finding the Theatre

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3.30pm 18th August

The stout nurse bought over 2 of those ‘operation gowns’ – knee-length, short-sleave baggy jackets with small ties. She asked me to wear one with the ties at the back and one over the top with the ties at the front.

Where are your ID tags?

I ‘ve never been given any

You must have ID tags

She wandered off and returned with 2 plastic strips showing my name and date of birth, attached one around my good wrist and the other on my ankle. Strange dresses and plastic wristbands?  Just like going to a festival!

We’re walking to the operation Theatre? Should I wear my sandals?

Stout nurse grabbed my arm and used this, unnecessary, technique to steer me down the corridor towards the Ward’s reception desk. At the reception desk she confirmed the name and route to the operating Theatre. I didn’t take notes. As we walked the hospital corridors where other people were fully dressed stout nurse explained that she was an agency nurse so she didn’t know her way around this hospital.

We got lost.

Stout agency nurse asked directions and we found the right set of swipe-card operated doubledoors. The nurse told me that she had meant to borrow a swipecard from the ward reception, but forgot.

I started crying.

Are you in pain?

A flood of words burst through my tears about how disconcerting it was when you have to walk in a silly dress amongst fully clothed people, how scarey it is to have surgery, and how getting lost then being locked out of the operating theatre just adds to a general level of distress.

You’re not in pain?

Normal pain for a broken and dislocated tibia

She didn’t understand. I put some effort into quelling the tears, wiping my face on the sleeve of the operating theatre gown. A lady’s face appeared in the round window of the secure doors. She wore green and a little hat. Her body-posture inspired confidence.

The anesthetists assisstant greeted us. She looked me in the eye as she told me her name, her role and started explaining what was going to happen. I gave the agency nurse my sandals as I climbed onto the operating table. I told her about the times before that I’d had a general anasthetic and how I was scared of waking-up screaming in pain like my last operation. The last thing I remember before waking up was her reassurance that I wouldn’t wake-up screaming in pain….

finding the Theatre
5 votes rating 4.8

5 bits of lovely banter on “finding the Theatre”

  1. Will Watts writes:

    I would like to say that I am enjoying your account of your troubles very much. Does that sound dreadful? I hope not. I broke my ankle last year, and spent several weeks in Charing Cross hospital. It won’t make you feel better, but we have had many similar experiences. The loss of notes, the doctor making promises as though the act of him saying them will make them happen, the extra-rude nurse, the ghastly indefinite waits in corridors with your backside freezing out of a gown you can’t tie up at the back – I think these are NHS universalities. One of my low points was blubbing in the presence of the consultant and his entourage (who did indeed seem to appear to the sound of an orchestra playing The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba on my mental gramophone. I recommend rewatching Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective for this and other insights into hospital life – it all made so much more sense after one’s own hospitalisation experience).

    I take it that you are now sprung, and are recalling turmoil from a position of tranquillity. Please ‘scuse me patronising, but you are writing about it really sharply: little touches like ‘the stout nurse’ I do enjoy. (An unfashionable word, stout, but still capable of great things carefully applied in the right place.)

    What I really meant to say: get well soon.



    wendy writes

    Thanks Will! That is good to hear. I was a bit uncertain about my plan to write a very long series of posts on a theme that lacked a lot of light relief. So I’m feeling more confident now. ! am mending well, but that doesn’t make for such fascinating blog posts, it’s more twitter status stuff “I used my broken arm to turn on a tap today!”. Hmmm…. I’ll have to think about the sound tracks for these events. I love Dennis Potter’s work, W x



  2. Stefan writes:

    I’m really starting to wonder how these people like the stout nurse (love that choice of words, by the way – it really conjures up the image of a perfectly starched and ironed nurse Ratched 🙂 ) would experience a stay in their own facilities, being on the receiving end of their own treatment …
    Or is there some special hospital for people who work in hospitals?



    wendy writes

    Hi Stefan, I thought about using a picture of nurse Ratchet… thanks for the positive feedback 🙂 W



  3. Indigo Roth writes:

    Hey Wendy! Wowsers, now THAT is a cliffhanger! MORE PLEASE! Indigo x



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