Chapter #8 pink sunshine – fuzzbox – 1986

heart surgery

Shit had got real as they say somewhere. It was a week and 2 days until the operation. This still meant a certain amount of getting on with it as normal, interspersed with FUCK it’s happening. I had practical medical things to do like re-order my prescriptions so I had enough to take with me into hospital. Stop taking aspirin 7 days before the operation. Start bathing in Hibi Scrub 5 days before the operation.

Practical me things to do as well. 6 of my friends had birthdays. Some admittedly I missed which I put down to being busy / pre-occupied but figured I could sort at least 3 of them out pre op. Pay my monthly share of our living expenses into the bank, show Bassalot where our life insurance papers were (well, there were no guarantees), paint the kitchen wall behind the bin (? – strange things start becoming important), and fulfilling social engagements.

The hardest people to see before my operation were Mum and Dad. I’ve never really been a high maintenance child. My Mum said recently I pretty much born-ed myself and have been getting on with it ever since. Faced with an illness I just wanted to carry on as normally as possible and I am rubbish at being looked after or even being cared about. I won’t forget my Dads face of worry on Skype calls and because I’ve always been very self contained and independent, I didn’t really know how to handle it. My parents love me so much I couldn’t imagine what this must be like for them. With B I can openly talk about death and quantum possibilities whereas I found it incredibly difficult to talk to Mum and Dad and wish I could have been more sympathetic to their fears.

I’d obviously let them know that the operation was happening but they floored me by saying they’d like to come down and see me before.

Of course they would. I would need to see my offspring before they were cut open, it was so obvious but I really hadn’t seen it coming.

Also, Bassalot’s Mum and partner were in town and we’d kind of thought we might pop round there too. With work and socials and festivals, the best day for everyone was Sunday so I thought we’ll do it all in one hit. Go out for lunch somewhere with everyone and have a lovely afternoon. Next thing I know is Bassalot’s niece will be at his Mums that weekend so will come along and my brother and new girlfriend will come down from London! I felt slightly sick – I was kind of wanting to shut myself away by then and breathe calmly into a small paper bag. But now some kind of social event was happening, weirdly in my honour, but it wasn’t a birthday where I could be gregarious / drunk / centre of attention. Something good was happening for me (I’d been waiting for this date for 3 months and it was going to make me better). But that something was also this brutal carving up of my body where ultimately a guy was gonna saw through my breast bone and lift my still beating heart out of my chest. Maybe I’d watched too many episodes of Game of Thrones but that really was the reality going on in my head. But everyone wanted to be there because they cared and that was amazing. Or because they felt they should see me before I went in case I didn’t make it, who knows.

We got through it. Mum and Dad were amazing considering it must be awful if your child is poorly and needs a fairly invasive operation to sort it out. Dad said he’d started googling the procedure but had pulled out as it got more graphic. I rarely see my brother and he seemed really happy and tactile with his new squeeze. I liked her a lot and think he’s done alright – he certainly generally picks em more high maintenance than that. Just before they went home I didn’t really have any words. I’m not sure there were any really.

Hibi Scrub.

Hibi Scrub is bright pink and an anti microbial wash for use before an operation. The first use needed to be Saturday but I’d been at work all day and then went straight to the Southsea festival so did a wash when I got back about 11.30pm. I’d been told to use it sparingly. It had to last for five body washes and one hair wash and should be applied on disposable flannels. I’d got a cheap towel from tesco and cut it into squares – I was on this! It was kind of ok (in the most non luxurious bath experience there ever was). I sat in a puddle of bath water and did the instructions which was circular washing motions, all over the body, top to toe, paying particular attention to where the operation was happening. The whole thing was pretty cold, clinical and a stark reminder that something was up but I did feel particularly squeaky clean afterwards.

I did the same on Sunday night but used a bit more Hibi – aware that it had to go a long way but still.

Monday morning I was booked into another pre op (as my last one had apparently expired) to give swabs and a blood test. As I was now booked into the Spire hospital, I had to go to Perform, the private hospital clinic also in Southampton. Well. We got in and were immediately offered a proper barrista coffee in reception then bustled along by a lovely nurse who handed me various cotton buds to swab various nooks and crannies myself. The NHS nurses do it for you. She explains the colours of the nurses uniforms at the Spire, I think the darker the blue, the more senior the nurse. She asks if I have any Hibi Scrub. I say yes and that I have been using it since Saturday. She says, I bet you haven’t got enough though have you and presents me with a whacking great bottle 4 times the size of my original. I have a brief moment of thinking, I don’t need that much and who’s paying for this anyway, but gratefully take the bottle. The instructions actually say use as a shower wash or add liberally to bathwater as a bubble bath. Other than that the label and ingredients are exactly the same. However, in private healthcare you can splash it around wantonly and bathe luxuriously whereas on the NHS you have to kind of stand like a convict making the most of every anti microbial molecule as you rub it on your naked body.

The nurse also mentioned that on women, the breastbone when it first meshes back together, tends to stick up a bit, which doesn’t happen with guys. This would go down over the three month healing process and she wasn’t sure why it happened. I was glad she’d mentioned that as no one else had and boy was she right.

That night I bathed in luxury in Hibi Scrub heaven. If I ever have to have another operation involving Hibi scrub on the NHS I would certainly purchase top up supplies – not the most important thing in life but the little things do make a difference.

Monday afternoon I worked in Dress Code and set up a window to last the duration where funky alternative items could be swapped over for other ones quite easily until I returned. Pats came in, my favourite ab fab buddy and we had a bit of a laugh. She forgot her phone so her other half came in to pick it up and his little eyes were far more full of terror for me.

I went home and had a final steak / iron rich dinner.

Tuesday I did my few hours at the ebay emporium and said goodbyes to the guys in Pegasus. The owner of the shop next door (who only knows me as Oxford) was kind of trying to spark up a conversation but to be honest I was all out. I had told a lot of people but sometimes I just didn’t have the energy to go through the whole conversation again. It was actually nice to meet people who didn’t know and you could just have a normal conversation with them. He asked what I was up to and all I could say was ‘prepping’. No other explanation. I could tell he thought this was a bit lame but after the operation I could probably be more upbeat about the whole thing.

That afternoon, I was going into town to meet Nikki after work at about 3.30. I’d asked what her Dads favourite drink had been and we’d sup one of those in his honour. She’d said good lord no, it was vodka and red wine but that he’d also been partial to a pint of Guinness. Well that’s full of iron surely and seemed like a more plausible pre operation day tipple so we set off to Portsmouth’s Irish bar Shenanigans – well, might as well be stylish about these things. It was a bloody good pint of Guinness if I’m honest. Not something I generally quaff but when my brother lived in Dublin for a spell we’d visited and supped good fresh fruity Guinness and Portsmouth’s version was pretty up there. We then headed to Albert Road for a final half of Amstel. We’d just arrived when Nikki’s other half caught up with us – he always liked to join in a drinking social and was quite mortified when I said right, I’m off, I’ve got an operation tomorrow. He seemed to think he’d be in the pub all night if it was him, which did seem like a good alternative but I was heading home for Bassalot love, eggs, bacon and beans and my last night at home for a while.


Join me in hospital next week – well metaphorically speaking, for chapter #9 Wait For the Blackout… see you here at ten past six on Monday  14th October xx

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