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Dr John Hawkins

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The Operation

Posted on 2008/07/22 17:11:09 (July 2008).

[Saturday 19th July]
So today was the day of my hernia operation, which, as per yesterday's entry, I was somewhat anxious about, despite it being a very routine surgical procedure. The hospital had requested that I show up at 7AM, which meant getting up at 6AM so I could have a shower and get my things together. We actually walked to the hospital, given that it is only about a 20 minute stroll away, which felt a bit odd, knowing that later on that day I'd be in no fit state to walk back.

The actual operation wasn't until 9:30, which meant there was a lot of waiting around, which would probably be my only criticism of an otherwise very well run hospital. I'm sure if I hadn't arrived until 8AM I'd still have had plenty of time to do all the tests and get changed into my surgical gown (or whatever you call those things) etc. Anyhow, it wasn't so bad, thanks to my company's medical insurance I was having the whole thing done privately, which meant it was a very pleasant hospital, and I even had my own private room to wait in. It felt more like being in a hotel really.

Once we'd been through all the tests etc, signed some paperwork, and had a quick chat with the surgeon and the anesthetist, I was then called for just before 9:30 to head down to theatre. Chie headed off to go and do some shopping at this point - I thought it would be better to go and take her mind off it rather than hanging around the hospital.

The staff got me to walk as far as the lift, then oddly asked me to get onto a stretcher in the lift. I was then wheeled the rest of the way, an experience I found oddly amusing - I guess it reminded me of the opening sequence to Police Squad / The Naked Gun. Then they wheeled me into the anesthetic room, which was tiny - just enough space for the stretcher and a doctor to stand either side.

I asked the anesthetist how long it would take for the anesthetic to take effect, and he said "10 seconds, unless you're about to defy medical science".

"Oh", I replied, "is that 10 seconds from now" - as they had just put some sort of syringe in my left hand.

"No", he said presumably after actually pressing the plunger, "10 seconds from now".

I didn't actually get a chance to count up to 10.

The next thing I remember is waking up, what I think was about an hour and a half or two hours later, in the recovery room. I felt surprisingly not that bad at all - I'd expected to wake up feeling in pain and/or feeling sick from the anesthetic, and there wasn't really any semblance of either. I almost wasn't sure if they'd actually done any surgery at all! I also thought I'd be a lot groggier than I was, but it only seemed like a few minutes before I felt comfortable to talk to the nurse.

I have to say, I'm incredibly impressed with modern anesthetics - the whole process was pretty much completely free of any kind of discomfort or anguish. I'd always imagined the healthcare industry as being a lot more like "this is going to hurt and you're just going to have to accept that", whereas in fact, at least in this hospital, the whole thing felt like a really customer focused service - they really went out of their way to make sure I was as comfortable as I could possibly be.

Shortly after waking up, and the nurses performing a couple of tests, I was then wheeled back to my room to convalesce. My first thought was of course to phone Chie, and to my pleasant surprise I'd found I was able to use my mobile in my room - the nurse even fished it out of my bag for me. By this time it was around midday, so it had only been about two and a half hours since I'd waved her off to go shopping, I think she was really quite surprised to be hearing my voice so soon.

I also attempted to phone round all the family and let them know how I'd got on, only discover that absolutely everyone was out! What a cheek! I did however manage to use the internet access on my mobile to leave a couple of messages on the message board - I think I can safely lay claim to the first ever posts from a hospitable bed.

The surgeon popped round after a while to tell me everything had gone according to plan. Apparently (as we'd known all along) it wasn't a very severe hernia, so there wasn't really a huge amount to do. He'd just put the piece of mesh in to help mend the split and it was all pretty straightforward really. A short while later I plucked up the courage to take a quick peek at my wounds - it didn't look too bad, as it was all done by keyhole I just had three small incisions, each covered up with a small dressing. There was a little bit of blood, but nothing too horrendous.

Once Chie had got back from shopping we had lunch in my room. The food was pretty basic, but it wasn't bad - and I suppose I didn't really have much of an appetite for anything very rich or fancy after having just had my bowels cut open! I was quite pleased to discover that I was actually allowed to eat so soon after the operation. The menu mentioned that a wine list was available on request which I found rather impressive - although obviously given that I was still pumped full of a cocktail of anesthetics and other drugs I wasn't even going to consider it. Still, I thought that was very civilised. I guess that's just what one expects from private hospitals in Chelsea!

We then had a few more hours to wait in the room before I was ready to be discharged - the anesthetic takes a while to wear off, and for the first hour or so even getting up to go to the toilet was a bit of a struggle... but I wasn't really in any serious pain, and didn't feel nauseous or anything really. I felt really rather full of beans, all told, I'd imagined it would be much worse than this.

During the course of the afternoon I did eventually manage to get in touch with most of my family - my Dad was on Bardsey Island, so could only call when he was on a certain part of the island where his mobile can get reception. Everyone seemed to have been very relaxed about the whole thing - it seems the only person who had done any serious fretting over it was me!

Eventually around 4:30 the nurse came to hand me a bag of medicine (pain killers and ant-inflammtories) and told me it was ok for me to go home. So I got dressed (which required considerable assistance from Chie) and went down to reception, where we had them order us a taxi to go back home.

We were back home by around 5, and I spent the rest of the evening on the sofa. I found I was pretty comfortable, and not in any real pain to speak of, as long as I stayed pretty much still. However, trying to stand up, or sit back down again, or get in or out of bed were all fairly painful operations... as were coughing or laughing, but I suppose that was to be expected.

Chie made pasta for dinner, and following the nurses' advice I also made sure to eat some fruit - a banana and some yoghurt with cherries in.

We then spent the remainder of the evening watching Finding Neverland, which I'd recorded off the telly a few months back, and hadn't got around to watching until now. It was rather charming, albeit a bit sad, and a generally very relaxing way to round off the big day.

I'd got the whole of the next two weeks booked off work, not sure yet if I'll actually need all of that time to recover. I have to go back to the hospital on Monday 28th for a check-up - I guess if the consultant tells me he's happy for me to go back to the office after that, then I probably will.

Comment 1

Did they cured the finger disease as well?

Posted by Lox at 2008/07/22 21:31:21.

Comment 2

Lox, I fear Spaggy fingers are incurable.

Posted by kev at 2008/07/23 23:27:37.

Comment 3

Kev: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO you broke me heart!! Poor old John...

Posted by Lox at 2008/07/24 18:54:13.

Comment 4

For your last hernia, as a baby, before you could talk and tell us what was wrong, you threw up in the back of the car on the way to hospital. Having been through it once, we weren't going to be so worried a second time!

Posted by John's Mum at 2008/07/25 08:57:58.

Comment 5

JM: Marvellous tale that one! :D

Posted by Lox at 2008/07/25 20:53:41.

Comment 6

Lox, I fear Spaggy fingers are incurable.

Posted by kev at 2008/07/27 18:47:58.

Comment 7

Kev: have you entered some kind of time warp?

Posted by John at 2008/07/27 22:15:15.

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