You can usually count on the old man to turn a drama into a crisis.
It was my only visit to a hospital outside of child birth, which made me (worryingly) somewhat of a celebrity in theatre – ie. a virgin to anesthesia at the ripe old age of fifty-two – so I was grateful for the full run down of what to expect by the bevy of lovely nurses, although less happy about the million disclaimer forms I had to sign in abject panic mode. If I’m honest, the sight of those stark white walls, labeled bins, compression stockings that they vacuum-packed my calves into and the fugly hairnet on my head, all felt a bit too close to the bone at this stage of my life.
I can’t have read the memo properly because when I mentioned my impending surgery to two nurse friends of mine last Saturday night, they laughed at my misconception about some local, vaginal anesthetic for pain relief – on a par with Diazepam tabs they give me at the dentist because I’m such a blithering mess – and in hindsight, perhaps my misunderstanding had something to do with my Prosecco Brain or the brevity of time I was given to overthink the procedure. Anyway, it turns out that you need real, grown up drugs when they carve out the walls of your uterus like a melon before a Mad Men-themed cocktail party.
The old man kindly elected for me to have my op via the public health system, to get value for money for all the taxes we’ve paid, and the benefit of that was that I wasn’t given very long at all to worry about what lay ahead. Indeed, virtually no information was passed onto me until yesterday, around lunchtime, a few hours after we had commenced NC’s birthday celebrations.
The phone conversation went something like this:
Hospital Nurse: ‘So obviously, no alcohol twenty-four hours before surgery…’
Me: Looking at my empty Champagne glass and the time on my phone as I counted forward the hours in my head. ‘Does one glass of wine count?’ I asked as I made a mental note to cancel the rest of NC’s birthday celebrations that evening.
I have to say that the public health service was outstanding, and it made me appreciate the shallowness of my own job and how the next time I worry about whether a cushion’s piping tones with a lampshade, I will shoot myself. Not one nurse complained when I was being wheeled into theatre and asked if I could pop off the trolley to go for a pee, and when the anesthetist informed me that the pre-meds would give me the sensation of two glasses of wine and I suggested she top it up a little, even she managed to crack a smile.
And when I woke up an hour later – grey, groggy, yet hopeful that FINALLY, I might be able to dip my vag in the ocean all through the month without fear of attack – I felt truly grateful to be alive. Thankful even, for those closest to me who have continued to support me through those weeks of every month where I can be somewhat irrational. And I included the old man in that drug-induced “gratitude circle of love” until a few minutes later, when he decided that my back bumper needed work as well and that a minor altercation between our car and a cement mixer on the way home was the way to go about it.