Flasbacks post-surgery

*** Caution: could be triggering ***

In a recent post I mentioned flashbacks post-surgery. Trouble trying to get to sleep. Intrusions in the shower. Apparently it’s not uncommon.

I remember before the operation. I remember checking in, doing paperwork. Waiting. Feeling anxious and asking the anaesthetist for a pre-med. Being told “no, you won’t need it, you’ll be in there soon” and then the interminable wait. Waiting. Feeling anxious. Feeling vulnerable, naked in the hospital gown. The anaesthetist’s assistant talking to me, trying to calm me, taking me into theatre. Hopping up on the table.

The anaesthetist and her assistant joking with me, asking if I knew that feeling when you’re at a party and have had about three glasses of wine? Telling me I was about to feel like that.

Tubes and cannulas and machines. Red ones. Blue ones. Lights. White ones. Blue hospital gowns. And the cold. Icy cold. Apparently because surgeon’s like to wear two sets of clothes so everyone else has to freeze.

The insipid nurse holding my hand. Me wanting to tell her to “rack off”. Feeling woozy. Being asked if I felt drunk yet? Yes. Sleepy.

The surgeon arriving. Still sleepy. Asking if they’ll do a D&C. Being told yes. Wanting to say no, but too sleepy.

Very sleepy.

Waking up. Not even in recovery. On a medical ward in a bed I didn’t recognise with a nurse chattering endlessly. Sort of sitting up with tubes and machines and nastiness. Oxygen mask. Cannula. Cather. And the beloved self-administered morphine. Sleeping. Waking. Sleeping. Talking to my mother.

Feeling bandages on my stomach. Asking the nurse if they had to cut me open. Her asking if I had spoken to the doctor.

Me: “Did they have to cut me open?”

Nurse: “Have you spoken to the doctor?”

Me: “No. Did they cut me open?”

Nurse: “Have you spoken to the doctor?”

Me: “They cut me open, didn’t they? They had to cut me open.”

And falling back to sleep.

Being moved to the surgical ward. The blokes joking and laughing as they moved me. The rattle of the bed over the entry to the lift and the pain piercing through my stomach as they did. The endless chatter of the annoying nurse. Falling back to sleep.

Asking for a private room. Being told there aren’t any. Me saying, “it’s too noisy.” Nurses saying, “it’s quiet.” Me saying, “no, it’s not. It’s noisy.”

Crying. Hurting. The nurses debating whether to move me into the new bed. Me saying “no”. The nurses arguing. The “good” nurse saying they shouldn’t move me. Me thinking “thank god”. The annoying nurse, still talking, wanting a replacement bed for her ward, then stroking my head. Telling me how soft my hair was. Asking what shampoo I use. All the while talking. Apricot coloured walls. Beige coloured curtains. Falling back to sleep.

Tubes and machines and noises and lights. Blood pressure cuffs. Thermometers. Nurses checking my incision. Checking how much I was bleeding. Me pressing the beloved morphine thingy. Often. Machines beeping. Being told my oxygen was too low. Tubes in my nose. Ripping them out. Nurses putting them back. Blood pressure low. Oxygen low. Tubes. Blood pressure. Beeping machines. Catheter taped to my leg. It’s huge. I’m scared.

Being offered dinner. Meat, gravy, carrots, peas. Stomach turning. Nurses closing my curtains. Water. Ice chips. Shuffling in the bed. Pain. Morphine. Machines beeping.

Other patients. Noise. Lights. Machines beeping. Sleep.

Worrying about my bags. Wanting my glasses and my phone. Asking repeatedly. Panicking because my bags don’t show up. Nurses talking. Nurses making phone calls. Finally my bags arriving from theatre. Feeling calmer. I can see. My stuff isn’t lost.

The surgeon visiting. Apologising for being late. Telling me his father is in a nursing home or something. Telling me about the operation. Telling me that I started bleeding and he had to cut me open. That my recovery will take longer. Weeks. I could have bled to death. He had to get in there. Looking sorry. Sounding flustered.

Waking up. Trying to send text messages. Falling back to sleep. Losing my phone in the bed. Seeing the surgeon again in the morning. He’s still flustered, but better. I’ll have to stay longer in hospital. He hopes I can go home by Christmas.

They take blood. The count is low. Lower than after surgery. They’ll monitor it.

I ask if he did a hysterectomy. “No,” he says, “we were a long way from that. Your uterus looks beautiful now.”

He tells me to take the morphine pills when they come. I do.

Falling asleep again. Phone ringing. Patients talking. Appendix. Three of them in the room with me. The young girl not wanting surgery. Me worrying that she’ll die. Me asking the nurse about her. The lady in the bed next to me talking. Constantly. She never shuts up. She could talk under water. She pulls back my curtains. Now she’s talking to me. So much noise. Boring into my head.

More talking. Patients endlessly talking. Lights. Nurses laughing. The lady in the bed next to me asking if I was in pain. Listening to my iPod. Being unable to hear the music above the chatter of the room.  

I’m in hysterics. I can’t stand the noise. Tears. Nurses. “Is there a private room?” I ask. “Yes, later today,” they say.

Sleeping. Waking. They have a private room. Thank god. Sleeping.  Sleeping peacefully.

Eating some meal or other. Feeling sick.

Sleeping. It’s quiet now.

6 thoughts on “Flasbacks post-surgery

  1. Wow… that is a LOT! I hope you are able to be gentle with yourself. It’s a lot to go through… and fortunately this is one of those areas where time passing helps… it’s not, I don’t think, like abusive stuff that is recurring. Happy 2010 to you!

  2. Thanks Paul. It is a lot to go through. I’m trying to remember that and not beat myself up for anything, least of all not being better yet. I’m hopeful this stuff will go away. Talking to my therapist certainly helped.

    Happy New Year to you, too.

  3. Thanks Phoenix. I’m trying to take care of myself – it’s a new experience for me. I’m home, and out of the clutches of my parents. At least that gives me some space, even if I have to do everything myself now.

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