It’s a weird sensation, but you get used to it. After managing to support yourself in a precarious position, hoping that your blind guess was correct and you wouldn’t be making a fool of yourself.
Luckily, you’re at a pretty point blank range, and hitting your target isn’t particularly hard. Then it’s just a matter of waiting for you to drop your payload. You can have a variety of sensations at this point. Either a moist, warm feeling, or a wet one, or an outright painful one, depending on the consistency of your encumbrance; all the while holding the pan in one hand and supporting your torso above the ground with the other.
It is an odd feeling. Kind of like having warm shit smeared over your arse while holding yourself sans-underwear on a hospital bed, curtain drawn around your bay in a futile attempt to preserve the last tattered fragments of your dignity, the warm odour of the faeces slowly drifting up to you after you have completed your task, and a mixed feeling of disgust and relief. Actually, that’s exactly what it is. And I haven’t got to wiping yourself yet, though I think I may spare you that particular description.
72 hours earlier I’d woken up, bleary-eyed, to see the frowning face of a surgeon, his face obscured by a smart set of glasses and his surgeon’s mask. “What’s your pain score?” he asked. If I hadn’t already known this seemingly universal medical system for measuring pain, I would have questioned it, and I suppressed the part of me that pointed out that it was stupid to assign an objective thing like numbers to a subjective thing like pain to let the rest of me wake up. As I did, I realised I was breathing particularly cold air, and that there was something on my face, which I then realised was an oxygen mask. As sensation crept its way down my body, I suddenly realised my pain score.
“Ah….erm, 8 or 9,” I gasped, maintaining my stupid principle that I would never admit to having a maximum pain score – what kind of a “man” would I be then?
“Up his epidural to 10,” he said to someone behind me, his veiled expression imperceptible. Seemingly satisfied, he turned on his heel and walked off with an air of authority, a small group of similarly dressed surgeons in his wake.
The next time I woke up was in a bay in HDU, or “High Dependency Unit” – apparently I was a “High Dependency” patient. Not quite the glamour of “Intensive Care”, but then one has to ask oneself whether it’s worth having the “Intensive Care” title for just that reason. Anyway, I had two tubes coming out of my left arm, at least one out of my right, and one out my back (my “Epidural”, which I’ll explain just now). The operation involved replacing the top 6 inches or so of my right femur, so for the best pain relief something had to be put into my back. The epidural line is just that – basically a tube going into the base of my spine delivering nice anti-pain drugs straight where you need them, which is pretty groovy.
I spent a few long nights in HDU, then was transferred to the regular paediatric ward. I spent my time here sleeping, eating, or doing physio exercises. However, physios are a strange breed of human that are never, ever satisfied, and so I could never please her and I could never do enough exercises. She didn’t seem to understand that walking to the toilet involved fitting a leg brace, getting me my zimmerframe thing, hurrying to the toilet, fitting a specialised toilet seat modifier (I shit you not), somehow turning around in the cramped space occupied by you and your zimmerframe, shuffling your boxer shorts down around your brace, then discovering that there isn’t enough room to sit down and actually do your business. Of course, she still insisted I walk to the toilet more. The alternative is bedpans, which I described at the beginning of this post. (Hmm, maybe there’s something wrong if I dedicate most of my blog posts to detailed descriptions of going to the toilet.) That’s how bad the sanitary situation was.
You might think that staying in hospital would be pretty awesome, having everyone doing everything for you; but trust me, it sucks. Maybe that’s what the emphasis on sanitary things earlier was about – imagine not being able to wash yourself, go to the toilet yourself, etc. This whole experience has been a crash course in accepting bodily functions for me. I’ve had someone shower me, wash me, wipe my arse, you name it. I hate it; the loss of independence is stifling.
Previously, things like genitalia and going to the toilet were unspeakable things, confined to the shady corner of euphemisms and smirking 8 year-olds. Now, to me, they’re just items of the human anatomy and necessary bodily functions. It’s strange how a stay in hospital like this can change something like a penis to an arm or defecating to eating.
I also got a cool Storm-Trooper like leg brace to prevent my hip dislocating. It’s pretty damn cool, but its only disadvantage is that it takes about 5 minutes and 2 people to put on, rendering its use as a quick-get-up-to-go-to-the-toilet-device useless. Its use as a cool Storm Trooper/robotic leg thing is endless, though. Basically it stops me doing naughty things like abducting, adducting, flexing, extending or rotating my hip too far, thus preventing dislocation, at least in theory. I have to wear it whenever I’m not in bed for the next 12 weeks or something, which is a bit of a pain, but it does provide that extra bit of security, and I wouldn’t be able to use a frame/crutches like I can now without it.
I also had a whacking great hole slashed open in my leg, resulting in 50 staples and a 12 inch scar. So I can always claim I was surfing the reefs of Hawaii and was bitten by a shark or something.
What does annoy me is that the surgeons have had to cut away the muscle and tendon etc. to get to the bone in order to replace it, then the muscle and tendon etc. goes back over the new prosthesis. However, it can’t just reattach, so they put a massive stitch all the way around to get it to heal to the metal prosthesis. This is a slow process, and it’s going to take months. It’s not that that annoys me though – that’s just how the operation is done; there isn’t another way. But straight after surgery (literally, after two weeks in Stanmore I was transferred to Southampton) they hit me with the next programme of chemo, which is going to last at least as long (probably longer) than the pre-surgery one did. I’m not going to be able to do any physio exercises while having chemo, and between doses physio is the last thing that’s going to be on my mind, meaning that the scarring and moulding processes that heal the tissue to the prosthesis will be slowed, and that’s not even taking the chemo itself into account. Basically, they shot me in the leg, then to heal me are forcing a poison drink down my throat.
But, as the French say, “c’est la vie.” It’s easy to get pissed off with physios and curse consultants, but at the end of the day it’s just a waste of time and, more importantly, energy. Besides, it’s no-one’s fault that it has to be this way, it just is. It sucks, it’s unfair, but life’s unfair.
So yeah, that’s that. I’m posting this from Stanmore’s Wi-Fi (Yes! A hospital with Wi-Fi! See Southampton, it can be done), about to be transferred to Southampton, so I’ll probably be back on ye olde Guerne in a week or something. Oh, and a couple of things music-wise:
- The Klaxons did not win the Mercury Music prize for no reason. Check them out.
- I am in love with Elliott Smith’s song Son of Sam. Go and download it, even if it means you download the whole album.
And thank you all readers for reading and giving support – much as it may seem not to, it does mean something and can mean the difference between me having a smile or a(n) (eyebrowless) frown on my face. So don’t hesitate to email me or whatever. I would give out things like MySpace or MSN but I have neither MySpace nor Facebook, and I uninstalled MSN. So just email me if you want a reply, I probably won’t remember to reply if you just leave a comment on a post (but leave comments anyway, it makes me look cool).