Facing The Unexpected
It was an unexpected shock to be sitting in the rooms of a cardiologist as he explained that it was necessary for me to have major, open heart surgery. My mind went into overdrive. Me? I have led an active and healthy life with few symptoms.
It is what it is. There was no denying the doctors words, that I could die of I don’t have the surgery.
With one week’s notice I indulged in retail therapy purchasing three pairs of glamorous pyjamas with buttons down the front. If I had to be in hospital, I wanted to look decent. The sales lady re-assured me that the items were very trendy and not old fashioned! I had my doubts.
I was now on the other side of the fence, from nurse to patient. It was not looking good.
X-rays, ECG, blood, weight, blood pressure and endless questions. A visit from the anaesthetist and assistant surgeon offering far too many details about what they were going to do to me. I could die if I didn’t have the surgery, BUT I could also die in surgery! My options were limited! I signed the form, giving consent to do what they needed to do.
The pyjamas remained in my suitcase. Instead, I wore a blue hospital gown with the opening at the back, to allow for all the tubes and wires attached to me in odd places.
Oh….. for a shower. This was not to be until day six due to a wire through my belly attached to my heart and a pacer.
‘If you get your wires wet, you’ll go BOOM,’ the nurse gleefully explained.
OK. I’ll stick with sitting on a plastic chair sponging myself around tubes and incisions and trying not to look at the oddly, unfamiliar face in the mirror.
I continued to order mouth-watering meals daily from the smiling lady who was not remotely interested in my full name and birthdate! (I was asked my full name and birthdate before any procedure or drug was administered. It became an automatic, response when someone entered the room.) Unexpectedly, I was unable to face the tasty selection on the tray. How is it possible to add five kg in six days without any food passing my lips?
I felt really well prior to this surgery, now I felt as if I’d been hit by a bus. How does that work?
The wonderful staff were pleased with my progress (I was fit and well before they butchered me!) that I was deemed ‘independent’ on the whiteboard in my room, meaning I could get myself to the bathroom, sponge myself with the many attachments without aide.
This necessitated early planning for a bathroom visit, way before I really felt the urge. It took time to pull myself up by straps, discard dozens of pillows which allowed for some comfort, unhook monitors and then potter slowly to the bathroom. I chose to go commando as it took too long with one arm to pull undies down as I attempted to keep the gaping back of my gown closed.
One very dear friend who broke ranks, (I had asked my friends not to visit me) concluded her visit with these parting words,
‘Jen, you understand we can’t be friends if you can’t drink wine,’ and then the final shot, ‘And please put on some undies!’
Thankfully we’re good friends and my taste for wine has gradually returned, and I do wear undies.
It was a happy day when I was driven home to sit in the garden with fresh air with my husband and family AND puppy. What a joy after being in air conditioning for a week.
I was cared for beautifully by the doctors and staff at John Flynn Hospital. My room was large, comfortable with a superb view across rooftops to the sea. Sadly, I was unable to enjoy the food, but it looked delicious!
Unexpected events in life lead to good things. I give gratitude for the doctors who have repaired me. The cardiologist assured me the new valve will last fifteen years, which takes me to ninety years of age!! Bring it on!
I’m the lucky one.
My replacement valve and repaired valve are both doing well. I’m slowly recovering and hoping to soon jump for joy when my creative juices start to flow and my ‘mojo’ returns!!
Jenny Old AUTHOR
‘Innocent Nurses Abroad’
‘Back of Beyond’