Days 16 and 17

Another two day double posting – the hospital days.

Day 16 – Thursday 7.30am SODA (Surgery on Day of Admission) Unit, Coventry Hospital

I go through the admission process and change into a surgical gown. I nervously mention my possible infection to a Junior Doctor. He seems unperturbed and assures me the surgery will go ahead. A peculiar sense of relief. Various medics including the anesthetist visit me and by 8:15 I am ready to go.

A cheery theatre assistant calls to collect me and we walk down to the theatre area chatting calmly. The informality and friendliness is a relief. We sit in the waiting area while more medics double and even triple check my details. Again very informal and relaxed. I reflect for the umpteenth time on the professionalism and care of NHS staff.  Finally it is my time and I am led into the theatre anteroom. I am prepared for surgery and the consultant appears. Even at this moment there is time for humour as the theatre assistant tells me she has tucked my glasses into my slippers for safety. As the anesthetic takes effect I have a bet with the consultant that I shall remember the fact.

6.31pm Ward 33 Coventry Hospital. I am in a room on my own. I hear the consultant approaching and he has encountered Lesley arriving for visiting time. He says he is glad that she is here.  My heart sinks at the tone of voice.

Pleasantries are exchanged and the consultant comes straight to the point. Today’s surgery has gone well but has revealed that the cancer has gone into the bladder muscle. This means there is a strong possibility that to eradicate it completely I will need my bladder removed.

The consultant leaves and closes the door. The same sense of blankness descends and this time encompasses Lesley. An hour passes before we can make any meaningful communication. A nursing sister slides in to offer any support we need. The void is immense. The only good news is that early results from the CT scan indicates that the cancer may not have spread.

Friday Day 17 7:30am. I have spent the night partly sleeping and partly reading. Spending all day in the same position is getting tiresome. Now the catheter is coming out. Because it was large to allow surgery the pain for two minutes is intense. The nurse leaves me and I lie back waiting for the pain and throbbing to subside. The day is full of challenge. The next one being to pee on my own. Some blood and more pain.

I am visited by doctors and consultants all anxious to know that I understand what is happening to me. I am visited by a specialist urology nurse who gives me more practical information about what the future may hold than anyone so far. She is kind and reassuring and insists that I am not alone that they will be with me every step of the way. I mention the pain I am experiencing urinating. She says that is common and describes it as ‘peeing glass’. The perfect description!!

My surgical gown is spattered with blood and is reminiscent of a Halloween costume worn by a rock guitarist at Coventry’s Tin Angel venue a few years back. Now I am looking forward to going home. First some problems. They want to make sure my blood pressure which was slightly low has returned to its naturally slightly high value. Then I am retaining too much fluid in my bladder – as a result of drinking too much!! I am moved to a general 4 person ward room and go stir crazy waiting for my bladder fluid level to fall. Finally a scan at 7:30 pm proves satisfactory and I am discharged.

Lesley takes me home and I manage to call my brother before falling asleep on the sofa. I crawl to bed.