The first in another three-part series about what happens to a nurse when they are the other side of the sheets.
I was fortunate to find myself in a hospital with a specialist colo-rectal unit, where I was taken to wait for surgery.
It was a large hospital with 18 theatres, but on Sundays only one is working. I waited all day and evening, making much use of the bedside phone which allowed free calls to landlines - something greatly appreciated given the distance I found myself from friends and family.
Eventually, I fell asleep, and when the trolley came at 11.45 pm there was a rush to change into theatre gown and send a quick text to let my daughter and Nick know. The night nurse accompanying me told me in detail about her sore eye and her only visit to The North.
The next morning I woke, and with a whole new perspective was thrilled to do just that - I hadn’t died under the anaesthetic! I delayed the moment when I felt for the stoma to relish being alive, then tentatively ran my fingers over my abdomen. Further delight - there was no stoma! But then a moment of panic - perhaps they’d opened me up and decided there was nothing to be done? I remembered people like that from my early days on a surgical ward.
The recovery nurse was thorough and efficient but unbearably - and unbelievably - rough, tucking me in repeatedly as if she were lashing down a storm-threatened ship with fierce jabs of her fingers, sending crashing waves of pain across my whole abdomen. I came to tensing as she approached.
Returning to the ward, my bed was put near the nurses’ station. I’d had an extended right hemicolectomy to remove a tumour from the splenic flexion. The good news was that along with most of my large intestine, the risk of appendicitis was forever removed - though this had never been a great concern.
I was relieved to find I was still on a very comfortable, adjustable electric bed, a great improvement on previous admissions - an unyielding mattress where I’d tried, without success, to arrange pillows against the metal bars in order to achieve some degree of comfort.
Josh, the Outreach Nurse, appeared from ICU to check me over. All I wanted to do was sleep and his relentless cheerfulness put me in mind of Tigger; fortunately my obs were sufficiently stable for him to discontinue his visits very swiftly and seek out more worthy recipients of his expertise.
Kate Lloyd is a qualified RGN and Health Visitor, currently employed as a Senior Public Health Nurse.