Posts Tagged ‘operation’

Breaking the rules

This morning, I am joining in with Emily and Kelly’s Remember The Time blog prompt.

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For some reason, the first thing that sprung to mind is the following story. It’s a bit feeble but I’m just going to run with it.

When I was about ten years old, I had an operation on my hip and spent about six weeks with plaster down both of my legs. A lady used to bring me work from school so I didn’t fall behind. I think, actually, because I didn’t have anyone around me to distract me, I got quite far ahead with things. When I then went back to school, I was ahead of everyone else and bored so I got a bit restless and naughty.

Because my operation meant I had to use crutches for a little while and had a huge healing scar, I couldn’t go swimming. I used to still go along to the swimming pool but would just sit on the side.

This particular day, I had an idea that I wasn’t going with them, I’m not sure why. Then someone came and found me and said I was supposed to be on the bus. So off I toddled towards the school gates to the bus. My teacher, Miss Moore, saw me as I approached the bus and came over and really bollocked me.

She was going, “We were looking everywhere for you. We’re really late now. You’ve held everyone up.”

And this, my friends, is the moment at which I totally broke the rules. I broke the rules of the teacher-pupil relationship. I broke my own rules of good behaviour. I broke the rules of respecting authority. This was the first thing that sprung to mind when I saw that I had to write about breaking the rules.

When my teacher shouted at me for being naughty, I said…..

“So.”

Wowzers! What on earth was that about?! That is crazy talk.

I remember being quite shocked that that had come out of my mouth and being like, “Omygoodness, she’s gonna go mad!”

And even though I’m 28 years old and have done lots of other things in my life, had numerous jobs and lived in many different places, for some reason, this singular incident when I was 10 years old is my first thought when I am asked to write about breaking the rules. 

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The time I hid

When I was about ten years old, I had an operation on my hip, which was dislocated since birth. I had to have plaster from just above my belly button down to my ankle on one side and to my knee on the other, with a bar across the middle, like a capital A.

This capital A shaped plaster was inconvenient, to say the least. It made me so wide that when I was allowed home from hospital, they had to give me a hospital bed that was set up in the front room and that was were I spent all my time.

I couldn’t walk, obviously. I couldn’t go to the toilet. I had to have a bedpan thing. I couldn’t really sit up because the plaster came quite high to my belly button. I also couldn’t sneeze without a lot of pain in my pelvis so I took to stifling the sneeze until it kind of exploded a bit in my nose, to prevent a proper full-on sneeze that would shake my whole body.

I used to watch Sesame Street every lunch time and my mum would make me a jacket potato with cheese melted all over it. She used to drive me crazy by cutting it into bits then feeding it to me. I was always like, “My arms and hands work fine! Let me feed myself.”

My friend, Ruth (of The Handbags And The Gladrags fame), used to come over most weekends, to cheer me up. This one Saturday she was over and we were going to go out. Someone had made me a V shaped board to sit on in the wheelchair, like an extension out the front, to accommodate my awkward shape. I would have to be sort of slumped down in the chair bit with my massive plastered legs sticking out.

I must have been a bit apprehensive the whole time we were getting ready and one’s childhood is so fraught with embarrassment anyway that it must have just got too much for me. I remember feeling like an awkward shaped peice of furniture being manoeuvred around a corner.

I was in the wheelchair, there was a blanket over me, Ruth was quite excited for the little adventure, my parents has their coats on. We were all ready to go.

And then I just hid.

I pulled the blanket over my head and I hid.

I imagine there was confusion, they probably looked at each other uncertainly. What’s going on? Should we just go out anyway? What’s she doing?

I think they probably tried to speak to me and I think I just stayed silent the whole time. I stayed under the safety of the blanket and refused to look out or to tell them whether I still wanted to go out. They left me in the hallway on my massive awkward wheelchair and waited for me to talk. I didn’t. I just stayed under my blanket.

I think Ruth ended up going home given that I, her best friend, had spent the majority of her visit hiding under a blanket, refusing to speak. I think my parents pottered off to make tea and eventually I must have emerged from my blanket.

And if I remember rightly, we never spoke of it again.

Trying to be useful

Ok, everyone. It’s time for me to admit something. I’ve been living selfishly. It is the first time I have done so since deciding a while ago, that I was going to live unselfishly. I did my undergraduate degree in Human Rights and officially have letters that I can put after my name to prove I have some knowledge in this area. I became very interested in the issue of capital punishment and went to law school with this in mind.

…And then the law degree was long… And difficult…. And dry…. And not so interesting…. Which took me by surprise. I also wasn’t very good at it. No matter how much I studied and prepared and did masses of extra reading, I’d go to tutorials and the tutors would ask a question. As the excitable student I am, I’d be there, hand in the air going “Me! Me! Pick me! I know!” Then I’d say something like, “Fisher v Bell.” And the tutor would go, “No.”

….Ah. Um. Ok.

My exams last May were tough. My brain almost caved in. I needed a break. I liked people and I wanted to do good things with my life. But I needed to retreat and recoup.

My operation midway through the degree also didn’t help. I know it’s illogical and I know there is no answer to it but I felt annoyed and wanted to know why. Why had it happened to me? I wasn’t annoyed actually, I was pissed off. Really pissed off. Retreating and recovering was a way for me to also process what had happened. There’s nothing like a brush with death to clarify the important things in life!

So since May I have been doing things I like, to kind of shake everything off and make myself a blank page again. To start from scratch and remember what it is want to do. So I have been blogging, baking, eating, writing, reading, walking, seeing friends. And it is lovely. I like my life and I like how I spend my time.

But now I’m ready to get involved again. I want to do useful things with my time again. I watched Cloud Atlas tonight and someone said there is no point joining a cause you believe in as it will just be a drop in the ocean. The reply was that yes, it is just a drop in the ocean but the ocean is made up of drops.

I’m going to do an experiment for a while. I’ve downloaded two books about small daily actions which can make a little difference. One is about trying to live a more environmentally friendly life. The other is about anything and everything. I’ll post the tips from both books and try to do whichever is most feasible, or both if I can.

Let’s see how being nice goes….

Wish me luck.

Two year anniversary

Today is two years since I got the biggest shock of my life.

Two years since being driven by a worried Danda at 2am to hospital with stomach pains.

Two years since having an unreasonable number of doctors look in places I would never have dreamed they needed to look!

Two years since I was stuck all over with needles which would live inside me for next six days, leaving me tiny scars that are still visible today.

Two years since a lovely kind doctor approached me with the terrifying news that he’d have to stick a tube down my nose and to my stomach to empty it.

Two years since being told I was next in the operating theatre and waking up hours later, literally stapled back together.

Two years since the every day functions of life were torn from me and I needed nurses to wash me, a tube to feed me and a catheter to wee.

Two years since being put on a geriatric ward and becoming a delirious TV addict with access to self medicating pain killer.

Two years since developing a fear of food and living off a spoonful of mash a day.

Two years since I became unable to stand for more than a few seconds without being exhausted.

Two years since telling Danda, “I don’t wanna go a walkies.”

And two years since I thought things were falling apart.

But they didn’t. Wonderful things happened. Friends and family were all mixed together and stuffed into a cubicle during visiting hours and it was brilliant. I would never have invited that combination of people to be together anywhere but I had no control over this and it turned out really really well.

Danda visited every day. Every single day. Every available visit. Twice a day. Him and my brother paid for vouchers so I could watch the TV or make phone calls, which I did. I made long rambling morphine-induced phone calls where I babbled and sniffled and sobbed and raged.

When I tried to understand the logic in what had happened to me and needed someone to blame or hate, everywhere there were people ready to support me and let me rage at them and at everything.

When I hobbled down the road for a cup of tea at the deli, fellow customers came to sit with me, bought me lunch, kept my spirits up when I felt low.

The doctors who repackaged my wide open scar every day were supportive and kept up constant chatter while I looked in horror at my insides on show!

And while it would be an exaggeration to say the process was a good one or that I’m glad it happened, if it had to happen, I had the best possible experience of it.

And now, right now, where I am in my life at this minute, I can’t remember ever feeling this great. Things are just lovely. I don’t have the anxiety of the teenage and early 20’s years. I don’t have the indecision of university years. I don’t have to always ask myself ‘what I’m going to do with My Life.’

And things are nice now. Very nice. I cook. I bake. I eat. I write. I read.

Two years ago, I thought I’d be angry forever over what happened to me. But I’m not. I’m just very happy and chilled out.

The worst photo of myself

Ok, I feel that I am at a stage in my blogging ‘career’ where I can share a few things I normally wouldn’t share with strangers. But we are no longer strangers to one another. So yesterday whilst having a nose bleed, I remembered the last time I had a nose bleed, which was during my hospital stay, post-big-scary operation.

Because what happened to me was quite unusual (they had never seen it in that hospital before), there was no ward for me really so I had just been put on a ward where there was space. I slept intermittently during the day and was awake at night, when the lady in the bed opposite me would cry out things like “Ohhhh… The squire! He’s starving to death!” in her sleep. It was a bit random. The lady next to her had bowel cancer and wore a colostomy bag and talked about not being able to go on public transport because she always had to be a few minutes away from a toilet.

This one night, I had a little nose bleed. I pressed my button for a nurse to come and got a tissue. Which the blood soaked through. Then another tissue. And another. And another. We couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t stop. Then I remembered that they give you blood-thinning medication sometimes, don’t they, if you’re lying down a lot. So that you don’t get blood clots in your legs from not moving them. And, as we saw in a previous post, I was not too keen on going for a walkies!

Thus, my nose bleed went on. And on. And on. Because my blood wouldn’t clot! Every time, I thought it would have stopped and took the tissue away, it started flooding out again. I felt like my brain might come out through my nostril if it didn’t stop.

Eventually the nurses just rolled up two of their little square spongey pad things that they use to clean wounds up with, and shoved one in each nostril and hoped that would stop it and force it to clot.

Quite amused by the whole situation, I waited until they’d cleared up and left then took a photo.

Bear in mind, I couldn’t get my enormous ten inch stapled wound down my front wet so hadn’t showered or washed my hair in about five days.

Are you ready?

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Lovely, isn’t it?…….

Don’t answer that.

Lazy Laura and the big hospital strop

Almost two years ago, as mentioned in C is for…, I had a bit of an emergency. Like a life-threatening, I-thought-it-was-some-mild-food-poisoning, extremely-rare colon thing.

It was a Wednesday, any old Wednesday, no forewarning, nothing out of the ordinary. I ate my dinner, felt a little ill, it got worse and worse til, by Friday, I hadn’t slept in two days and was becoming a little delirious. By 3am on Saturday morning, it dawned on me that it wasn’t going to be ok and I got scared and went to hospital.

It was supposed to be my first day back at law school after the Christmas break. I had all my books ready. I was hoping they could just give me a little painkiller and send me on my way and I could still make classes at 10am.

Then things went crazy. I didn’t have any time to prepare myself for it. I honestly thought I was going home in a few hours. Then all of a sudden, there were things being jabbed into me with liquid painkillers, there were x-rays being taken, I was in a ward full of people waiting for operations and, wait a minute, I was waiting for an operation! And they were talking to me about my colon and I couldn’t hear them properly through the haze of fear that was throbbing in my ears.

Anyway, I woke up from the operation later that day and proceeded to spend the next three days in bed, sulking over why I had become ill, “why me?” etc. Doctors and nurses would come round and be nice and friendly but I had turned into Little Miss Grumpy. I was having a tantrum at ‘Life’ and that’s how it was going to be!

I spent all day asleep, too terrified to eat anything so sleeping through meals or refusing them, then spent all night awake, with my headphones in, watching Supernanny or Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen on my little TV, gently weeping to myself like an idiot.

I was allowed visitors but mostly just watched while they talked. I think I had convinced myself that I was quite legitimately ‘depressed’ and that was that.

Then Danda came to visit.

“Try and get her up and about,” they had said to Danda. “She lies in bed all the time, she needs to be a bit more active if she’s going to recover.”

So Danda came to my bedside and shook me awake. I was sleeping, as usual.

“Come on, Laura. Let’s go for a little walk.”

I looked at him with my No Face.

“Come on. It’s been four days since the operation. You need to pick yourself up a bit. Don’t you want to get well so you can leave the hospital?”

I did my best quivery-lip, I’m-so-sad-and-ill face, which he ignored. What?! My sad face wasn’t working?! Panic set in. I’m busy sitting around feeling sorry for myself here! You’re interrupting me! Don’t you get it?

“Come on. Put your little slippers on. Let’s go for a little walkies,” as though talking to a child.

That was it. I had had it.

‘Danda, can I tell you a secret?”

He nodded and leaned close so I could whisper in his ear.

“I don’t WANT to go a walkies!” And I stuck my bottom lip out.

And suddenly he was laughing uproariously. He had to sit down and clutch his stomach. I heard what I had said and realised what a baby I was being and put on my little hospital-issue slippers and went for a walk down the corridor, which tired me out for the rest of the day.

But that, that little strop, that was the beginning of the recovery period.

These days, if I don’t want to go a walkies, I at least come up with a more decent excuse, like “It’s a bit cold,” or “I’m far too busy making this cup of tea” or “Family Guy is on.”

Books that remind me of stuff

One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Reminds me of being in Laos, in a town called Vang Vieng, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I hired a bike for the day and rode out into the fields by myself and found this abandoned bamboo hut up on stilts. I climbed into it and sat down and read the last few chapters of One Hundred Years Of Solitude while listening to a cricket on the roof and the sounds of nature. It was lovely.

Lord Of The Rings
The first one. I don’t remember what it’s called. I started reading it right before I flew back to Namibia. I’d lived there for a year on my gap year and was going back 10 months later to work for some friends. I was reading it on the flight and did quite a few changes so I read that book in Scotland, England, Holland, South Africa and Namibia. I loved that it had taken such a journey with me.

Paulo Coelho, I’ve forgotten what it was called
I read this in an airport somewhere. I think on the way to Morocco. My friend and I did a lot of travelling together over the space of two years and on this flight we had a stopover in Spain, I think. I had bought this book in the airport in London. In the airport in Spain, my friend slept and I was knackered but trying to stay awake and I just tore through this book. I had finished reading it in a few hours.

Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami
I read this while travelling through the Philippines with the same friend. We stayed in this little B&B on an island called Bohol. We’d found it because a lady on the boat there had started chatting to us when we were singing Whitney to pass the time. She told us to stay there and it was such a good find. No-one else was staying there so we pretended it was our own house! We stayed up late playing card games and reading. I loved this book! I finished it and left it there for the next guests.

Hamlet
I had been reading Shakespeare in school and not really liking or disliking it. I just didn’t understand it mostly. Something clicked at some point and I wanted to read more of it. I went to the English cupboard at school and borrowed a copy of Hamlet and loved it. I just got it. I remember feeling really excited because I knew there was a whole stack of Shakespeare out there for me to discover.

Leon: Ingredients and Recipes
I was a few months post-op last year and had finally got over my fear of eating (I was terrified in case eating caused the same problem and I had to go back to hospital and by this point I was pretty scared of hospital). I was eating more and was strong enough to stand up for the time it took to cook dinner. I found this book and loved the first section, about ingredients. If any of you are into food, this book is amazingly fascinating. I went on holiday to Portugal and was still quite delicate, so instead of jumping in and out of the water and running about, I sat reading this book in the sun. It was lovely.

Famous Five
Reminds me of my childhood in general and how much I wanted to be George.

The Janice Project
This was the first romance novel I read that formulated my idea of what my potential life partner should be like!

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeta Naslund
I read this book in Namibia while I was training for a trek across the Great Wall of China. I used to go on the stair machine for an hour every morning to prepare. My body was fine with it but my mind was bored. A friend lent me this book to keep me entertained and it worked. A few years later I kept thinking about it but couldn’t remember the name. I was in an out of the way town in Texas, waiting for a bus, when I saw a little book shop in the distance. I thought I’d kill some time there and found a few books I wanted. I went to the till to pay and right there, next to the till was this same book! Same cover. I recognised it immediately and got it. It was just as good, if not better, the second time around. I’ve been daydreaming about visiting Nantucket since I read it.

The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd
I might have got his name wrong. Found this in Laos, in Luang Prabang. Opposite our hotel there was a little cafe/bookshop. It was the first I’d seen in Asia so I was pretty excited. We sat drinking exotic teas and absorbing the book joy. I found this tucked away on a shelf and loved the cover. It’s a woman’s diary of moving to Japan just after the war. I can’t emphasise how good this book is. If I could only read a few more books ever again, this would be one I’d choose. Read it.