In the big wide world – after the big wide surgery

I need to pick up the next part of my story. I last filled in the detail just as I had left hospital. So this will focus on the first days after leaving hospital.

I was discharged from the hospital on Monday evening (12 October) and took with a little goodie bag bursting with medicines which I had to take over the coming days.

We were to be transferred to a small studio in a nearby apartment block . The hospital bellboy porter escorted us and took our luggage in the same way but in the opposite direction as he had when we arrived. Within a few minutes we were dropped at what was to be our new home for the coming weeks. I don’t remember much more of that evening as we really just unpacked some essentials and tried to to settle in.

The most nerve wracking thing was that we had absolutely no idea how long our stay in this place might be. The only certainty I had was an appointments slip for the following evening with the surgeon.

In my goodie bag was a rare assortment of all kinds of medicines. There were anti-inflammatories, painkillers, sedatives, antibiotics and goodness knows all what else. I had to take some before breakfast, some after breakfast, a different one after lunch, another after dinner and some at night time. Each different medicine was packed in its own little plastic bag with its own instructions. The only way I could organise myself was to take out every single plastic bag and place them in front of me was the then I would read the instructions after each meal or known medicine taking time. If I was instructed to take the medicine at that time, then I would take it and then put it back in the bag and if I was not instructed to take medicine then I would replace it in the bag. I had to go through this process until there was no more medicine left in front of me.

Tuesday was devoted to settling in, unpacking and getting our bearings. In the evening I returned to the hospital for the due appointment. It was nice to see Doctor W again as he was back from his breast cancer conference. He also seemed pleased to see his handiwork. He checked my progress, dressed the wound and of course asked me to wave twang arm in the air. Twang arm was having none of it and refused to budge above elbow height. Doctor W noted that my painkiller was paracetamol and said that I should have something a bit stronger as twang arm was still painful. I accepted with grace and gratitude – and a grin. I left the hospital clutching my new pills and another appointment slip for the following day.

On Wednesday morning I awoke feeling a good bit better. Twang arm was definitely feeling less painful and I was able to move more easily. These painkillers were clearly helping. In fact I felt so good that we decided to brave the outdoors and head out shopping. I was in urgent need of some new shirts because I was no longer able to wear most of my tops. So we got ready but just as we were preparing to leave I felt a bit unwell. I lay down for a little while until it passed, but it didn’t pass. In fact, I started to feel really weird and quite dizzy. Lying down didn’t help. I started to feel worse and had that frightening feeling that I was going to faint. I was scared because I was worried that my blood pressure was really high and that if I fainted or lost consciousness then it could be serious. I did what you do to prevent a faint – the only thing I could think of, putting my head between my knees. By this time, understandably, J was really anxious and stressed. He was trying to phone the hospital while I was insisting (to his feet) that I was fine. But the dizziness did not ease and I got more scared. The problem was that as I was trying to lower my head while protecting my wound I was grabbing his trouser pockets and he was unable to extract his phone. Part of me felt really stupid calling a doctor for a silly faint and part of me was really scared that it was something very serious.

Finally J was able to speak with the hospital and they dispatched a team to check me out. It was like something out of a TV drama – a number of brightly attired people filed into the room with equipment and supplies and what looked like a sophisticated resuscitation unit. I couldn’t even sit up because of the dizziness. The medics gathered around me to try and assess what was going on. They asked a few questions, checked vital signs and were preparing to take me to the ambulance. I asked if they need to check the medications I was taking because there were so many of them. As soon as they saw the painkiller which I had been prescribed the day before, there was an audible sigh of understanding. The young medic made a spinning gesture with his forefinger beside his head – the international code for dizziness! It was clear that this painkiller had a very common side effect. They were in no doubt that my symptoms were a reaction to that wonderful release from pain. How unfair is that? And here was me, not a full day out of the hospital and here they were setting up an IV line, taking blood and injecting another medication into my system to counteract the side-effect. So that was my shopping trip and pain relief sabotaged.

 My outing for the day was – yes, my trip back to hospital for my check up with Doctor S. He was not surprised to hear of my reaction to the painkiller but he was surprised when I insisted on giving him back what I called the dangerous drugs. The detailed results from the pathology had also come back and Doctor S spend a nice bit of time going over the results and their implications. Apparently I tested positive for reaction to oestrogen I have no idea what that means but Doctor S was happy and said it was a good thing. I tested negative on the other two tests and Doctor S had a very warm and sincere smile on his face as he explained to me that these were actually the best results I could have in the situation. It meant that my chances of recovery were higher. Apart from the day’s drama my progress was continuing and he gifted me an appointment to see Doctor W — for the very next evening. It had been a whole 48 hours since I had been discharged from hospital.

One thought on “In the big wide world – after the big wide surgery

  1. wow. haven’t read the previous ones but this one was riveting, p. i have no idea what a twang arm is but no doubt will once i read your previous posts. keep writing. apart from being therapeutic for you, it gives an amazing perspective on what you’re going through. strength, p. and love from all of us.

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