The Game of Life

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Chunderpants's picture

So tomorrow morning I go into hospital...again. This is the second attempt at an operation I call a "Gallstonectomy" in my laymans language. It has a proper medical name but I can't remember it. Essentially they want to whip out my gallbladder because I have gallstones, and gallstones can lead to Pancreatitis. After surviving Severe Acute Pancreatitis in 2001, getting it again would be classed as "not a good result"

I first got the affects of the gallstones about 12 months ago at work. It was AGONY!! Eventually after driving home and it getting no better I went into A&E and eventually saw a doctor who determined it was probably gallstones, gave me an injection in the arse cheek whereupon after a 30 minute lay down it was like being reborn...seriously it went from "I'm dieing" to "Thank you Jesus".

A scan about 4 months later confirmed the little blighters and then a follow up to my GP was made to arrange for a consultation with a view to booking surgery. Thats when it started to go all cock-eyed. First they arranged for me to see a consultant at a new hospital close to me and on meeting him the first thing he said was that it wasnt the kind of operation they did there...groan!
Some months later another consultant was arranged and I saw him. He advised me that it was normally a keyhole operation however it may be slightly more complicated with me due to previous abdominal surgery. I may have to have a full open surgery. Apparently after my old operation my internal organs would be inclined to gravitate towards my skin, and as a consequence when they cut into me they wont know if they are cutting in to something they dont want to....oh thrilling! However the odds of me getting pancreatitis from leaving it was too great to not have the op.

At a later time I then had a pre-op assessment where they weight you, measure you, ask questions, etc and said it would mean the operation would be within the following 3 months. That didnt happen but eventually I got a letter through in January telling me my op was scheduled for Early March. All through this time since March last year I have been suffering bouts of the body cramps. You can never catch it with pills before its agony so not pleasant.

So the day arrived and I caught the bus at 7.00am, arrived in the ward, sat around with other sick and dead people for ages, then was seen by the nurses, surgeon and anesthetist and then put on a drip because my blood sugars were too high. What was to be a morning operation turned into the afternoon, then at 3.00pm they got me on the trolley and wheeled me into the pre-theatre room, connected all the cables, about to put the gas mask on my face and then....

A woman who called herself the Head Anesthetist came through the operating theatre doors and said "Im afraid I'll have to cancel this operation". Seriously? My feet were practically inside the bloody room! How close can you get?
Her reasoning was sound - she said that she felt it would be a complicated operation and was concerned that I would need close post op care and supervision that could only be got from the Intensive Care Unit rather than a normal ward. Unfortunately there were no beds available in ICU so I was wheeled back to my bed, whereupon my wife was amazed to see me so soon, got dressed, cables and tubes removed and ran to get a sandwich. I hadnt eaten for nearly 24 hours.

Although I respect here decision, what I never got answered was this: After seeing various nurses, consultants, anesthetist, GP over a number of appointments, why did it apparently come down to a chance last minute look at my historical notes before alarms were considered? What would have happened if she hadn't been there or just hadnt looked, and something had gone wrong?

You know beforehand I wasn't scared or worried...okay I got a little itchy as we were waiting in the pre-theatre room but that's natural I'd guess. I received the new operation appointment letter a week or so ago and kid of wish they had forgotten me.

I'm really not sure I am going to make it through this. Everyone says "oh you'll be fine" but unfortunately everyone who says that aren't doctors or surgeons. I'm more or less discouraged from saying it anymore and have to resort to making it a jokey comment. My wife and kids dislike me being so morose and wont discuss it but then how do you say "I love you" and discuss what to do in case? Ignoring it doesn't make it go away, but instead makes it worse for them if I don't make it through. I guess that's the way it has to be. Of course a fair sized part of my brain is also agreeing with the "don't be silly" comments. I mean statistically I should be okay...okay?

Oh well I guess we'll see eh? I wouldn't want to go to the bookies on this one though :)

I wont say "goodbye" to you all, and I wont say what good friends I think of you all as because the part of me that says "doofus" thinks its stupid to say such rubbish and then post back here in a few weeks time with "woohoo I made it" and be all embarrassed. However...


Gormash's picture

Aw man, that's utterly fucked up.
Seems like things would have gone a lot smoother if the doctors had spent 10 extra minutes each to REALLY read through your files so you could get to the right hospital and the right treatment right away. :-/

I'm rootin' for you, ol' chum!

tanitha's picture

When developing a new piece of software (You're not software :) ) we have multiple safety checks and multiple reviews. Different people go over the process and can raise their concerns. Same with a new hire in the company (You're not one of them either), anybody in the team they are joining has a veto right. You don't have to explain, you can just put your hand up and say: "I don't want us to hire this person". No questions asked.

It sounds to me like you got caught at one of the later reviews and somebody sensibly pulled the plug on that instance. Yes, inconvenient but from what you say it sounds like exactly the right thing to do.

I'm thinking of you and praying for you, mate. Post back when you're back in Battlefield.

Chunderpants's picture

I am back home again now. Its Saturday morning and I came home last night. Basically the operation went very well but there were a few twists;

So almost immediately after writing my post above I left work - there was nothing left for me to do - and as I got out into the car park my mobile rang. Normally I dont answer unsolicited numbers as they are almost always selling credit, loans, or how to claim for some kind of accident I never had but this time I did and it was a lady called Gillian who said she was going to be my anesthetist from the hospital and asked if I could go in that evening for an overnight stay before the operation so they could get my blood sugars where they wanted them on a sliding scale Insulin IV drip. So I rushed home, had a quick dinner and got the bus to the hospital for 8pm.

I saw Gillian in the ward shortly after being shown to my bed...I cannot express sufficiently how much of a beautiful woman she was. I'd guess she was in her mid 20's and yes she was physically beautiful but she also had an aura of friendliness and confidence about her too which enhanced it. I've not met many people like that. Anyway, we talked about my operation and the plans available to cope with the pain & then she said that Michael Booth was to be my surgeon. Well you wont know this but 10 odd years ago when I had my Severe Acute Pancreatitis, he was the surgeon who...well basically saved my life. He was also the man who operated on me a couple of years alter to put the hernia mesh inside my abdomen, so I guess he knows my insides literally better than anyone. Apparently he remembered me so when he saw I was coming in he made sure he was around to do the operation. Isn't that fantastic? Seriously, my confidence in the results went up twofold.

Obviously I didn't get a great deal of sleep that night, what with them checking my blood sugars with the pricky jabber thing every hour, having a cannula in my arm, then all the beeping and moving about in the ward...oh and some guy opposite me who I thought must have a hairball in his throat. He'd cough and cough and you could tell there was a lump in there by the sound, then just as you thought "the next one will do it mate", he'd give up. Then he'd start again a little while later. Then one or two beds to my left there was some old geezer who was clearly incontinent. I had overheard someone talking about a nappy earlier, well I guess during the night it filled to bursting...ewww! Very ripe.

The next day dawned and yup I was wide awake to see it. My op was scheduled around 9.00 to 9.30 and I saw mr Booth and Gillian and others who all looked at my abdomen and poked it here and there. The theory was that they would make a small incision on the left and stick a camera inside. The Gallbladder is on the right side so he hoped to be able to see a route across to it and assess what was in the way. A number of my organs would be stuck together due to scarring from the previous surgery - a natural thing to happen - and he may need to dissect & cut them apart in order to get to the gallbladder. Once he was there he would cut up the gallbladder into pieces then remove it a bit at a time through another incision on the right. He said there was a small risk of them not being able to get at it at all, but that was remote, and there was also the likelihood of damaging the bile duct, intestines, etc which would result in me having to walk around for a few months with it hanging out of me before they would stuff it back in. Not a pleasant thought! However he came across as very confident in a good result.

(.30 came and went and at around 9.50 the porters came to trolley me down to the operating theatre. It was like a small party in the pre-op room; including myself there must have been 6 of us in there, even the head anesthetist from last times failed operation. After various checks and things being attached they inserted the anesthetic solution into my drip and I dozed off, quite calmly I have to say.

Have to carry this on later as I can't sit for too much longer...stomach stuff you know.

tanitha's picture

I am very glad you're back home and posting and chipper.

Stigg's picture

That is crazy! Glad to hear everything went well! Very great that the doctors were able to sort everything out (finally)!

Chunderpants's picture

Continuing - for those interested.

I came round groggily in the recovery room. This was a huge room with I'd say about 16 to 20 beds in it, a nurse at the foot of each pair monitoring the patients. I assume they inject some "Revive-Me" tonic into the drip otherwise I'd be in snuggles land forever. The nurse chatted on and off with me about various things. She said that I had been in the theatre for 3 hours and 50 minutes and that the operation was a success using keyhole surgery and I wouldn't need to go to ICU. After a while some porters & a nurse from the ward came down and we went up to my bed where my family were waiting. They had been at the hospital for some time but had only just been allowed onto the ward on hearing I was due to arrive. I think I spent most of the time with them dozing on and off so they didn't stay for long

I had a really dry sandwich to eat - ate half, mostly drank water in order to free the sandwich from inside my throat.

That night the guy in the bed across from me was clearly trying to expel a hairball or part of a sandwich. He would build up the coughs - you could tell there was something inside he was trying to get rid if - then just as you thought the next one would do it he bloody gave up! Then in another half hour or so he'd start again.

Then the old guy in the bed to my left who I knew had a nappy on...well lets just say he overfilled it. Fortunately I had been given an oxygen mask to use after the operation which managed to keep out most of the odour. Of course, I was also being a problem for people I expect because for some reason surgery seems to induce post op hiccups in me. Seriously - I get these hiccups that continue unstoppable for about an hour before I fall asleep exhausted. I think I had 4 or 5 attacks of it overnight, which unfortunately also aggravated my wounds making it quite painful.

These hiccups continued off and on all the next day (Thursday) as well, but the Morphine self dosing thing was working very well and I could turn over slowly onto either side. During the afternoon they disconnected one of the cannula needles and removed all of the machines and drips and so I was left with just the pain killer and was able to get up and shuffle around. Its amazing how weak you feel after such a small time in bed but I guess most of it is due to the body's trauma.

That's kind of it I suppose. Obviously more stuff went on but its mostly boring and uneventful. I got released to go home on Friday late afternoon which I was pressing them for. I really didn't want to stay in there because of the high chance of catching something, also the food was pretty awful, and if I didn't get released on Friday I would have to wait until Monday as they don't do releases over the weekends.

That bit about the food...I don't remember it being so bad the last two times I was in there, but this time it was very poor. For example, on the menu for the following day you can pick one item from each section, so a starter, a main, a side, a desert and some snack. So on Friday lunch I picked Chicken Kiev as my main with mashed potato as my side. The Kiev was dry dry dry. No garlic sauce inside and even the meat was tasteless. So there was one chicken Kiev and 2 dollops of domed mash on the plate...the mash was pretty dry too. No gravy or sauce or vegetables...nothing. I ate 2 mouthfuls of kiev and a bit of mash then couldn't eat any more. Terrible!

DarthMuffin's picture

Really happy to learn that everything went well in the end. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

About the food part: I don't know what it's like elsewhere, but here in Canada I was once told that prisons have more money to make meals for their inmates than hospitals do for the patients.

tanitha's picture

I've heard the same about New Zealand. There are some interesting articles about hospital food though.

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