I don’t remember much about waking up, there were nurses saying my name and telling me to stop moving and breathe normally, but it felt like I was choking. I think I had a tube in my mouth, but I don’t really remember. The only other thing I remember is asking if the surgery was keyhole or open. I was told it was keyhole and I cried, well tried to cry anyway, was a bit hard with all the tubes sticking out of me left right and centre.
I’ve got a few “made up” memories from my time in hospital. The first was whilst I was on Langham Ward. I was having a really bad night, oramorph wasn’t helping to ease the pain at all and along with the pain, I remember the alarms kept going off. The lady in the bed diagonally to me kept blacking out whenever she tried to stand up – I’d actually woken up a few times to a thud and found her at the end of my bed as she was trying to look out the windows (at 5am in the dark…) For a day or so the nurses had someone designated to sit at the end of her bed to make sure she didn’t try to “escape” as I called it, but then they put a pressure pad under her mattress so that every time she stood up, it sounded like a doorbell was ringing throughout the bay, until she sat back down. This went off every two minutes, all day and night, every day and night for a good six days whilst I was in Langham Ward. It was all fun and games…
In this first made up memory of mine, I was talking to one of the nurses, I can’t remember her name but she did quite a few night shifts whilst I was there and it was around 11pm. I was crying in pain and she said my Mum was on the phone and asked what I should tell her. She offered to let Mum come in and sit with me till I fell asleep but I remember saying no because we live in Stanway and it was too late and too far to drive. I then remember hearing her go back to the phone and speaking to my Mum explaining that I’d had my enema, oramorph and paracetamol and there wasn’t anything else they could give me for the pain for another few hours but that I’d be okay and she’d call her in the morning to let her know how I was. Then she came back and helped me adjust my pillows so I was comfy enough to try and get some sleep.
However, none of this happened. I remember thinking it was a bit strange I could hear the conversation going on at the nurses station because my bed was so far away, but I thought nothing of it at the time. I spoke to Mum the next day and she said she never received a phone call about me. I was convinced someone had called home but apparently they hadn’t. The only thing I can think of is it was the drugs messing with my brain. I know it had been a pretty bad day pain wise and I’d had a fair bit of oramorph so I’m not sure if that contributed to the memory blur, I’ll never know really.
As I came round from the operation I remember struggling to breathe and being told to lay still whilst someone helped me. I didn’t know where I was, I’d been in the recovery room before but this wasn’t it, it looked more like a ward to me. The nurses told me I was in the Critical Care Unit and that the operation had gone well. But why was I in Critical Care if it had gone well? As confused as I was, I just wanted to be able to breathe properly so I didn’t worry about where I was – I was just happy to be alive.
The nurses told me to try not to move and I think a tube was then taken out of my mouth. I’m not too sure though, it felt like something scraped my throat and then I was able to breathe again, but I don’t know. I’ve relied on Mum and Dad so much for their memories because mine are all blurred and mixed up (or even made up!), but I’ve since learned they didn’t see me when I woke up so even they can’t help with this one.
I thought I had a memory from waking up that was real until a few weeks ago when I was talking to Mum. My bed in Critical Care was next to the nurses station, and I “remember” looking around when I could breathe again and trying to take everything in. At the end of my bed by the nurses station I saw my Mum and Dad crying, and I remember saying “it’s going to take more than a dodgy colon to get rid of me!” But this isn’t real, because they weren’t there. For days, weeks even, I was so convinced it had happened, but it didn’t. I’m not sure if I was just seeing things, or I dreamt it. Again I’ll never know. Mum suggested I might have mixed it up with my memories of saying goodbye as I went in for surgery as she said they were both crying then, but I don’t remember seeing them crying then. I might have done, and my brain might have shut that memory out but I’m not sure.
When the confusion started to wear off a bit, the pain started to kick in, and sure enough I had that magic button for morphine. I don’t know how many times I pressed it but I’m pretty sure I was pressing it as much as I could, so every 6 minutes really! It wasn’t visiting hours by the time I was a bit more coherent, but when the nurses had established I was okay and wasn’t going to be sick or anything, they allowed Mum and Dad to come in. They walked in from the other side of the ward and I cried as they walked towards me. As I went in for surgery, part of me was convinced that was it for me and I was never going to see them again so I was just so happy to be alive at this point. I must have looked a right state though because I had tubes coming out of me basically everywhere they could stick one not me!
Before the operation the anaesthetist had told me all the tube I could possibly have when I woke up (see 30 November 2016 – Part One) and had told me the chances of having them all were extremely slim as each was 1 in 10,000. Sure enough I woke up with every single thing possible. The nurses had told me not to move too much because of all the tubes and then they told me what I had and where…
- oxygen tubes (nose)
- nasogastric feeding tube (up my nose and down to my stomach)
- arterial line x2 (neck)
- ECG (chest)
- blood pressure (arm)
- oxygen levels clip (finger)
- cannulas (arm and hand)
- morphine button (cannula in hand)
- stoma (stomach)
- stomach drain (bikini line)
- catheter (bladder)
- “moon boots” (feet)
I had a gown on so I hadn’t seen my tummy, but I was aware it hurt a hell of a lot and I could see a thick plastic tube sticking out from under the covers and a bag of blood forming. Apparently, this is normal after surgery, but it freaked me out because I thought blood was meant to remain in your body!
I wanted to look at my stoma to finally see what it looked like but at the same time I didn’t want it to be real, everything had happened so quickly I didn’t believe it to be true.
That night it felt like I had one of the best nights sleep I’d had in a long time, but that was far from the truth. I woke up every 20 minutes gasping for breath as I still had the NG tube because I was still nil by mouth. I must have annoyed the nurses from how chatty I was, but I’ve honestly got no idea what we were talking about. I think we were talking about their staff Christmas party, but I don’t know, I was too full of morphine to remember much about what was going on around me at the time!