On Thursday last week, I set off to my scheduled appointment to have my dressings looked at. I took a 15 minute train ride from Edinburgh, and cycled the last mile to the hospital. The plan had been to cycle home – a pleasant 25 miles or so with the wind behind me. The nurse showed almost no interest in my dressings, and instead asked about the swelling just above my collarbone. It wan’t long before the second doctor to see me told me I was going to be admitted.
My phone number was noted and I was sent off to “get a coffee” while arrangements were made. After my coffee, I spent some time working out where I thought the best place for my bike was overnight. I found a covered park near the main door, it would have to do.
I got a phone call telling me to report for two COVID tests, and then to Ultrasound for an appointment. The specialist there scanned the swelling and then “aspirated” some fluid. I was told to go “back” to the Day Surgery Ward. I was given my dinner there, and was soon the only patient in a ward for dozens. The clue is in the name!
Later in the evening I was transferred to Ward 18 – where I was for my operation – and became the third patient in a ward for six. My days since have been punctuated by intravenous drips of antibiotics four times a day. I am determined to keep active for my physical and mental well-being. I have refused the blood thinning drugs to stave off deep vein thrombosis – I’m going to do that by walking several miles each day instead of lying in bed.
The swelling had returned before the ward round on Friday though, so I was not going to get out before Monday – the ultrasound guy is too cool to work weekends.
Now that I have worked out the timetable and other mysteries of ward life, I have managed to take walks of varying lengths. On the first evening I marched up and down the corridors. On Friday I did a lap of the hospital in the morning. When Clare came to visit, we walked together to the station (a mile away) with me wheeling my bike. I put her on the train with the bike and walked back to the ward in time for my dinner. Kenny met Clare at the other end to help her wheel the bike home.
However Saturday was a low-point. I spent the whole day waiting for the next thing to happen. There were several specialists who needed to see me, so I didn’t dare leave the ward. My drips also got badly out of sync so I was still waiting for them to finish at 1am.
Sunday started better. By mid-morning I knew I had at least a spare hour, so I went to find the walled garden I’d seen on my map. It’s less than half a mile away, and not spectacular, but it was lovely to sit in the sunshine listening to bird song instead of hospital noises. An excellent place to do my physiotherapy exercises – especially the one where I stand next to a wall and walk my fingers up it.
The day continued to run so much better. The nurses had been sternly told by the doctor that they should have taken my stitches out on Saturday. Despite being very busy, in the early afternoon I had the full attention of two nurses. They were impressed by the surgeon’s skill as they struggled to find where the stitches were. Luckily for me the stitches are almost exclusively in places that are currently (and perhaps permanently) numb. Clare arrived in the middle of it all, so she enjoyed the show. My drips were expedited in parallel, so I was soon free to go again.
Clare and I then walked back to the station via Peel Park – again not spectaular, but a nice variation. I waved her off on her train and came back to the ward.
Monday’s weather was less good, but I went for a wander around the hospital corridors. The ward had my phone number and promised to call me if my ultrasound appointment appeared. Clare came in to visit in the afternoon bringing my laptop. When the ward started to get crowded we went and sat in the foyer for a chat.
Back in the ward, an apologetic doctor came to explain to me that the specialist ultrasound guy I needed wasn’t in today. So I’m here another night, or maybe two. Meanwhile, with the stitches out I am feeling more flexible, and I am gradually able to eat chewier foods. Sour dough bread is still some way off.