So, other diagnostic tools having failed, I decide to undergo a bronchoscopy. They poke a gizmo down your throat and into your lungs. It has a light and a camera and a hollow needle and a brush and some other goodies.
A bronchoscopy is a hospital theatre procedure. Day surgery. It’s booked for Tuesday 10th.
So, I tell my driver she’s missed the entrance to the patient drop-off; she turns into the first side street so she can stop and check her map.
I’m wrong, aren’t I? The entrance is further on.
So, eventually, after waiting in a bit of a queue, I front up to the Reception desk.
“Where do I go for Day Surgery?”
“Right here. What’s your surname?”
Flicks through files. “No, nothing here.”
Been there, done that. This time I’m smart: I’d obtained my admission number over the phone before leaving home, and quote that to Reception.
Light bulb moment: “Ah, you’re in Endoscopy, down that hall on the right.”
Millions of forms to be filled in. Towards the end, I’m asked to write down my height in centimetres and my weight in kilograms. I know my height from my driver’s licence, but my scales at home are nearly 50 years old (made in Germany by Krupp, who used to make guns for Hitler) and measure in pounds, and I never remember what it is in kilos. So here I am, madly doing a conversion calculation on a scrap of paper, when Nurse Anastasia arrives.
“I haven’t finished,” quoth I.
“Don’t worry, I’ll do it for you. Come into my office; I have a few more questions.”
And on the wall of her office, I see a flipping great big chart for converting pounds to kilos!
Eventually I change into a hospital gown, after removing only my shirt. I’m allowed to retain my pants, socks and shoes (?)
Whoever heard of a patient going into a hospital theatre wearing shoes?
A different nurse, Narelle, leads me in. The surgeon is already waiting, wearing a big smile. I think the smile is because I’ve finally arrived; earlier, I’d heard from his secretary that he is to catch a plane due to leave only 90 minutes after my 15 minute procedure is due to start, and I am already about 5 minutes late.
Another nurse is fiddling with instruments and oxygen. She turns to say hello, and I’m in love. Her name’s Claire, she has long black hair, and she’s from Co. Galway.
“Kick your shoes off and climb up on the table, my love,” says Claire.
Narelle puts a pillow behind my back.
Claire asks, “And what are you here for today?” This is obviously a final check that I really know what’s happening, but I’m still thinking about the wasted weight conversion effort earlier.
“Um. It’s an appendectomy.”
The surgeon laughs, Narelle says, “You’ll need a knife, Claire,” and Claire at first looks startled, until I own up and tell the truth.
The surgeon gets a laugh of his own when he approaches and says, “The anaesthetist is running late. Maybe I’d better start things off for him, to save time.” Obviously he’s thinking about that flight departure time. But all he does is insert the cannula in my arm for the drug line to be connected.
The anaesthetist arrives, unshaven. “G’day, I’m Pete. I have a few questions. First, are you allergic to anything?”
After I answer, he then says, “And have you ever had a reaction to anaesthetic?”
“My word,” quoth I.
Everyone looks worried.
“What happened,” asks Pete.
“Last time, I was constipated for four days.”
“My god. How long was the procedure?”
“Two and a half hours.”
“THAT is a major operation. Don’t worry. You’re only going to be under for 15 minutes, and it’s only a ‘twilight’ level anyway.’
While we’re speaking, he’s connecting up lines…
The next thing I know, I’m opening my eyes in a bed in the recovery ward…
Claire comes in but doesn’t speak to me.
The good news is I’m not constipated. And tomorrow, Friday, I’ll phone the surgeon for the result of the pathology test on the sample he took. That may not be so good.