House of Pain

I am emerging from a weird sort of hibernation today. For the last three weeks my house has resembled an episode of M*A*S*H with makeshift beds and bandaged bodies groaning from different rooms. I have taken on the role of Hawkeye and have been administering pain medication to my three poorly patients. My patients have been my husband, my dog and my daughter, as all three of them have had operations.

Firstly, hubby was booked in for a minor operation. We have decided to draw the line at three children and to ensure this is a definite choice, my hubby made the brave decision to have ‘the snip’ (only took 2 years of me badgering him). He wasn’t completely willing as apart from the obvious fears of the pain he may have to endure, I think there is a male ego thing related to this particular male operation. For Mum’s we become fairly used to being pulled around and examined with little dignity from the minute we get pregnant and long after the baby is born. I had so many examinations during and after my pregnancy with the twins I was pretty much on auto pilot of stripping off from the waist down at every appointment, even if the doctor was only interested in my blood pressure! After three children, all delivered naturally and numerous smear tests, I did find it a little tricky to feel too sympathetic about my hubby’s upcoming surgery but I did understand his concerns.

On the day of the operation, my husband and I travelled by train to a clinic in the west end of London, which literally had the smallest waiting room I’d ever seen. We waited amongst the other nervous looking men and their partners until he was called through for the procedure. In just less than an hour, my hubby emerged looking a bit pained. I had expected him to be walking like a cowboy having just dismounted from his horse but it was the opposite, he wasn’t able to take big steps but instead was sort of shuffling. Clutching his paper bag of dressings and leaflets we carefully left the surgery and ambled down the street towards the Underground. Hubby was now resembling a geisha with his tiny steps and his legs shut together which meant I had to adopt a similar walking style so as not to leave him behind, this seriously doesn’t work in rush hour London. Apart from flinching everytime the dog or kids came anywhere near him and walking tentatively for a few days, his recovery has been fairly straightforward.

Next up on the hit list was our dog Chester. As a 2-year-old male Labrador, Chester has become a little over sexed of late. Thankfully, his heightened hormones have mainly been directed at cushions, his bedding and a weird obsession with Chihuahua’s and he hasn’t tried to hump any of us.  However, whenever we were out on a walk, Chester’s hormones were raging at any dog that was unlucky enough to cross his path. Whatever breed or gender he was climbing aboard, I was left trying to drag him off the poor dog he was violating and apologising profusely to the horrified owner. If a Chihuahua was within a 2 mile radius he was gone, nose shoved in a place that made the features of the toy dog literally cry out for help. When it came to the point of an annoyed dog owner suggesting he ‘sort my dog out with some bricks’ I knew it was time to seek veterinary help!

Not a happy patient!

Not a happy patient!

We visited the vet after determining what the difference was between a castration and a vasectomy, which was a little reminiscent from the week before with my hubby. Chester was led away, his tail wagging, oblivious to what the rest of the day had in store for him, again it was a little reminiscent of the week before with my hubby. We collected him that evening with his massive cone to wear, struggling to walk on wobbly legs and a private area that would make the bravest person heave. His recovery has been a bit more laboured, he hasn’t been allowed out for walks for two weeks and for a dog who has a 2 mile run every day he has been super miserable. The cone that he was supposed to wear was a nightmare, not only did it take a wrestling team to fix it on his neck, but once he was wearing it, he proceeded to nudge the backs of our legs with it and scrape it up and down the walls. He has finally recovered after two weeks in depression with my constant shouts of ‘leave it alone’ after we abandoned (and he proceeded to chew) his cone. He has been out for walks but not amongst other dogs as yet, that test is to be trialled next week when I immerse him back into doggy society and hope that he has learnt to control his hormones a bit more.

My last patient of the month was our little girl. She has always had abnormally sized tonsils and adenoids, suffers with constant glue ear and is always dealing with some sort of cold. In her six years of life, we have visited numerous doctors to no avail, were told that she will ‘grow into her tonsils’ or that she can ‘learn to live with them’. After a concerning amount of time off school last year with throat infections, she was finally placed on a waiting list for surgery. The date we were sent, of course, was the week after Chester and hubby’s operations. I had longed for a solution to my little girl’s constant anguish with illness, but when the day arrived for her to have the problem eradicated, I was petrified. We arrived at the children’s ward bright and early one morning and settled Millie in her sterile and unwelcoming bed, against colourfully designed walls, amid hospital equipment and toys.

The view next to my daughters bed.

The view next to my daughters bed.

After the consultant talked us through the upcoming procedure of removing said tonsils and adenoids, puncturing her ear drums to drain fluid and inserting grommets, we had to paste on our hopeful smiley faces for the sake of our anxious looking daughter. We were led to the operating theatre were I was given hospital scrubs to wear, as I would be accompanying my little one through anaesthetic. Hubby was placed in the most starkly decorated relatives room ever seen and I followed her hospital bed and nurses down the daunting corridor and into pre-op. My job was to distract my daughter as the anaesthetist inserted the needle tap thingy in her hand. So I proceeded to promise my daughter the world in exchange for her looking at me and not the hand that was being dealt with. Unfortunately, her tiny hand didn’t accept the needle insertion so they had to try the other hand. I changed places with the surgical team, choking back the tears as my little girl stared wide-eyed at me looking frightened and begging me ‘to keep her tonsils’. They managed to put the needle in her other tiny hand and within seconds she was out cold, at which point I almost collapsed in a heap. One of the nurses led me back to the relatives room as I burst into tears, blubbering at the nurse ‘she didn’t even count back from ten’. Hubby was waiting there opposite another Mum, in much the same state as me, as we waited the longest 45 minutes of our lives.

The most depressing waiting room I never want to see again.

The most depressing waiting room I never want to see again.

Thankfully the surgery was a success, however, once back in childrens ward an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic kicked in resulting in her heart racing, her temperature raging and the poor little lady vomiting. Thankfully, the nurses were quick to react and brought her back to normal with medicine and a fan. We then spent the next 9 hours trying to make our little girl comfortable and feeding her crisps and sandwiches (doctors orders) so no ice-cream as expected. The last two weeks of her recovery have been tough, she has suffered greatly with pain, especially in her ears, her appetite is non-existent and her diet has mainly consisted of jacket potatoes and chocolate milkshakes, but she is starting to turn a corner now. The pain has eased and she is starting to show an interest in food again. I am spending far too much money on my food shopping and hosting a kind of Generation Game each evening bringing different food items in front of my daughter with an accompanied ‘Wow look whats on the menu tonight!’.

Three weeks, three operations and three poorly patients. I’m hanging up my scrubs for now.


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