Surgery

As I write, I literally have a head full of fluff. Not ‘literally’ as it has come to mean, whereby people actually mean ‘figuratively’. I really do have a head full of fluff. I am not sure what it is made out of, but am reassured by the surgeon that it will dissolve over the next few days. I also figuratively  have a head full of fluff, brought on by the same reason, ergo the surgery, which is making this blog rather harder to write than usual. The super strong painkillers aren’t helping matters.

It’s hard to believe right now, with a head full of gunk and weird fluid coming out of my nose, that this will make a difference. I hope it will. The anaesthetist enthused about the operation, he said he’d had the same thing done 10 years ago and it ‘changed his life’. I am tired, headachey and grumpy. And I am HUNGRY, But eating is a vile experience which  makes my nose bleed and I can’t taste anything anyway.

The only reasons I am even writing this week is because I am stubborn and bloody minded and resolved to write every Sunday.

I have had health problems for most of my life. Never an incredibly robust child (perhaps due to poor eating habits…) over the years I managed to collect a huge range of allergies (cats. dogs. horses. trees. flowers. grass. dust. several varieties of anti-biotics. the list goes on.) I suffered regularly from bouts of tonsillitis and sinus infections but despite growing up in the 80s where many of my peers had their tonsils and appendixes taken out for a cough, for some reason mine stayed resolutely in situ. It wasn’t until I was hospitalised at the age of 27 with the worst case of tonsillitis of my life (I actually thought I was dying) that they finally came out.

After I had the operation, which in of itself was fine, the recovery was probably one of the worst experiences of my entire life. I was in agony pretty much constantly for a month. I was sure that when I was little and friends of mine had theirs out it was all about missing school and watching cartoons and eating ice cream. It turns out that when you’re an adult it’s all about being signed off work, looking after yourself and having to eat toast and drink water constantly even though swallowing anything is like swallowing broken glass. 

At a post-operation appointment I was told that I would also need a sinus operation, as while finally ridding myself of my enormous septic tonsils (the surgeon at the time couldn’t get over them. They wanted to keep them as a training aid) would help prevent recurrent bouts of tonsillitis I’d continue to struggle with my allergies and headaches. 

What I didn’t do at that point was pro-actively get on with arranging that operation. What I did do was move house, forget to make a follow up appointment, and quietly dropped the subject, conveniently forgetting all about it. Looking back I wonder if this was a reaction to the horror of recovery from the tonsillectomy. It had been such a dreadful experience perhaps I simply wasn’t capable of putting myself though it again. I also did still suffer from horrible throat infections  – nothing as bad as before but the disappointment of discovering that you can still get throat infections without your tonsils was a disillusionment I should have been, but wasn’t, prepared for.

Fast forward. Because we can do that in a blog, the effects are cheap. Just imagine some wiggly-wobbly  lines.  I have a boyfriend, Mr RDP, who is thoroughly fed up with my constant colds, allergies and headaches. I can’t remember the point at which he snapped, but there’s always a point of snapping when a relatively well person just can’t understand why the other person isn’t Just Well All The Time. WHY? WHY do you have colds ALL THE TIME? WHY ARE THEY SO BAD?  And out it came, the information that 8 years ago I was referred for an operation which would, in theory, alleviate much of the suffering and I’d never followed it up because…because…wait, there was definitely a good reason. But after 8 years, I can’t remember what it was.

Mr RDP, being a fan of nagging (he has occasionally blamed his not getting things done on my failure to nag him enough) nagged. And he nagged. Each week he asked “so, have you asked for that referral?”. So I did, just to stop him nagging, which just goes to show that nagging works.

Due to some quirk of the NHS, I had been waiting almost a year for the tonsillectomy 8 years ago. When I tore my knee off last June playing roller derby it took over 6 months to get a diagnoses (“well, you appear to have torn your knee off. But it’s getting better on it’s own.”) For some reason this referral sped through the system. Within a month of the referral I had a scan, and within 3 months of the scan an operation date. And today I sit here, 2 days after the operation, unable to breath or chew or swallow or sleep with a head full of some sort of dissolvable fluff.

There was a minor setback; when the surgeon came and looked at my scan he hummed and harred, wondered away and wondered back with a new consent form, explaining that going by the scan they were going to have to do rather more to me today than I’d originally been admitted for. He must have seen the look of horror on my face as he said “don’t worry, it’s still not as bad as having your tonsils out. And it will make a big difference in the long run”. After the operation he explained carefully and in detail exactly where all the new holes in my face were. Unfortunately I was still coming out of the anaesthetic and now have no idea what he said.

I have to admit, it’s no where near the pain and the agony of the tonsillectomy. As long as nothing touches my nose it doesn’t even hurt that much. It’s just thoroughly uncomfortable and icky. The first relief came when I was able to shower, which I wasn’t allowed to do until 24 hours after the anaesthetic, as I was acutely aware that there was blood in my hair. The painkillers are strong and Mr RDP is looking after me – despite the fact I am a terrible patient. My head does feel lighter, and I am looking forward to the second week of recovery where hopefully I’ll start to feel more normal.

It would help if Mr RDP was also learning BSL, as it’s really difficult for me to speak. Despite my enthusiasm in practising on him the only signs he’s picked up are those for ‘bullshit’ and ‘fart’ which isn’t so useful when I am trying to say “my head hurts please can I have a cup of tea”.

Things I learned this week

  • The NHS are fantastic. I knew this already, but it’s always good to have a reminder.
  • When being admitted to hospital it feels really rather excellent being able to answer the “how many units of alcohol do you drink a week?” question with the answer “none” instead of a lie.
  • I am definitely not one of nature’s bakers. 
RDPP