Break 3

I’ve just had the first follow-up hospital appointment.  I was X-rayed, the bandages were removed and I saw the surgeon’s registrar.  I will not be able to climb ladders again, or put things on high shelves but I will probably be able to do my own hair at some point, which will be a relief to the OH who has been landed with the task, with variable results.

Apparently it’s two weeks since the operation; I thought it was only one.  After one week the OH took this photograph

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this is the back of my right elbow.

Back to the medical firsts.  Some years ago I landed up in hospital with a fierce dental abscess.  I was on intravenous antibiotics for a week before they would extract the tooth.  Eventually they did and I had a gap.  Some years later the mirror image tooth also got an abscess but by then I had a great dentist, who proposed dental implants.  I kept going with serrapeptase for several months while the implantologist arranged to write me up and present me as a paper at Edinburgh University because I had a couple of firsts:  I was having an implant in an old, healed socket and a new extraction and implant on the other side at the same time, so it was a good comparison, and I was only using serrapeptase as an anti-inflammatory and pain control.  I spent lengthy half hours with my mouth open and full of hardware for the purposes of photography.  For this I got  a substantial reduction in the fees and the knowledge that I was helping other people in the future.  Of course, if it had all gone horribly wrong that would have been a useful hint to the future in a ‘here’s what not to do’ sort of way.  All went well, I love my implants and if someone says: so bite me, I jolly well can.

Back to two weeks ago, when the idiot Jane, full of morphine, assures the anaesthetist that she will not need a ring of injections while she is asleep because, unlike anyone else on the planet, operating in the midst of all the nerves going through the shoulder will not hurt.  Not one little bit, tra la.

So into theatre I walked, accompanied by the surgeon, met all the prep people in the ante room, worried briefly who would come to meet me if I died, was told: this is not the injection that will put you to sleep.

This is the injection that


Next thing I know I’m sitting up covered in blankets except for my shoulder.  I have the anaesthetist on my right side and all the pain of the world crushing me.  It felt like someone had leaned a very large building on me and I thought: Right, now I am going to die and it will be my escape.  Was I making that noise again?  Had my heart rate gone up a lot?  I don’t know.  The anaesthetist said: Stay very still I am going to try something.  Don’t move at all.

On my left side a screen appeared with an X-ray image of my right arm.  Simultaneously the theatre filled with people.  Surgeons in gowns and caps from other theatres, sisters, nurses in plastic aprons.  People.  Crowds of people, watching.  On the screen I could see the needles going in.  I could see the nerves and blood vessels and I could see the needles going within millimetres of the vital places.  The tips of the needles went right up to the vessels and fibres and stopped.  By the third one, so did the pain.

I wished to live again, the anaesthetist finished and the crowd melted away; back through a door with gloves in the air, out of another door, sitting back down.  All vanished and the world returned.

Do you think Pierre Curie ever said to his wife:  My goodness you are looking radiant tonight, dear.  Positively glowing.

I hope he did, I hope he meant it.  Medical firsts are not just things we learn in history.  They have been of such help to me in my life.  I like to think of all the wonderful medical advances that have been made when the news is bad.  When the evening television starts with tales of man’s inhumanity to man, I like to remember the people I have actually met who have been able to further their skill and thought it was worthwhile to do so to help ordinary people such as you and I.  Surely there can be no better thing to do with your life than to help people in their hour of need?

Next time, a look at the hardware.  In my arm.


No Min for me, I cannot lift weight of any kind for weeks and weeks and weeks and they had to cut the tendon to get at the bone.

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