So here I am, a little over two weeks post-op and starting to feel much better. For those who want the technical particulars, I had a ‘right-sided L4/L5 decompression and fusion’ but don’t worry, this blog will contain no graphic details and I’m not going to share any pictures of my fancy new scar or the rainbow colour progression of my bruises.
Everything went really well but inevitably, because this is 2015 (see last blog entry), there was a bit of drama too. I had to check in to the hospital at 7.30am on the day of my surgery so, to avoid getting up at silly o clock and rushing around, we arranged to stay at a nearby hotel the night before. We set off on time and had an uneventful journey until we approached the road where we were planning to park and fire engines started screaming past us. “Ooh, hope the hotel isn’t on fire!” we chortled. And yes, you’ve guessed it… the hotel actually was on fire. Which was hilarious an hour or so later once we were sitting in a room at the local Travelodge (which was not on fire) but a bit tense when we were driving circles around a roadblock in the centre of Birmingham trying to find out what was going on.
Anyway, since I’m not allowed back to work yet and have way more time on my hands than I have things I am capable of doing to fill it, I thought I would share my top tips for anyone about to go through similar surgery. Or anyone who just fancies a bit of a laugh at my expense. I’m not proud.
My number one top tip for any hospital trip – be nice to nurses, even if you’re really fed up. Most importantly because they are generally lovely folk doing a really hard job for which they deserve much gratitude and respect but also because they are the ones who are really in charge of everything. Your consultant doesn’t know where the extra blankets are kept and won’t make you a slice of toast or pop into your room for a chat if you can’t sleep. Be nice to the catering and cleaning staff too, because they also deserve respect and you get extra biscuits.
Don’t be brave, take the painkillers. Related: don’t make any important life decisions at this time because the painkillers may make you drowsy and/or confused. You may hear colours. Or write a blog entry which ends up a bit whimsical banana marigolds bcaus sentences nt quite make. write.
Speaking of painkillers… there is another side effect to general anaesthesia followed by a diet of morphine and codeine which nobody will mention until it is too late. I’m just going to come out and say this – if you ever want to poop again, start taking something a couple of days before you get anywhere near a hospital and do not stop until you can ease down on the pain meds. This is genuinely good advice and you will thank me for it as you smugly listen to the muffled sobs coming from other patients’ bathrooms.
Once you get home, accept that you are going to need help. Lots and lots of help. Previously, you were a person who could put on their own socks or get food out of the fridge. Those days are gone my friend. If you are going to be left alone for any length of time you will have to plan with military precision or you will end up with cold feet, having some cherry tomatoes and a Snickers bar for lunch because it is all you could reach.
You do not have enough pillows. Seriously, go and buy ALL the pillows. You will need approximately 23 more pillows/cushions than you currently own to get comfortable anywhere for longer than five minutes at a time.
You will be obviously be tired right after the op but while you are recovering, be prepared for random bouts of ‘must sleep here now’. You may not be able to sleep that well at night but ten minutes into the gripping thriller you were enjoying…boom! Nana nap on the sofa. And you will wake up cranky and uncomfortable because you didn’t have enough pillows (see above).
You will be instructed only to carry items which weigh no more than ‘a half full kettle’. This will prompt much interesting debate. How big is your kettle? A full bottle of wine probably weighs more than that. How much do I have to drink before I can refill my own glass? This discussion is particularly pointless at the moment because I will almost inevitably fall asleep after a glass and a half anyway. On the plus side, the same instructions also prohibit ‘activities which involve bending or twisting, eg. housework’. Result.
It’s not all sloth and indolence though. The amount of time you can spend sitting is severely restricted and daily walking is mandatory. This is amusing for the first few days when a ten minute stroll involves you wobbling to the end of the road and back while concentrating on keeping your back straight and both feet pointing in the right direction. Not so amusing for you, more for your neighbours who will think you are legless at 10.30 in the morning.
Buy a ‘grabby stick’ – one of those little claw thingummies with a long handle. I know you feel daft but you will not be able to bend down and you will need it to pick up anything you drop. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, buy two. Because the first thing you will drop will be the grabby stick. Dogs will love the grabby stick until you become adept at taking food out of the fridge without most of it ending up on the kitchen floor. Also, if you are shortarse like me, when you are well again you will be able to access many things you have forgotten you own because they have ended up on the top shelf of cupboards.
Most importantly of all, keeping a sense of humour helps with everything and my friends and customers (and many of you have become both) always help with that! It’s annoying that all this had to happen right before Christmas but hopefully it means that a fully-functioning ‘weasel will be back next year and able to concentrate on making more tiny dogs than ever before. Thanks again to everyone who has supported me over the last few months, I couldn’t have done it without you x