BA 9: Sun, Sea and Surgery

Secret Plans Revealed, New Plans Made, Big Decisions and an Unexpected Journey.

It was midsummer in the year 2012, with the hot sun scorching the cracked paving stones of Glasgow when I showed up to hospital in innocence, expecting to undergo a simple keyhole procedure to help with the troublesome infection which had been plaguing me for many moons.

To the shock and deep horror of both myself and my family, it was revealed that arrangements had been made for open heart surgery to be performed.

Erm… sorry about that. I think I’ve been reading too many old books recently. Anyway, the point still stands.

Surprise open heart surgery, that’s a doozy.

Secret Plans

Looking back, I do feel bad for the poor nurse who delivered this news to my mum and me. She clearly was under the impression that we knew it was the plan (and to be fair, why wouldn’t she be).

Still, she was unfortunately on the front line of our collective shock, fear and sadness.

It may be a good thing that I can’t remember exactly how the conversation that followed went down but after the initial reactions of “WTF”, “How the hell”, “Is this a joke”, “I’m gonna throw up” etc, it became apparent to all three of us that this wasn’t the fault of anybody in the room. The nurse was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing, given what she knew.

In fact, as it turned out, all staff to be involved in the whole procedure knew what was supposed to be going on on that day but despite the original plan for a keyhole intervention being updated to a full blown sternum cracker months prior to that day, nobody had thought to mention it to the patient…. Me.

Nobody had any idea how this had happened.

I was asked to wait in the room and several people came to see me, none of whom seemed to have any idea as to how this colossal error in communication had occurred.

Eventually the surgeon tasked with performing the procedure arrived and we had a long conversation about what needed to be done.
He explained that it wouldn’t be possible to carry out the repair work using keyhole surgery because of the extent of my infection and that opening me up had been the plan for a while.

This made it all the more shocking as, not only did everyone except my family and yours truly seem to know, they had in fact all known for quite some time.

Now, with this all racing through my head, I had to make the decision of what to do next.

Taking A Different Road

Of course, nobody could have actually expected me to elect to undergo the much higher risk surgery at such short notice. If they had, I can assure you they would have been disappointed.

I asked to see my consultant and together with my parents and the surgeon, we discussed what my options would be.
It was eventually decided that I would continue on my current course of antibiotics, with the hope that over time the infection would reduce. Everyone was confident that this shouldn’t have any detrimental affects on my health.
However, they asked me to agree that if it showed any signs of getting worse, we would reopen (pun intended) the discussion of surgery.

With that all sorted, we left the hospital and returned to our car, thoroughly shaken up and with no real clue of what to do next.

The conversation that followed is very faint in my memory and to be honest, if I was to try to recall it now, I’m fairly sure that it would be rife with historical inaccuracies. What I can tell you is that it ended with us deciding that instead of driving north and back home, we would turn the other way and take a weeks holiday in Southport.

Dipping My Toes

It was fortunate that, as a family, we tend to overpack for trips away. Should the surgery have gone as expected then I would likely have spent only a couple of nights in the hospital.

This meant we had more than enough clothes to last the week.

My mum got online while we were still in the hospital car park and managed to book us in at the Southport Pontins for a week from the following day. After worrying that we might wind up sleeping in the car that first night we managed to check into a Travelodge just a few miles north of where we were going.

The following day, we were up early and after a quick drive the midsummer sun of Southport greeted us with with its warmth.

At Southport Beach (It was warmer than it looks).
Behold, my right leg making a rare appearance.

There was some concern that, in the wake of what had just occurred, we might not be in the holiday mood and whilst lingering thoughts of surprise surgery did slightly dampen the experience, it is fair to say that a few ice creams and a dip in the sea helped to reduce our respective blood pressures to something nearer to a survivable level.

After having missed our annual holiday that year due to me being in hospital, a week in the (surprisingly warm) Southport sun was just what we all needed.

The Wisdom

  • Ask the question.
    If something seems out of place, or things are happening that you feel aren’t right, it is always good to speak up and ask what is going on. Sometimes we may find ourselves in situations that perhaps aren’t going quite the way we expected but don’t feel comfortable or perhaps qualified enough to question it.

    That, my friends, is how you could end up waking up having undergone unexpected open heart surgery…..
  • Those people who pack two suitcases for a weekend trip might actually be on to something.
    I’m not saying that every short trip will turn into a longer holiday, only that every short trip could turn into a longer holiday.

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Expect the unexpected.

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One thought on “BA 9: Sun, Sea and Surgery

  1. Wow, my jaw was on the floor at the surprise surgery. I can’t believe that this had not been discussed earlier but yet, I’m somehow not surprised in the slightest? I’m glad that you didn’t have to just go through with it then and there and a new plan of action was put in place.

    I think a mini holiday was a great choice, and even better your family managed to get a hotel for the night rather than sleeping in the car. Glad you all managed to relax a little and have a spontaneous holiday that I’m sure was full of love and laughs.

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