Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A week of POTs, plans and peeing

Last week as the days progressed I realised I was suffering from POT (Pre Operation Tension). This manifested itself as increasing irritation and crossness with everything and anything. I raged at the new parking system at the hospital when I went for the pre-op assessment - you now have to put your registration number into the ticket machine, and the only rationale for this I can think of is that it stops you kindly handing your ticket to someone else when you still have time left on it that's been paid for. I tutted at the dirty looking chairs and carpets in the waiting areas - and the fact that there was a whole crowd of other people there... waiting around in a waiting area where I needed to wait - the cheek of it! I was incredulous at the amount of time it took for a cheque to clear at the bank (SEVEN days - it's like living in the Dark Ages I moaned at the poor customer service person). I even shouted at the dog for just doing his doggy duty and barking, as he does every day, when he thinks the postman is an evil intruder intent on breaking in, burgling and bashing everyone over the head.

Once I'd self diagnosed the POTs, instead of taking friends' advice to have a relaxing few days before O-Day on the Friday, I came up with a plan to keep as busy as I could. I wrote myself a huge and unrealistic To Do list, which kept me distracted during the days, and on the two evenings before O-Day I went out and enjoyed great company and two of my other favourite things - good food and good music. Probably not what the doctor would order, as on the morning of the operation I was absolutely shattered, but it definitely improved my mood, reduced POTs and also distracted me from that other medical related danger - information overload.

Of course it is so easy to find out about anything these days thanks to the internet - and of course anyone can put anything on it which makes it both a blessing and a curse. The operation I was having was a hysterectomy and oopherectomy - not really due any current problems but as a preventative measure because oestrogen, something I used to give very little if any thought to, is now the Evil Enemy Within (my terminology not a medical persons). My gynaecologist Mr S (I now collect consultants like kids' trading cards - I also have Ms R the oncologist and Mr O'D the plastic surgeon in my hand) had been slick and salesman-like in his selling of the operation to me. The words 'quick', 'keyhole', 'in and out the same day', had sealed the deal. But as O-Day grew closer I was less confident and felt quite unprepared.

It had been a big decision, not just because I'm not currently 'ill' but also because over the past few months I have felt healthier and fitter than I have done for a long time. So deciding to have a quite major operation which potentially has long term effects and puts me through a very early menopause was not an easy one (despite also knowing of course the potential long term benefits). I knew that I could possibly talk myself out of it and if I started googling about it - again, for of course I have already done 'research' - it would give me more questions than answers and do nothing to dispel my doubts and worries.

So distraction and displacement activity were the order of the days beforehand and did the trick. On O-Day I was in a taxi at 7am boring the driver with tales of Peru. I was heartened at the hospital by being told I was first on The List and by Mr S's indefatigable cheeriness - 'you'll be digging the garden again in a couple of weeks' was his reply to my moan that my garden was still jungle-like due to the rain (one of the things on my To Do list that had never got done). I passed the morning in a blissfully unaware state of unconsciousness and came round to more Mr S positivity 'it went perfectly' - then spent the afternoon trying to convince nurses my bladder was in good enough working order to let me go home.

Being told you can't go home until you pee into a small measuring jug when you don't even want to go is some kind of torture technique. I sat, squatted, walked around, was told to 'jiggle to get everything going' and then I entertained the nurses with - yes - more tales of Peru, specifically about weeing in the open air, up mountains and on Inca tracks in the hope they would become so bored they'd send me home regardless. Whoever invented the term 'piss easy' had absolutely no idea and I was soon the last one left in the day surgery ward. Finally, at 7.30pm, we were all relieved in so many ways when I produced the goods and got a cheer from the nurses who must have been getting as fed up as I was. (Sod's law that once I got home this had literally opened the flood gates and I was up every couple of hours to go to the toilet during the night).

I am delighted to say so far Mr S's optimistic promises are being fulfilled. After a couple of days lolling around I'm now taking the dog for walks, albeit slower and shorter ones than usual, the brain is clearing (after an entertaining weekend talking crap and being able to blame the anaesthetic), and the tiredness is not as bad as it was although I may continue with an afternoon Nanna nap for the next few days. Pain has been pretty non-existent and needed nothing stronger than a couple of paracetamols.

I now have a very different understanding of 'Through the Keyhole' than I used to, and I'm a fan. There is very little scarring and a far quicker recovery period than there would be otherwise. The trick with feeling quite so good so quickly may be just remembering not to do too much too soon...but I'll definitely leave the digging for another couple of weeks.

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