….and more of the riveting saga….

There I was, in the ER, drugged with morphine and awaiting transport for surgery, but it had been breakfast that triggered the reaction which landed me there, so a fasting period was required.

In the meantime I had developed intense thirst but had to make do with ice chips. In any event, even they caused further burps and spasms. Morphine or no, I was happy to remain thirsty.

After the noisy ER, the surgery suite was morgue-like, not that I was disturbed by it. Silence was bliss.

For a moment I was surrounded by people shooting questions at me and as I answered, the inevitable query came “where are you from?” And: “I love your accent!”

As usual I was tempted to say “darling, it’s you who have the accent!” But I didn’t.

When asked where I am from, I am never sure what to answer, so I say “originally from England”. Usually that is sufficient. People assume I came here directly from Britain which is not true. So sometimes, I clarify…


…as in this case and then suddenly I had a circle of young faces looking at me, wanting to know where I was in between.

“SE Asia.”..

“But where?”

So I told them. Then it was time to go. I noticed that my nurse’s name was Kathleen, like my beloved aunt. I thought that was good…

..till I remembered that she may well have been mad at me, at the end. Surely not that mad!

One of the many things I had to process before surgery was the fact that I might end up with a colostomy bag. This had not been especially good news, but there wasn’t much point in having hysterics over it.

When I opened an eye two hours later however, I put my hand down to feel around. No bag. A voice told me everything had gone “better than expected”, and soon I was moved along to the surgical ward.

Where the nightmare really began!

As I was wheeled in, I heard a strong, raspy voice:

“Are you bringing someone in? Draw the curtain back!”

To which the attendant said “it’s a privacy curtain.”

“Good chap”, I thought.

My mind went back to days in England when we travelled by train and if someone got into “our” carriage, we were always displeased. My brother once boldly said “we hoped no-one would come in here!”

Maybe that’s why I took the voice’s words to be hostile.

But it deserves it’s own post…

Sore and tired, I lay back hoping for sleep.

My surgeon’s skills had released me in time for supper.

Oh joy. Broth…take it away, I can’t stand the smell.

No, I didn’t say it. I just wanted water but the burping continued and now each burp pulled on the stitches and made me cough, which was worse.

Strangely, (or maybe not) aunty Kay had had a very similar surgery, oh so many years ago and I remembered that she was told to place a pillow on her belly if she had to cough. I didn’t have a spare pillow so I just used my hand to hold myself together!

Little bits of information that can be so helpful.

Did I want the television on?

No! It was moved back, out of my sight. Hospitals have gone the way of airlines, with individual TV sets along with all their confusing buttons. I wanted none of it.

Pulling my phone from my bag, I called Grant, told him to kiss the cats and closed my eyes.

Why would I ever expect to sleep in a hospital?

Maybe I am deluded, but I always thought hospitals were one of those places where you needed to be QUIET out of respect for people trying to sleep, in order to RECOVER.

In truth, I had discovered back in 1971 that this rule apparently does not apply in the USA.

Here’s my definition of night shift:

A group of people employed for their ability to make the maximum noise possible for the purpose of disturbing and traumatizing any patient foolish enough to find themselves in their care.


Things have not improved. In fact, it’s now worse because technology has inserted itself into every facet of the hospital environment.

Everything beeps. As soon as one beep is silenced, another starts. The nursing staff are run off their feet just trying to keep up, with the result that often, beeping just continues and before long, a variation on another piece of equipment joins in.

And…each individual pill or plaster or cold pack….has to have it’s code entered into the system which seems to take forever because, guess what, the system is not user friendly.

( Cha-ching, cha-ching as the bill increased.)

Battery changes, technicians to be called….I wondered for a moment if I’d fallen in a time warp and gone back to the total madness of Kennedy Airport where chaos is the norm.

The headache I had felt coming on blossomed.

When you’ve had surgery, it’s hard to convince people that the pain you are really suffering is in an alternate part of your body.

I refused further morphine accepting Dilaudid instead, then lay back hiccuping, burping, watching the clock.

Everything considered, I had been in a good frame of mind that night, but having slept badly the night before, I was exhausted.

Still trying to apply my soothing, pain-relieving techniques, I was suddenly startled, around 1 am, by a cry down the hall:


Followed by mutters and mumbles and something about FIREARMS in a hospital.

“Oh, jolly good”, I thought, “maybe someone will come in and shoot me”. By then it would have been a relief.

Next came the patient who thought he was on a date with his girlfriend. He kept wandering the halls looking for her. It was upsetting and sad.

But it’s not just the yells for help or the moans of pain that are disturbing. It’s the night staff who get into conversation and drone on and on….it has happened in every hospital I have ever been in.

Which I really do not understand.

Nursing is a profession I deeply admire. One of my aunts was a nurse. I know their dedication. They are greatly under valued.

But why are they not taught to speak QUIETLY?

Then there was one other little problem….

For reasons I can only guess at, the surgeon, who must prescribe medications for patients in his care, will not prescribe anti-anxiety drugs. Maybe they worry about interaction with pain meds. But if you take someone off a drug they are dependent on…..there’s going to be trouble..

4 thoughts on “Surgery…

  1. I can’t remember whether I’ve told you before … but my last job was that of Customer Services in a big private hospital … my job was to keep patients happy (or to turn them happy after they’ve been unhappy) 😧.
    And my biggest “struggle” with nurses (after discussing patient’s issues), was that they had to speak softer, be quiet and considerate about the patients lying in their beds – almost every day for 11 years … and I see now it’s the same everywhere in the world!

  2. The noise level is appalling. I seem to remember years ago there were road signs that warned not to honk because of the proximity to a hospital. I am particularly sensitive, I realise, but it was like a free-for-all. Not helped by severe shortage of nursing staff. I have more to say…,:)

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