Yesterday I was discharged from hospital, one day short of a week’s stay. I checked in Sunday afternoon because the preparation for the operation starts the night before. Some of the people who will work on you pay their visits; it would never do to cut open a stranger to whom one had not been introduced. My ward was a two bed room so it was quite cosy and low-stress.

On the Monday I was told that I was second on the list so the operation would probably start at 11am and last around 3 hours. They came for me at the designated hour and wheeled the bed into the operating theatre. I met the anaesthetist and had a shot in the arm that sent me down in (what seemed like) seconds. They put in a extradural analgesiac for pain relief and the next thing I remember is being wheeled back onto the ward around 6pm where I saw A waiting. I vaguely remember a conversation where the surgeon told her the outcome (good generally). The fact that it was so late in the day however meant that they’d found something and had to decide how to react. so it was not totally ‘by the numbers’.

The operation left me with a scar running from back to front across my ribcage and two plastic tubes from another pair of holes – my drains. There was also the smaller tubes for the epidural and my patient‐controlled analgesia (PCA) which is morphine via a click button. I also had the usual plethora of needles for IVs and the like.

Tuesday and Wednesday were fairly routine to me now. The drains were very well-behaved and they turned off the suction just to leave it in free-flow mode, but  quantities were as expected. I had one nasty bout of nausea which I’m now certain is a reaction to morphine, so I asked them to give me anti-emetics to counteract it, and that did the job. I was up and about from the Tuesday morning onwards, but my oxygen wasn’t very high when I went for walkies with the Physio so I had piped oxygen up my nose most of the time.  On Wednesday sometime I came off the epidurals and they told me that targets for next day were to remove drains, talk with consultant and increase mobility.

Mentally, I passed the time reading  “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes. It did not “take” for me at first because I reacted negatively against the very middle-class characters. But I kept going and now I can see why people might be talking of it as a future classic. It’s short and has one over-arching theme. Nevertheless, I’m still left with some nagging unease about the philosophy of ethics it raises. I’ll have to read it again.

On the Thursday (afternoon) my consultant and the specialist nurse came to see me for a proper meeting. He drew me some very clear diagrams of the things they’d found and what they’d done. The short version is I have to wait on the outcome of certain lab tests, and my next meeting (May 28) with the Oncologists at Addenbrookes may be when I get to learn these.

As far as my consultant was concerned the drains were out and the patient informed, and so the possibility was raised that I might go home on Friday. In the end there were some inconclusive blood haemoglobin level readings so they postponed it to Saturday instead. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t get into the self-torture of trying to get out but nevertheless I was a bit crushed by the prospect of another night of broken sleep.

I was kept sane by reading another book – “Pure” by Andrew Miller. My only criticism of it is that the characters are one dimensional caricatures. Disney did about as good a job in their animation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. However, nothing to keep you going like death, bones and fetid putrefaction when you’re sitting in a hospital with a sulk on.