You know the worst thing about having surgery?
Not the risks that come with general anaesthetic, not the scars you get, and not the time it takes to recover….No, it’s having to starve yourself for so many hours beforehand. So when I woke up from surgery number 4, I was ravenous! I would have eaten anything (even cat-sick curry got my salivary glands going)! So when my family turned up with enough sweet treats to open my own chain of newsagents and my beloved Dr. Pepper, all thought of self pity disappeared and I felt like the luckiest girl alive!
Approximately 30 minutes later, a Nurse comes into my room to check on me and to offer a bit of advice, “Oh, good to see you awake and alert, just to warn you, don’t eat or drink anything too quickly because your body is adjusting after major surgery and the anaesthetic will still be making it’s way through your system!”, I didn’t like to say that I’d scoffed an entire bag of squashies and a whole bottle of Dr. Pepper in about 20 seconds, I just led there feeling quietly smug that I managed to devour this little piece of heaven on the quiet!
It was approximately 10 minutes later when I felt that horrible feeling of overwhelming nausea creeping up from my stomach and burning my oesophagus. I rang the bell (something I hated doing!), a Nurse appears and quickly assessing the situation runs to get a bowl. I promptly fill this bowl plus 2 more with a sweet smelling bright pink substance. What happens next can only be described as pandemonium! Alarms start ringing and 6 important looking members of staff appear at my bedside (you can always pick out the important ones- they wear stethoscopes for necklaces!) I’m bewildered but impressed with this personal care! Turns out that vomiting post brain surgery is a major red flag that there is some kind of complication. I’m whisked straight down for a CT scan where everyone breaths a huge sigh of relief that my brain isn’t about to explode. The nurse comes in and in a voice I hadn’t heard since primary school, kindly explains “don’t you worry about anything, Dear”, and feeling not at all worried but rather sheepish, I made a silent decision that the great squashie scandal would stay between me, myself and I!
You could say that I got the karma I deserved because I spent the following 8 days extremely ill and this time I really was worried because I hadn’t so much as look at a bag of squashies. Yet I couldn’t seem to stop my stomach from emptying its contents approximately every 10 minutes! It was dreadful, and even now I struggle to find anything humourous about this time! But it was at times like this that I felt incredibly grateful for the wonderful nurses who looked after me, the HCA who wheeled me down the hall and sat with me for hours in the family room when some builders decided it was a good time to replace the windows in my room! Even though there was no way I could hold a conversation, she just sat with me, held a cool cloth to my head and gently rubbed my arm! I will always be so thankful to family and friends who turned up and sat with me whilst I vomited non-stop, and thoughtful messages from people with best wishes! Without a doubt, this was the darkest time, but there is a lovely quote which says, “It is in the dark times that the light of friendship shines brightest”, and I am lucky enough to know that this is most definitely true.
After 8 days, I turned a corner and a visit from my friend gave me the enthusiasm to attempt a walk up and down the ward. Whilst on my travels, the girl in the room opposite me was doing the same and as we passed she gave me a little smile, “Hi, I’m Amy, come over tonight and say Hello!” Initially I’m horrified….leave my bed to go across the hall to her room to say “Hi”?, sounds a bit adventurous to me. I probably wont, I’ll probably just stay here and smile when she looks my way! But lying there reflecting on the last 8 days where I genuinely felt my luck had finally ran out and I was about to embark on a never ending date with Mr G. Reaper, I was suddenly overcome with a “Fuck it, you only live once” attitude and I waltzed over to Amy’s room full of energy and confidence! I didn’t make it further than the door, because I walked smack into the shiny new piece of glass that had been placed there only days before- thank god I didn’t crack it, I don’t think I could handle another visit from Bob The Builder and his mates!
Bravado just about intact, I continued my walk over to Amy’s. And so follows my meeting with one of the most lovely, strong and brave ladies I have ever known and the creation of the ‘Brainy Gang’. Amy later introduced me to Fran and Sue who had already vacated Costa del Southmead by the time I arrived and we get together whenever we can. Its priceless to have a wonderful group of ladies who completely understand all the crazy things that come with the all-inclusive brain surgery package! The things these ladies have achieved post B.S. is inspiring and I love them so much! And however awful this particular episode was, I laugh out loud every time I think of the first time the 4 of us met outside of the ‘prison walls’…..
“See you at The Globe at 2pm”. Me, 2pm: “I’m here but I cant see you” . Brainy gang: “We’re here too”. 5 minutes and a walk of the entire pub later. Me: “The Globe at Coalpit Heath, right?!”. Brainy Gang: “Where the hell is Coalpit Heath? We’re in Bath ……Me: “Right, see you in 30 minutes”
Well they don’t call us the brainy gang for nothing!!
Lots of Love,