As a bit of background, I feel I should tell you that I have availed of the services of the NHS and the Irish Health Service several times. You know you’ve been there too often when they use two hands to bring out your folder. So I am no stranger to the surgeon’s table and I am a complete nightmare after anaesthetic – Spielberg could use my projectile vomiting in an Alien film – am I painting a clear enough picture?
Previously I have always gone to the ward and been taken to theatre on the bed. Cork University Hospital work differently. You arrive to the Admissions Office on the morning of the op, having fasted from the night before. You go through a triage with a girl in a small office – it doesn’t really feel like you’re about to go and get sliced open. After that you hand your overnight bag to your partner and toddle off down the corridor to where the action is going to happen.
So the first room is where you get changed into your sexy surgical gown. You keep your underwear on. Katrina (guardian angel nurse) had warned me to wear rubbish pants but on this one, I ignored her. I wore some new white lacy ones – the ones that look like shorts, as if the surgeon might think I was sporty! A young doctor tried to get some blood out of me. He was super gentle but it just wasn’t happening. He explained this was really routine in case I should need a transfusion at any point. Thankfully as I had only recently had bloods done, they would have been able to use that record so no more unsuccessful blood sucking required.
Professor Redmond’s team then arrived and explained what the operation would involve. I have to confess at this point, I was just nodding along. But they sent my partner away, promising to ring him once the op was finished.
I was then taken into another room where some lovely nurses prepare you and check your health history again. Best part of the whole day – they wrapped me in a heated blankie to make my veins a bit easier to get at. I could have stayed there all day.
The anaesthetist introduced himself and went through some more questions, mostly about previous surgeries and any reactions I have had. Having established I had previously had a hysterectomy, he went back over the question of was I sure I wasn’t pregnant. I gave him the one-eyebrow up stare. It dawned on him what he said and we had a little laugh about it. He assured me he would pump me so full of anti-sickness drugs it would be impossible for me to throw up. I’d like to say I believed him, but I wasn’t convinced.
Then I walked into the theatre. Professor Redmond was there to greet me and explained he felt it was less scary for his patients to walk in to theatre rather than be wheeled in. I think he was probably right, I genuinely didn’t feel that anxious. Once I was up on the surgery table, Prof Redmond told me he would be doing the surgery himself and he would look after me – I knew he would. The anaesthetist appeared by my side and had the needle in my hand quicker than I can drink a martini and that was that – I was gone.
I was in the very capable hands of Prof Redmond and his team. I’m sure they appreciated my sporty white pants…