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.