Monday 1 February 2016

Heath Hospital Revisited

If you had asked me 10 days ago what my next blog post would be, I would have said something along these lines: "it will be a post just before we board the first flight on our 3 month tour of the world". It definitely wouldn't have been "it will be from a hospital bed, having been admitted for emergency brain surgery", yet, here we are, it is the first day of February and instead of getting ready to fly across the world I'm sat in the Heath Hospital with a new hole in my skull to add to the ever-expanding collection.

This story begins last Monday with my final memory of the event: Telling my mother that my eyes were really hurting, and not in a way that suggested eyesight issues, but in a way that suggested the tumour was awake and wanted to escape from my skull, preferably through my eye sockets.

From here I have to rely on accounts from my parents, as my memory of it all is worse than it would be after 12 pints with j├Ąger bomb chasers.

Apparently the pain got so bad I was screaming and shouting in the house, so my father phoned an ambulance. Unfortunately, the dispatcher seemed more concerned that he check me for signs of a stroke than sending assistance, so my father put me in the car and drove me to the nearest hospital (the Princess of Wales in Bridgend) where I was put in an ambulance and blue lights shot me up the M4 to Cardiff's Heath Hospital. By this point I had slipped into unconsciousness.

I was taken straight into emergency theatre (of the surgical, not musical, variety) where I was operated on to relieve the pressure that was building on my brain. Some of you may remember I previously talked about how a surgeon had made a channel in my brain to allow fluid to drain away naturally, well that had become blocked, meaning the high volume of extra fluid produced by the tumour had nowhere to escape, and as a result was causing immense pressure to build inside my brain. To combat this the surgeon fitted a device called a shunt which is basically a tube that allows the fluid to drain into my stomach to be digested, thereby relieving the pressure on the brain.

My first recollection of hospital is waking up a day later and realising two things: One, I was definitely not where I last remembered being conscious; and two, something very serious must have happened, and I'd put money on Timmy being to blame.

Shortly afterward I made an attempt to sit up and was greeted with pain across my stomach, which under further investigation was revealed to be due to a surgical incision as part of the shunt installation process. I haven't seen the scar yet but know it will forever be a blemish on my otherwise perfectly symmetrical, and as far as I'm concerned aesthetically pleasing, abdominals.

Unfortunately I also made another discovery fairly soon after waking, the presence of a catheter inserted in a location that is only meant to be treated nicely. Despite my best, and continued, efforts to get it removed it has remained in situ and will do for the foreseeable future.

On my second evening in the hospital I was in my 3rd ward of the stay and made a troubling discovery when I looked to my left to see the man in the next bed watching a film that is less than appropriate in a communal sleeping setting. To sum up, the movie featured blonde beehive hairdos on the females and plenty of fake tan on the males and the central theme seemed to lack the finesse of even the most poorly planned home videos. I have since heard from other patients that he's been caught getting a little too in to his material on occasion though, so I count myself lucky that all I saw him fiddling with was the settings on his iPad.

Other than this one entertaining (if slightly disturbing) episode my stay so far has been fairly standard and comprised mainly of pain and awkwardness from the catheter, interspersed with visits from friends and family. If I have one piece of advice to give anyone about to get a catheter fitted it's this: Run. Get out of there while you still can! I've been in a constant state of irritation and mild pain since it was fitted nearly a week ago. Thankfully the visitors have helped me keep my mind off the annoyance of the catheter while they're here by keeping me distracted and even after they've gone with gifts strategically designed to chip away at my abdominal definition (I'm looking at you Angel Cake Slices). Accompanying the calorific presents a theme has developed with people buying me colouring books. I now have both Lion King and Harry Potter themed colouring activity books and the pencils to accompany them. As my art teacher in school once labelled me a "disgrace to her profession" I'm not sure how well I'll do with them but I'm sure it will at least kill some time.

I have been told this evening that I may be freed of the dreaded catheter tomorrow, so tonight I shall dream of a world where a penis is free to swing in the breeze should it wish to do so and urination does not require a bag to be tied to your leg. A happier world. A simpler world. A less painful world.


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