Well three weeks ago I got a phonecall at work offering me a cancellation spot for a laparoscopy- in just three days time.
After a brief risk assessment in my running head, I turned this down knowing that taking time off at this short notice was going to leave my employer seriously in the shit. My other half would have been furious with me for turning this down were it not for the fact that they had another appointment available in exactly two weeks time, and I accepted this one.
I then went into something of an anxiety meltdown. What if I was still too fat for a general aneasthetic? What if I was about to waste thousands of NHS pounds only for them to discover nothing there? What if I had something much worse than endometriosis (because yeah, there’s worse)? What if I’m the one in ten thousand people that just randomly dies under a general anaesthetic? That’s a thing, you know.
I took the appointment, I drank more water and less booze for 13 days and I tried not to think about it too much. I bought some big knickers and a new nightie and filled the cupboards with tinned soup and instant noodles. I did some long days at work and put up with tales of how various fucking heroes had returned to their desks within two days of their abdominal surgery, even with infected stitches.
Cometh the day and my other half dutifully deposited me at the hospital at 0730 and then didn’t stray much further than going back to the car for his packed lunch during the entire day, for which I am eternally grateful. I’m also etnerally grateful that he was allowed to stay with me at all, which is not always the case in ward admissions which technically this was, albeit a short one.
I peed in a cup. I filled out a ton of forms and repeated my date of birth roughly nine million times. I put on a gown and some super sexy surgical stockings and dealt well with being frankly mutilated for the sake of a blood sample, which was hard fought from my sulky, dehydrated veins. Oh yes, I also confirmed to at least eight different medical proffessionals that I had not eaten or drunk anything since 10pm the night before. Thanks for keep bringing that up, by the way.
Note 1- you will feel like shit before your lap because you are hungry and thirsty before even considering the anxiety.
After hanging out with some awesome nurses, I met my anaesthetist first. We had a quick chat, weirdly enough it does make a difference to your anaesthetist if you have non drug related allergies, such as cats. Who knew? He was nice. He told me what to expect.
Another hour or so and I caught up with my surgeon to go over consent forms, that one in ten thousand issue, and to cancel having the mirena coil fitted. At least that was the plan. Despite the conversation and persuasion that followed, I have to say that the thing that made me change my changed mind and consent to trying the mirena as therapy was the look on his face when I said I didn’t want it. It was like telling Captain Birdseye you don’t fancy fishfingers for tea. It was like turning my Dad down for a drink with no good reason. It was like kicking a very well educated and highly skilled surgical puppy- open panic and incomprehension. We went over my concerns again- weight gain, mood problems, and lack of control, and my partner joined in the conversation the second it turned towards me being talked into something I didn’t want. I heard all the speil again about how it’s a more controlled dose with direct delivery, hence less/no side effects. He told me that he knew me and he had seen all of my scans and that he was sure this was going to help me, and that I was going to ‘love it’! I don’t know about that, but he also told me that if I didn’t get on with it I could just attend a walk in centre and get it taken out, there and then. I signed the consent form.
Maybe another hour and a surgial nurse turned up and told me to get into my porta-bed thing because we were off. Next stop, theatre room six, or more specifically the anaesthetic room on the edge of theatre room six. I met the nice anaesthetist again, he went over the procedure (and my date of birth) again and proceeded to fit a canula to administer the good drugs. By ‘proceeded’ I mean ‘dug a needle painfully around my hand without any hope of finding a vein’. Twice.
Note 2- if you’ve not had a surgery before you might find the anaesthetic room a handy place to start freaking out. I mean, what is actually happening right now? Some people are going to give me some massive drugs then cut into me? How do they know I wont feel it? Don’t some people wake up? What if it goes wrong what did I actually consent to if it goes wrong and how do they know what is going wrong until its all fucked and I’m missing three pints and a spleen and how the fuck is this bloke in charge when he can’t even fit a fucking canula?!?!?!!? The nurse gave me a pat when the tears set in, then more importantly she gave me a mask to breathe through. It smelled absolutely rank. I was told to take deep breaths. It wasn’t working, it tasted awful. Then I felt really chilled.
Then I woke up.
It is the weirdest thing, a snap, from gross tasting mask to unfortunately puking over another nurse, and a good amount of myself.
Note 3- Nurses are ridiculously awesome, and even though they have probably seen worse than you, they deserve more so much more recognition. And money. Thank you, nurses.
It turns out me and general anaesthesia are not buddies, and I came around in a manner that involved a lot of sick (how?!?!) and a minor bedwetting incident (horror).
Note 4- despite having just had a bunch of strangers and a student look up your fanny while you are asleep, you will be more concerned about the dignity loss of puking so hard that you peed yourself.
I had two loads of no-sick drugs and an angelic dose of fentanyl before I was together enough to speak to my surgeon, who showed me some stills of my innards.
Note 5- even a healthy ovary is a weird looking thing.
He told me he had found endometriosis, and I felt a weird rushing relief. It was there. Now we know. Let’s get the fuck on with it. He also told me that due to bladder involvement, he had not attemped an excision so I had some MRI request paperwork to fill out and he would see me in four months. Then he was off.
My partner was waiting in my little cubicle when they took me back in, and he spent a good half hour being amused by my generally stoned state. The feeling came back to my legs. The lovely ward nurse bought me the best cup of tea I have ever had, and then a couple of slices of toast with lots of butter and jam. I half-joked about the low quality of their marmalade.
With some help from the OH I got out of my gown and into my massive pants and maxi dress. I went for a pee.
Note 6- Once you’ve had some toast and a pee, it’s game over and you are out of there.
Once we had filled out the MRI referral form my partner was hurried out by a nurse who told him to get the car then ring when he was outside and not to worry about the double yellows. Eight and a half hours after checking in I got a little bag with my discharge letter, spare dressings and a sick note and I walked myself out to meet my chariot home.
Done. Not so scary afterall.