Thursday 2 July 2009

The Saga of the Gall Bladder

Well, I'm home!

The surgery took place on Monday. The surgeon seemed to think the gallstone which was stuck in my bile duct had passed, since I was no longer the colour of a Simpson. I was dubious, since I still hadn't eaten anything and thought that might have more to do with my healthier appearance. When they went in, it turned out the stone hadn't passed, and it took three and a half hours (instead of less than one) to scrape out my pulsating, swollen, inflamed gall bladder and fish out that nasty stone which had been preventing me from eating for the best part of a week.

Mr Z rang the hospital at 10 to hear that I'd gone in and should be out by 12. In the end I finally got back to my ward around 4pm, by which point he was fairly frantic, having been there for four hours without any updates from the ward staff. Snaps to him for keeping his cool, because I would have hit the roof if the positions had been reversed. I spent the evening sketching out on morphine and heroically refused more painkillers when I finally regained lucidity, a decision I regretted by morning, by which point I felt so sore that I thought I would never feel right again.

That passed quickly, though. A shower and an ice lolly (and the pain pills, natch) later and I was already well on the road to recovery. Tuesday night was a bit of a shocker, though. The heat was unbearable; there was a nightlight right above my bed (so I ended up actually sleeping on the side which had been operated on in an attempt to block out the brightness); two other patients had just come back from surgery so the nursing staff were clattering around them every couple of hours; I was in pain lying down and couldn't tilt my bed up because it was about a century old and didn't have a remote control thingie; and smell? Poor old Joyce in the next bed took care of that. Bless her, they gave her a senna capsule and, as I lay there in the dark, I'd hear, "Oh no! Oh no!" followed by some very lavatorial noises; and then her alert light would go on and the nurses would come and change her, and the bed. This happened 3 times.

When the doctor finally said I could go home on Wednesday (after making me wait four hours) I nearly wept. I couldn't get out quick enough.

I am feeling OK now, as long as I keep nice and still - perfect for marking. I can eat again, and I lost 12lbs throughout the incident. I'm excited to think that I never have to go through that pain again.

The nursing staff were amazing - just so helpful and patient. The woman in the bed opposite had me grinding my teeth within half an hour of being put on the ward but they kept their cool with her, and were completely unruffled and unperturbed throughout my entire stay. One even went and made me a sandwich with ham she'd run down to the canteen to get, when I said I wouldn't eat a hot meal for lunch. They absolutely keep that place running - I could count on the fingers of both hands the number of minutes I spent talking to doctors during my stay; my consultant didn't even come back to discharge me: he sent a junior doc who wasn't allowed to do it and had to ring him to confirm! But the nurses were stars (and the first doctor I saw - she was also quite good). Perhaps I should send them something.

Here endeth the tale of the gall bladder. It is gone; it cannot grow back. There does not seem to have been an impact on my digestion, that I can tell as yet. And really, it ended up being quite well timed, since now it won't interfere with my holiday, and it's a very quiet time at work.

Typically, my school won at the conference I'd spent all year setting up. That was the only bad thing about the timing, really.

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