So I mentioned Kirstie in the last post. She was my anaesthetist.
Look, I’ve not had the greatest anaesthetic stories the last couple of times. The anaesthetists have got stressed, they’ve struggled to find my veins, they’ve got annoyed at me, I’ve felt trapped, I’ve got stressed, I’ve gone under feeling quite worried. I’ve therefore woken up feeling the same.
I’ve come to… well… not dread anaesthetic, but not look forward to it.
Well. I’m going to demand I have Kirstie EVERY time. I got into the anaesthetic room and they’d got a heated blanket thing there ready for me to snuggle under and keep warm. WHAT SERVICE. Kirstie was so calm and we chatted and laughed and had a fun time. It felt like catching up with friends. I suppose in a way it was. She found my vein easily, did it very gently. Used a tiny needle, just the right size for a little Jen. No trauma.
She said something along the lines of putting me under in a ‘slow and happy’ way today. Or something. I paraphrase, I’m sure. But that’s the feeling I remember her saying. I said that sounds good.
‘First, just a little aperitif!’ She said and I giggled.’
Ah yes, I am in Italy now, in the sun.’ I said. I was picturing snacks and an Aperol Spritz (though full disclosure – I don’t love Aperol)
She put something in my cannula.
‘We’ll just give you a bit of oxygen’ she said, and they gently put the oxygen mask thing over my face. I smiled. I took deep breaths and felt very comfortable. I didn’t feel at all stressed, I felt looked after and in good hands. In previous times, it felt like they had wrestled it onto me in a hurry and tied me down. I felt panicked.
I closed my eyes as I breathed. Then I thought no, maybe I should open them until they actually close. So I did. A few more breaths… and then I was out. I’m sure I was still smiling.
In fact, I awoke still smiling. A bit dazed, but feeling happy. I think I remember Kirstie being next to me and I gently put my arm up to hers and said ‘thank you’ with a smile. At least that’s what it looked like in my head. In reality I may have just swung my arm at her and drooled (apologies if so). But I’ll go with my story.
It took me a little while to get my bearings. And then I met Nerea. She was from Spain, and we chatted about all sorts of things. She was an absolute ray of sunshine to wake up to. I picture me sitting in the bed, with her sitting next to me, perhaps a rainbow stretching out over the two of us. She was an absolute angel in a time that could quite easily be distressing (and had been in the past).
Mr K swung by and told me what had happened – they had tried through my nose but with no success, as I had expected. So then they had to go through my eyelid. I am told there are stitches on the inside of my eyelid that will be sore first, then itchy later. I file that away under ‘information I don’t want to think about right now but would explain why my eye is sore and puffy’.
He flits off, as Kirstie had done earlier. I’m not sure if they are actually flitting or if my understanding of time at this point is still relative.
There’s lots of blood coming out of my nose. I choke on a blood clot that falls down the back of my nose and into my throat. Nerea holds out a tissue and I spit the big clump of jelly-like maroon blood into it. These moments are always cinematic and beautiful (hahaha hardly. hospitals are about blood and discharge, y’all. Soz).
I feel like I’m talking 100 miles an hour, I think I like to prove I’ve recovered super quick from anaesthetic, so I may over compensate. Or perhaps that’s just me as I am normally. I think that’s probably likely too.
Eventually they decide that my excited chatting is just me and not a result of the anaesthetic, and they zoom me up to T7. Not T6 this time, Head and Neck has moved. The whole hospital has moved around. We go up on the covid safe green pathway, calling the lift, making our way up up up. Nerea gets me settled in and I tell her how wonderful she has been. I thank her and tell her she will be getting a mention right here. She deserves to be immortalised in the cancer chronicles, as does Kirstie, alongside my other angels.
Once again I find myself grateful for these wonderful people who work tirelessly to make experiences of people like me better. My discomfort and slight anxiety around anaesthetics and recovery once again dissipated, replaced by a feeling of warmth and love.