Spinal Surgery and Happy Juice

I arrived on time at the hospital, both physically and mentally prepared to have my lower back operated on. It is a pretty daunting feeling to know you’re having spinal surgery, and to be honest, I have been playing it down as not a big deal. In fact it was my dear friend, and physiotherapist, who helped this plight truly settle in. I thought of it as a back operation, but it was only when she said ‘Grant! your having spinal surgery, its a big deal’. Despite this, those going to have spinal surgery still need to walk the full length of the bloody hospital to be admitted. The architect for that place has obviously never been injured.

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Sitting down in my designated bed area, I’m the only one in there. Yet all the nurses get on with their daily activities and duties. Like re-stocking the bucket with crutches, I might need them later. A few more people arrive and sit down, all with similar internal emotional content as myself. Its probably not that obvious to see in someone unless you know that you are also in the same frame of mind. Now, I noticed that I had the biggest bed in the ward so I was pretty smug with myself, but deep down I know its because of the operation I am due to have. That smugness quickly starts to turn to that ‘oh shit’ feeling.

Now that most of the patients have arrived, all the nurses begin to fill the room. First I get my blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate taken, and then another nurse asks me, at 31 years old, if I am wearing dentures. I found that a little bit offensive but I didn’t really want to make an awkward moment of it so I managed to let that one pass. Still, it was a bit embarrassing when she noticed I had put my hospital gown on the wrong way. I quickly sorted that out, but the next thing that someone having spinal surgery should be aware of is that you will be asked to wear stockings. I was the only in for spinal surgery. Everyone else around me were having injections or epidurals. The guy next to me was having his coccyx manipulated, he might find it hard going to the toilet for at least a few weeks.

One thing I did realize in this particular hospital is that people talk loud. Two nurses can be stood next to each other, and have no need to shout, but seem to continue telling everyone on the ward that they are having chips and egg for tea. I also had to listen to a nurse give a story for every item that was in her fridge. Don’t get me wrong these nurses’ are amazing people for what they do, but it’s safe to say that they are a little bit nutty. Except the anesthetist. She was a very straight talking indian woman, who, if she enjoyed her job, she certainly didn’t show it. And I’m not sure if this is irony or not, but she also a had a cold. But then everything stops for a moment, because the surgeons arrive. They are like rock start to the nurses. Three or four nurses around each one. Following and listening and writing. They maybe rock stars to the nurses, but all I can think about is ‘this guy  best not screw my back up’.

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I had said to people who I work with that I’m not too worried about the general anesthetic, but this surgeon guy is going to be playing with my spinal cord, and it’s that which had me worried deep down. What did strike me was the fact that surgeons wear white wellies. Well I think they should be white, because one guy clearly hadn’t cleaned the blood stains off of his. Hmmm comforting… They all eventually leave the ward to go and sign autographs for the nurses or something, which leaves all the people just waiting to be called to have their operations and injections. It was only men in that particular ward, and when men wear hospital gowns, especially the elderly men, they seem to be comfortable with letting  it all hang out. I immediately had a sudden urge to go and get my operation done. Luckily I only had to wait an hour, which I spent with Bradley Wiggins’ book. I get marched to what can only be described as a ‘holding room’ where they put you under general anesthetic, and I’m pretty sure the anesthetist shouldn’t be calling it ‘happy juice’.

It wasn’t bloody happy juice. When I woke after surgery I felt horrible. The physio had me up on my feet after an hour and within 20 seconds I was ready to be sick. So, I lead back down into the position I felt most comfortable. The nurse then tells me I could go home, which was great news considering I was expecting to be held in for a night. The second I got home, I was sick. My body does not agree with Morphine. That lady with the cold can keep her happy juice, I’l be fine without it, but I’m keeping my stockings.

Anyway, all done now, here’s to 12 weeks rest!

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