It was Thursday morning, it was ten past nine, I’d been up for half an hour, I’d had my blood pressure checked, I’d bought tickets to see Olly Murs in June 2017 that went on sale at 9am and I was eating my cereal when Dr Gooding’s came round…
“It’s bad news I’m afraid Hayley, your bloods from yesterday show your body is rejecting the drugs so you need to have surgery tomorrow. If you don’t have surgery tomorrow, you most likely won’t make it to the end of the weekend so we need to operate sooner rather than later. You’re not strong enough to have it today, so we need to take you off the ciclosporin and put you on a drip of potassium for the rest of the day to bring your levels up because you’re having surgery first thing in the morning.”
I just cried.
It was all too real and I couldn’t cope – I just wanted to wake up and for it to all be a dream. But shortly after a nurse was in my cubicle and disconnecting me from my 12th bag of ciclosporin and replacing it with a bag of potassium.
The first thing I did after Dr Gooding’s left was text Mum and Dad. Mum’s phone was playing up and she didn’t receive my text till 1400 when she was stood next to me, but Dad was there by 0950 – he works 40 minutes away. Till Dad got there though, there was a constant stream of doctors and nurses in and out of my cubicle checking to see if I was okay and if I needed anything. I was just crying the whole time though. I didn’t want surgery. What made it worse was I had so many questions about the surgery, but when the surgeons were there talking to me my mind just went blank and I forgot everything they were saying. It was almost as if my brain just decided “nope this isn’t happening” and it just shut off completely. I needed Mum and Dad there to be the adults for me, because I sure as hell wasn’t doing very well at being one!
I knew what sort of surgery they were doing (they were removing my colon and creating a stoma) but that was about all I understood about the whole thing. I didn’t even know if they were doing keyhole or open surgery so what sort of scars I’d have at the end of it, but neither did the surgeons. They said they start all procedures off laparoscopically but it depends on the patient and how “bad things are once they get a look inside” as to whether they are able to continue down that route or the patient needs to be opened up. The only thing anyone knew was they needed to remove my colon as soon as possible, but at that moment in time I was still too weak to make it through the procedure.
As they’d decided I didn’t need the ciclosporin anymore, I was put on a potassium drip for the rest of the day. It was important to get my potassium levels as high as possible before surgery as they were low anyway to begin with, and they were likely to drop even further whilst on the table. I later found out that potassium helps with messages between your heart and your brain so it’s important to have high levels when going into surgery as it reduces the chances of a cardiac arrest. Hearing that terrified me, but at least I wouldn’t be in as much pain afterwards – I hoped.
That afternoon Dr Tutton came round and introduced himself to me and explained he would be doing the surgery. However, I don’t remember this at all. I’d seen a lot of new doctors that week and they all seemed to be surgeons saying they would potentially be operating on me so I don’t think I payed much attention. I remember names (Dr Tutton, Dr Gupta, Dr Alex) and faces, but matching the names and faces remains a blur…
I do however, remember Dr Alex coming round and seeing me that afternoon. He sat on my bed and drew a picture of what the surgery would entail. All I can say is I hope he’s a better surgeon than he is at drawing because they weren’t the best – yes that is the actual drawing he did to show me my digestive system, but it was what I needed to help understand things more. Everyone had spoken to me about the surgery, but I needed to see a picture and have it explained to me to truly understand it myself.
They needed to take more blood, a minimum of two tubes. However because of my luck with my veins that didn’t happen very easily. I’m not sure who it was, but one of the consultants had sent a junior doctor in to try to take blood from me. Why? I do not know. Even the experienced phlebotomists struggled that morning and it had taken them three attempts, but he gave it his best shot. He went for the tiniest vein ever right between my knuckles on my right hand and it was so painful, probably the worst blood test I’ve ever had. Even then, the blood just dripped out of me so he only managed to just about take one tube so I knew I’d need another one later one.
They needed to take two tubes of blood to cross match so they could have some blood on standby in case I needed a blood transfusion during surgery. They said they take two so there’s less chance of there being a mix up in the lab. I’m sure all this was meant to make me feel better but I wished I hadn’t asked!
Later that afternoon, roughly about 5pm I left the comfort of Langham Ward and headed down to Mersea again. I cried as I was wheeled away. Partly because everyone had been so nice and I didn’t want to leave them, but mainly because I was terrified because I knew that meant surgery was just around the corner. There was no escaping it. One thing I did know though, although the food was likely to be the same in all wards I was happy that my order for dinner would get lost that night as it meant I didn’t have to have another lot of cheesy mash potato!