THE BLOG

The Night Before

04/12/2014 17:36 | Updated 02 February 2015

The surgeon walked briskly into my room, asking me a few questions, several times confirming my name, ensuring no slip-ups. He took out a black marker and lifted my hospital gown revealing my painful hip that was causing all the commotion. Then one last time he checked my name and asked me which hip was being operated on. This was rather disconcerting, for I knew very well which side, and was pretty sure he did too!

The surgeon reassured me, all these questions and double checking was now routine hospital procedure, simply to avoid any errors. Both in agreement it was my right side, he took the black marker and drew a huge arrow on my hip. I was a little taken a back at this crude body art come graffiti, but upon reflection, felt reassured they were taking all precautions to make no mistakes.

When a label is attached to the headboard of your bed saying "fasting", you know it's not a religious holiday, or a boot camp for losing weight. I was fully aware I would not be eating till some hours after surgery the following day. My enforced 'diet' had begun.

A little while later, a young nurse with a towel draped over her arm, holding a shaving kit in the other, cheerily waltzed up to my bedside. Taking a quick glance at the razor, I told her "I think you have the wrong room". After years of experience, hospitalized more times than I dare count, I know full well what surgery requires being shaven in the lower regions, a highly undignified but necessary task. Thankfully hip surgery does not require this humiliation, and the nurse quickly left my room in search of some poor patient who had my full sympathy.

It was now nearing the time when lights go out in hospital wards for the evening, and just the faint glimmer of night lights and those of the nurses' station can be seen. In marched a smiling nurse who had just taken over and was on the night shift. She held a small try, with what to me, looked like several small plastic shot glasses filled with an indiscernible liquid. "A little something before you go to sleep" she announced as she neared my bed. Great I thought, we're going to do some tequila shots, but where was the salt and lemon wedges, and no snacks or peanuts? The nurse handed me one of the shot glasses and told me to down it in one, as it was best swallowed quickly. "So no lemon or salt then?" I inquired as I took the rather suspicious looking night cap. "It's a liquid laxative, not tequila", she said with a grin. Greatly disappointed, I dutifully swallowed the sickly sweet liquid. Oh the joys of preparation for surgery.

The night before surgery is always strange, sleeping in a hospital bed waiting to get tomorrow over and done with, so the recovery process can begin. Thoughts of home and getting back to some form of normality fill my sleepy head. Separated from my husband, but knowing he'll be by my side bright and early the following morning, accompanying me to the operating theatre, is a comforting thought. He's always there for me, come rain or shine, and is normally the first face I see upon coming around from the anesthetic.

No one wants or likes having surgery, but try as we might, occasionally unexpected circumstances dictate and we take a slight detour in life. Feeling you are in good hands, having confidence in your healthcare team, and staying positive all help towards a speedy and full recovery from surgery. And just like that, 'the night before' surgery becomes a distant memory; each day making a little improvement, step by step with hope and a fighting spirit on the road to recovery.

http://www.elainebenton.net/