October 23, 2003 · 11:00 pm
I was fine when I left hospital. But now I’m feeling a bit cold,
even though it’s not cold in my flat. I go to bed, wrapped up in my
dressing gown, shivering slightly. I tell my brother it’s a reaction
to the anaesthetic, I reckon, just as I’d had yesterday morning,
probably triggered by the drop in temperature during the journey from
the hospital. (This is all speculation, but seems reasonable.)
In bed I warm up pretty quickly and stop shivering. I keep the
dressing gown on though. Overall it’s a good night: I even manage
to sleep on my side.
October 23, 2003 · 5:30 pm
Not long after my parents leave, nurse Lorraine appears to let me
know that my surgeon’s stuck in surgery at Addenbrookes and won’t be
able to return tonight to see me. His secretary says that he’s happy
for me to leave tonight and if I want to talk to him later I can ring
her up and arrange something. Seems fair. And I do want to leave
tonight, so I can hopefully get a decent night’s sleep if nothing else.
I feel fine and don’t think that another night in hospital will achieve
Lorraine had previously told me that it’s a good idea to have
someone staying with me for 24 hours after discharge, just in
case. The anaesthetic can still affect you even then. So my brother’s
going to stay overnight and Work From Home (TM) tomorrow to keep an
eye on me. I ring him and he says he’ll be over to pick me up in
about half an hour. Excellent.
I dress gingerly. Luckily I’m well practised in putting on socks
without bending over too much (for the last week I’ve been doing so
while flat on my back, at the suggestion of my physio).
In the bathroom to pack up my washbag, I look in the mirror. I’ve
been absent-mindedly scratching at what I thought was an insect bite
all day, but looking at it now I can see that it’s a square. Oh no
it’s not. It’s actually a big long tape-shaped thing across my face
from beneath my ear to my lips. Oh, and there’s another one on that
side. And, sigh, another two on the other side.
Looks like the tape they used during surgery to, I guess, hold on a
mask or something, has triggered my mysterious plaster allergy. When
the nurse arrives with my official discharge papers I mention it to
her. She tells me that next time I’ll have to say “no thick tape at
all” – the tape used for my dressing is fine. It’ll be string and
staples before long.
My brother turns up, surprised to find me quite so mobile. I say
goodbye to the nurses and head for reception to be formally chucked
out, my brother carrying my bag.
I leave hospital at about 6:30pm, 36 hours after I arrived, still
in one piece. Well, with some pieces in a bottle in my bag.
October 23, 2003 · 2:30 pm
Another nurse arrives to take me to some stairs – they won’t
discharge me until I can successfully negotiate a flight of
stairs. The main problem, I think, is to locate a flight of stairs in
what is clearly a single-storey building. She finds some hidden round
one of the many thousands of corners. No problem with stairs for me,
but she stops me before I can climb too far and discover what happens
on this invisible first floor.
In preparation for another parental visit I try sitting in a real
chair. Surprisingly it’s pretty easy. Sitting puts the greatest
pressure on the spine, much more than standing up and especially lying
flat. I need to be very careful with the sitting thing. Sit up
straight, boy! Stop slouching!
October 23, 2003 · 1:00 pm
Soup and Macaroni cheese. I unilaterally decide to sit up at about
60 degrees in bed to eat. Much easier to eat, but possibly a bit too
much for my back. After a few minutes I shift my right leg and feel a
bit light-headed for a second, so I flatten the bed out a bit.
After that and the morning’s exertions, I take it easy for an hour
Seemingly every fifteen minutes someone pops in to ask me whether
I’m staying for dinner tonight. To them all I repeat that I’m supposed
to be seeing the surgeon at some point today, and will find out
then. I agree with the umpteenth representative of the kitchen that I
won’t order any cooked meal, but will order sandwiches if I’m staying
as they can do those at any time of the day or night.
October 23, 2003 · 9:30 am
After my wash, there’s a knock on the door. A new nurse walks in
and is surprised to find me up and about. This, it turns out, is the
physio – but she doesn’t introduce herself as such. She asks whether
I’ve got a dressing gown, and I have – hidden away in my bag, which
she fishes out of the wardrobe. I take the opportunity to grab more
books at the same time, as I’ve finished the one I was reading
yesterday (Forever War).
All dolled up in my tatty blue dressing gown, the nurse walks me
along some corridors, actually taking me in a big square around the
ward. Walking’s fine. Not perfect, but not painful either. She tells
me that someone will take me up and and down some stairs this afternoon.
After less than five minutes we’re back at my room, and that’s my
physio done. Oh. I was expecting more than that.
One of the other nurses tells me I can have a shower, and finally
takes out my line, taping a wad of paper bandages tightly in place to
soak up the leakage from my hand. She also changes the dressing on my
wound, to a waterproof one. There’s a little blood spotting, but I’ve
been regularly inspected and everyone’s happy with my progress.
The shower’s pretty good. I’m surprised at how flexible I am
considering the surgery was just over 24 hours ago, but I take it
easy. I drop the soap once, but using the magical power of knees I
bend down and retrieve it successfully.
The shower leaves me feeling a bit more human.
The nurse is taking some post-shower obs when Andy Shire pops in.
We have a good long chat, and I demonstrate my amazing new ability to
walk without pain.
October 23, 2003 · 8:30 am
RI:SE is on the TV, and I’ve got tea, toast and jam in front of me.
Sadly I’m still mostly horizontal, my nurse refusing me permission to
sit up more than 45 degrees. So I butter my toast on a serviette on my
I’m supposed to see a physio this morning. Hopefully I’ll find out
what I’m allowed and not allowed to do for the next few weeks. I get
out of bed, walk around my room for a bit in my boxers, and have a
wash. I haven’t been given permission for this, but I’m fed up with
just lying in bed. A nurse did say I should be able to have a shower
this morning, so I’m happy to do go this far unilaterally.
October 23, 2003 · 6:30 am
The nursing day starts at 6:30 by waking up the patients who’ve
only just managed to get to sleep. I don’t know it’s 6:30 when she
wakes me to take her obs, but all becomes clear when she opens the
window to reveal that it’s still pitch black outside.
I try to get back to sleep again but I don’t think that’s in the
plan for today.