Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Karma Blog: Blood, Lateness, Gown Related First Impression, A Little Bit of Teaching, and a Lot of Exhaustion

To be honest, I didn't have a great night.

I found it really difficult to get to sleep, for a number of reasons. Mainly because I was too hot. In spite of being designed to allow large areas of my anatomy to be on display at all times, the gown I was wearing still trapped the body heat I was producing seemed to reflect it back on to me. This was coupled with the fact that the blankets on my bed were an extra heat retaining layer. There was much thrashing about as I tried one, some or all of my limbs pushed out from under the blankets in an attempt to cool down.
Another factor in both my temperature and inability to sleep was the air conditioning; it was noisy. It was noisy when it was on, so I tried turning it off - which did nothing to reduce the noise, but increased the temperature in the room. I decided to have the lesser of two evils and left it on.

And of course, the other reason for my troubled sleep was the thoughts running through my head about the procedure. Although the odds were a million to one that I might die during the procedure, my brains frontal morbidity lobe (found next to the pessimism cortex) had me focusing on the subject for a while. Luckily, my empathy Medulla (the part if the brain that makes you go "Aww" when you see a puppy) gave me a solution; I said a prayer, and asked my Mum and Dad to look after me.

And then I punched myself in the forehead (stupid morbidity lobe.)

Eventually, I got some sleep. And then the alarm on my phone went off. It was 6am.

I had been told the previous day that the Anaesthetist  would come and chat to me at about 6:30, so I got up and went and had a nosebleed in the shower. It wasn't an intentional nosebleed, it just happened. It does that every now and then - primarily as a result of too much sniffing (just sniffing - not glue, cocaine, or flowers) and too regular nasal investigations on my part. It was over as soon as it started, but I mentioned it to the nurse when she came in to my room a little later. I thought I should, in case they didn't discover the blood on the towels (the tissues were out of reach at the time) until later and might interrupt the procedure to investigate where I was bleeding from.

I changed into a fresh buttock exposing gown and waited for the Anaesthetist. A little later than expected, he arrived. A cheerful chap named Peter (a great name  - two of my favourite Lagrue's have that name), he ran through what was going to happen and asked if I had any questions.  I just clarified that I would be put completely out (my Morbidity lobe had mumbled something about people not being put out properly and although unable to move or speak, they could feel
everything), and Peter confirmed that I would be. Satisfied with everything we had discussed, Peter left and I awaited the arrival of Professor Morgan who had a consent form for me to sign.

My procedure was booked for 7:45am, but that time came and went. At about 8am, Professor Morgan came into my room clutching my consent form and looking like a man who both cycled to work and hated London rush hour traffic. I had completed a consent form at my consultation 4 weeks earlier, but was happy to sign it again. The Professor was clearly in a hurry because as I started to read the blurb above the line where I was to sign, the Professor sort of blurted out "just sign it!" Before adding a quick please and his best smile.

Better smiles are available.

I signed. He left. I waited.

Presently - and pleasantly - a nurse arrived. Patricia, a young lady from Portugal who had been nursing in England for 3 months and hates the weather. Her English was good, but her understanding of grammar and a few vocabulary idiosyncrasies needed a little work.
Patricia led me to theatre in the basement via the lift. Whilst waiting for the lift on my floor another nurse waved a file at Patricia saying that they needed them downstairs ASAP. I don't think acronyms have yet been introduced to our young Portuguese nurse, as she clearly was flummoxed (she wouldn't understand that either) by "ASAP". I helpfully explained what it stood for, and nearly offered up "PDQ" as an alternative she might need to be aware of - but I thought it best not to confuse the lady further.

The lift arrived and we descended to the basement - whose corridor ceilings are approximately 6ft 1 in height. Much laughing was enjoyed by my escort as I walked crook-necked to theatre.
I met Peter again who asked me to remove my dressing gown and undo the ties at the back of my surgical gown. I did the top tie (the Halter neck if you will), while Peter dealt with the lower, 'Buttock Cinema stage curtain' ties. Peter found that I had tied a double knot, and so decided to not muck about and simply rip the back of my gown open.

At that moment, one of the surgery team came out of theatre and introduced herself to me.
"Hello, I'm Sarah" she said.
In what must be the worst first impression ever made, I replied "Hello, I'm barely dressed!" as the material of my gown parted majestically to reveal my bum  in all its glory - and then the stupendously attractive anti-embolism stockings and the grippy socks I was wearing.

Clearly struggling to keep her obvious arousal in check, Sarah walked back into the theatre in silence.

I get that a lot.

I lay down on the gurney/bed thing, and met Ricky - he wasn't lying there already, he was stood next to the bed - who asked me the same questions I had already been asked twice that morning; Any piercings; are all your teeth your own - no caps, crowns; any allergies. 
I replied: No;yes;no;none that I'm aware of.
Then Peter put the anaesthetic into me and told me to take slow deep breaths and think of myself somewhere warm and sunny. I had a lovely warm blanket over me and I started breathing slowly.

I felt myself getting sleepy, but I didn't seem to be falling asleep, this was starting to concern me and I drowsily asked if I should be asleep by now. When they told me I was back in the recovery room and that it was all over, I was so shocked I almost half woke up.
That was a weird feeling - in my mind I was blinking as the effects of the anaesthesia took effect but had definitely not gone into theatre, and then suddenly I was in the recovery room!

I was very sleepy but my throat was really sore because I had to have a tube down my throat during the procedure as I was lying on my back. I was also gagging for a drink having fasted since midnight and it was now 9:45am.
They wheeled me back to my room and I got some water inside me - heaven!

Over the next few hours I gradually started to come round. Patricia popped in every now and then to check my pulse and blood pressure, replenish my water, and check I was okay. At one point her lack of English nearly caused embarrassment when she noticed my bed had been extended. She meant to ask me if I was comfortable, but instead she said "You are good in bed?".
Having avoided spitting my mouthful of water over my bed, and being nature enough to understand what she really meant, I carefully explained to her that she needed to ask that question differently in future. A little red faced, she laughed and left me in peace.

I had dinner which was lovely, and then later Sarah came to see me to tell me how it all went. It was all good - they took about 700ml of Bone Marrow (about 1.2 pints), that Bone Marrow will be inside the recipient by the end of today. If you don't like needles or are a bit squeamish you might not like this next bit:
The needles they used are about 10cm long, and once they push them through the skin and tissue and muscle to the bone they then have to force the needle through the bone by hand, in much the same way you might force a compass into a wooden desk or use scissors to make a hole in cardboard - by working it back and forth. That is the bit that takes the time.

But everything went well. Sarah  asked when I was back to work and I said Monday - and she advised me just to
Be careful for my first week back and not overdo it.

I've just had a lovely visit from my sister, which was very kind of her. I wasn't much company though as I am exhausted. I keep drifting in and out of consciousness so she wasn't treated to my usual sparkling wit.

And now I'm in my room chilling out waiting for dinner (got about an hour to wait). It's Curry tonight, with ice cream for pudding.

In the meantime I will no doubt visit the loo about 6 times. I'm on a drip and am drinking copious amounts of water so my bladder is getting a workout. Plus I get a chance to check out my dressings on my back in the bathroom mirror - it does mean I have to see my buttocks, but if everyone else has checked out my buns of steel, why shouldn't I?

I glad I've done this. I really hope it will save the recipients life.

And I would definitely do this again, without hesitation.

The love and support I have received throughout this journey has been incredible and means the world to me.

Thank you.






Monday, 27 May 2013

Karma Blog: Aah, Mr Lagrue - We've Been Expecting You.

Now I am here, it's hard to know what to write.
Let me start with what I know;

I had to be in London by 4pm to check in  at The London Clinic prior to my Bone Marrow donation tomorrow (Tuesday 28th May) at 7:45am.

I was driven to Dorchester South by Adrienne, and she and the kids saw me on to the train and waved me goodbye. 
My journey to London this time was different to the journey up for my consultation a month ago - the train wasn't as busy, I didn't manage to bore a helpless old lady to tears with a lengthy outpouring of every significant (and insignificant) event in my life thus far, and there were no acts of kindness to strangers - except me offering one of my Kit-Kat fingers to the lady opposite (which she declined). 

I was in good spirits - taking the opportunity to poke my tongue out at people waiting at any level crossings that we passed, but I eventually settled into a calm, quiet mode. I read some of my book, played "Stupid Zombies 2" (Free in the App Store) ate my lunch, and spent several minutes trying to decide the best place for my holdall. The overhead storage wasn't ideal as for some reason I felt the need to be able to see it at all times (South West Trains is riddled with ceiling traversing holdall thieves who can tell when a bag in outside the peripheral vision of its owner). I moved it to the empty seat next to me, but then felt sure that as the train filled I would inevitably be forced to move it (and apologise) when either an elderly lady with a carpet bag, or a spotty student with his entire wardrobe in a massive rucksack, or a pregnant young woman with a toddler under one arm, and a double buggy under the other appeared, tutting and glaring at me. In the end I put it on the table I was sat at, and hoped that no-one sat opposite me.

No-one did. The lady who refused my finger (now, THAT is a long list) was sat diagonally across from me.

Just over two and a half hours after leaving Dorchester, the train arrived at London Waterloo. I found my way to the Jubilee line and took the 4 stop journey (not to be confused with the 4 tops journey - where you always end up Loco in Acapulco, and any delays to services are heralded by the words "I'll be there....") to Baker Street. On that journey there seemed to be an awful lot of oriental people (Mart!) visiting London, as I was literally head and shoulders above the majority of other travellers.
Once alighting at Baker Street, I took the 5 minute walk to The London Clinic.

I checked in and after the receptionist made a quick phone call to see if "they"
were ready for me, I was directed across the road and told to go through the doors of "The Clinic" - which sounds a but ominous to me.

It took me less than 15 seconds to go from one building, across the road to the other - but in that time something must have happened, because I suddenly became very important.

Before I could reach out my arm to push open the tall mahogany doors of The Clinic, they opened - pulled by a smartly dressed man.
"Mr Lagrue, I presume?", said the man. Having been born and raised in Essex, and being currently living in Sturminster Newton, I was completely thrown by having such politeness aimed at me. I mumbled to the affirmative and was asked to take a seat until someone came out to see me.
Being overdressed for the weather in a t-shirt, sweatshirt and a gilet, I got myself a cup of water and prepared to wait.

My buttocks never got to feel the comfyness of the reception chairs.

Before I could sit down, a smartly dressed young lady with a clipboard came out of a side door. She asked my to check the form she had on the clipboard held the right details about me and asked me to sign. She repeatedly referred to me as "Sir" when answering my questions (such as "When I get discharged on Wednesday, do I have to leave right away, or can I wait as I'm not being collected until about midday" - I felt like a child asking to go to the toilet).
It was almost embarrassing being referred to in such a polite way, and I had to stifle the urge to giggle on a couple of occasions.

Smart clipboard lady went away again, and I was able to sit on the chair for a good 25 seconds before a different smartly dressed man came to escort me to my room. More "Sir"s and "Mr Lagrue"s ensued during the time it took to reach my room and for me to be shown how to call for the nurse, and how to adjust my bed (the two are not connected - its not that type of establishment). Then I was left by myself - until the wonderful Maggie Tan appeared.

Maggie Tan is a Ward Sister at The Clinic. 5ft 2 of fabulous humor and likability, she took my blood pressure and heart rate, measured and weighed me, took the mickey out of my height, and laughed when I asked that she stand up when talking to me. She briefly ran through what will happen tomorrow and checked I had no allergies or any medical stuff they need to know about. She even extended my bed so that my great long legs don't get scrunched up. Then she left me to get settled in.

And that is where I am up to. My room is not luxurious, but I have my own bathroom - with Bidet that I just HAD to try! - and I have TV, wifi, and room service. I have just ordered my dinner for this evening - Smoked Salmon and Haddock Fishcakes with seasonal vegetables and chunky chips followed by a cheese and biscuit platter. 

It's hard to believe this is a hospital! 

So that is what I know. And that is okay.

The bit that isn't okay is the stuff I don't know.

I don't honestly know how much it will hurt tomorrow, and I'm a little scared. I'm in hospital alone, which couldn't be helped, but deep down I don't like it. The last time I was in a hospital I watched my dad die so its probably that which is at the root of all this.

But I will not and cannot forget that I am not here for myself. I am here so that someone else has a fighting chance to live. I didn't have to do any of this, I have had a choice all along. But the person I am helping does not have the luxury of choice - if they don't get my donation they will die. It's a simple as that.

So I'm going to put my fears and worries to one side and step up and say to someone I will never meet, "Here, this is for you, not because I had to do it but because I chose to do It.  I really hope it helps". 

Because there needs to be more of that type of statement in the world.

Something else I'm going to do is play with my adjustable bed. You can raise both the knees and the head so I'm going to see if I can end up in a "V" position by raising both together!!

Doing good is fun!