The last thing I remember is waiting on a trolley outside the operating theater , my fingers crossed, hoping I was doing the right thing. Dr Lawrence and the anesthetist both came in and said in unison, ‘We know, no Gelofusine. Now go to sleep.’ I woke up in a four bed ward with no pain. I couldn’t believe it and thought that maybe I was still numb from the anesthetic.
2.08 am…..2.09 am. Why can’t I sleep? I’m still not in pain, which is amazing. A catheter means for the first time in years I have the opportunity of sleeping through the night, but I have tubes in me I don’t want to crease or bend . I know I need to sleep to heal and try to close my eyes and relax. Useless, so I drag out my journal and start writing. It is my salvation as the minutes slowly tick by…2.19 am.
I turn on a small down-light and a nurse pulls the curtain around my bed so I won’t disturb the other patients. Their regular even and deep breathing makes me wish I could do the same. I have made up names for them all. Opposite is Dementia Doris. Beside her is Happy Helen and next door is Pacemaker Pearl who has sleep apnoea and snores loudly above the regular hiss of her C pack machine. A considerate nurse offers me earplugs but I reassure her the snoring makes me feel at home. My husband starts with a stage one whistle and progresses to a stage three guttural snore. I’m usually asleep by stage three. It is the lullaby to my nightly dreams.
At least I am resting comforted by black scratchings on paper and I have all tomorrow to doze to my heart’s content.No cleaning, paperwork , classes to organise or honouring the promise to catch up on filing and tidying I keep saying I’ll do…one day. Paul and Marian are visiting again tomorrow and we will chat and laugh at ordinary things. Last night they fixed my phone, rang relevant people, kept Alan informed and arranged for my trip home. All I have to do is eat, sleep and heal.
I do just that. The meals are superb, as good as any five star restaurant. It only takes two night’s stay in hospital with wonderful nurses like Paola and Annie who treat with compassion and respect, spoon feed and calm two dementia patients. One old lady keeps calling out all night ‘Where am I? Where am I? I want John. Where is my Mum? Where am I?’ The nurses gently tell her she is in Cabrini Hospital but in five minutes she has forgotten and it all starts over again. How sad to not know where you are or what has happened to you. About 3am I hate to see her distressed and toddle over to her bed taking my ‘bag’ with me. I put my finger over my lips, ‘Shh’ I say. You’re in Cabrini Hospital and it is late at night’. ‘I want John’, she says. ‘And Mum.’ ‘They’re asleep,’ I reply. ‘Well bully for them’ is the answer. I laugh all the way back to my bed.
The next morning I blissfully shower on my own. Dr Lawrence calls and informs me that I’m better than ever and tomorrow Paul can take me home…if the catheter is removed, I void twice, two ultra sounds show my bladder empty and my bowel behaves itself. Fortunately all happens according to plan and I am soon heading down the freeway.
I follow instructions to the letter. No lifting and plenty of rest, but I am, and have been all along, pain free. A week after the repair when I step into the Godfrey Street Neighbourhood House ready to take the Memoir Writing group I realize how lucky I am to be able to get anything fixed before it breaks and that I can survive an anesthetic. I have gone from making sure I have a medical power of attorney signed and sealed to facing the future with confidence. I hope more women my age research and talk about their ‘girly bits’ and see a professional about any problems ‘down there’. In the meantime the receptionist at Bayside Womens Health gave me a sample of a pH Plus intimate wash which helps promote a healthy pH balance. I didn’t know such a product existed.
Next week I promise to post a light-hearted Christmas piece