order their meals and another just as big for people to get their food.  We head home.  During the afternoon I do a bit of exterior cleaning and also check out the tumble dryer which works perfectly. 


FRIDAY 14 MARCH – Once the fog burns off it turns into a nice day.  I speak to St James a few times.  They have another surgeon, Amer Aldouri who can do my operation on Monday or Mr Smith may be back the following week but that is unsure and it is also not clear when he would be able to fit me in even if he was.  I question whether this Doctor has just taken on Mr Smith’s list or actually looked at what each patient needs.  Noreen assures me she will take my file and speak to Mr Al Douri personally and call me back.  About an hour later Noreen calls to say Mr Al Douri is very experienced in laparoscopic procedures and although he has not been qualified as long as Mr Smith nor done as many operations he feels he can deal with me – of course he hasn’t met me has he!  Anyway with the alternatives uncertain I make the decision to go ahead and have the operation on Monday.  I do follow this up with a quick check on the Internet to verify his qualifications and see that he is quite a mature grey haired man and does work for private clinics and BUPA as well and there is nothing bad to be said about him so this boosts my confidence.  Steve’s checks out our huge “Australian Outback” BBQ, gives it a good oiling but then finds it doesn’t work, the delivery of a new gas bottle soon fixes the problem.  I’ve realised that the fridge section in the under the counter fridge/freezer is too small for me.   As we have a separate chest freezer and fridge in the shed I opt to swap things around and just have the larger fridge in the caravan and nip out to the shed whenever we need frozen food.  Alternate Friday evenings are quiz nights in the club house.  We team up with Diane and George who live here permanently and Joyce and Graham who have a static holiday caravan here and live just 10 miles away.  It’s an interesting quiz with some pop star anagrams, pictures of companies and general questions and for us a great way to get to know more people.


SATURDAY 15 MARCH – Knowing I am going to be laid up after my operation I busy myself cleaning and doing odd jobs and getting our bags ready.  Tonight is the 19th birthday of Merryhill and there’s a group on in the clubhouse.  We head over for an hour but the music is too loud for us to be able to talk to anyone and with my foot still in a boot I am unable to dance.  Looking forward to future functions though.


SUNDAY 16 MARCH – We’re both waking at about 6.30am, a combination of the sun shining into the bedroom and the birds twittering.  On our way by 8am it almost feels like we are at the end of a holiday, of course the good news is we will be back soon.  We were looking forward to meeting Netty, Lauren and families for lunch but get a call from Lisa to say Lauren’s daughter Ruby has an upset stomach.  We mull it over and settle for meeting at the same restaurant but sitting at a separate table but by that time they have decided to call it all off.  We make a new plan and head to Claire’s.  She’s home alone this weekend so after lunch Steve heads to the pub to watch the Liverpool match whilst Claire and I chill out on a sofa each, watching medical programmes on TV and napping.   I cook us filled giant Yorkshire puddings for tea and then we head to Leeds.  As we live a long way from St James hospital we have been offered a free room in the hospital hotel.  It’s a very spacious room with good views over the city.  The last time we stayed here was when they did us a special favour and let Steve sleep out from the ward and stay with me in a room on my birthday in Dec 2011, what a way we have come since then.



MONDAY 17 MARCH – Steve walks me round to the Lincoln Wing where I meet surgeon Mr Aldouri for the first time.  He talks me through his version of my operation as he prefers to do a horizontal cut in open surgery whereas Mr Smith favoured the vertical.  It sounds like he suspects the spleen will end up being open surgery but he will then continue and remove the gall bladder by laparoscopic and also a small lipoma.  At just after 9am I am in the theatre underneath a space ship style light surrounded by more than half a dozen people.  When I comment on the number of people I am told there are even more going to be involved.  The next thing I know it is early afternoon, I’m in the recovery room and in agony.  They tell me this is because I have needed open surgery for both removals.  During the course of the next few hours the pain remains much the same coming in spasms.  It’s even very difficult and painful to try and utter a few words.  At one point the anaesthetist comes to see.  He says that had they known the extent of the operation required they would have given me an epidural but it is not possible to do that now.  There is talk of doing something else and suddenly I find myself being sucked into a vortex.  It’s a really strange sensation and I feel I am going under general anaesthetic again so suspect there is a problem and they are going to re operate.  As I hang on to consciousness I am able to ask what is happening and they tell me they are trying to give me pain relief.  Top and the bottom of it all is that I remain in recovery until 7pm then get transferred to ward 42.  Mr Aldouri comes to see me and tells me my spleen was very big and the gall bladder even more of a problem as it was inflamed, infected and ruptured making it difficult to remove, however the surgery has gone well.  I spend a difficult night making good use of the morphine on demand.


TUESDAY 18 MARCH – I battle through the day with the pain constantly coming in spasms.  I’ve got drains on both sides of my body, a catheter, morphine on demand; general drip and oxygen so I’m not going anywhere fast.  Mr Aldouri comes round and says that as they have had to cut right through my muscles the pain is to be expected.  He re-iterates what a mess my gall bladder was in.  He says the gall bladder drain can come out and recommends a light diet of chocolate to be sucked for energy and ice cream so that my stomach doesn’t fill up and press on the wound – can’t argue with that.  Steve comes to visit in the afternoon and explains how worried he got last night whilst staying at Lisa’s.  He’d been expecting me to text or call when I got back on the ward yesterday afternoon and had to keep calling the hospital for updates so is pleased to see that I am basically OK.  Steve is staying at Claire’s tonight but I ask him not to visit as I feel whacked.


WEDNESDAY 19 MARCH – I’m now finding the pain is just a dull ache if I stay very still but any movement is agony which makes it a real effort to get up and sit in a chair as requested.  It’s been pretty noisy outside in the night and I can now see why – my bed is at the end of the ward and directly opposite one of the A&E entrances.  Sandra comes to visit in the afternoon and I miss the first 20 minutes as I am asleep.  She has plenty to tell me having just come back from a month in Tenerife so the time passes quickly.  At some point the spleen drain comes out and they suggest I come off the intravenous morphine and have it as an extra pain relief orally from the nurses.  Claire visits in the evening, they have just got the keys to their new house and she explains how bad it is.  It all needs decorating and cleaning and supposedly this was reflected in the rental price.  I feel quite sore during the night and it turns out I have a few blisters under my dressing so they get changed over which helps.


THURSDAY 20 MARCH – The catheter is the last of my “umbilical” cords to be removed so I head to the toilet.  I’ve only a dull pain when I keep still but movement is agony and when I buzz to get the “oramorph”  it can take up to an hour to arrive by which time I don’t need it.  I try to get smart and plan ahead by ordering it before I go to the loo but still it doesn’t come in time.  They are obviously short on staff and doing their very best but I’m sure if they all carried note pads and jotted things down it would help a lot.  I’m trying to eat and the food is nice and tasty but I can’t stomach much and in the afternoon during Steve’s visit end up being physically sick with pain after making a toilet trip.  Mr Aldouri says I am doing much better than they would have expected and seems impressed by how well I am moving around.  I, on the other hand, feel I am shuffling like an old woman and can constantly hear Mum over my shoulder telling me to straighten up and get my shoulders back!  Worse still is when I catch sight of myself in the mirror and see how wizened I have become – helluva way to lose weight.



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