In and out of St George's for a microdiscectomy and laminectomy in record time. In on Sunday, operation on Monday morning and out on Tuesday afternoon. And the surgeon didn't even do anything to my slipped disc, rather he cut out as much of the scar tissue as he could from previous operations which was clogging me up and 'cementing' against the spine, nerves and other organs, and cut off some bone (the laminectomy) to create more space for the nerves to move. And that was it.
I went in on Sunday afternoon, to Brodie Ward in Atkinson Morley Wing, which was odd since I'd been in Brodie Ward in Atkinson Morley's Hospital (when it was a hospital in Wimbledon) for my first microdiscectomy in 2000. The ward is split into bays with a different number of beds in each and I was in a bay of two beds, just me and another bloke who became the bane of my life what with his moaning and attention seeking at all hours of the day and night (mainly the night when he couldn't yammer away on his mobile to someone).
After a night of not much sleep I was woken at 6.40am for some tests, measured for some fetching white thigh-length stockings, showered and got into a backless ward-gown. Various doctors came to see me, check that I was me (repeating my name and date of birth endlessly), the anaesthetist came to explain what's what and check I could be sedated and then, about 8.15am I was wheeled through to the theatre. Again, they checked I was me, started putting needles in me and .... suddenly ... I was in post-op with a nurse leaning over me telling me it was all over and was a success. That was quick! Except it wasn't, it was a couple of hours later and I was wheeled back to the ward shortly after mid-day. All done, clipped together with 11 clips (instead of stitches), given pills (but no morphine machine, which was a disappointment) and lay in bed with a drip in my wrist and a drain out of my back taking away bits of scar tissue and debris.
I was full of drugs and they gave me pills every so often to keep me floating nicely, drifting in and out for a while, not too sore at all but not able to move because of the drip and drain. I even had a bit of late lunch and a cuppa. The surgeon came to see me to tell me what had been done - and that they hadn't accidently opened the nerve channel to let out nerve juices so I wouldn't need to lie in bed like last time, so that was good. Chris came in with supplies to keep me going and was there when the nurse became worried that I wasn't peeing despite drinking lots (they'd scraped scar tissue from around my bladder so had to be sure it wasn't affected). She came back with a portable scanner and proceeded to scan my belly to check my bladder and found it was full. Hey, I can't help it if I don't want to pee... I made up for it later though and filled two bottles - the night nurse was proud of me.
Despite being full of drugs I didn't get much sleep because the blokey started whinging as soon as visiting time was over, wanting the nurse, wanting his stockings (then wanting them off), huffing and puffing and getting himself into a right state until around 2am they gave him something to knock him out - he wasn't doing himself any favours by getting so stressed. The nurses kept apologising to me about him, which was nice of them, less so of him. He was obviously in pain and his way of handling it was to make a noise and make people run round after him. If I hadn't been stuck in bed I would've got up and left.
After a few hours sleep I was subjected to a few more tests in the morning, had the drip and drain removed, the wound re-dressed and was allowed up. Sitting up that first time is a painful experience I've had before, when all my body weight and the weight of the world focuses down on that wound where I've had bits of instruments and fingers in me... but it was so nice to sit up as well, and then, very gingerly, stand. Yay! I was up. A bit weak and light-headed so I held onto the frame of the bed as I moved round it to test my legs. Shortly afterwards I risked walking into the corridor to see how it felt to walk unaided (and partly to get away from loud blokey who was happy to be the centre of attention with the doctors this morning and then ringing everyone he could on his mobile to tell them the news).
More pills and lunch and I'm ready to leave. Staying in another day would've been for resting after the operation but I wasn't getting much of that so said I'd rather leave. Loaded down with pills and a letter to my GP to take the clips out in 10 days time and I was away! Stopping only to get some synthetic morphine pain-killers to dull the pain so I could get home. Chris came to get me and I was free again!
Of course, it took an age for the taxi to arrive and then the driver thought he'd be helpful and take the back streets to avoid the traffic and, naturally, all the back streets have speed-calming bumps so I was 'ouch! ouch! ouch!' all the way home as I was shaken, rattled and rolled all over the place. But at least I'm home! And I've finally slept like a baby.
I felt fine at first this morning, then the soreness started and I swallowed some pills. I'm getting about the flat ok but will leave it a day or so before trying the stairs to go out and start my daily walks as part of the recovery. I have a load of exercises to do and I'll start them this afternoon while lying on the bed. When I get the clips out and the dressing removed I'll start going swimming again and exercising more - I need to get fit again and lose a lot of weight so I don't end up going in for a fourth time... o no, I'm not!
And that's the tale of my operation this year. Hopefully the last one!