Saturday, 2 July 2011

Tracheal stenosis is ruining my job prospects.

Hey there!

This morning I received two letters, one for a hospital appointment with the pain management specialist, and another for surgery with the tracheal management specialist (haha).  Unfortunately, both are slap bang in the middle of the course for which I had an interview on Monday.  I've decided not to get depressed about it, I mean, it isn't the first time I haven't been able to do something work related because of TS.  Life goes on and all that, and I shall just keep applying for other jobs.  And one day, my perserverence shall pay off, and I shall get a wicked, high paid job, with my own office and water fountain, hehehe...

The surgery is to have a look at my tracheal stent (obviously).  This one has been great actually, thanks to the delicate hands of a very famous professor (thanks Prof B!!), but about a month or so ago, I started to feel like I had a lump in my throat that kept moving up and down.  So I asked them to have a look at it, but nothing was visible with the nasal microendoscope.  So he said he would book me in for surgery and have a tug on it, see if it moves.  I had this mental image of all these eminent surgeons playing yoyo with my stent, mwahahaha...   Vivid imagination like!!

I don't think I ever explained what it's like having surgery at the place I go to in London.  I wouldn't say the experience is overly traumatic any more.  I get treated like one of the staff, which is good in some respects, but I suppose bad in others (I mean, who wants to be ill for long enough to become known so well to everybody who works there).  Even the lovely welsh head of maintenance comes and says hello, and I get a hug and a peck on the cheek from a few others.  They're all very nice people.  Back to my story though....

The worst thing is having to get up at 5am to get nebulised and dressed, and on the train in time to be there for 7 30.  Usually I have to fight with the front desk staff to get up to the ward, but I find that threatening to just sit on the floor and stage a protest usually works!!  Once on the ward, I find myself in my own room or cubicle with a closing door.  This has many benefits.  One is that it screens out much of the noise of the ward.  The second is that I have my own TV!!  And the last is that I get to open the old window at full whack, and feel the breeze.  Hospitals are always too warm.  Anyways, then the doctors start to appear.  The anaesthetist will come wound and ask about previous surgeries.  This always makes me giggle because their eyes widen when they see the six files containing my notes.  If you put them on a table at waist height, they come above your head.  What a waste of trees....  One of the consultant anaesthetists started work there the same year I first went (1997!!), and she is just lovely.  She doesn't like doing anything to cause me pain, so there's always a bit of anguish on both sides when the needles are going in for the anaesthetic.  But once the needle is in, she delivers just the nicest sleep in the history of medicine.  So to her, I am eternally grateful.  She knows that I ramble when I'm stressed or nervous, so she listens and answers even.  It's nice when people understand you.  She's been putting me out for so long, that she knows every twitch and reaction from me, and can respond accordingly.  I value her beyond belief. 

Back to the ward.  Usually, they send a junior doctor around to clerk me.  They explain the procedure, and the risks and side effects.  Which again makes me laugh.  I've had stent changes over 80 times.  I can quote the risks and side effects and possible complications back at them, chapter and verse.  This is because I've suffered most of them at some point!!  Swelling, broken teeth, bleeding, migration of the stent, possible need for a tracheostomy, difficulty breathing, death...  I would say that death isn't so much a risk as an end result, lol, but that's Londoners for you!!  Now that the registrar has been there for a while, he generally comes to see me too.  He has the same name as my GP, but as he's a surgeon, he's a Mr H, not a Dr.  He's very nice.  He comes across initially as the kind of person who wouldn't blink if he were caught in a major disaster (probably quite a virtue for a surgeon), but he is the most amazing person to have on your side if you're in trouble with your airway.  If he says he will do something, he does it.  Which is just what you need when you have a chronic illness, isn't it?  And he's not that bad to look at either, lol.  He has a posh public school accent, and very shiny shoes.  And he isn't too big and important to say hello when he sees me.  And for that reason, I adore him.  Not in a sicko obsessed with my doctor way, just in a 'I appreciate actually being treated as a human'.  I will be very upset when he leaves and I have to 'train' a new one!!

After the clerking, one of the nurses will come round and measure me for stockings, take swabs to test for MRSA, fill out their paperwork, measure and weigh me, etc, etc....  These nurses are (mostly) absolute angels.  Again, the ward sister has been there since the first time I stayed, and she is the most reliable, skilled, intelligent and sensitive nurse that you could ever hope to have.  She doesn't tolerate time wasters or attention seekers, but if you are genuinely in pain or upset, she will stay with you and talk to you, or go and sort the problem out.  Whatever you need, she will do it and more.  I once had a terrible infection, and she'd read some research about manuka honey.  She got hold of this (very expensive) medical grade honey, applied it to my neck (the skin was turning to liquid, it was gross).  Anyway, while the infection was tackled on the inside by the antibiotics, it was most definitely tackled on the outside by this honey.  When the dressing came off, they were black and covered with necrosed skin.  It worked a treat.  All thanks to the lovely sisters intelligent research.  She probably saved me from losing yet more skin.  Even now, there is a dip in my neck where the skin loss was most severe.  If I could give this sister an award, I would.  If I won the lottery, she would most certainly benefit.  She has held my hand while I cried, fed me when I was too ill to do it for myself, washed and dressed me when I was too sick, organised 24 hour nursing care for me when I was psychotic (another story...).  Nurses in London are underappreciated.  But I really do value mine.

Anyway, then eventually a phone call comes from theatre, and up you go for your operation.  You walk to the lift with the poor nurse, who always struggles to carry my notes, lol.  The lift goes up to theatres, and opens just opposite the staff room.  All the porters, doctors and nurses always give me a wave.  I know most of them from years gone by.  We've been through a lot together, without a doubt.  And from the lift, I turn left and walk to the last theatre on the left (the laser suite), where I normally go into the little anaesthetic room and lay down on a trolley.  There's a lovely male nurse up there who usually strokes my hair while they're putting me off to sleep (because he knows it relaxes me).  And he talks to me about beer and football, and his missus.  And the doctors do their thing.  The needle goes in, the mask goes on.  Gradually the oxygen is replaced by the anaesthetic gases, and then they inject the actual anaesthetic.  First, a little Fentanyl.  It's like having ten vodkas at once, but without the nausea, lol.  They let me enjoy that for a minute or two, and then they inject the hard stuff.  It's usually a big old injection, about half the length of the lower part of your arm (the needle is tiny, remember, I'm just talking about the fluid).  And within seconds, you start to feel drowsy.  I prefer to go off to sleep slowly, and wake up slowly, so I always get the drug over a few seconds, not all at once.  Anyway, as the drug goes in, you feel it in the back of your head.  It kind of creeps up the back of your legs, then your arms, and then your spine.  And then it all goes a bit blurry and distant.  At this point I usually say 'thank you for looking after me, have a lovely day', or 'I'll see you later', or something inane, just to hear myself slurring, lol.  Plus it's nice to say thank you to theatre staff.  They usually get ignored!!.  And then it all goes black.  And literally seconds later (it feels like anyway).  You wake up. 

See, nothing traumatic about it at all!!  I will finish my wittering about surgery later.  Hope I haven't bored you rigid.  Have a lovely day XX

No comments:

Post a Comment