My latest operation, actually my thirteenth, was a mixture of seriousness and hilarity. Obviously having a tumour removed isn’t to be laughed at, but in my case I’ve had so many bodily parts removed it’s neither here nor there.
I was being admitted to Ward 5 which is a Day Case ward, and as soon as I arrived I could tell they were very busy. There were no beds available, the main waiting room was full and there were also people standing, but after so many admissions I have learnt what I will and will not accept. I staunchly refused to stand and demanded a chair. There was a small waiting room round the corner so at least I could sit down in some comfort to wait until a bed became free. Why the others remained standing completely bemused me. The bed never arrived and due to the level of overflowing patients, I eventually ended up on the eye section. This led me into one of the most bizarre medical worlds I have experienced.
I was told to sit in this massive chair that looked like a Lord of the Rings throne on wheels. There were about eight in the room in total and the other thrones were occupied by an elderly clientele whose faces painted a picture of I’m going to be electrocuted. All had big arrows on their foreheads pointing down at whichever eye was to be, presumably, operated on. A doctor wandered around introducing himself to everyone. I figured it had to be cataracts. He smiled at me. I smiled back whilst mumbling under my breath, “There’s no fecking way you’re going anywhere near my eyes mate.” Cathy told me to be quiet. He walked past towards another patient, pointed towards me and said “You’re next.” I shot back, “I don’t think so.”
A few minutes later he came towards me, the last of his ‘cataract patients’, with marker at the ready. He looked down his list. “You’re not Hettie are you?” he said. Do I look like a fecking Hettie to you? I replied - Well, actually I didn’t say that aloud, I just thought that line, what I really said was “Yes.I’m Hettie Edwards.” Cathy burst out laughing as he fingered through his list, got the joke and finally realised I wasn’t to have my eye operated on after all. By now I wanted to grab a marker and paint some arrows on my own face and join in the party atmosphere. Why did I have to be different to everyone else? Arrows had gained a new appeal.
The time was 1pm and I was due in theatre in half an hour. A doctor came round for a chat. Mumble mumble blah blah is all I heard as I noticed my consent form hadn’t been filled in and my thoughts wandered to where I was supposed to change into my sexy gown and paper pants as this was an open ward. 1.15pm and still nothing. 1.30pm a man arrived from theatre to take me down. I was still fully clothed and my consent form lay blank. They decided to fetch someone from theatre to fill this in. In the meantime I was told to change. “Where?” I asked. “In the toilet” was the answer. I trundled into the toilet to change. I put on my sexy paper pants, a gown, then another gown on back to front as a makeshift dressing gown and walked back out into the room full of arrow people complete with black shoes and socks which said Thursday even though it was a Wednesday. I suddenly decided I looked a complete twat and wanted the earth to swallow me up. My surgeon (who is brilliant) came in to fill in my consent form, looked surprised to see me sitting on my throne surrounded by eye patients and must have wondered what I was doing there, then said he’d be in theatre in five minutes as the hospital appeared to have misplaced one of his patients!
I took off my shoes as I was quite happy to walk to theatre in socks. Nope, that wasn’t going to happen. Big lecture on health and safety from a nurse who said it would take hours to complete the health and safety forms if I fell and repeatedly told me ‘Nobody, but nobody falls on shift’ At the same time I was thinking…if only I could fit both shoes inside your mouth.....but I’m not a violent person so thought better of it.
I sat down on the chair to put my shoes back on and this is where the whole thing gets silly. The only way I could get my shoes on in one of those Gandalf type chairs was to lift my legs up stirrup stye. My dignity had gone out of the window completely. I said to the nurse, “Don’t you realise that everyone across the room can see my bollocks hanging out and they’ve all got a birds eye view?” “Don’t worry” was the casual reply. “They’re all having cataract operations and can’t see three feet in front of them.” At that point we all burst out laughing. It was like a scene from a sitcom.
Off I went to theatre, which meant a quick local and forty minutes having my back sliced and the tumour removed. I actually liked the experience. As I’ve said before, the surgeon is a gifted wonderful man and we chatted throughout. When they started stitching me up outside the anaesthetised area and I yelped in pain, we talked at length about operations in the olden days before anaesthesia. I found out that the record for cutting a man’s leg off was two minutes. We chatted about astronomy (my degree subject) and I asked this poor nurse every question imaginable about what each piece of equipment did in the theatre. It went very well and before long it was goodbye tumour and back to the eye ward.
No marker arrows this time. Lots of people with half an easter egg over one eye. I chatted to a lovely lady next to me over a nice cup of tea and my afternoon was virtually complete. Clothes on, bit sore and back home by 4pm. Not too bad for a day’s work, even though I say so myself.
P.S. Unfortunately no pictures were taken that day although I was very tempted!