I was in Murryfield Hospital in Edinburgh for surgery, late November 2003. Apart from some complications everything went fine and I'm expecting to be back at work in Jan 2003 (80% fit) and to make a complete recovery sometime in late 2004.
|Morphine||Pain Killer||120mg||Over approx 24 - 36 hrs||0.12g|
|Cylizine||Stop nausea from morphine||100mg||Same time as morphine||0.1g|
|Paracetamol||Pain Killer/Temp Ctrl||1g, 4 per day||Every day||40g|
|Diclofenac||Pain Killer/Anti Inflam.||50 mg, 3 per day||All but first day||1.35g|
|Flagyl||Anti Biotic||400 mg, 3 per day||Every day||12g|
|Cefuroximeuim[?]||Anti Biotic||250mg, 2 per day||Every day||5g|
I have fine veins and the doctors spent much of their time trying to stick needles in them. After trying for a couple of hours they gave up and told me that I'd have to have a line put in after the anaesthetic. This explains the large number of impressive bruises on my arms.
Because they couldn't get any fluids into me I did be come very dehydrated just before and after the operation. After I came around I was but on a large drip. I improved and came back to spec. after I was well enough to sip water.
On the 21st one of the needle holes in my left arm became infected. The needle was just elbow-wards of my thumb side wrist bone. This was despite already being on antibiotics.
When my wrist started to go red, swollen and lost most of its movement I brought it to the attention the staff. They got a doctor up and started patching up the needle work very quickly. They removed needles that had been left in for several days, cleaning and applying ice packs etc.
It was during this I reached a temp of 37.9 Celsius (with medication). By the time it was brought under control the infection had spread up to my elbow and was quite a nice shade of red. After they had cleaned the site the antibiotics had a chance to kick in and it disappeared over the next couple of days.
I'm unsure of any standards that staff are meant to meet so these observations should be considered as dry scientific facts rather than subjective views.
So their I am (post-morphine but pre-infection) wondering what that hissing sound (which is really starting to bug me) was. At first I thought it was the active cooling on my laptop.
Like any true geek I had rebooted it out of (password secured BIOS) hard shutdown as soon as I had been returned to my room after the 5 hour op. It went pretty much like this:
I can now say I've appreciated Hendrix and The Doors in an altered state of mind. Under heavy opiates :-). But next time I'll give the Moterhead a miss.
So I was willing to give any laptop causing hissing noises the benefit of the doubt and just concentrate on post morphine nausea. But it slowly dawned on me that the hissing was on my left. My laptop was on my right.
You might well ask why I'd be so concerned? When I was young I used to accompany my father to steam engine exhibition shows, many of the smaller models we looked after were run using compressed air.
We'd did this 'coz we'd always get some dumb jock asking "Is is hot/Running on coal?" before putting his hand right over the main boiler exhaust pipe. One of my jobs was to help lay down the compressed air hoses and check for leaks, hence my now ingrained concern over hissing air pipes.
Perfect, can't fault them. Their care of me was exemplary.
Dealing with them gave me a new appreciation for THHGTTG Newtrimatic Drink Machine Sketch. Meals where often wrong, late or sometimes non-existent.
Most worryingly they consistently got my liquid and solid diet mixed up. E.g. I got solids while on a post operative liquid diet. Thank God I had the presence of mind to arrange the delivery of pizza on the first day I knew that I would be able eat solids.
'Take lots of salt baths', I was told. Especially after some of the skin around the wound site lost its blood supply. So I was duly give a bowl of salt. It lasted about two baths, after that I asked for some more a couple of times but didn't get a new supply until I mentioned it to the surgeon while he was examining the wound site.
So for a few days I had to scavenge salt from wherever I could find it. The best supply came from my food, so that's what I survived upon for a couple of days.
After eating but before my tray was taken away I emptied the salt cellar and put the salt in the original bowl. Now all I had to worry about was and bits of debris mixed in with the salt grains. This being kitchen salt it is often mixed with rice et al to keep it dry. I decided to ignore any caking agents or other dissoluble components. It would be simply impossible to removed them.
I took a jug, rinsed it and washed it out with some sterilising solution I pilfered from something else. I dissolved the 'salt' in it. Then I carefully made a filter out of anything I could get my hands upon, gauss, sterile wads etc. Bending it into a funnel shape with my left hand I drained the salt solution though it with my right. QED, one salt bath.
After a couple of day of this the surgeon reiterated 'lots of salt baths', at which I explained the above. The look upon his face was priceless. But now the surgeon has spoken, nurses bring some salt. I do a brief mental calculation with the surgeons new bathing regime and it turns up 5-7 baths a day, at a hand full of salt or so per bath. So the nurses bring me lots of salt.
Now that I'm getting proper salt for the medical use of I reckon I'm getting the good stuff. It surprises me that on the second delivery of salt turns up in a old butter dish, with only a few grams in it! It seems the kitchen had run out. I muse the possibility of phoning Rachael to get some of the bags of salt we have stockpiled at home couriered up here and billing the NHS.
No, I think, the surgeon was quiet specific about the amount of I need per bath and call me an odd-so-and-so but I still believe in what they say. If he'd told me that to get better I'd have to stand upside down with my head in a bucket of hyena's offal, then I say 'pass me my bathing cap'.
Of course it goes without saying if it makes me worse then I'll sue :-). So I ask the nurse with all the diplomacy I can muster if it would be all OK if she could hunt out some more as I didn't think that would be enough.
I tried to be as apologetic as I could, the nurses here are rushed off their feet and I have immense respect for them and what they do. Just disturbing them to get some more water makes me feel I'm unnecessarily dragging them away from the tortured souls I can here screaming in pain during the night (I kid you not) in the rooms down the corridor. Talking to a couple of nurses when they get a breather they tell me that they have an unusually large number of very ill patients.
There can't be many UK NHS patients that wake up to the sounds of the jungle, but my room is close to Edinburgh Zoo and I must wake at about the same time as the monkeys get their first feeding. A strange but not unpleasant dawn chorus.
I can't help but think of that bit in William Burroughs's Naked Lunch. Don't ask, it has to be read to be believed.
I've been given 7 weeks convalescence starting 25 Nov. No heavy lifting, lots of rest etc,etc. I look forward to getting some stuff done on my web site. But I'll miss the buzz of work, I hope the guys at the office manage to hold things together :-). Hi guys, I miss you all.
But in case your worried [dear reader] I've got a beautiful, sexy, red headed babe who's going to be looking after me. Night and day. I might even get my food chopped up :-)
The last night (26 Nov) was relaxing as it could be, I had a bath, took my laptop in (I'm staying in an en-suite, private room) and listened to some music. The nurse brought in a cup of cocoa and a piece of short bread. I sat in the bath wiggling my toes, sipping hot chocolate and reading Terry Pratchett. Bliss.
The surgeon turned up early to take the stitches out on the last day (27 Nov). He confirmed that I did have an infection around the skin of the wound site. I've been given another five days of antibiotics to take if it doesn't disappear in the next 3 days.