I remember waking up to a nurse in red scrubs, who told me just to lie back, I didn’t have to sit up yet. I think I faded out again. The next thing I remember, I was being moved to the ward, where Cara waited for me. Someone came and showed me my PCA pump, and the next thing I remember, I was very very hot.
It turned out they had left the warming blanket on me. You know when someone is murdered in a cartoon and they draw around the body in chalk? My bed looked like that – but it wasn’t chalk, it was sweat. The bed was soaking.
The changing of the bed, and basically everything that happened after that was traumatic. Some of the nurses were rude, borderline abusive, and just plain mean. I asked to hold a nurses arm to help me turn in bed, as I still had a spinal block, and she said “Erm, don’t you touch me!”
I wish I had known just how “out of it” I would be. An OT tried (in broken English) to get my consent for something, as I faded in and out of consciousness. It turned out he wanted consent to enter my home to measure for equipment. I found that out AFTER I was discharged.
In the days following my premature discharge, I suffered immensely. I didn’t have adequate pain relief, I was barely capable of coping at home, and I absolutely could not manage alone, needing round-the-clock care for quite a while after. Even walking to the bathroom was a saga. But I’ve learned. And here is what I will do differently next time:
- I will have an advance directive. You know how women have a birth plan when they go to have a baby? I’ll be writing one of those. I’ll tell them how I want to be cared for, I will give consent to things that I may not be able to adequately consent to when I’m on the PCA pain relief pump. I’ll also explain that I can be a little abrupt and grumpy when on opiates. And I’ll ask for the catheter to be removed as a top priority!
- I will buy a cheap mobility scooter. Next time, I don’t want to be as heavily reliant on others. Jack can dress himself now, and so I think it will be a lot easier for me to sort him out for school. However, self-propelling in a wheelchair is hard, and so I feel an electric mobility scooter will be essential to my independence and early mobilisation. Bryan will be able to get some time off work, but I would like to minimise the impact on him as much as possible.
- I will contact the social services OT prior to my surgery, to ensure the equipment is in place prior to my admission. Sometimes, equipment can be the only thing delaying discharge and I would prefer that it isn’t the case with me. I don’t sleep well in hospital and I’d much rather be in my recliner at home.
- I will organise things to do during my recovery. I’ve signed up to an online course this morning, and I’ll be keeping an eye on the other offers from the same website to ensure that I am not wasting six months of my recovery by sitting on my butt wallowing in self pity!
- I will get back to the children’s centre as soon as I can. Being a volunteer there has changed my life and has had a profound impact on my confidence, and I know I can continue the things I do from a wheelchair (although I may need to be “contained” during sessions where the children are there in case I squish one!).
- I will NOT underestimate the impact of surgery on my mental health and will take pre-emptive and proactive steps to prevent a relapse of the “dark and twisties” that I went through last year because that damn near killed me off and definitely hindered my recovery.
I am really struggling with the feelings that come with knowing I have to do this all over again. Periacetabular Osteotomies are about as brutal as they come – my pelvis will be cut in three places, my hip socket will be moved into a better position, and the new configuration will be secured with screws. But I have survived it once and I will survive it again. I’m determined to make the next nine months count though! So watch this space, because amazing things are coming!