It’s not some sort of Government initiative it is what I had done to sort out my enlarged prostate!
Where do I begin? Well, this is the first operation I’ve had. No, that’s not strictly true. I have had an operation on my ear, but at the time I was in a medically induced coma, (which is another story!) so that doesn’t count in some ways.
This is the first operation I’ve consciously known I was having, so new territory. I do far too much research into these things. But in some ways it’s better to be well informed, healthcare professionals will tell you as much as you need to know if you ask the right questions. Usually, when I’m talking to them my head is just full of; “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” and no really sensible questions come to mind.
On a Friday I had a phone call from the hospital which basically told me my operation was next Friday. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God”. I was told to attend a pre-op assessment. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God”
“Don’t worry we’ll write to you”
So although this was good, the operation was getting done, but it was only a week away.
Fast forward to the day of the operation. I have to attend the admissions department at 07:00. it’s funny, on the day I wasn’t particularly nervous. I was apprehensive, but I had a good idea about what was going to happen. It would be a general anaesthetic so I’d know nothing about it.
So, me and Mandy are sitting waiting. I get called to answer some questions and return to sit with Mandy. Then someone in a surgeons gown calls me, I say goodbye to Mandy and follow the Lady. “Oh you can leave you bad I’m just talking to you about anaesthetics”. Oh great Mandy has now gone, doesn’t matter to me, but she now thinks I’m going to have my operation. Anyway, I go into a small office with the gowned lady.
She starts explaining things to me about Spinal anaesthesia. Ok, I wasn’t expecting this, I assumed I’d just be asleep. Again, my head is full of “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God”. She explains there’s quicker recovery, I won’t feel sick, I’ll be up and drinking tea and eating in no time after. Hmm, I am a bit hungry. Focus!
I go back to the waiting area, Mandy has gone. I’m on my own. No problem, I do 2 things. Firstly I drop a colleague a message that had a Spinal anaesthesia just the week before, to seek comfort really. I also google Spinal anaesthesia and TURP, which is Transurethral resection of the prostate. It seems the nerve block is the preferred way. My colleague also confirmed it was OK and the reason they had it was because they felt they had more chance of dying because of the general anaesthetic. Ok, I’m now convinced.
So, now I wait. I hear my name mentioned in a telephone conversation. A few minutes later I’m called to put on my hospital gown. Right here’s an important piece of information. Take a dressing gown and slippers, I’m glad I did. Gown on, dressing gown on, long stockings on and I’m taken through some doors.
I thought I’d feel like a condemned man, but I didn’t. I followed a nurse through a long corridor, through some doors. I was a bit relieved to realise it wasn’t an operating theatre, it was, as they called it, a holding bay.
A few minutes after I was visited by a man in “scrubs” who asked me a few questions and I was asked to follow him.
Where am I going now? I thought. It was quite a walk through really wide, very cool corridors. Then to a door. “Theatres 1-6” But I’m not about to watch a film!
Into a small room, again, not an operating theatre. How many more rooms? I am a little nervous, but the staff were great and keep you talking. This is the room where they numb my legs.
No Sense No Feeling
My legs were number with a nerve blocker injected into the spine, sounds gross, but they first inject a local anaesthetic. Then the nerve blocker, which feels a little like someone pushing their finger into your back, not painfully, but with some pressure. Then my legs went warm from the feet up.
They moved my legs onto the table and use a cold spray to test for feeling. They sprayed my neck, as a test. I confirmed it was cold. Then sprayed my legs from my feet upwards and I was to tell them when I could feel cold. It was upwards of my knees. They gave it another minute and it was by my hips.
The anaesthetist said, “Yes, up to C9, I’m happy” From memory, the spine is somehow numbered in “C”‘s I assumed C9 was the right place on the spine to be numb.
A Theatre Without Films
I’m wheeled into theatre. By this time I wasn’t at all nervous really. My legs felt weird. Have you ever slept on your arm and woke up in the night and it’s “Dead”. You can’t feel it. That was the feeling.
I can’t make out the surgeon, he seems to be “hiding” in the corner of the room. I’m sure he wasn’t, but it looked like it. My legs are hoisted into stirrups. Hmm, I’m more flexible than I realised. The surgeon asked something of the man who was looking after me. “You can ask him the patient is awake”. Indeed I was, I can’t remember the question, but the man asked me and I answered.
The anesthetist, who I must say was lovely, asked me if I’d like a sedative.
“It will make you feel a bit light-headed”
“Like I’m sort of drunk?”, I asked
“Yes a little bit like that”
“I’m not sure”
“We could try a little bit and see how you get on, it’ll help you relax”
At this point, I was aware of noises and pulling on my tummy, no pain of course. “Biopsy is done.” I heard the surgeon say. Oh, they had started already.
“Ok, yes please. Oh that’s nice”
“Would you like some music?”, I’m asked and I think “I’d actually quite fancy a cider and maybe some…….”
“Hello, Graham. Hello, Graham, you can wake up now”
I’d been asleep? Surely not.
“Boris Johnson is downstairs”, said the man who was looking after me.
I’ll just stop there. I’m laying on a bed in an operating theatre. I have, without me knowing, had a prostate operation and a bladder biopsy done. During this time, I’d apparently been asleep. Wait a minute, I feel completely “normal” as if I’d just woken up from being asleep, well, apart from numb legs of course.
“What as a Patient?” I ask.
“No, he’s downstairs handshaking. We’ll take you through to recovery now”
I’m wheeled into an adjoining ward. At this point, I’d count myself as one of the luckiest people on the planet. I’ve had an operation. I feel fine. I have no pain, ok I can’t use my legs, other than that…
I’m laying in recovery looking down at my feet. I can’t yet move them. I have two bags which are putting saline solution through my bladder and out into a bag using a 3-way catheter. I’m feeling absolutely fine.
I look at the clock it’s 11:30. 11:30? What? I’m working about the times here. The last time I was aware of a time it was certainly after 10:00. The operation might have taken an hour, or 30 minutes I can’t be sure.
I’m laying there, quite happy watching people coming out of theatre. I take a few photos (as you do) and send texts to those who need to know I’m safe and well.
13:30. “Would you like a cup of tea and maybe something to eat”? asked a nurse.
At this stage, I’m almost laughing to myself, more in relief than anything being particularly funny. I’m drinking tea and eating a ham sandwich for flip sake!
The nurse replaces the bags to continue the bladder wash out. About 10 minutes later another nurse walks past. I smile.
“Oh my God, what’s happen?” she says. She’s looking at me. I wasn’t sure how to respond. “I’ve had an operation?” “I’m sorry I didn’t eat all my sandwich”
What had happened is that somehow the saline solution bag has come unplugged and the whole 2-litre bag had spilt and the bed was soaking. I mean dripping on the floor.
“Couldn’t you feel anything?” the nurse asked in an almost accusing manner.
“My legs are numb” I replied. A cleanup operation ensued, changing the bedsheets and me with legs that could move. Roll this way, roll that way.
I’m now waiting to go up onto a proper ward and I’m there until 19:00. A long wait, but I wasn’t doing anything, a bed is a bed.
I’m eventually taken back to the same ward I was on 6 weeks previously when first admitted through A&E. It’s visiting time so a bit hectic. After a short while, a nurse comes over asks me if I’d like a cup of tea. Indeed I do. I also ask if there’s any chance of any food. Yes, toast and jam would be fine thanks.
I catch the eye of the person I know as the Matron, but she could be ward manager.
“Aww hello Graham, welcome back” she walks towards me. Now she is the nicest person I’ve ever met. Really. The type of person that says “Aww bless” but really means it. She asks if I’m ok and if I want anything. I explain I’ve already ordered tea and toast.
Another couple of nurses recognise me. Good grief the NHS is GOOD! I know people have had problems and mistakes happen, but overall, it’s the staff that make it.
Time To Leave….
Before I can be discharged I have to be able to pee without the catheter. This is called TWOC which stands for Trial Without Catheter. At 06:00 Sunday morning, the catheter is to be removed.
“I’m a little apprehensive”, I say to the nurse.
“It is a big catheter”, she replied. I’ll forgive her, she’d been at work since 20:00 last night..
It’s out. Now, I have one job. Actually two. Drink water and pee. That’s all I’ve got to do all day. By about 11 I’m thinking I should go. Now, this is a scary bit. It’s going to be uncomfortable. No, it’s going to hurt. It’s been in for nearly 7 weeks. I go to the toilet.
To cut a long, graphic, and may I say, painful story short, I can’t pee. I did a little, but not enough. We wait, I try again. Nope. I just can’t go.
The catheter will have to go in again. This is of course, disappointing, but really not the end of the world. The catheter goes is. It doesn’t drain. Now by this point, it’s 4 O’clock and I haven’t peed properly since 06:30 and I’ve been drinking!
The catheter is held in place by a balloon, which is filled with water. Unfortunately with the balloon inflated it doesn’t drain, let the balloon down, urine drains. I ask the nurse to at least drain some off, as my bladder it uncomfortable.
“I’ll try a bigger catheter”, she suggests
Oh shit. I think but say, “Ok nurse whatever will help.”
It’s fitted, it doesn’t help. Now I’m in pain.
“Walk around a bit that sometimes helps.” It doesn’t, I need to pee!
Honestly, this is a truly terrifying prospect, I’m doing my best to stay calm. I have something in my, which is preventing me from urinating. This is not a good situation, I already know this. I already know this situation can cause kidney failure.
With it being a Sunday there aren’t many Doctors about, but there is someone called a Registrar who seems to be an expert, he is called. After a while, I walk out to see the nurse and ask if she can come and let the balloon down and manually empty some of my bladder. She some around to scan the bladder and fortunately the Registrar arrives. He arrives at about 17:30. scans my bladder and says “it’s very full”, this I already know.
He now tries the 3rd Catheter. Eventually, it starts to drain after he injects more water into my already too full bladder, this forces me to involuntarily pass wind. At this point, I really don’t give a shit (no pun intended) as I a pee.
I lie in bed, headphones on never been so happy to feel my bladder emptying.
The next day I go home with a catheter but not a bag, I now have a tap. I can manually empty the bladder when I need to.
I get home and turn the tap on the catheter and nothing comes out. Shit. Not good, but I know I need a pee. OK, this feels normal, I have a pain suggesting to me I should pee, so I’ll just go ahead and do it then. I was apprehensive, to say the least
Trying not to make any noises that would alarm Mandy I slowly do whatever you need to do to start to pee and burning pee starts to flow. It does hurt, but I am peeing, this is good.
The situation now is that I have a catheter, but am peeing “normally” As long as my bladder is emptying, I’m happy, although I seem to have something I don’t actually need. I have an appointment in two weeks to get it removed.
Well, as I mentioned I am waiting for an outpatients appointment where the catheter is removed and my pee flow is tested. Then that’s pretty much it. I’ll get my fitness back and hopefully, life will return to normal.
It’s been mentally difficult. It’s really not a part of the body you need too many people fiddling with. In many ways humour gets me through. Of course, you can’t joke about everything at the time, a lot of it is funny looking back