Mike and Diane Wilson -
Free Spirit
One thing worse than death - spending your life worrying about it

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Life, Death and The Thing

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The threat of sudden death has been averted. My operation at the hands of Professor Peter McCullum at Hull Royal Infirmary has been deemed a great success. As I write this, it's 12 days almost to the minute since I was wheeled down to the anaesthetic room to be put to sleep.

Even at this late stage in the proceedings, I had no pain, no discomfort, no difficulties, from The Thing. I knew it was there - I'd seen its shadowy existence on the MRI scan. All that was happening was still an intellectual exercise.

Being wheeled into the anaesthetics room was like being put in a huge cupboard. There were shelves everywhere, stacked with unexplained boxes. There was hardly room for the trolley.

I was asked to bend forward while an epidural was stuck to my back. That took two or three attempts and was somewhat uncomfortable. The attendant stuck a thing in the back of my left hand and hooked it up somewhere. Then the mask was offered and I remember taking a few deep breaths while counting.

Immediately after that I remember seeing the windows and walls around me at a slant. My arms were flailing around and people were shouting. It seemed that someone threw their body over my legs, but I'm not too sure about that.

I understand I was then taken to the High Dependency Unit where during a very hazy dozy day, a pleasant young man named Adam gave me a wash down and a shave. That was marvellous. At that point I'd've given him everything I had just for him to continue washing me.

I held Diane's hand all that day. At one point I said "I'm going to open an eye and look at you." After a few moments I did so and said "Hello, love." That seemed a great achievement.

My old body must have been repairing itself fast for I left HDU and was moved on to Ward 100 within a day. Should have been there two, but I made it out in a day.

On Ward 100, time moved slowly - very slowly. And there was an awful lot of it. Early starts - 5.30am - and late finishes - 11pm. And so little to do, despite the fact that I had PatientLine TV, radio, games, emails and internet, plus telephone. The equipment is fantastic, very high-tech. But daytime TV is still daytime TV even if you're in hospital. That means it's crap! I don't listen to the radio so didn't taken advantage of that. Emails were useless - totally useless. The system is apparently very slow and tends to crash - taking with it all the TV and radio. Then there's electronic games offered. Rubbish! The telephone was great though. I gave PatientLine a list of family and friends and they were offered the opportunity to ring me - at 39p a minute. If they spent a certain amount I was rewarded with an extra hour's TV.

It was a great advantage to be able to ring Diane at her Hull B&B around breakfast time, and for her to ring me.

Regular visits from all kinds of medical people filled a few minutes each day, meals came round, pills came round, and gradually it was bedtime.

I'd had "nil by mouth" from Sunday midnight until - it must have been Thursday some time. "Have you moved your bowels?" seemed to be the important question. Eventually I did and I had some food.

On the Saturday, I was told I could go home the following day.

All the fixtures and fittings like epidural, the drip, the thing in my neck and the other in my hand were removed, and I began to feel like a person again.

Sunday morning was long, long, long. The minutes crawled by. I didn't bother to get dressed straight away. I hung on as long as possible, then Diane arrived and I could go.

Our friend Sarah was waiting in the car park, and we left everything behind.

Many, many thanks are insufficient for Professor McCullum and everyone at Ward 100. Their dedication, care and support were second to none. You won't hear me criticising the NHS.

Now here's a challenge. The next time a very religious person falls ill I'd like them to be offered the following. Choice A: To be taken to the relevant hospital department and to allow themselves to be treated by medical professionals. Choice B: To be taken into the nave of a church of their choice and left in the care of the vicar and his religious flock.

I think everyone - everyone - would choose A. No-one would chose option B. Why? Because they know the vicar and his religious flock are totally incapable of influencing what happens to that person. All the prayers in the world will make not one iota of difference. Choice A, however, will give that sick person a fighting chance of coming through it all.  Have faith in the medical profession, folks.

Now go to Life and Death More 3


Mike Wilson