If We Were Having Coffee… Surgery Special!


Ok, this is going to be a pretty serious cup of coffee; you might want a slice of cake to go with this one!  So, back in January I had surgery to remove a cholesteatoma in my ear, which was a completely new and, I’ll admit, terrifying experience for me.  I’ve never broken bones before, and apart from very fleeting appointments for something a few years ago, I am fortunate enough to say that I have next to no experience of hospitals.

This operation is something I have known about for almost a year, so I’ve had a long stretch of feeling pretty ill and being on/off worried about my health, just waiting every day for that letter to come through saying I finally had a date.  Though the cholesteatoma itself is something fairly routine to remove, there was infection trapped in there too, so part of the surgery would be investigating the damage done and reconstructing the bone that had already been eaten (ew).

I’m still in recovery (it will be months until we truly know how successful the operation has been, but the consultant felt it had gone really well), but I thought some of you might find it interesting to see some of the process I went through.  I hope you’ll find this encouraging – I certainly feel really positive about my experience, and am relieved I am on the mend.  Since my fortnight was so chill, I got lots of reading done, and did a lot of board gaming, so there’s a bit of that thrown in too for good measure.

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that I spent ages choosing books to take into the surgery waiting area with me.  In the end I chose Lightning Chase Me Home by Amber Lee Dodd and Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come by Jessica Pan.  Then, on the morning of surgery I was told I was first in the queue and was walking down to surgery just 45 minutes later.  No reading time after all!

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that just before surgery I was asked where I worked (just making small talk), and it triggered a ten minute talk about books.  I can’t begin to tell you how surreal it is to be lying in a room with four or five people sweeping around you in blue gowns while they discuss their favourite reads.

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that going under general anaesthetic is really, really strange.  I was told it would initially feel like I’d had a few gins (as they administered a painkiller), and boy, did it feel like I’d had a few gins!  It was like being drunk with none of the nauseating side effects, before I was told to breathe into an oxygen mask, and then fell almost instantly asleep.  Next thing I remember is having a dream, followed by hearing a woman’s voice, which must have been the nurse tending to me, as she was standing there when I opened my eyes.

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that I was so fine after surgery that I sat up in bed eating dinner with Neil when he got back that evening from a work conference, and we were both really confused by how ok I was feeling.  At this point I looked at the stack of books next to my bed and was thinking “two weeks off work? Ha! Suckers!”

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that I took it back, I took it all back!  When that sweet, blissful anaesthetic wore off I was hurting so much.  On day two of recovery I woke up in agony, and was in so much pain that Neil had to organise my painkillers as I couldn’t think straight.  I think because I’d been feeling pretty good, I was taking nowhere near the amount of painkillers my body needed.  I spent the next few days feeling sorry for myself and napping between meals.

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that the helpful booklet they gave me during my pre-op advised me not to make important decisions in the 24 hours after surgery.  For some reason, I was left alone with the internet, and spent £50 on board games.  One of them arrived the other day, and we just sort of looked at it, wondering what on earth to do with it now!  Is “insanity following surgery” a reasonable excuse for refund?  Possibly not…

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that I also lost some of my words after surgery – this was actually the scariest thing that happened to me.  For about five days I was making a lot of spelling errors and forgetting really simple words.  My mind would draw a blank, and I would barely know how to describe the word I was trying to find.  This seemed to clear up, and I think I can just about string sentences together as normally as I did pre-operation.

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that I was bought Isle of Cats as a get well soon present, and I love it.  The game is illustrated beautifully and I don’t own a puzzle game quite like it.

If we were having coffee… I would tell you that being forced to relax for two weeks has made me really reconnect with reading.  Too tired for video gaming, but needing more stimulation than TV, I found myself reaching for a book whenever I was awake.  My favourite read so far has been Jessica Pan’s Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come – I’ve reviewed it here, because it deserves some attention!

I’m almost ready to return to work – this whole experience has been a bit surreal.  I’m proud of my body for getting me through it, and I’m looking forward to being fully recovered in a few months time.

What would you share over coffee?

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