Home, sweet home

My own bed!
My own shower!
No one to wake me up in the middle of the night to check I’m doing okay! (Well, I was… until you woke me up!)

I’m home from my second pacemaker surgery, and can add another exhibit to my list (you can see exhibits A-D here, in my previous post where I wrote about the reason I feel anxious before surgery).

Exhibit E: My scheduled forty minute pacemaker revision surgery turned into a two hour surgery when they realised that both leads needed adjusting (not just one like they’d thought). My cannula blew off in the middle of the surgery (I ended up needing three placed in the two days I was there). I had an allergic reaction (my back, butt, and thighs covered in a torturously itchy rash) to the medication they prescribed me for pain relief, and then another allergic reaction to the one they prescribed after that.

Thankfully, as people had repeatedly assured me, the hospital was a good one. It was definitely the best hospital stay I’ve ever had – which probably sounds a bit odd, after reading Exhibit E! But almost every person I came into contact with listened well, and was extremely kind and helpful.

Thank you Nurse Heather, for listening when I told you I was hard to cannulate. You were slow and careful to do it right – and you did a great job. Thank you for listening when I told you I was allergic to pretty much every sticky tape and patch that exists, and for being happy to use the special tape I’d brought instead (one I don’t react to). Thanks for bringing me magazines to look at when I started going crazy from staring at a blank wall for two hours while waiting to go into surgery (there’d been a complication in the previous person’s surgery, and so it was taking longer than they’d expected).

Thank you Nurse Amy, for moving my bed to a part of the pre-surgery ward with a TV while I waited. You didn’t scold me for being ‘impatient’ (I wasn’t – I was just extremely bored – with no husband to talk to (he wasn’t allowed in there with me), nothing to do, nothing to read, nothing to look at, no access to my things…).

Thank you Doctor S (anaesthetist), for asking how I usually responded to anaesthetics, and tailoring which medications you used to suit my needs. When I came out of surgery, I was very confused, but I didn’t feel nauseous at all, so I call that a major win!

Thank you Doctor T (surgeon), for squeezing me in with only a week and a half notice. Thank you for agreeing to operate on someone with such a silly body. Thank you for taking my needs seriously, like pre-surgery saline, and higher post-op care. Thank you for making sure all my pre-surgery questions were answered, and that I understood what was going to happen. Thank you for taking the time to check up on me before I went home, to make sure I didn’t have any questions about how the surgery had gone.

Thank you Nurse Susan, who put in my third cannula (cannula #1 had blown out in surgery, cannula #2 had been removed after surgery because the placement was very painful). You were so careful, and gentle. When it was time for IV pain relief, you were insistent the I didn’t have to put up with any pain, and sat with me, giving me small doses at spaced intervals, until my pain score was down to 0/10.

Thank you Nurses Andrew and Jason, who drew the short straw of having the night shift on the ward I was staying in. You both did an awesome job of looking after me! Seriously! Best. Nurses. Ever. Thank you for giving me pain relief when I needed it, and not giving me the stink eye like I was a drug seeker. Thank you for sitting and talking to me when the ward was quiet. You were funny, and told me about your own lives pre-nursing, and asked questions about my conditions, and made the long ‘first post-op night’ bearable.

Thank you Nurse Brooke, for being such a wonderful advocate on the day after surgery. The nursing unit manager had decided that since the x-ray had shown good lead placement, and the ultrasound had shown no fluid around the heart, I didn’t need such a high level of pain relief. She wasn’t trying to be mean, she just didn’t seem to comprehend that I could be in such a high level of pain when ‘all the scans are fine’ (since when do scans show pain levels?!). She seemed to think I was anxious about something being wrong, and kept assuring me that everything was fine.  I wasn’t anxious. I was just hurting. A LOT! But every time I told her that, she’d smile and wave her hands like a conductor and repeat in her sing-song voice, “There’s no need to worry. The x-rays have shown that the lead placement is excellent, and the ultrasound shows there’s no fluid around the heart, so everything is fine”. Nurse Brooke went to bat for me though, and made sure I got the necessary pain relief. She believed me when I said I wasn’t anxious, or drug seeking, or wanting a long stay in hospital – I was just in a lot of pain.

Thank you Tricia, who manned the help desk in the reception lobby. When it was time for me to go home (YAY!), you came right over and helped Mr Happy organise my discharge with the main desk. You happily sat with me while Mr Happy went to get the car, and then pushed my wheelchair out to the pickup zone, gently helping me into the car. You carried my bags out, popping them into the boot, before waving merrily and heading back inside to help the next person who looked a little lost.

And while I’m thanking people – it’s not just the medical people that were amazing. Thank you to my Mum, who drove me around to my pre-op appointments while hubby was overseas. She and my sister bought me roses (RED ROSES PEOPLE!!!) when it started looking like I was going to have to have my pacemaker surgery re-done. Thank you to hubby’s Uncle and Aunty, who so generously let Mr Happy and I crash at their place whenever I have medical stuff happening in the city – even with super short notice. Thank you to my Dad, who cooked me falling-off-the-fork lamb when I got home (and to Mum for going shopping for the lamb and avocado, and for boiling perfect eggs to accompany my meal). Thank you to Mr Happy, who took me to the city and sat by my side post-op, bringing me meals and water and helping me shower and dress, despite him having just come back from overseas and being tired. Thank you to everyone that prayed, or sent best wishes, or texted to see how I was going, or offered to help pre/post-op.

The surgery went well.
I survived.
I’m home.

xx S.


Fine art print by Sweet William


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