Hospital days

Having a quiet day today. Did a couple of hours of work this morning because I had meetings booked, but did them hurting. Today isn’t a good day but I’ve dosed myself up with some endone and paracetamol and spent the last couple of hours sitting on the couch.

I was back at the hospital last Wednesday for a procedure to fix the hearing in my right ear, as I described yesterday. I’d been there the Thursday before for a check-up when they’d come up with a solution to my hearing problem. The plastics specialists had also looked at my mouth and figured they needed to do something about that as well. They had concerns that it was cancer causing the issues in my mouth. I thought that unlikely, as has been proven since.

I was glad to be back in hospital getting looked at. When you’re in my situation every little bit counts if it means you’re closer to being healthy again.

I was in the hospital at 10am. I turned up to the same place I did all those months ago when I had the big surgery on August 12. Same place, much different vibe.

Going back I had all those memories return to me. This time I was there for a relatively simple day procedure. I has no nerves. I just wanted it done.

I wanted it done the time before too. I remember fearing every day delayed was an extra day for the cancer to take hold. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was probably nervous, though I don’t remember it. Fourteen hours of surgery was a spooky concept. What if something went wrong? And I knew that being under for 14 hours was tricky. I was going to get cut, never a pleasant prospect. I didn’t know how id look coming out of it. Hell, I didn’t even know if the surgery would be a success. But, it had to be done and, no matter what I felt, that was the bottom line.

I remember getting there early in the morning. It was 7am and still dark outside. The fluorescent lights were bright and there was the air of controlled urgency in the ward. I was given a gown and asked to change into it. My clothes were put into a locker and then I was taken aside by a couple of plastic surgeons to discuss options. It was all very efficient. Within 20 minutes I was lying in a trolley bed. Ten minutes after that I was in an operating theatre with doctors and nurses bustling around me. Five minutes later I was out to the world. And about 15 hours later I came to in a very strange place.

There was none of that urgency last Wednesday. I was there at 10am and, as before, quickly changed into hospital smock and gown – but it was near three before I was wheeled into the theatre.

I sat and waited. I didn’t feel impatient. I didn’t even have my phone and there was nothing to entertain me but my thoughts, and a television over my head showing prosaic daytime TV.

It was busy. Most of the othe4 patients were middle-aged men. They seemed more vulnerable all in hospital gowns. There were no signs of status or background. One man, his silver hair close-cropped, had the palest of blue eyes, opened wide, as if from fear. When his name was called one of the other patients told him: “have fun!”. He responded as he went by, “Do my best.”

It was the sort of locker-room antics men resort to in times like that, but I didn’t approve altogether. It felt dishonest somehow, and insensitive.

I sat there as the man who made the comment regaled another another man with his story, and particularly the story of his brother, a drummer in a rock band. It was the sort of conversation best experienced vicariously, but I recognised the need of the man to let things out. It was his fourth visit in a month.

I was, as always, observant of the things around me, and questioning when the opportunity arose. This was a step on the journey towards being my healthy self again.

I remember the small, curious things after that. I remember an oxygen mask being clasped tight to my face and being told to breathe deeply. I breathed in perhaps three times, then everything went out, as quick and clean as that – as if someone had flicked a switch.

And I remember sometime later opening my eyes and I’m in a different room and beside me is a woman talking, as if she’s flicked the switch to turn me on again. The procedure has been a success. Time has passed. Somewhere along the line they also did a CT scan. And I’m lying there groggily while the woman, and then the surgeon (the same guy who did my surgery in August) talk to me.

He reassures me. We won’t know the results until the biopsy is checked, but he didn’t see anything that suggested cancer. That was good enough for me. There was inflammation and signs of infection – they’d cleared out some pus from my sinus – but that was it. There was bone exposed in my mouth and nose and someone would talk to me about.

I was taken to a recovery room. I had a sandwich and a cup of tea. I was given some medication and ear drops to take home with me and told howto use them. I dressed and then was taken downstairs for my lift home.

They told me I couldn’t spend the night alone, just in case, and so I went to the Cheeses. I had dinner there and a long conversation and watched some of the Shane Warne memorial with Cheeseboy. It took a while for me to sleep in the unfamiliar surroundings, but next day I felt more vibrant than had for a long time.

Overnight, my ear had crackled and popped and by morning some hearing had returned. Days later, I’d guess I have about 70% of my hearing returned in that ear, though I don’t have the clarity of hearing I did before. Not yet anyway.

In about a month I return for what should be my last surgery, give or take some dental stuff. I’ll be in hospital for a few days and will leave with the plate and all the foreign bits and pieces removed from my mouth and cheek. It should lead to much less pain, and less infection too, as the surgeon seemed to think that is the cause of the other problems.

Time will tell.

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