Friday, 13 September 2013

The woes of hospital

This is a long winded post about my recent stay in hospital, if you don't feel up to reading it, please scroll to the bottom of the post for my results.

3 weeks ago I finally got the call I had been waiting for, I was getting surgery to remove a malignant tumor from my thyroid. A few weeks previous I had received a letter instructing me to call the hospital on the 19th of August to make sure there was a bed available for me. When the day came, I was at odds with myself if I wanted to have the operation or leave it. To any normal person this sounds ridiculous right? But since I was 15 I have been suffering with agoraphobia. It has hindered my life in a lot of ways, so to stay for 3 nights in a hospital, was my vision of hell. I have the tools to help with the panic, but the unknown and not having my safety blanket (my Mom), well I really thought I couldn't go ahead with it. I had prepared myself that morning by reading about the operation and made a list of questions to ask the surgeon. Normally I would shy away from asking questions because I felt quite intimidated by doctors and surgeons in the past. This time I was determined not to be dismissed. I packed my bag with Mp3 player stuffed with Mindful Meditation tracks, Rescue Remedy, snuggly blanket, paper and pen and books. Basically anything that would make my stay feel a bit like home (sans cats & dog)

When I arrived my anxiety was through the roof and I felt that no breathing exercise and progressive muscle relaxation was going to get me through the few days. The nurse came around and took my details and got me settled into bed. I was in a room with 5 other ladies. The room was old and dirty, stained and cold. 3 of the ladies were Alzheimer's patients and one in particular was, how do I say this, from a troubled background? I wasn't looking forward to the night!

The lights went out at about 10pm, which for me, is when I get my second burst of life. I just ended up reading the whole night, 2 of the Alzheimer patients shouted the whole night, the other one went on the run, I think I got about an hours sleep before the light came on at 6am. An hour or so later the surgeon came. He informed me that the operation wasn't going to be 'keyhole' and that half my thyroid would be removed. PANIC! I hadn't prepared myself for this at all. I rang my Dad and had a chat before agreeing to sign the consent form. I was so nervous and just wanted my Mam to be there to hold my hand. I ended up upsetting myself to the point that the nurse gave me a Xanax.

At 2pm the nurse came to get me. I walked to the theater which I thought was a bit odd, normally they take you by wheelchair, but I didn't mind too much as my arse was hanging out the back of my gown and it was keeping my mind off the operation. When I got to the prep area all of the surgeons were standing in the hall looking at me. They all had such friendly faces which really put my mind at ease. They took me in and put me on 'the slab' and had a joke about tummy tucks and nose jobs. I lay down, took a deep breath and counted....

Sick & swollen after surgery
1 week after surgery

I woke up after having the best freakin' sleep ever! I felt OK, not sore and after a while in recovery I was back in the dark, dirty ward. Himself and my brother called up an hour later. I didn't feel like I had surgery (I'm sure I was up to the eyeballs om good drugs!) I felt normal, no anxiety at all. They stayed for a while, took some photos of my blood drainage thing and kissed me goodbye. I was ready for a great sleep... Unfortunately the poor Alzheimer's patients kicked off. One was drunk, trying to light cigarettes, and wrestled a nurse on the floor for a lighter. It got to the point where the security had to sit with her the whole night as she tried to pull my bed neighbour out of the bed by the leg. The other Alzheimer's patient shouted the whole night and the other one went on the run again. The nurses were so overwhelmed and understaffed. 2 nurses for 18 patients, 3 of which had Alzheimer's, it was disgraceful! The next morning I was exhausted, and begged the nurse to ask the doctor to let me go home. About an hour later the doctor arrived, he decided that if I ate something solid I could go home but I'd have to rest for a few days, no lifting heavy items etc. I threw a slice of toast into me and rang my Dad to collect me. I wasn't offered any aftercare so I rang the local chemist for advice. They were great! They contacted the hospital and asked if I needed any medication. They got everything sorted for me.

It's been 3 weeks now and I've finally removed my stitches and the scar is looking so tidy, compared to my appendix scar, you can barely see it!
I had my follow up appointment with the surgeon yesterday and got the best news; they got the tumor and cyst on the right hand-side of the thyroid and they were happy enough it hasn't spread and doesn't require any chemo or radiation therapy. It was such a relief but I will have to go for check ups every 3-6 months. I now have to go on medication to regulate my thyroid and a calcium supplement. I'm so glad it's over and done with, as this last year has been the hardest of my life, so it was great to finally get some good news.