Operation live blog: The Independent’s James Moore live blogs his operation
James Moore blogs live from the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital where he will be undergoing surgery on Wednesday July 24.
3pm post discharge The problem with live blogging an op is it gets harder the deeper into the process you get because of the grog factor induced by anaesthetic and nuclear strength painkillers. I’ve spent most of the last day drifting in and out of sleep. The worst part was waking up at 3am in a sort of horrid daze, unable to get into a proper sleep, unable to do anything but bother the remarkably sweet night nurse. In the end I resorted to re-reading a Kindle book I’d read several times while listening to Mastodon – for the uninitiated they’re a grungy heavy metal band I’m rather fond of. That worked the oracle. Perhaps the effect was like the white noise parents sometimes use to get babies off to the land of nod.
Overall the worst part of the experience was the needles, and the drips – I had three feeding drugs and water into me at one point – the discomfort is actually mild enough but I have a sick horror of having these things inside me and a terrible fear of moving while they are in. Irrational? Yup. But then genuine phobias are. That said, bar a rather frustrating wait getting discharged, the RNOH did show what the NHS can do when things are run properly. It was clean, the staff were generally nice, very thorough, professional. If all hospitals were like this there surely wouldn’t be the negative headlines which plague the NHS and we might be able to love it again. And for me it’s now fingers crossed that my cussed neuro pain fades away with the post op pain.
4.45pm I’m conscious again and finally more or less with it (some people might argue that this is a rarity but they’d mostly be City PR folk and their dodgy clients). But it did get a little sticky on the way in. The anaesthetist simply couldn’t find a good enough vein to get a drip into. Mine have never been prominent, and after several ops a good number now have scarring, further complicating things. After attempt two failed I’m sorry to say I was in the midst of a full blown panic attack. It didn’t take long before they trotted out the laughing gas. That did the trick and although it was still difficult, I was soon happily oblivious to the problem. Marvellous stuff laughing gas. I came rounded so after three but promptly fell asleep. However, the signs are looking good. So big thanks here to the team that performed the op.
8.33am The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital is located on a sprawling campus not far from the A1. Typically for hospitals designed and built some years ago you do sometimes wonder what the directing brains behind it were thinking. After all, many, perhaps most of its patients have issues with mobility and said campus is just a tiny bit hilly. On the other hand perhaps I should be grateful. Were it more modern it would have been constructed through that vile abomination of a private finance initiative foisted on this country by Gordon Brown. I have been told that at some of the hospitals built through this that the interest rates are so crippling they have difficulty paying for the basics.
The waiting room is comfortable enough. There’s even a Costa Coffee. Which, of course, I can’t use. The BBC’s Breakfast News is on the TV. And, helpfully, it’s filled with tales of woe about the NHS. This isn’t really doing much for my stomach, which is just a tad acidic.
However, what works better than a box full of Rennies for that is that so far everyone has been extremely friendly in stark contrast to my last (conscious) hospital admission, which was to a large London facility. Someone somewhere mucked up with the transfer forms from the hospital I was being transferred from and I was made to feel that this was somehow my fault. Score one for Stanmore then. I’ve even got a room to myself. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all. Even better I’m near the front of the queue for the op (they’re going to be going until 8pm tonight), a rare benefit of type 1 diabetes.
5am Three shots of espresso, down and as yet there’s no sign of the Palace striker – for which read a low blood sugar – raining on my parade. It’s true that I am feeling a trifle odd. Bit that’d be down to the impact of barely two hours sleep. Do they have a record for the world’s most fretful patient? I guess I’m challenging for it and we haven’t even landed at the hospital yet. It’s now nil by mouth from here on out.
12: It’s four and a half hours before I have to get up and that’s it. I can no longer eat, although drinking is still allowed as long as its sugar free squash, water, black coffee or black tea. This is more complicated than it looks for me: I’m a type 1 diabetic, have been since I was two. Now I have to cross fingers and hope my blood sugar doesn’t dip during the night because that might force the op’s cancellation and right about now I suspect the feeling produced would be remarkably similar to that produced the best part of 20 years ago when I had the misfortune of witnessing Sheffield United play out a turgid Division 1 Play Off final against Crystal Palace only to lose in the very last minute to a long looping shot from outside the area. And yes I’m still bitter about it.
Introduction: 23rd July
The idea of live blogging my forthcoming operation first came about as a means of alleviating my dread at the prospect of going into hospital again: working should provide a welcome diversion.
Then the Royal baby arrived and I suddenly realised that there might actually be a considerable advantage in spending several hours unconscious and away from any and all news sources. Bring on the laughing gas.
So tomorrow morning I’ll be off to the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore, Middlesex to undergo a procedure that could, could, relieve me of the feeling that my right foot is being permanently bathed in a bath of sulphuric acid.
Two years ago I was knocked off my bike by an oil tanker. While most of the fractures (and there were a lot) have healed to a greater or lesser extent, the nerve damage has not. My right foot doesn’t move and I don’t know where it is in space. But I sure as hell can feel it. Think of the worst pins and needles you’ve ever experienced, multiply it, then imagine that each pin is dipped in hot wax.
My consultant, Anthony MacQuillan, thinks this is being caused by a blockage that is interfering with the nerve signals. He proposes to cut into my right leg with the aim of relieving it.
After that it’ll be an overnight stay at the RNOH, a national centre of excellence that has achieved high marks in a couple of independent reports recently (I don’t propose to look at what the Care Quality Commission has said because I don’t believe it has any credibility), then back home for the wound to heal.
Speaking to Mr MacQuillan yesterday my confidence was somewhat boosted when he said he’d be happy for his own family to be treated there.
He is about as good as it gets when it comes to consultants. When you drop his name with a medical person it tends to produce the same sort of reaction as Lionel Messi does among footballers.
Fair play to the RNOH. They’re co-operating with this experiment and the first “live” update will be written at around 5am, after my last cup of coffee. The it will be nil by mouth until the procedure is done.
Wish me luck.
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