Had my spinal block done today. This will not be repeated, even if it works. I think. Depends on how well it works. If it really really works, I won’t need to consider another.
Got up a little after 6 am. Pitch black, 0.4 degrees Celsius outside, car iced over, coffee timer set just that little bit too late for it to be done brewing when I got downstairs. I got hubby up at the appropriate time, started the car to let it warm up (how come none of my neighbours know to do this!?!), and when ready I drove us. Normally hubby drives when it’s both of us, because he usually knows the local roads better. But I know this route quite well, and I’ve got more experience driving in snow and ice. Especially in this car, lately, with two certified-by-a-mechanic bald front tires.
Plus, a challenging drive would keep my mind off what was coming. Plus, if they screwed it up and paralysed me, at least I got to drive one last time (I didn’t tell hubby that last line of thinking).
Drive was a doddle. We got there 20 mins early and checked in via the A&E desk. This procedure kind of worried me until I realised the admissions desk isn’t manned yet at 7:30 am. The duty nurse was related to my hubby, and she realised it just by my name and address even though I didn’t know her myself. Ah, Ireland.
Went to the
second floor, no – first floor, ah whatever. We went up one flight of stairs to the Orthopaedics ward. Checked in and began to wait.
The waiting room. On my side of the room there were two more of the small chairs and two more of the orthopaedic ones. I was in an ortho chair by the window and the heater. The window was open a bit, but the heat was also blasting and I had to take off my medium-weight jacket. The lady who came in a bit later and sat in the small chair pictured looked at me like I was insane as she huddled deeper into her huge parka.
Someone came in and asked who was there for ‘injectons’. I wasn’t sure this was me as I hadn’t been calling it anything so childish. I started to ask what that meant and Inuit Lady tried to queue jump me. Ah, no. So I followed him into another room where I had to sign the consent form. I tried to ask some questions and he kept pointing at the signature line while I was trying to read what the hell I was signing. He, and the other men who kept coming in and out of the room, were very hard to understand, unfortunately. They weren’t Irish – well, neither am I. He also told me that they don’t start until 9, and apparently it’s a two-minute procedure. Steroid and local anaesthetic. Back to the waiting room to play a game on the iPad for a bit.
Once in the six bed ward (right across the hall from that open waiting room door), a fabulous nurse told me it wouldn’t be long and asked a student to take my vitals and history. Standard stuff, but the poor student was very, very new. Three minutes to put on the wrist band, and I finally had to tell her how to do it. Ten minutes of staring at the list of questions she was meant to ask me, instead of asking. Poor kid. She was really good at taking blood pressure, though – was the only one who didn’t make my arm go numb. And she had a great laugh, when I joked around to ease her obvious tension. I know how it feels to be tossed into the deep end at a new job.
Then I had to pee in a cup. Guess what they are testing for? It would be a Christmas miracle if I was pregnant, it would be THAT impossible. When I set up a ruckus of a sort, the nurse told me everyone under 55 and female has to have a pee test. Even if they’ve had a hysterectomy. No lie. Humiliation as pointless practice. Should have told her that the 6 X-rays the dentist took of me recently didn’t require a piss test. Ok pet peeve of mine, I suppose. I peed standing up and hope I dripped on the floor. I was already in the classic hospital Johnny robe – but with a twist. I wasn’t allowed to go bareback or wear my own undies. I had to wear these:
Oh, feelin’ so very human now. The indignities! But it was about to get worse.
They told me to get into the bed and covered me up. This is why last Tuesday’s appointment was cancelled: the beds were all full. And yes, on our walk up to the orthopaedics ward we passed someone asleep on a hospital bed. In the hall. Ah, Ireland. Hubby came in and sat next to me for a few minutes, then two people came in, put up the cotsides, and jacked up the whole bed to move the lot elsewhere. I asked if I could leave on my glasses, as I had already taken out my tragus piercing and removed my wedding ring. Taping them to me was much worse than removal. I was laughing and joking with the bed pushers about being able to see their smiling faces and the great scenery I’d enjoy as they wheeled me away into what was signposted as the operating theatre.
The man (main bed-pusher and sayer of ‘excuse us’ on the trip) left as soon as I was parked in what looked to me like a bigger communal ward like the one I was on already. The woman, who turned out to be my OR nurse, immediately prepped me with no chance to get my bearings or look around, glasses notwithstanding. On to my belly; never easy and really uncomfortable for me. Robe pulled up to my middle back, and those fashion statement paper undies raked down below my butt-cheeks! I was mentally saying what the hell? but maybe I said it out loud, too, as she said, ‘I know! But it has to be done!’ as she threw something heavy over my legs and back and a lighter something over my protruding buttocks.
Then I was left for a bit as she pottered around with what sounded like a lot of equipment but no other patients. I tried to get comfortable, but I can’t lie face down and use a pillow under my head, it hurts. And ever try to wear glasses while one cheek is flat on a firm surface, or even a pillow? Doesn’t work. With 4, maybe 5 inches of pillow jammed upright above my head, my toes were touching the footboard. I kind of just splayed there and tried to relax and listen. I couldn’t see a thing.
Eventually, not too long, I hear the same difficult accents walking into the room. About four of them. Ah, the ‘surgeons.’ All from someplace where the sun is a lot hotter than it is in Ireland, from the genetic markers and accents I could observe. This does not mean I’m racist. I didn’t roll my eyes in return at Inuit Lady when she scoffed at the surgeons’ accents and skin colour back in the waiting room. It’s just an observation. The OR nurse was Irish, I noticed that too. And I noticed one other North American accent coming from a curtained-off section back on the first ward, too. But I still worry about my potential quality of treatment, especially after recent events, because when I moved here, I put this on my permanent health record:
Observational ass-covering is done now. Physical ass still feeling very exposed.
I think they did the same procedure to someone behind me (everyone was behind me!) and to my right. They never made a sound. It took…two minutes. Then it was my turn. Some chat from the main dude who said hello and pronounced my name right and how he needed a stool to sit on. Then the covers were off my arse and I had five strangers (approximately, I couldn’t see) looking at my pasty white, surely pimply, possibly hairy, definitely flabby, 41-year old ass.
And then someone started poking at my tailbone. I didn’t realise it would be that low. Yes it was. Some poking to find the right place, some cold rubbing alcohol and the distinct, unnerving feeling that the cotton or whatever it was that was soaked in alcohol being sort of …poked… lower down into my crack to keep it out of the way. Maybe my crotch was smelly, too. Great, I’ve only just thought of that.
Suddenly the nurse is telling me to take a deep breath ‘down to my belly’ and before I could even decide if I’d done that or not, the invisible head surgeon shoves a needle into my tailbone.
It turns out that when someone does this to me, I say “fuck!”
My face twisted down and my forehead dug into the mattress as I tried to concentrate on my breathing. I know this helps; it serves as a nice distraction. But other body parts moved without my volition. My right leg stayed flat, front of my ankle still touching the mattress. But my left foot popped right up, heel to the ceiling and toes digging in to the sheets for purchase. This is my ‘bad leg’ where all the weird nerve pain is, despite the disk bulge going to the right. This leg, with its weird nerve thing, is the entire reason I now have a perfect stranger shoving a needle in a very dangerous and painful part of my anatomy. And whispering to the rest of the doctors. I can’t hear. I don’t like that.
Then it is over. A big plaster/bandage is stuck on my coccyx and he gets off his stool to leave, everyone else presumably having been made to stand.
I now realise that I can drop the comedy façade and I start to cry and hate myself for it. It’s over, and I’ve been smiling and making jokes and after all the stress and worry (since at least May) and the physical embarrassment that I had to pretend didn’t matter, and the worry over having someone mess with my spine! my spine! they stuck a needle and then drugs in it! and the freaking PAIN being way worse than I could imagine… I knew I could come down off the adrenaline high and stop smiling but of course I still had to keep saying I was fine, I was fine, when I wasn’t, because the ways in which I was not fine were the ways that nothing anyone in an operating room could repair.
I was told I could move into any position I wanted, and after wetting the sheet under my face for a bit I curled on my left, my favourite position. I was left alone, mercifully. The nurse – being the only one still around – knew her shit and knew exactly what I needed – to be left alone to get myself under control. Then they wheeled me back to the six-bed ward, herself and the same man from before. I went onto my back as it seemed to pathetic to be in fetal position in the hallways. The man made eye contact and winked at me in a misguided effort when he saw the change in my attitude, and I started to cry again. Ugh.
Back in my first ward and hubby isn’t there waiting. Once I’m parked back up he comes in, saying that the other ladies in the room were having sponge baths and he was either asked to leave or felt that he should. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t tell him what I was feeling. It really upset me to have to look up at him with wet eyes and know I couldn’t talk or I would bawl. I let him leave again as the bathing was still going on and I knew he was right across the hall if I needed him. He’s learning most of this story for the first time here. I’ve apologised to him for being this way, and he understands. Ah, my lovely Irishman. Thank you, sweetheart.
My ass is still numb 13 hours later. Well, half my ass is. It turns out only the right cheek got any of the anaesthetic. Might explain the left leg having a freak out? I’m in no pain, other than the usual weird leg nerve thing. That will take a few days (if ever) to clear up, once the steroids let schtuff shrink and there’s no more swelling. And it’s a big if, as I said. I still have questions of course. And I’m very tired. Thanks for putting up with a very long and slightly depressing post. I have to write to get it out – I can’t speak the right words. But you don’t have to read it.