Thursday, 29 October 2009

Dead Woman Walking

I WAS RUNNING out of excuses for crying but still the sobs exploded out of me. ‘It’s just my hormones,’ I wailed to my husband, Alexio. ‘I’ll be all right in a minute.’
But who was I kidding? I was on my way to hospital to have my gallbladder removed – and I was terrified.
Alexio squeezed my hand. ‘You’ll be fine, I promise,’ he soothed.
I forced a smile. Logically, I knew the risk of me dying on the operating table was practically nil.
Far less anyway than the one in four chance I’d had of snuffing it when I’d had acute pancreatitis.
One of my gallstones had come out of my gallbladder and got stuck in the duct, meaning my pancreas was eating itself.
Now, the only way to make sure it never happened again was keyhole surgery. ‘You’ll be out of pain, and you won’t even have a big scar,’ my surgeon said, as I settled into my room.
Fear surged through me. ‘Are you sure I can’t have it done awake? I cried. The surgeon shook his head. ‘Now put on your gown and I’ll see you after the operation.’
My hands were shaking as I pulled off my clothes after he’d gone. ‘It’s a routine operation,’ Alexio said, helping me into the backless gown. ‘In a couple of hours it’ll all be over.’
True – so why did I think I was about to be put to death by lethal injection? ‘What if I don’t wake up?’ I panicked. ‘Or if something goes wrong during surgery?’
What if these were my last few minutes on earth? 
I was gulping back air now as fresh sobs erupted. I couldn’t stop staring at my six-month-old baby, Anais, asleep in her pram, and my curly haired son, Deme, playing at school. What if I never saw them again?
‘I love my life,’ I wept, grabbing hold of Alexio. ‘I love you and the children. Tell them how much I love them.’ Alexio smiled. ‘You can tell them yourself later,’ he insisted.
I heard a noise behind me. Two nurses were here to take me down to theatre. 
‘Ready?’ one asked and I began to cry even louder.
‘No,’ I said, clinging to Alexio. But I’d signed the consent form. I couldn’t really back out now.
So, tears spilling, I kissed my husband and baby for what I thought was the last time and followed the nurses.
They were just a blur of blue, I was crying so hard. 
The theatre was at the end of a long corridor, with a small bed for me to lie on.
Everyone was wearing scrubs and facemasks. My breathing was laboured now from terror. ‘I’ve got two small children,’ I told the anaesthetist as he tapped the veins in my left wrist to bring them to the surface.
I was still crying as he inserted a cannula through which to pump the drugs. ‘You will tell me when you’re going to put me under, won’t you?’ I said, and then I felt a cold whoosh of liquid in my arm and everything went black…
I took such a deep breathe in, I sat up. It was like a baby’s first breath. Full and noisy. I was awake. ‘You’re in recovery,’ a nurse said.
My mouth was so dry I couldn’t speak. But I’d survived. I wanted to stay awake, to punch the air with clichéd relief, but my eyes were too heavy…
When I came round again I was in my hospital bed. ‘Welcome back,’ Alexio said, kissing me.
I turned my face to his and saw a jar filled with around 60 stones – all black, round and as big as Maltesers. ‘Eeewwww, that’s my gallstones,’ I mumbled. Then my blood pressure dropped, my stomach churned and I began to vomit over and over again.
I didn’t care I felt so awful. At least I wasn’t hungry – I didn’t want to make a mistake while still drugged up and eat those stones. I don’t think I’ll ever touch chocolate again!

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing piece of writing. I can't imagine having how awful it would be to have an operation now I have children. I'm sure I would cry as you did. So glad all went well x