It is only very vague memories that I can recall from that first night. The tightness on my arm as my blood pressure is monitored, ghostly movements by my side as drip rates are adjusted, but mostly I sleep until there is a blaze of intrusive early morning light as the ward is awakened.
The protocol now is to be up on the first post operative day, to begin mobilising as soon as possible, and so a very helpful nurse steadies me out from the bed and into the chair. I’m very conscious not to entangle the many tubes still attached and it takes some skilful adjustments until my catheter is safely hanging from the bed rail and my drip no longer beeping it’s annoying alarm. I’m still only wearing the theatre gown so she has very kindly put a sheet on the chair so the wipe clean plastic doesn’t stick to any bare flesh.
I can control my own pain relief, I move a bit, it hurts and I am able to press a button for a shot of morphine. The pump then locks and I have to wait a prescribed amount of time before another dose is allowed. The morphine makes me feel sick and light headed, maybe the pain is preferable?
All is quiet in the bowel, no rumblings or murmurings but a deathly silence as it decides to sleep perhaps in protest against being manhandled and cut apart. That’s fine as with my catheter in place I don’t need to worry about the huge trek that it feels a journey to the toilet would entail.
It is a strange experience being a patient. Many years ago I was a nurse, I have worked on surgical wards and been responsible for caring for people like me now. Even with my mind in a post anaesthetic and narcotic fog I am still watching what happens around me with a critical eye and I am reassured by what I see and the high professional standard of care I am given.
The daily routine of the ward carries on, people come and go, I go back to bed then get up again, I’m monitored and checked, asked about my pain and nausea, given medication and offered food but I have no appetite. People visit and I get tired and then the visitors go and I sleep and all the while I am on the journey to recovery, in a safe place as my body begins to heal and knit back together.