Surviving surgery 

So I made it!

I’ve undergone major surgery and have come through the other side.

I’ve had surgery in the past in fact six times in total, each one as difficult as each other and recovery time was always far too long for my liking. But to be honest the term “major” does mean that.

And whilst improvement in modern surgical techniques means I’m home after just ten days in hospital, it still remains that, as my surgeon put it, major surgery, and particularly the type I had, carries around a five percent chance of death. Ok that means that a lot of people make it but statistics don’t care whether you’re number one or number 100 in the queue, it can still be you who doesn’t make it.

My major surgery involved nine hours, two surgeons (bowel and liver), a specialist neuroendocrine anaesthesist, and all the other theatre staff, followed by six hours in recovery and 48 hours in a high dependency unit where I had one nurse assigned to look after me all the time. I had some machines attached to me monitoring my breathing, heart rate and blood pressure; others delivered essential pain relief, medication to stabilise my cancer (it’s temperamental) antibiotics, all of which I tried really hard to record in my drug-addled, sleep-deprived brain so I could recount it in this post.

I’m pleased to report however that within 24 hours of surgery I was helped out of my bed and was able to sit in an armchair for 43 minutes, and repeated it a day later, this time for four hours.

I’m battered and bruised, in a lot of pain, with more wounds than I care to count. But I’m happy to be home, in my own room, bed and clothes (no more hospital gowns).

I’m totally dependent on others doing everything for me. I can use the toilet by myself and that’s about it, for now*. I can walk 300 metres with a walking stick, although I surprised myself and everyone else by climbing the stairs in my house in one go but that was as much physical exertion as I could take.

The pain gets me down and I do have the right stuff to manage it, but it’s early days. At least I got a good night’s sleep for the first time in ten days.

*not quite true, I can clean my teeth, brush my hair and get in and out of a nightdress. Small mercies!

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