Monday, 20 June 2011

The End of the Beginning

My operation was arranged for Monday 16 May.  I was admitted at 7 am and told that I was second on Mr Patel's list.  I went into theatre at 10 am and was returned to a ward at 4.30 pm.  I awoke in recovery to the sight of Mr Patel with a hacksaw cutting the pins to size! 

As well as a general anaesthetic I was given an epidural so the pain was controlled very well.  I now have a large piece of what looks like heavy duty meccano attached to my right thigh.  It consists of three metal circles held together by metal bars and kept in place by eight pins screwed into my bone. It starts about two inches above my knee and finishes about an inch below my crotch.  The top two circles are connected by six struts with numeric scales which can be extended by turning a screw.

I was given a bed in a bay of six beds. The other patients were recovering from hip replacements.  The five nights that I spent there were a bit of a nightmare - sleep was a rare commodity.  Opposite was an old guy called George, very frail, unable to stand unsupported, who had a penchant for trying to get out of bed in the early hours of the morning.  Being opposite him I was the only one aware that this was happening so it fell to me to ring for a nurse to tuck him back in again.  Next to George was Steven who suffered from some kind of dementia and throughout the night, unaware that he was in hospital, would shout at an increasing volume for various people.  Add to this a guy who thought he was having a heart attack and another one who fell down on the way to the toilet on his walking fame and you get some idea of what the nights were like!

After a couple of days I was advised that the epidural would be slowly phased out and replaced by slow release morphine taken orally.  The epidural was turned down and the pain increased.  After a few hours I complained about the pain and the epidural was turned up again but it made no difference.  It transpired that the epidural had become disconnected from my back and was simply pumping its analgesic into the matress!

By Friday I had been assessed by Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy and was given the go ahead to be discharged on Saturday.  There was a short hiccup when I discovered on Friday night that one of the pins had become detached from the frame but Mr Patel made a few adaptations on Saturday morning and I was home for 5 pm.

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