It is now over 3 week since I went under the knife - the time has flown by slowly...
I sometimes wonder if there's some divine spirit who follows me around waiting for something to fuck up my day. You know what I mean; you're standing in the queue at the supermarket and either the till breaks down or the person in front of you has decided to pay for an entire months shopping with pennies; or worse still they're friends with the person on the checkout and you stand and watch while every other queue slowly disappear out of the exits. Or you've been told by a utilities company that they can call between 8 am and 6pm, no specific time - in this day of modern technology, they can't give you less than a six hour window - so you're desperate for a pint of milk, some tobacco, a paper, anything that requires you to nip down the corner shop for 90 seconds, during which time they have managed to arrive, wait and then write a card out saying they missed you! These are just a couple of things that seem to dog me; but even little things have a habit of accumulating until something insignificant makes you go ballistic.
July 31st, I arrived at the spic and span Woodlands Hospital, situated on the A14 between Kettering and Rothwell - itself not very convenient for me, but it would have been had I been at work. It was the day of my operation, the one that would sort out my shoulder. I was admitted at 12.20, was in my room by 12.25 and for the first 20 minutes I was fussed over, visited by physios, anaesthetists, nurses and the pre-op surgical team. I was told the op would be done about 3pm, so that from about 2pm I'd need to get myself ready - slip out of my clothes and into a gown - it did up at the back, I had one usable arm - this was slightly ironic.
At 12.45, I sent the wife home; she doesn't like hospitals and I didn't see the point of her sitting there watching the test match with me when she could be with the dogs or doing something constructive. When she left, we had not seen another hospital staff member since 12.35. A nurse poked her head round my door at 2.05 to check to see if I had my gown on. The next time I saw anyone from the hospital was at 5.25...
I was cold, I was getting very hungry and more than anything else, as every 15 minutes ticked by I got increasingly angry. At 5.00, I decided that if someone hadn't been to see me by 5.30 I was going home. I decided to go and have a piss - I had an en suite, it was a private hospital despite me being an NHS patient. I had barely been in the toilet, didn't bother switching the light on, when someone was in my room, switching the toilet light on and barging into the loo, while I had my old man in my hand. "What are you doing?" I asked, rather perplexed.
"Just checking to see if you're alright," as she walked past me into the cubicle.
"I can manage a piss, thank you."
"I've seen it all before," she said while doing something behind my back.
"I don't care, that's not the point. I've not had my op, I'd like some privacy please." She ignored me and I could feel the red mist descending. I finished up and turned to face her. "I'd like you to find out why I've been waiting so long for my operation? I've been sitting here since midday and I've not heard anything."
"There's probably been some delay."
"Well, find out and tell me, please." She left and I started to feel like minutes were lasting hours.
At 5.15, I walked out of my room for the first time and to the nurses station, where the woman who had barged into my loo was doing some filing. "Well?" I said to her, but she had no answer for me, she hadn't been able to find out for me because she had been doing other things. I stormed back to my room, tore the gown off of me, got my clothes back on and walked out of the room. I walked up to the nurses station where three nurses were looking at me confused. "I think this is fucking disgusting! If Mr S***** wants to operate on me, tell him he's going to have to chase me down the road, I've phoned my wife, I'm going home. This is as unprofessional as I've ever seen!" Turned on my heels and left. I was apoplectic - I mean, I was raging so fucking hard that if anyone had tried to stop me I think I would have decked them with my good arm.
I got out the front of the hospital; phoned my GP's office, it was 5.30, but I hoped someone would be there, I needed to a) off load and b) get some help. Fortunately my mate Christine was on reception and she told me to calm down, to breath, count to 10 and just take it easy, they would sort it out, but I needed to calm down. Suddenly, Mr S***** appeared at the window, beckoning me back in; while I had the doctor's office on the phone still, I bellowed at the surgeon, "If you fucking want to talk to me, talk to me here!".
Anyhow, Christine calmed me down, Mr S***** managed to coax me back into the hospital and we went and sat down in his office and he started to apologise profusely; this was probably designed as a stress reliever and anger pacifier - I was far to angry for either to work. "Damned right you should be sorry, this is disgusting. Nearly 5 hours freezing my arse off, starving hungry and nobody could be arsed to come and tell me that there was a delay. I'll be fucked if I'm having the op now, I'm hungry, I'm furious and I feel that this is a private hospital treating an NHS patient like shit." To be fair, he took on board everything I said and agreed with me, actually encouraged me, to make a formal complaint - which I did, right there and then, in writing - it took me 10 minutes, but it outlined all of the above and the terrible attitude of the nursing assistant who appeared to want to see my cock.
I left with the information that it probably wouldn't be until the beginning of September before the operation could be rescheduled. I walked up towards the A14 with the intention of meeting the missus and a man in an Audi pulled next to me. "Are you the shoulder man?" He asked quite passively, I was still fuming. I nodded, and he launched into an apology, very similar to Mr S***** - the table needed for my keyhole surgery was double booked and the other surgeon was essentially monopolising the table. My op, scheduled for 3pm, was put back to 4, then 5 and eventually to 7pm, which would have meant an overnight stay, which I wasn't prepared to do. I said that I didn't feel it was his or Mr S*****'s fault (the man I was talking to was the assistant surgeon) but I was disgusted by the fact that I was just seemingly abandoned, it wasn't like they'd been forewarned that I was liable to lose my rag.
I got picked up; I wasn't happy and I went home. I pity the wife, she had 30 minutes of me venting my frustration - but, she is used to it by now.
As I walked through the front door, the phone was ringing. It was the Theatre Manager from the Woodlands. She also attempted to tell me what I'd been told twice before; I told her that I knew the reasons, it was the lack of communication and attitude of some of the ancillary staff that pissed me off. I could have said I wanted all the nurses to beat themselves with sticks as retribution and I think she might have agreed. Contrite is too simple a word for the hospital's new found attitude. Subsequently, I was offered the first operation the next morning. I would need to fast after 10pm; I would be expected to be at the hospital by 6.30 - we renegotiated to 7.30 and they would get it done first thing. I agreed, the wife agreed to take me. Game on.
Half an hour later, the Woodlands General manager called; she too could not apologise enough; in fact the apologies were coming so thick and fast that there almost seemed like a falsity to them. Half an hour after I got off the phone to her, another call from the hospital - just to go through with me what I needed to do again. I was apologised to again.
Fast forward a few hours; it's now 7.35 on Saturday morning and I was being readmitted and attended to by a new bunch of nurses. I was in my gown by 8pm and being walked down to theatre at 8.07. By 8.20 I was out like a light and at just after 10am I was woken up in the recovery room. Much of the next few hours were a bit of a blur; but I was home by 3.30.
Mr S***** declared the operation to be a success. I had a 2cm section of shoulder blade removed, which was impinging on my upper arm and shoulder muscles; it was cleaned up and realigned, all through a keyhole!
And to be fair, the recovery has been good and the immense pain I was warned about didn't really appear. There have, however, been more cock-ups. I was supposed to attend physiotherapy, starting a week after the op, but because of the ... unfortunate events... things got confused; I asked the physio - a different one - I'd seen on the Saturday if there was any way my physio could be moved to Northampton, as I am literally 20 minutes walk from it, whereas Rothwell was a long haul and I wasn't to drive a car for a fortnight. The Saturday physio said she's find out all I asked her and get back to me with answers before I left. Did she? Did she fuck!
So, I've been without physio and all I've had have been some basic mobility exercises to do. That changed on Friday when I went to have the sutures removed and to see my doctor about another - related - problem. He phoned the Woodland, and I believe chewed them a new arsehole, I especially believe this by the stroppy woman who I spoke to yesterday on the phone, who clearly wasn't feeling as contrite as the rest of her colleagues. I, it is fair to say, put her right. She didn't like it, but she didn't really have an answer to any of my points. Suffice it to say, I have my first physio session, at the Woodland, next Wednesday morning - better late than never?
Maybe not. The other reason I went to see my own GP was because after a honeymoon period after the painkillers ran out, my shoulder had started to... hurt again. My doc put it down to bruising of the bone and secondary bruising which was only then beginning to come out - he also warned me that the pain would probably move down my arm before disappearing. This seemed totally feasible and he's a doctor and I'm not.
However, the pain is getting worse; much much worse. The original pain is gone; I have about 95% movement back in my shoulder and I can do things, like scratch the small of my back with my left hand, which I haven't been able to do for months and months. This is great news. However, I can't pick anything up without a sharp jolt of pain shooting through the top of my shoulder; it's also really really tender; far worse than it was 10n days after the op. It also doesn't like me twisting my arm, moving it in a fast manner; in fact, I can move it, but not much else... The pain is also different; instead of a thumping ache and stiffness, I get a sharp acute pain, like someone digging a knife into the top of my shoulder... and, as of this morning it's worse still. In fact, the pain when it happens pisses all over 90% of the pain I had suffered from my shoulder in the last 12 months. I am, justifiably a little bit worried...
Perhaps it has something to do with me not having had proper physiotherapy or it might just be a secondary problem that has now been brought to the fore by the fixing of the primary one. I don't know and I'm not seeing Mr S***** until August 28, this is 5 days before I'm due to return to work. I still have hardly driven a car since the I went off work; I'm not feeling particularly confident about it at the moment either. I also really can't afford more time off of work; it won't be long before I'm entering the realms of 50% pay and I really can't afford that.
Because I'm a glass half empty kind of guy, I'm now worrying that I might end up being at work with a problem that is actually more acute than the initial problem - you see, despite the fact I was advised not to drive, there have been a few weeks in the last 10 where I could easily have gone to work; I actually felt like a fraud. I'm now counting down the days to work and I am genuinely worried that I'll go back with a problem considerably worse than the one I went off with...
The problem is I need to get back to work - not for the money, but for my fucking sanity. I've been so bored recently that I've considered writing a blog entry about free on-line poker games and the complete and utter tosspots that inhabit these places (me included); how on-line Scrabble is both liberating and annoying and my friends theories that computers cannot randomly generate letters randomly enough. How my potato crop has been unbelievably better this year than last; my apricot tree and other horticultural tales.
I grew a beard; then shaved it off.