Alan Johnston was released! Yaaaaay!
I think we’re all a bit happy now.
Okay, so: I went into hospital yesterday. It was surprisingly untraumatic – I even enjoyed a lot of it, which was about as unexpected as, uh, Alan Johnston being released today, I guess. I didn’t sleep a wink the night before (apart from ten minutes just before my alarm went off at 5am, during which I was convinced that Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter was poking me on my Facebook account), but the reason I didn’t sleep had less to do with nerves – of which I had none – and more to do with the fact I was in pain. So I ended up at the hospital at 7am bloody relieved to finally be doing something about it after six months.
The staff were wonderful, really friendly and chatty; it was one nurse’s birthday and I spent the whole morning begging her for cake, even though I wasn’t allowed to eat anything. I was asked about 20 times if I’d ever had a heart attack or if I had fillings in my teeth or if I was allergic to anything – my response to the latter earning me a bright red wristband with the word PENICILLIN written on it in enormous letters. When I told the anaesthetist I was allergic to penicillin he asked me what happens when I take it.
“I die, apparently,” I replied. “My doctor told me years ago.”
“Okay,” said the anaesthetist, writing on his clipboard.
“I don’t even eat mouldy bread,” I continued. “I’m not taking any chances.”
“Right,” said the anaesthetist, still writing on his clipboard, and then he looked at me like I was mad, realised I was joking and laughed like a drain. I’m glad I amused him because ten minutes later my life was in his hands.
I’m still rather surprised that being wheeled into an operating room for a general anaesthetic and a bloody great injection in the nerve at the base of my spine wasn’t scary in the slightest – my beeping heart monitor didn’t even speed up. I was just intrigued by the whole thing and kept asking questions, much to everybody’s amusement. For the record, here’s the conversation I had as they prepared to knock me out:
Me: “I can’t believe you’re playing Neil Diamond in here. Could we not have had some Led Zeppelin?”
Matron: “We were thinking about Def Leppard but thought it might upset the surgeon.”
Male student nurse: “Well, here’s the needle I’m about to put in your hand.”
Me: “It’s not very big, is it?”
Male student nurse: “No, it’s just a wee little one.”
Me: “All the men say that to me.”
[Shocked silence. Then laughter.]
Anaesthetist: “We’ve got a right one here.”
Male student nurse: [After slapping my hand to find a vein for a minute or so] “Um, I’ve got a problem…”
Me: “Are you trying in vein?”
Anaesthetist: “Please let’s put her under soon.”
Male student nurse: [After injecting me and cocking it up, so the anaesthetist had to pull out the needle and put one in my other hand] “Sorry about that.”
Me: “That’s alright. You’re already torturing me with Neil Diamond, so the needle means nothing.”
Anaesthetist: “Okay, I’m giving you the anaesthetic now.”
Me: “I’m not doing that ‘counting backwards from ten’ rubbish, you know.”
Anaesthetist: “Alright. What do you want to say instead?”
Me: “See you later, guys! Wheeeeeeee…” [Snores]
You know, thinking about it, I’m amazed they didn’t give me an overdose.
Long story short: I woke up 35 minutes later absolutely fine; ten minutes after that I was sitting upright in bed back in the Day Ward, reading a book, asking for coffee, complaining they only had digestive biscuits and not chocolate digestive biscuits and demanding the nurses move the cabinet on the right hand side of my bed round to the left because I’m left-handed and I was being prejudiced against. Just after that, the birthday nurse gave me a biggest slice of chocolate cake I’ve ever seen and told me to shut up. I was quite happy.
Funny thing is, every single person in the Day Ward was poorly after their anaesthetics. The woman next to me was sick and all the others either slept for an hour after their procedures or were completely out of it. One guy even spent ten minutes waving his arms around like he was fighting off a swarm of bats. I didn’t feel woozy at all, certainly didn’t feel sick (even after an obscene amount of chocolate cake) and was up and out of bed so soon the nurses all gave me funny looks. I think I’ve found my superpower after 35 years: I am immune to the after-effects of general anaesthetics. That’ll come in handy in everyday life – couldn’t I have had super sex-appeal or something?
Twenty-four hours later, the injection in my back doesn’t hurt at all, but I still have sciatica. The doctor told me it could take a few weeks for my nerve to realise it’s not been aggravated any more, and until then I could have “ghost pain” while it carries on behaving the way it’s behaved for the last six months. Thus, I went for a walk earlier and every time it hurt – which it did a lot, dammit – I mentally told myself, “There is no pain. There is no pain.” After a while that became a Matrix-inspired “There is no spoon. There is no spoon.” That’s my new catchphrase now.
Back to work tomorrow. If you see anyone on the Bakerloo Line looking pained and mumbling, “There is no cotton-picking, god-damned, sonofabitch, mother-humping spoon!“… You’ll know why.