Chapter #9 wait for the blackout – the damned – 1982

heart surgery

So it turned out there was no way Pussy Deluxe was gonna fit in my over-7- nights bag. All you had to take were some toiletries, pyjamas (tick), the clothes you turned up in (as you could go home in these too) and maybe a change of do up down the front top, some slippers and a dressing gown. My dressing gown was called / emblazened with the words Pussy Deluxe and had been a loyal part of my life for the last 15 years.

She was a purchase from Berlin. Bassalot’s mothers side of his family were originally Polish and had, by some weird freaky change of borders become German. Bassalot himself had been born in an army field camp in Germany and his maternal grandmother still lived there in Celle. She was quite elderly and we were visiting her, with Bassalot’s Mum for 3 nights then moi and Bassalot were heading off on our own for a few nights in Berlin. Great city. A flurry of history and architecture, goth bars and burritos, the beautiful Tiergarten in autumn, subway travel and, of course, SHOPPING!!

We do love a bit of alternative clothes shopping in other countries and even with a limited internet back in heady 2009, it was possible to ascertain where the cool shopping areas were gonna be. On one of these streets we found Pussy Deluxe. In amongst the clothes for sale by the kg and all out alternative goth emporiums there was a small independent shop. Hanging in one corner was the plushest dressing gown you have ever seen. In bright red and covered in black cartoon cats with oversized heads and eyes to emphasise cuteness and the words Pussy Deluxe emblazened in white all over the fabric. It was pretty much full length on me (not difficult as I’m not tall) and I think I remember it being 39 euros. Well, unusually for me as normally I wouldn’t be able to decide and might have spent the rest of our stay trying to find the same shop again so I could actually buy it, I decided there and then to make the purchase. The shop assistant spoke perfect English, as is often the way in Europe. It turned out that not only was it a fabulous dressing gown, but it also came in a red plasticised bag with the same pussy deluxe logo on it and the words ‘I have the right to bath in luxury’ – fantastic!

We left the store, 39 euros lighter and B galantly swinging Pussy over his shoulder, billboarding throught the streets of Berlin that he had ‘ the right to bathe in luxury’. Love him.

Pussy has served me well over the years. I had considered getting a less loud dressing gown for hospital (it was in danger of clashing with the purple velour leopard print pyjamas after all) but had decided the extra expense of a new dressing gown wasn’t on the cards. Now, however, she wouldn’t fit in the overnight bag.

I’d just have to upgrade to the skull suitcase. I hadn’t wanted to frighten any old ladies in hospital but sometimes, fashion just forces ones hand. My bag was packed, a final brunch of scrambled egg and bacon and the sun was gloriously shining. What a surreal day to be going into hospital for a heart bypass operation.

We arrived at The Spire.

Private healthcare.

A serene water feature paddled to the left of the front doors that automatically opened for us to go inside. The front desk was all very business like. I was given a form for registration and Bassalot kindly furnished his credit card details. Although I was funded by the NHS there were all sorts of sundries which could be requested the first being “Would you like a daily paper in the morning Mrs Prowse?” I’ll be honest I’d be fine with my Elle and Vogue.

We were taken upstairs to Ward 1 and I kid you not, it was a lovely little room. Apart from the obvious hospital style bed and understated emergency oxygen canister and a few other peripherals around the head end, it would have been a perfectly nice B&B for a night’s stay. The en suite bathroom also was decidedly not medical, the sink was quite low and there was some sort of biomedical waste bin but everything else was perfectly normal and there was even a complimentary shower cap, shower gel and shampoo. Marvellous.

Various nurses came in and introduced themselves. One with a great Transylvanian accent enquiring as to how I was with ‘the bloodz’. She took a few samples. It turned out I was fine with the bloodz and am O+. I had to do a pregnancy test and came running out of the bathroom saying ‘It’s a boy!’ but Bassalot went a bit pale at this so I calmed the fuck down.

It was a weird headspace. B was keen for me to unpack and settle in which I guess made sense. I was more perched on the side of the bed in limbo between settling in and waving B goodbye. I’d just stepped out of my life and the glorious sunshine outside into what was basically a complete unknown. There was a gadget on the bed with three buttons – the overhead light, nurse and (as far as we could make out) barrista! I gave in my supper order, pretty impressive and I went for Scottish salmon and a Crème brulee (I kid u not) for pudding. B had brought a pack lunch with him which soon got wolfed down and we settled into a bit of TV and snuggles whilst we waited for the consultants (anesthetist and surgeon) to come round at the end of the day.

My anaesthetist was tall and grey and very doctor looking. He had few words and sat in with us saying it would be an old fashioned anaesthetic. Not knowing, I had to enquire as to what that was. Two large sleeping tablets and a shot of morphine in the butt. No kidding, that sounded pretty old fashioned. I was up second in the morning so this would be brought round about 9.30am to my room. I would be left for about an hour for the drugs to take effect at which point I would be sleepy but rousable. There wasn’t much to chat about after that, few allergies to cosmetics, hadn’t had a problem with general anaesthetics before so all looked fairly straightforward.

Bassalot went home. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for him. He does look after me real good (when I let him) and he just had to hand me over to admittedly professionals but who nonetheless were gonna drug me and cut me open. We’d taken a selfie of us both before he left. I love that picture.

I waited for Dr O to come by, it seemed to be getting quite late. I was kind of thinking I’d rather he just went home and got an early night. Surely he had a big day tomorrow. I was up second and I would think there was at least another cardiac operation after me. I guess I can pull off mental working days but I’m not normally grafting arteries onto people’s hearts.

He turned up though and was very re-assuring, asked how I was doing, said he’d try his best for a good result and have me back on my bike in no time – he remembered! I had to sign the consent form for which the reason for the operation had been filled in already ‘improvements in quality and quantity of life’ – sign me up! There was a 1% chance of death or stroke and a blood transfusion was a possibility if required. He said he would phone Bassalot as soon as the procedure was done and he was welcome to visit whether or not I was conscious yet.

I embarked on my penultimate Hibi Scrub. There was no bath here but with my fulsome bottle I could lavish it on and by Hibi #5 was a pink squeaky clean iron laden body of antimicrobial goodness. I popped into my purple velour jim jams for the first time and looked in the mirror from the white hospital bed. Rod Stewart looked back at me. Not the exact persona I had in mind but he was pretty cool in the Small Faces right?

I texted B. Told him I loved him with all my achey brakey heart and relayed my Rod Stewart concerns. I got a text back by return of satellite. We had texted each other at exactly the same time. He then sent me the selfie we’d taken and assured me Rod Stewart was the coolest. I said he should probably be drinking tequila about now. He sent me a picture of a bottle and shot of tequila.

Breakfast at The Spire was served at 7.30am but I was a definite Nil By Mouth that morning. The nurses had been very chillaxed about it all the night before and said they’d be in to wake me about 8.30, I’d need to have one final Hibi Scrub but didn’t need to wash my hair in it and the drugs would start at 9.30am. Fairly understandably I’d woken up much before that. Got it on with the Hibi Scrub, decided I’d be asleep for a while so might as well have good hair and gave it a wash and condition with the complimentary shampoo and my own blonding conditioner. Well, no point letting your standards slip. I was once again, scrubbed and pink and irony and enrobed in Pussy Deluxe plus my new £1 small creature slippers. Honestly there were so many pairs of eyes on me at that point I was getting a little freaked out. B had texted while I was in the shower. I described my Pussy deluxedom and he replied that I had the right to be hospitalized in luxury – awwww.

Nurse Celeste knocked and serenely swept into the room. She seemed genuinely surprised that I was up and ready reclining on the bed looking more as if I was waiting for a massage than a heart operation. She said everything was on track. The first patient had gone down fine so I was next and she would be back in an hour with my meds and all I had to do was have my hospital robe on.

There was plenty of social media that morning to take my mind off things. Pats said she loved me but not in a gay way. The singer from Shooting Fish thought I’d rock the theatre. I’d always hit the drums so hard we’d joked I was stadium ready so she could’ve been right. And an out of the blue message from another kick ass girl drummer (I just put myself in that category too!). She is now gonna be drumming for Shooting Fish saying she’ll be keeping my throne warm for when I’m feeling better and ready to smash the shit out of my kit again! If you’ve watched the film Spinal Tap, you’ll know that it’s always the drummer who spontaneously combusts or is likely to need an organ transplant at an inopportune moment – myself no exception. Anyway, it was a really thoughtful message and I fessed up that I was in fact waiting to be fixed right there and then and the morphine was on its way any moment. She thought her timing was ridiculous, message wise, but badoom tsk! her timing had been perfect, like any drummer (!) and had made me smile.

9.45 Celeste came back. The two large sleeping tablets were in fact one small blue tablet and the morphine was a good old-fashioned shot in the arse. She left my gown undone at the back saying she’d seen how they manhandled bodies in the operating theatre trying to undo them at the back so probably best not to bother. I didn’t think this through too hard. Although it has struck me since that on the now three occasions that I’ve had surgery, I have always woken up with bruised elbows. This makes more sense as I can now imagine drugged arms falling around due to gravity, whilst taking gowns off.

I texted B to say the morphine was in and the oxygen was on. He sent me a photo of his big kissing lips, Gordon, a hand puppet gorilla and tiny princess a small rag punk doll I’d left him with in my absence. He then texted to say he’d accidentally sent that photo to my dad too. Even better!

True to the instructions I next awoke at 10.45ish to nurse Celeste and two guys who rocked me onto a wooden plank I think to shuffle me sideways onto a suitable trolley. We wheeled through corridors and lifts, saying a few words about tattoos. I met one of the guys again later and he said on the way to get me they’d been saying that Lucy was a really unusual name for an old lady. When they got in the room they were quite surprised that I was actually quite young. It’s weird as at 47 I feel quite old but in coronary bypass surgery terms I am, it seems, a young anomaly.

I ended up in a small room with a lovely lady bedecked from head to toe in important looking green scrubs. I mean properly covered from head to toe. Crocs on feet and hair and head all wrapped away in green. She chatted, I have no idea what about, and I could see the double doors at my feet end opened directly into the operating theatre. People came in and out of the doors and I grabbed snatches of what was going on inside but didn’t really recognise anybody. At my two previous operations I’d always been wheeled into the theatre, introduced to the staff, seen the massive alien style operating lights above the bed and gradually been talked through the drugs I was about to be given before hearing the infamous lines “This will just feel like a bottle of wine”. Here, I’d obviously been given some killer drugs already and slept, and waited.

And slept.

And waited.

And slept.

Next week find out What’s Inside a Girl, chapter #10. Same time, same place, but a special guest writer as I was obviously pretty out of it.

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