It was around midnight Wednesday. There was definitely a rumble of sorts. It feels like the troops are mobilising. Oh my god. There’s no mistaking it.
I need to poo.
I haven’t ‘been’ since Monday. We came in early Tuesday for ‘op day’ and i drank coffee on the way in to help, well, ‘move things along’. I thought it would be optimal to go into theatre ‘empty’.
We meet Jane, my wonderful anaesthetist. She goes through a few things.
“Any questions?”, she asks.
“Well.. there is one thing. I haven’t done my morning ‘constitutional” I say with meaningful eyes.
“I won’t… you know… On the… during the…??”
“Oh no don’t worry, everything will grind to a halt”
“Like when you go camping?”, I suggest.
“Exactly” says Jane, parting with “right then, see you later and erm, good luck with your wee slash poo situation”.
No more to report.
Back to midnight last night. I am now post-op so let me put this in perspective for you. I’m lying in a hospital bed. I have two drain pipes attached to my insides on the left hand side of my body (one for my breast, one for my left abdomen) with accompanying bottles for post-op body fluid to drain into, one drain on the other for right abdomen. Also a catheter and accompanying ‘wee bag’. Intravenous pain blocker direct to my newly constructed breast on the left, and a cannula /morphine feed, the latter two attached to a lamp-post-machine thingy on wheels to the right of my bed.
All this needs to come with me.
I call for the nurse. She arrives, takes one look at the situation, and calls for another nurse.
We all exchange a look that says, “ok. Let’s do this”..
We start with what we need to do to get me out of bed. I have intermittent pneumatic compression devices velcroed around my legs (to prevent blood clots) which need to be removed. My bed clothes include the ‘Bear Hug’ an inflatable plastic blanket with warm air being pumped through it 24/7, sheets and blankets. I am physically ‘plumbed in’ to everything so, as the bed clothes etc come off, we need to give clearance to the wires on both sides of the bed as I ever so slowly bum-shuffle down, taking some weight into my right arm, and get myself to sitting position on the edge of the bed.
The intravenous lead from my right arm to the not-a-lamp-post on wheels is short so it needs to be wheeled from the right hand side of the bed to the left, with my arm following it.
Nurse A, let’s call her Romana, because that’s her name, brings a drain bottle and my catheter bag. Nurse B, Shirley, is holding the other two drain bottles. In the end we decide all the drain bottles can go in a ‘Chipping Norton Literary Festival’ tote bag to make it easier to carry them.
The door to the loo is two metres away as the crow flies. I inhale, and stand on the exhale. This is big people.
I have effectively had a tummy tuck to create the volume for my left breast from my abdomen. It’s really tight down there and I can’t stand straight. It’s a slow, decrepit, old-lady-like shuffle to the loo. I’m wearing a backless hospital gown which is the only remotely convenient thing about my set up in that moment.
Once I get there, we all need to go in. Because of where the nurses and the wheely thing are in relation to me, we need to walk in , reverse, and de-rotate so I am not entangled in wires and everything is on the correct side. This happens in the small space between the sink and the loo.
Sitting is an effort but a relief. We bloody made it!! It feels massive. But not as massive as what’s backed up inside me and threatening to come out any second. It suddenly feels very crowded. You know that scene in Ghost, when Whoopie Goldberg is in the room with all the ghosts and she does the, “right, EVERYBODY OUT, OUT OUT OUT!!!”. That happens.
Aah, privacy. I close my eyes and wait.
Eventually, I fart.
[SOME TIME LATER: I’m pleased to report a ‘happy ending’ to this crushing disappointment. I had aimed for Everest and only reached Basecamp and it was a difficult blow at the time. Tom and the girls came to visit me the following morning. Tom brings coffee and beetroot juice. A familiar rumbling kicks in toward the end of their stay. I ignore it for a while. By the time I slam that nurse button we are ALL SYSTEMS GO. I make it to Basecamp AND Everest! Thanks for bearing with me as I got my poo story out. The poo is a big step in recovery. It means my insides are back on track. It means, I can get from the bed to the loo. That means they can take the catheter out. That means I am one ‘lead’ down in being plumbed into ‘the system’ and one baby-step closer to getting back home. And THAT my friends, is a worth a standing ovation].