A swirling, white snowboarding dream dissolves into the fluorescent lights of the post-op ward- how fucking appropriate! I’m shivering uncontrollably and hear people talking around me in the third person, ‘His heartbeat’s low’.
‘It’s naturally pretty low,’ I offer conversationally and then wonder whether that’s a weird thing to say on coming around. My left arm is crushed into bandages and strung up above heart level, it feels exactly like someone’s sliced the wrist open and drilled pins into the bone- somehow I had hoped for something different, I don’t know why.
‘Here, this will help’ I hear as pre-warmed blankets are laid over me and a warm blower set under them between my feet- lovely!
‘How’s the pain?’
‘Er, not great.’ It’s more a crushing and strange, aching discomfort than sharp pain, but why go into it?
‘Would you like some morphine?’
Well go on then- since it’s your round. Ah, that’s better. I’m still missing this Trainspotting high everyone bangs on about, but it definitely takes the edge off.
Half an hour later I’m wheeled off to a private room overlooking Big Ben (I know it’s the bell, but you know what I mean) to nod out for 24 hrs between NHS custard and pondering lower impact pursuits in future. My entertainment consists of wonderful, trippy dreams- each with a profound forgotten meaning- and a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ ‘Meditations’, the perfect stoic companion to any hospital visit.
So I didn’t escape the surgeon after all. Three weeks of plaster and healing came to nothing on my last check up and I was in theatre within 24hrs.
It’s a strange thing going for an op- knowing you’re going to be knocked out, have your insides tinkered with and there’s a very slim chance you won’t wake up- a good time to take stock. The endless NHS waiting room’s old Traveller magazine flashed my life before my eyes- city breaks, Singapore, London, snowboarding, road trips all been there, done that- too many good times to mention. Fair play- if I didn’t wake up I could sleep sound without feeling like the Good Lord had gypped me.
And now I’m more crippled than ever- barely able to move my left fingers and in quite some discomfort without the wrist elevated and smacked out on painkillers. It is getting better all the time though- a couple more days of R&R, TV and codine and I should be back in some kind of action.