It was discharge day for many of us, and time to go home. There were 6 new patients coming to the female ward, and although we wouldn’t be released if we weren’t ready, there was a mild sense of urgency from the nurses as they did their obs checks. I began to think about how I would cope back on the outside, and worried about the 4hr car journey back home that I had to get through first.
My blood pressure was extremely low at 80, so I was propped up and encouraged to drink lots of water. Overnight, my brace has slipped and had rubbed my ankle raw. It may seem ridiculous, but it is these small discomforts which make the whole experience far more difficult to manage.
The ward nurse arrives by my bedside for my daily belly injection – there is a roll for her to grab now, and for the first time I’m afforded some of the liquid gold and asked about my bowels. She suddenly turns on the charm offensive, complimenting my eyes and the shape of my face (is that an actual thing?), before I realise her new approach is a distraction from her unhooking my cannulas. Not even a bruise. I make do with some liquid morphine syringed into my mouth to take off the edge.
The physio returns and I crutch my way down the corridor, feeling slightly woozy. I show him that I can manage steps without touching down my poorly leg once, but am then told to avoid them altogether for the first 6 weeks. My flat in London has 4 flights of stairs, so I’m lucky my family are willing to have me back to recuperate. I also demonstrate a ‘dry-run’ of the toilet, which I find more amusing than I should have.
Tom arrives with my mum, and we chat whilst waiting for my meds. The system is down so they’re going old school. A young African nurse runs us through my goody bag: I’m given more Clexane injections for my stomach, Gabapentin for the nerve pain, Paracetamol, Morphine and some Lactulose (I’ll allow you to make your own assumptions). I’m in quite considerable pain at this point, and it manifests itself into bizarre dry shakes which chatter my jaw.
Most of the ladies head off before me as my BP takes a while to come up. Around 3:30pm, I thank the nurses and begin the long hop on crutches to the car in my dressing gown. Mum has thoughtfully parked right outside the day surgery entrance, but as I pause from a hip stitch en route, I realise from her polite encouragement that this perhaps isn’t a totally approved place to have parked. As we get to the main doors, a gruff man wheeling in hospital supplies has a few stout words, and Mum just points to me in response.
Once I’m in, we drop Tom at the train station, and I realise it’ll be a while before I see him again. He’s been an absolute rock, especially considering I was a bit tight and booked him into the only B&B in Rugby that hasn’t had a refurb since the 1950’s. Sorry love.
The journey home was long and rain hit the windscreen sideways as I drifted in and out. I could feel Mum watching me in the rear view mirror, and I wanted to be a good passenger and keep her company but my head involuntarily snapped back into sleep. My primary concern was where I could get my hands on a supersized thick strawberry milkshake, but like any responsible parent, Mum kept missing the turn offs for McDonald’s.
Halfway, we did have to turn off the motorway. All those jugs of water to up my BP had come back with a vengeance. There was a Travelodge and Little Chef off the next exit, and Mum didn’t miss this slip road. However, as we approached the restaurant, the chubby little chef in his grubby white hat had a hole punched through his plate. In fact, all the windows were boarded up in space age silver which looked far more modern than the brand ever did. The anticipation of relief meant there was no going back though. Luckily, my Mum is extremely resourceful. From the camper van, she had taken the portable loo in case of such an emergency, and holding up blankets to the windows outside, I was permitted a relatively private moment.
Back in Suffolk, I was given a grand welcome. There, in the corner of the lounge and facing the large windows looking out over the fields, was my very own bed. It was surrounded by everything I could need at arm’s length. As is customary, the family laughed at me at first, before offering to help me by fetching a cup of tea, finding an umbrella stand for my crutches, and hooking me up to the Hilotherm cooler. Our dog Fred wasn’t quite sure what to do – after a few hesitant jumps at my leg he became fed up, and so quietly sulked on the laps of others whilst keeping a keen eye on the whirring machine I was attached to.
The only thing we forgot to do that evening was empty the porta-loo, which happily sloshed in the back of the car as David went to play golf the next morning.