Pre-Surgical Assessment - Part 1 - The Journey begins...
Finally, after what feels like aaages, it is time to officially start prepping for surgery!
Prior to my Pre-op appointment, I felt very at a loss as to what it would actually entail, whether I needed to take anything and who I would be seeing. The letter didn't tell me much and I didn't know anyone who had been through it. So I began to create a spreadsheet of all the questions I had building up inside me, and was determined to get them answered! Unfortunately, Wix doesn't allow me to upload documents, so I have added an image of my spreadsheet below - so if you are approaching your pre-op, why not make your own version? (Do bare in mind, some questions will need to be answered by a nurse, some by anesthetist etc.) - hopefully my experiences can make it slightly less stressful for someone else!
Pre-Op - Part 1
So, since being put on the waiting list in March, and spending 99% of my life googling 'hip replacements', 'hip replacement scars' 'hip replacement recovery process' etc.etc., I have still had it in the back of my head that this just doesn't feel real yet. Well, today it definitely feels real!
I'm running late, as always, and have completely forgotten to bring a coffee with me, as always, and am feeling just a tad nervous as I hobble my way through the hospital corridor, following the appropriate signs. I finally find the right place and tell the receptionist my name/show her my letter. She nods and begins looking through various pieces of paper on her desk. After a good 30 seconds, she goes and gets another receptionist, tells him my name and they both repeat the process of trying to find me on their lists. "Ah, Hayley Barley, yes?" he says, pleased to have been helpful. But no...that's not my name...(not wishing to sound like The Ting Tings...)...so he returns to his list. And, being ever so British, I apologise for not being the Hayley he hoped... I try to help, by mentioning it is for a hip replacement. And, for the hundredth time, I hear those words.... "Oh! But you're too young for a hip replacement!" (Accompanied by a pitiful look, obviously.) I sigh and give my 'autopilot' response: "Ah don't worry, it's ok, I've had JIA since I was 2." Am I trying to make THEM feel better about MY illness? Relieve their guilt at being middle-aged and able bodied? Or maybe I just enjoy a good bit of pity? Who knows!
Anyway, they find my name at last and send me straight into the first room to see an HCA. She is kind and friendly and chatters away as she does my height and weight etc. Then she puts on the Blood Pressure monitor. Now as someone who has had High BP for 10 years, neither I nor my GP really worry too much about it anymore, so I hadn't really considered the potential reaction from the pre-op team... So she takes the reading and it is, obviously, very high. I laugh and say "don't worry the surgeon knows it gets high!" She doesn't look amused and comments that the anesthetist, who will be keeping me alive, might have a different opinion...But it is what it is and there isn't much I can do about it right now!
From there, I am passed to the Senior Nurse who does a general fitness/flexibility check, goes through my medical history, reviews my medications (including telling me when I need to stop certain ones prior to surgery) and answers as many of my questions as she can. She gives me a strict talking to about the BP and says my GP needs to up my Ramipril ASAP, otherwise surgery will be delayed. I also, annoyingly, have to go to the dentist to get the all clear from them - you basically can't have any infections, loose parts or abrasions anywhere on your body, otherwise they won't operate! So i note everything down (can't trust the Fibro-foggy brain to remember!) and am sent back into the waiting room with a bundle of leaflets, to wait to see the Anesthetist. I decide to have a flick through the paperwork and am immediately struck by the sheer ridiculousness of their front covers...not only do the models look unnecessarily happy, considering their situation, but they are ALL over 50! All of them. As if every single person who requires any form of surgery or anesthetic is an elderly, grey haired lady who relies on Meals on Wheels and the kindness of her grandchildren...Well I do hate to disappoint, but I do not fit into that category! (I know this is a slightly unnecessary rant but it would just be really nice to see a little more diversity on NHS leaflets/posters etc!)
My internal rant is suddenly interrupted by the nurse informing me I need to go and have a blood test. So I trundle down the corridor, still mentally ranting about the ageist nature of surgical leaflets, and sit in a different queue for a while. Blood nicely sucked out of me, I wander back to pre-op to find I have been moved back to the bottom of the queue to see the anesthetist...fun fun...(to be fair - they do warn you the appointment can take up to 4 hours in total!) so I sit back down and read more of my thrilling literature. After half an hour, I can feel myself falling asleep - the room full of elderly people snoozing in their wheelchairs doesn't exactly help (damn stereotypes being accurate!) - so I ask a nurse if I can be cheeky and 'run' to the M&S cafe. She smiles and says she'll look after my stuff, so I 'dash' to the front of the hospital and get a very large, very sugary latte - bliss!
Back at pre-op, I get called in to see the Anesthetist. He is very helpful and straightforward and lets me ask all my questions - although he did Shush me at one point, but anyone who knows me/reads my blog probably wont be surprised by this! Then he says "So what anesthetic are you expecting?" I immediately say GA, obviously, I mean who wants to be awake whilst someone saws their hip off?? He sighs and screws up his face. This doesn't look promising... He proceeds to list the numerous issues/risks involved with GA and then compares them to the option of a Spinal Block and Sedation (something I had never considered). Apparently the spinal allows for much quicker recovery, allows you to eat and drink straight after, doesn't cause wooziness or nausea and generally carries a lower risk of nerve damage. He is quick to assure me that the sedation will ensure I am not actually aware of what is happening around me, and also mentions that I can bring music/headphones in to be absolutely sure I can't hear any hideous noises! I am still not convinced, but ultimately, they know best and I trust them to make the right decisions. And hey, it's something new to Google!
So that's that. They tell me to contact the Admissions Clerk if I still don't have a date soon and to update them on my BP in 2 weeks. And off I go - one step closer to becoming The Bionic Woman!