No doubt there are strict hygiene rules in all hospitals nowadays and I remember having to have a shower in betadine (antiseptic) before the cataract operations, but this week I was informed that before being allowed in the hospital bed I was to have a shower and wash my hair in the stuff.
It’s not that I disagree with such rules, it just seemed odd that they weren’t bothered about my hair for an operation on my eyes but when they were dealing with my legs it was important.
So I duly ruined my carefully blo-dried hairstyle in favour of a bedraggled ‘naturally dried betadine look’.
Various people came in and out, including the surgeon who told me I must have another betadine shower at 7a.m. but the operation probably wouldn’t be until 10.30.
There I was at a few minutes past 7, soaping myself with the yellow (but non-staining) liquid when an aide soignante opened the door brandishing a thermometer.
“Oh, you’re having your shower” she exclaimed. Well, what else did she expect me to do in there? She jammed the thing in my proffered ear and called out the result to someone outside.
I had orders to put on the gown and some stretchy knickers but NOT to get into bed until they had changed all the sheets, so I paced the room wandering if I dare put my sanitized bottom on one of the chairs or not.
Eventually they put on clean sheets and I was back in bed. But not for long. In came the doctor with her black felt tip pen. She asked me to stand up and then drew wiggly lines all over my left leg.
“Hm. There’s some work here.” she smiled to herself. “They’ll probably come for you about 10.30, maybe before or maybe later if there’s an emergency”, were her parting words.
And it wasn’t yet 8 0’clock.
It must have been just after 10 o’clock when they came, gave me some tablets (fortunately small) to swallow and wheeled me and my bed into a lift and down to the theatre block.
There was what seemed like a fairly long wait in a wide corridor during which people passed by saying “Bonjour”, and then the anaesthetist came over. Although I didn’t feel consciously nervous I was shaking like a leaf.
“Don’t worry”, he said, “I’ll give you something to relax you” and he fussed about to find a vein to insert a canular for a drip.
The doctor leaned over next, smiling, and announced it wouldn’t be long now. They were just ‘spring cleaning’ the theatre and then it would be my turn.
So in we went. I’ve never had an epidural before and didn’t know what to expect. Yes, I felt the injection after being warned that that was the ‘worst bit’ and then I was aware that people were tapping my legs and tickling my feet but I couldn’t move them.
The operation seemed to take ages and I could feel them doing things and moving my leg about but there was absolutely no pain. When the surgeon peeped over the dividing wall of paper to tell me she had finished I was aware of someone lifting my leg up high and wrapping it up. Most weird.
Then, later, in the recovery room, someone asked if I could wiggle my toes and I found that I could, so they took me back to my room.
“You mustn’t have any water for two hours” the nurse said, “and you are not to get out of bed until tomorrow morning.”
When I’m a bit stressed my bladder goes into overdrive so it wasn’t long before I needed the bedpan.
Despite the welcoming remark, “This is the bell. Feel free to use it whenever you want.” I couldn’t help noticing that the staff were not too quick to respond so once the bedpan was in place I let it stay there for the next wee as well and waited till someone came in for something else to ask them to remove it.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad experience but I have to go through it again for the other leg in the Autumn.