Chapter #11 whatever doesn’t kill you is gonna leave a scar – marylin manson – 2009

heart surgery

Ten past six and I haven’t even gone into theatre yet. I’ve been waiting ages.

I look down and see a little bit of blood on my chest dressing.

Chest dressing!

Sneaky fuckers, they actually drugged me outside the operating theatre – it’s happened! Everything now is post bypass surgery.

The clock on the wall was directly in my line of sight from the bed. It was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes. Definitely ten past six. The big hand couldn’t be more perfectly aligned with the ten past marker. It seemed like a good time. Presumably ten past six that evening. I looked under the hospital gown again. Everything looked incredibly neat. A narrow dressing stretched from about where my eye can first see my chest and snaked off to the left under my boob. ‘We’ll try and keep the scar as little as possible’ ‘?’ ‘?’ There’s a blood spot at the top and the bottom just so I know what’s underneath.

Night time was painful. All kinds of painful but armed with a morphine drip which I seemed to be able to request on tap. And my other best friend, simply a small plastic cup of water armed with a bendy straw. I must have been being watched all the time although I wavered in and out of knowing what the fuck was going on. One nurse in particular was always there gently altering small taps in my neck and administering on request. I didn’t abuse this free drugs situation but neither did I suffer.

I became aware of another male patient opposite me and under the clock. There was another clock on a pillar which I could see from the corner of my left eye. I kind of hope there was one over me so he knew what time it was too. Directly opposite me seemed to be the main doors to intensive care. There were lots of people wearing the green uniform of surgeons and bank nurses going in and out of double doors. Presumably going in and out of theatre – but I am just guessing. I don’t have a clue about hospitals. Some of my friends are nurses and I am completely fascinated about how someone for a job can get up and go to work knowing peoples lives are at stake let alone cardiac surgeons who may have to saw through three peoples rib cages in a day.

One of the girls I used to work with in window dressing had previously worked in an aquarium and their biggest worry from any cock up was that ‘fish might die’. I can safely say that in my roles from fashion designer to window dresser to drummer at no time might ‘fish have died’. The thought of making decisions at work where ‘people might die’ as an outcome to any kind of mix up is quite mind boggling. All credit to medical staff everywhere.

Things that happened during the night not necessarily in the order that they happened:

Bassalot ‘phoned. To my right was a dark blue curtain and this seemed to be the edge of the beds. Important stuff was happening to my right. The ward and patients, were all to my left. People busied about and measured drugs and watched screens and talked and a phone rang. A nurse came round the corner of my unit and said she had someone to speak to me. It was about 9pm.

“Hello petal, you’re beautiful and I love you. How are you?”

Not one for gushing and emotion I said “Yeah, pretty good, considering what I’ve just been through.”

‘I’ll be there and see you in the morning. I love you.’

He’s a good boy.

At some point Dr O, my surgeon, appeared beaming at the end of the bed. He seemed pleased. I was pleased. All was good.

The patient opposite me was not having too good a time. As my mental state adjusted to being in intensive care I’d deduced he could have been the cardiac patient in before me that morning. He was awake and talking and had got to intensive care before me. He was only across the way so I could hear that his heart operation had gone well but his kidneys weren’t yet functioning which is apparently a thing after heart surgery. They were talking about putting him on the machine. His wife / girlfriend arrived very a la footballers wife, skinny blue jeans, tall boots, blonde hair and blousy and she sat by him. They seemed pretty close. His bed seemed massive and to be high up and almost at a 45 degree angle. There was lots more space around it for machines and equipment that in a standard ward which added to the largeness of the whole scenario. He also filled a lot of it sideways and his arms were spread out beyond that. He was also quite sun tanned.

At one point I woke up and couldn’t bare to be on my back any longer. Working it out now I’d probably been on my back since 9am on 6th October and was kind of trying not very successfully to wriggle. I asked the nurse if I could roll over which they helped me to do by about 45% and wedged me there with pillows longthways down my body. It was pretty good.

Later this also got pretty uncomfortable and I wanted to be back on my back, which again was pretty good.

A lady who I’d been aware of who seemed to be organising pharmaceuticals came over to the bed at some point. She had the most amazing head dress arrangement all pinned beautifully and massively around the kindest and wisest female face I think I’ve ever seen. She was all smiles and saying how sweet I looked in the bed and how perfect my hair was – not messed up at all. I knew it had been the right decision to wash my hair pre op. She was actually the same pharmacist who came to see me when I was discharged to give me my take home meds. I said I’d remembered seeing her in intensive care and she said she remembered me too mostly because I wasn’t a 60/70 year young gentleman who would have been the usual suspects on the cardio ward.

I’m only sumising now, being more au fait with hospital shift patterns, that it would have been about 6am the following day that my lovely night nurse said she would give me a little wash. I was pretty impressed as it would have been the last thing on my mind even with Bassalot’s promised visit. Warm little soapy pads soothed my back, shoulders and smalls followed by warm wash off pads doing the same.

I was ready for the day.

Catch up next week with ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ here at ten past six  on Monday 4th November – peace and love! XX