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Fri 9th Jan 2015: Hip Op Day (!) [Blast Off or Abort?]:

Have to get up at 6 to be at the hospital by 7.30. I drive for the last time in what will be 6 weeks at least. When we get there, we are greeted and shown to my room, Room 119, with its fine view of the gardens, its en suite bathroom and television. An admin person tells us that I am last on the list and will not be seen until after 11. She also apologises for the hammering, sawing and drilling noises which we can hear echoing down the corridor, reassuring us that it is the plumber repairing a shower and not the surgeon in the operating theatre. She promises that he will be finished shortly.

When she has gone, we are visited by the consultant, in manner and bearing a dead ringer for Salvador Dali, who is charming and upbeat and who tells me that I am well enough to have the operation.

Then it’s the turn of the anaesthetist, a Goth-shoed Rory Bremner lookalike, who persuades me to have general anaesthetic rather than a spinal block. He tells me that, as an ex-Drama teacher, I have too much imagination for such an ordeal.

While we are waiting, I finish Narrow Road and fall asleep on the bed. My deep blue Primark dressing gown moults on the waffle weave blanket. Part of me is still nervous but there’s another part of me which feels strangely calm as if I am witnessing this happening to someone else.

I am finally fetched at 12.00. I walk with a nurse to the operating theatre and pass Salvador Dali on the way. He seems to be wearing a blue plastic bag on his head and blue Marigolds on his hands. We exchange waves.

At the anaesthetic suite, I disrobe and take off my moccasins. Alas, my bottom pokes out of the back of my gown when I mount the gurney. My stomach gurgles and my lips feel dry.

A cannula is fitted into my hand and then a solution is injected into it which makes me dizzy. It feels warm in my arm and then cold…

I wake up wearing an oxygen mask with someone squeezing my ankles. I feel the pain in my hip immediately. The nurse tells me to stop holding my breath. I grip hold of the gurney and madly tap my temperature finger-grip on my chest. I am given more morphine which quickly makes everything better. Then I am taken back to my room and Jane appears within minutes.

It is only then that I realise that the ankle squeezer is mechanical. I am surrounded by equipment but I feel relaxed in a drowsy way. I cannot believe that I feel so calm and untroubled. I don’t feel sick or dizzy at all. Three cheers for morphine is all I can say, hip, hip, hooray.

I have some water, a cup of tea and then a bite of an apple plus one and a half slices of orange from Jane. (She is repaying me for when I fed her an orange in Grantham hospital after she had broken her wrist falling on some ice).

Order my tea and tomorrow’s breakfast and ask if I can be helped to the loo because I don’t want to use a bedpan.

After that it’s Escape to the Country on the television followed by anything – programmes about emigrating to Australia or reselling antique junk bought at a car boot sale - I don’t really care.

A card arrives from Alun and Judi (who have just left for London) followed by a visit from Alice and Athena.

Athena is scared of the equipment especially the anti DVT pumping machine. She shares her dried fruit with me. I share my cheese and ham omelette with her when it arrives. I cannot believe food can taste so good. Then it’s onto fruit salad (heaven) and a cup of coffee (invigorating).

Then comes a major achievement. With the aid of Cesc Fabregas, the physio, I get up, use a Zimmer frame and make it to the loo where I sit and have a wee. Can you believe it?

When I return from the bathroom, I entertain Athena by wearing her fur hat and playing with the sheep she has brought to keep me company at night. They have to go at 7 and Jane goes an hour later.

I get tea and biscuits at 9 which I eat while watching Heavy Metal Britannia at the BBC on the television with Deep Purple (playing ‘Black Night’), Budgie, Judas Priest, Uriah Heep, Motorhead before we get on to Black Sabbath and a welcome cocktail of drugs from the nurse (Oramorph, paracetamol, tramadol, ibuprofen) which is a wonderful accompaniment to the music and makes Tony Iommi’s guitar riffs soar and dive and bounce off the walls.

When I ask for lights out, the nurse very kindly creates a gap in the curtain so that I can see the street light and opens the window a crack for the draught. I sink back into my pillows.

It has been a busy day.


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