Tuesday, January 29, 2019


This is just another piece about a hospital operation, an occurrence that always gives one time to think and scribble a few words – words that the squeamish might well pass by.
Some time in the middle of 2017 I suggested to a doctor that I might have a hernia. No, I hadn’t. Later, another doctor said: Yes, I had.
So the wonderful National Health Service system, in which I believe so wholeheartedly, put their wheels in motion.
I saw a specialist in hospital. And after some months was given a date for a pre-op and another for the operation.
In the meantime I had bought a truss from a local chemist and fitted it to my body. This was an enormous help in pushing my guts back into my belly. By hand it had been a rather unpleasant experience.
Unfortunately, this tight-fitting appliance caused soreness and some fungal infection – the latter cured by Margreet after referring to the medical diagnostic part of her computer.
Then came some lateral thinking. These minor afflictions were caused when the truss structure was next to the skin. Why did I not put on pants first and the truss outside them? This I did, and with a daily change of fresh pants I had no further trouble.
The pre-op was to discover what pills I was taking, my medical history, and that of my family. This was followed by a lady anaesthetist who advised me on the injections that I was to give myself before the operation instead of taking my regular Warfarin tablets. 
The trouble with this was that the dose was only part of the volume in each syringe, and its markings in red were almost impossible for me to see.
So I used a black dye marker to make it easier to see when I should stop injecting the solution. This was a rather haphazard procedure as I plunged the needle into folds on my stomach. But what’s a millilitre or two more or less?
Finally the great day arrived. I appeared at the hospital around 6.30 in the morning and was conducted to a cubicle with a bed on which lay a surgical smock, surgical stockings in a packet that was very hard to penetrate and a pair of slippers-cum-socks.
I enquired if the dress should be open at the back or front – the back. If my blood pressure was normal beforehand, struggling to put on the surgical stockings must have raised it a notch or two.
The first of the blue-costumed and clogged personal to appear was the anaesthetist. To ensure that he would not kill me I mentioned, in passing, that my grandfather was a pioneer and the first anaesthetist to be knighted. But I’m sure it made no difference.
Then came the surgeon and the Big Boss who was dressed in a city suit.
I gave them all out-of-date copies of some of my books. This gesture always goes down well as people seem to think that even having written but one book makes you someone of note.
Then I was led to the anaesthetic room on foot to lie down on the operating trolley and have stickers with wires applied to my skin and needles shoved into it.
        Then I was wheeled across a corridor to the surgery where the surgeon barked out a few orders before I woke up with the operation concluded.
It was curious that I should recover from a total anaesthetic rather than the local one proposed. And when I came to take off the dressing a few days later there was no sign of the keyhole surgery promised but an incision needing eighteen stitches. So I now consider myself to be rather lucky that the surgeon who operated on my hernia had not changed his mind again and dealt with some other unsuspecting body part.
Anyhow, a post-op room came next, and then another from which I was released with an instruction that after taking off the dressing I was to leave the stitched wound to dry and heal uncovered – a procedure of which I most thoroughly approve. 
Margreet came to collect and take me home 5 ½ hours after I was admitted to the hospital.
I had had a hernia sewn up some 70 years before when I was a medical student, and remember the weeks of pain before I could stand up straight. As I was taken home, with the effects of the anaesthetic wearing off, I realised that this time it might well be just as bad.
A bottle of Morgon 2010 that evening, donated by a grateful neighbour, helped, but pain-killers were needed. Even adapting the now worthless truss to something that would keep the dressing temporarily in place was of little help and rightfully abandoned.
With the stitches out ten days after the operation, I was committed to weeks of discomfort and inactivity. But at least I had the wonderful feeling of freedom again.