Saturday 28 November 2009

a ward

Sometimes life throws something unexpected at you.

And sometimes life kind of swoops down out of the blue, plucks you up and whirls you away to an entirely unexpected place.

I woke up at 0100 on Tuesday with pain in my stomach. It got worse, and I started vomiting, which didn't ease the pain. And it got worse. And worse. So I checked the NHS Direct website for symptoms, and the closest match to what I was experiencing seemed to be in heart attack country and I though, "No, that's not a heart attack."

So I phoned up the number and described what was happening and the helpline person said "Go to hospital", and I thought how embarrassing it would be to turn up and find out it wasn't anything important.

And I also thought of my father sitting up all night suffering the symptoms of a stroke and not doing anything about it and how that contributed to shortening his life.

So we drove through the rain to the hospital (I didn't know how long this was going to take, and I didn't want to leave Katie on her own) and got there at about 0400. The A&E department had people hunched around outside smoking or sitting in the waiting area enveloped in their own personal miseries. We waited. I was writhing by now. We went through to an examination room and I was checked over, then given a hospital gown to put on and a tube in my arm, into which someone pumped morphine. It was by now fairly apparent that I wouldn't be going home soon.

I phoned Brendagh, and she came and rescued Katie.

As the day went on, I got x-rayed and ultrasounded. The ultrasound images showed that I had gallstones, and the gall bladder was apparently inflamed. It was explained that the usual procedure in cases like this is to remove the gall bladder. So I was put in the queue for emergency ops, and went onto NBM (nil by mouth), which is very thirsty work, especially after two days, let me tell you.

I settled into life on the ward, zonked on Tramodol. There were some nice folk there. People are often at their best when their worlds are being turned upside down, or they are working in that sort of place.

Meanwhile, out in the world, people were sorting things out, and after what must have been a miserable and worrying time for Katie, she was being looked after; and the car was collected, along with the parking ticket it had picked up; and a phone charger arrived and I was finally able to talk to people again, including Richard, who had been expecting me in Birmingham that evening for a reading event at the library theatre...

I was in a different theatre the next day...

And now I've got four little sticking plasters on my abdomen, where they put the various things into me. The nice surgeons explained that my aching shoulders were a result of them inflating my abdomen with CO2, to make it easier to tinker around in there, and I decided that, while I was very grateful to them for doing it, I wasn't sure I liked to hear about the precise ins and outs of it. Must have looked v funny, all inflated, though.

"So, how are you feeling?" they asked
"Pretty good, thank you. Ready to go home... no offence..."
"None taken," they said. Beds are at a premium in the hospital.

I said some fond farewells. And set off home. And collapsed into the Guild cafe when I realised I wasn't really up to walking.

And got rescued by Brendagh.


  1. The things some folk will do just to be able to write an interesting blog post! In the end probably better than joining an endless waiting list and then getting rushed in because they left you waiting too long.

    Katie does not seem too put out!

    Caroline xx

  2. A woeful misadventure, but as usual you have extracted some positive bits from it! Gall bladders. For some, the last vestige of a swim bladder, perhaps, from when we were all fish in the primordial soup. For others, the design equivalent of a standby LED - a nice-to-have, but essentially supernumerary feature.

    Get well soon Dru :-)

  3. Oh Dru...

    You poor thing!!

    I hope you recover soon, petal... :-)

    Love and hugs

  4. Wow!
    I thought it was a little unusual that you have not posted! Obviously we all had no idea of your pain or sojourn in hospital, I hope you are all healed and recover to full health very soon.

    Nice to have you back Dru

  5. Sorry to hear about your mis-fortune.

    Get well soon!

  6. *Gentle hug* Hope you make a speedy recovery. Someone I work with had her gall bladder removed this year, and made a very speedy recovery; hopefully you'll have the same experience!

  7. I hope there's not a next time, but next time call an ambulance! Again, get well soon. xx


  8. So that's where you got too. Did they really let you out unaccompanied? Hope you're getting lots of TLC from everyone.

  9. Ouch. having had a long, frequent and intimate acquaintance with stones of the kidney variety, you have my every sympathy. Painful little swine, aren't they? At least if the bladder's gone you won't get a reoccurrence.
    Best wishes for a full recovery.


  10. My goodness! Take good care of yourself, Dru: you've seen enough doctors for a while.

  11. Sending healing thoughts and good wishes in your general direction.

  12. I was very lucky in that sense, Caroline; a woman on the ward said that her sister had been waiting for ages for the same op, in constant pain. So coming out of nowhere and going acute is obviously a good way to do it.

    Katie was pretty upset by the business, actually... but we're getting over it and revising our emergency procedure. Well, inventing one, anyway.

    Time will show how useful the gall bladder used to be, Suzanne... loads of gurglings going on Down There at the moment, but ...TMI...

    ..and you have my sympathy, Graham, if you've still got the little rascals. Ouch.

    They did let me out solo, Anji. I could have stuck around, but it seemed selfish to hog the bed when they are such anxiously sought-after things in the hospital...

    Hello and thank you, everyone! Getting better fast, here. *touches wood*

  13. Hi Dru - very sorry to hear about your op - hope you continue to make a good recovery!

    Sarah (as in Sarah and Alex. From Cambridge.)

  14. Hello again, Sarah! Thank you, and thanks for dropping by.

  15. Wow! Glad you're on the mend. Again!

    Carolyn Ann

  16. Gawd Dru...well I'm really glad you went, as clearly it needed to be Seen To. When such things happen (thankfully rarely usually...hopefully), I always try and think 'Well thank God I WAS at home/could get to a hospital/the car wasn't bust/whatver. Rather than in the middle of a round the world yacht race, or a hike in the Hindu Kush etc etc (though clearly you are far more likely to be doing either of those things than I!).

    Sending Get Well Soon wishes!!

  17. Hi again, Carolyn Ann; thank you!

    I was thinking that, Jo; how bloody lucky I was to be able to get to hospital so easily.

  18. Hi Dru,
    I am very glad you are now safely deflated and discharged.
    I just wanted to tell you that when you didn’t make it to Birmingham - I got to be you. Richard was - as you can imagine - desperate. So Dave, the organizer of the LGBT Festival, and I got to be the object of one audience’s audible disappointment. I think me more than him. One woman asked (*very* hopefully) if I was you… I admit I enjoyed that warm glow of being truly interesting for a moment… but I told the truth and admitted that I was only an excuse for you. I felt very sorry not to be the real deal.

    Next time life offers you one of those chairs with wheels and a porter - say yes.

    Get well soon - I do hope your recovery is speedy and graceful.

  19. Hi Federay!

    Thanks for dropping by. I really wish I could have seen your performance, though obviously that would mean ending up in of those dodgy sci-fi paradox thingies... Richard said good things about how the evening was rescued. Thank you!

  20. Katie's always welcome here in an emergency. We'll squeeze her in somewhere among cats and Yoots and look after her in a safe & caring if haphazard way.

    Glad you're better now, we were missing you on Facebook!