Life brings with a plethora of experiences, each with a flavour of its own. I wish to share with all my readers these various experiences and observations that I have made during my time here on this planet. They may be funny, thought-provoking or simple reflections. I do hope you will find these enjoyable and interesting.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A Story of a Valentine's Day And A Few Days That Followed - Part III


Previous part here

The time fixed for me to go in was fixed. They would come for me at 7.15. I was told the surgery would last 5 hours. OK, so be it. Spent Valentine's day – the day I was admitted – in going for pre-op tests and signing consent forms in between chatting with friends on line – my dear friends on Indusladies, many whom I have met personally and many whom I have not as well as a few others. It helped me keep my mind diverted and we indulged in a lot of light banter. Evening saw a friend and her husband (actually cousins on my mother-in-law's side – but I prefer to say they are friends than in-laws) come over with flowers to pep me up and spend some time with me.

They left and I tried to get some sleep. For reasons unknown to me (maybe there was some anxiety which I was not fully conscious or aware of) I was not able to sleep too well. Hubby dear did manage to snatch some sleep, but I could tell there was a degree of anxiety in him. It is never easy for a doc to know all the implications of a surgery and watch a near and dear one go into surgery. For that matter it is not easy for anyone. He came up with me upto the doors of the OT and told his colleague the anaesthetist to take good care of me.

The next thing I remember was the process of going under. Considering it was around 8 am I expected to be out by 1 pm. When I finally came to and was being told the surgery was over, am I OK, is there any pain etc. it was actually 4 pm. The surgery had gone on for 8 hours. Back in the ICU I was told I had lost about a liter of blood and I had to be given blood. Something broke inside me. I have always believed in giving blood as a gift that belongs only to me to give away – a gift of love towards humanity, but never imagined taking it back. And that is precisely what it seemed to me I was doing. I can never give it back again – for various reasons they do not accept my blood anymore. I wished I had thought of this event before hand and had opted for auto transfusion. But I had not been in mentally in a state to think of all these things. Anyway, what was inevitable could not be avoided.

What was worse was a searing pain going down my left hip and leg which the doctors assured me was post-op pain which would settle within 2-3 days. I was not so convinced – why should post op pain radiate downwards? This was not the first time I was experiencing a post-op situation. Anyway I did not argue at that point. Did not think I would cut any ice.

I could not turn on to my left side nor lie on my back. Any such effort would send the shooting pain back. It was a night in hell in the ICU. There were 3 patients there and I was lying awake for much of the time. Many times when I opened my eyes I would find a couple of nurses hovering around me and looking down with great concern. The feeling was like having angels standing by your side knowing you needed their tender help. At one point in the night, I heard some nurses near the desk talking in Kannada and said something that sounded like “sicktilla”. I asked the nurse who was standing besides me what the word meant. It sounded very incongruous to me in an ICU with all “sick people”. A sense of relief flooded over me when I realised that I was able to laugh at something through that pain. I was still there. Heard one patient telling the nurse he was in an apartment and wanted to go to the hotel. When she told him where he was, he insisted she was talking nonsense. Part of my mind was taken by the absurdity of the situtaion, part of it went out to the patient who was obviously not aware where he was or what he was doing and part of it went out to the nurses who probably experienced such patients every other day. I asked the nurse how they handled such difficult ones. She told me they could sometimes turn violent and slap them too, which was really terrible. After all this they are so cheerful and laugh through the situation. Next day this patient wanted to go to sleep early. The nurses told him it was only 6 pm and if he went to sleep, he would be up by 1 am asking to go to the hotel. So better he try and keep awake for some more time. :-D Could not help being taken in by their sense of humour.

The next morning came. Time to get mobilized and to try and walk. They tried it. I went along, but could barely manage to drag my left leg behind me. It was in severe pain and I could not move it properly. Something worried me immensely. A fear swept over me and I wondered if I would ever walk properly again. Who would look after me? What would I do? Had I done a major mistake going in for this surgery? The pain only intensified through the day in spite of all the narcotics, steroids, antibiotics and pain relieving drugs that were given to me.

Next morning the doctors finally decided that something was not quite right and went in for a CT scan. My haemoglobin had plummeted to around 8. The effects of the general anaesthesia and the medications were ravaging – I was immensely sick and could see my body as a chemical factory. That was another cause for alarm. My mind was already travelling in the direction of detoxification treatments. :-P  The mention of another scan immediately told me that I was going on for something major. I was taken for the scan. The movement from ICU to the radiology department and back only made me feel sicker – motion sickness. I was grateful when the bed was stationary again in the ICU. I don't know how long it was – maybe half an hour later perhaps – when my husband came and said “Satchi” in a tone which told me that the news was not good. What else could it be?  Another surgery was required.  I knew it inside.  A screw was not properly placed, there was a lamina was fractured behind the screw and a nerve going down to the leg was trapped between the two.  This was no surprise.  I just told him “Well, I knew that was coming. What to do? If it has to be done, it has to be done. Don't worry, all will be OK”. Then we got into the mundane details of trying to organize another 3 units of blood with the help of a blood bank where I had worked a few years ago. It was so heartening when they remembered me with great affection and assured me not to worry, they would organize whatever was necessary. Then came more transfusions and I was moved back to OT. The same routine again and then 2 hours later I was being told it it was all over, could I move my leg, was there any pain, move my toes up, push my foot down – all of which I did but could not open my eyes. That made me panic. Tried desperately to open my eyes which I could do about after half an hour later. But to my great relief, the pain in the leg was gone. I was out of the shadows. Finally. I could deal with the post op pain. I did not feel the need for any great doses of pain killers.

The night passed relatively peacefully. Was able to sleep on both sides which was immensely relieving. The next morning I had a vision – not once, but twice. I saw dad lying in my place. Saw his face very clearly. It was not an imagination. No imagination could bring him so clearly to me. The only sense I can make it was he came, lay in my place, took my suffering away from me, told me all was well and went. I know I can count on him to come back whenever I want him again. I am sure there will be many who think I am totally nuts ….. but I can live with that.

The morning saw me feeling positively chirpy – chirpy enough to tell hubby dear that I was ready for the third surgery if necessary or alternatively to go for a drive. There was jubilation all around. Hubby looked so relieved. Everyone kept telling me how anxious he had been, going up and down between his department and the ICU and asking all the time if I was out of surgery, how terrible he had looked over the past couple of days. He told me how he had been unable to think straight and he had tried to find relief in chatting with his colleague for some time. My heart went out to him when I thought about how painful it would have been for me had the story been the other way round.

This was what Valentine's day was all about. Keeping up promises. Living out one's promises. How many times do we hear of husbands or wives who break under the pressure and abandon their partners in the toughest of times! I am grateful to the core to have a husband who has stuck by me through thick and thin, in health and in sickness, for better or for worse. He might not be the type to spend a lot of time with me, but I can depend on having a tower of strength to lean on when the chips are down.

.....contd here

No comments:

Post a Comment