Saturday, May 20, 2006

The fart saga

May 16 – Tuesday- First surgery
Well, today didn't go at all according to plan. I arrived at the hospital expecting to have day surgery for fitting feeding and chemo tubes and having another endoscopy for a biopsy. We were all so confident that I had arranged another appointment later on in the day to have my radiation tattoos. I've heard that my mother-in-law has already had hers in England - I think she chose a dragon.
Anyway, two thirds into the surgery prep I'm informed that I'm being admitted as an in-patient and I will be here for one, maybe two, nights. That message of course wasn't passed on to Kath till she got here to collect me at around 11:00am. Poor girl had to sit around for about 4 hours till she could see me as they didn't have a bed for me and they wouldn't let her in to the recovery room. Of course, they finally did let her in.
So I go into surgery expecting to wake up with two tubes emanating from my body and to be hale and hearty and ready to go. I end up with five - the two as planned, plus three others. One in my wrist for drips and drugs, one from my widdler so I can widdle without getting out of bed - a very nice thing to do - and the worst tube known to man, a naso-gastric drain. This thing is truly ghastly, it hurts my throat like hell. I’ve got cuffs on my legs that regularly inflate to keep my blood moving, which I actually find quite soothing. I'm on patient controlled morphine which takes the pain away but the discomfort is still very apparent.

Important note: The next sections contains liberal use of the medical term “fart”. I realize that the use of this medical term is frowned upon by many, but in the interests of full disclosure I have decided to use it.
Later that day
Cool, the nose torture device is gone. I blackmailed them a bit as I needed to take the trial drug and I couldn't do that with the tube in. So they took it out. They hooked me out of bed late last night to make me walk the halls. “Helps with the recovery process, Mr. Tunsley”. Don’t Mr. Tunsley me, young lady, when all you really mean is “Get up and walk, patient 2856493, and be quick about it, I have another 15 patients to torture tonight”.
To say I blackmailed them is a bit of bravado on my part. Going into hospital is to enter another, very controlled but confusing world where the medical system basically takes over all your rights. And I mean all your rights – down to when you pee, when you sleep, what you eat. I’m not eating. Anything. Seems that I’m not able to eat or drink until I've farted. They've got an uncommon interest in my ability to fart. Seems the bowels get very sulky when anyone messes about with them and they go on strike. They then announce the end of their industrial action with a loud fart. This signal is greeted with great excitement by the hospital staff, hopefully resulting in my release.

May 17th – Wednesday
This is a life-simplifying concept. Why did I not consider it before? My life has focused down to a single goal – to fart. It’s better than meditation. “Close your eyes and concentrate on the belly chakra”. Trouble is, there’s just nothing going on. I have doctors of various degrees of importance coming by all day; from the students in their rags and chains, to the chief with his Hugo Armani suit; listening intently to my belly, then shaking their heads before giving me a pitying glance and leaving. I’m still not eating. Actually I’m not hungry but it’s unnatural. This is me and I’m not eating.
I’m walking though. Last night, as I said, they got me up and made me walk the corridors. It hurt, I grumbled, held on tightly to my skinny metal girlfriend (the IV pole) and walked. Today I did it again. Suddenly it’s as if I’m in the local shopping mall. There are people walking all over the place. They're almost all elderly and almost all have enormous bandages on their chests peeking out from their hospital gowns. They’ve nearly all had extensive cardiac surgery. I, with my little tubes, suddenly feel a complete fraud among these people.

May 18th – Thursday
Nothing to report on the fart front. Just nothing. These bowels of mine have decided to take a leaf from their owner’s book and they are in the bowel equivalent of Hawaii having a complete rest. Nothing to do, no curries to digest, no beer to hand off to the kidneys; ah, perfect peace.
It’s peaceful here on the outside too, in a mind-numbing sort of way. Once the news is over around nine, the TV gets shut off and the iPod goes on. I can’t concentrate enough to read so the days go very slowly. I’ve discovered the patient kitchen though. There’s goodies there like ice cream and soda. I stole a couple of Graham crackers and took them back to my room. It felt as if I’d broken out of Colditz, evading all the German guards, and tunneling under the barbed wire. By such small acts, we prove our humanity and our courage. I hope they don’t discover the cracker wrappers during one of the shake-down searches though – they’ll refit the naso-gastric drain as punishment.
I have such good friends. Everyone has said that if there’s anything they can do to help, I should just call. One of them called me unbidden today and offered to come in to hospital and fart for me. Now that’s friendship.
Later that evening
What was that? I heard a noise. Sounded a bit like a Harley Davidson starting up. Wait. There it is again. It’s my bowels. Welcome back, boys, oh it’s so good to see you. Did you have a nice time? The weather here has been dreadful, floods even. You went away at the right time. But now you’re back. Get to work, chaps, and brew me up a few good ones.
They did their job. I won’t go into details as the average lay reader such as yourself just wouldn’t understand, but suffice it to say I went to bed a happy man.

May 19th – Friday
There was joy throughout the cardiac unit at the news of my fart. We had jelly and ballons, streamers, everything. As a reward, they took every tube out of me and released me into Kathy’s arms late this morning. Well, actually, not quite. I first had to go to the radiation planning department and get my own dragon tattoo set up. This happened quite efficiently and then I was off, released into the world, back in control of my own sleep patterns and eating choices.
So, we now look forward to Monday, the first day of chemo and radiation.


At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


So begins the turbulent (or should that be 'turbo-charged') behaviour of your body. It's a powerful thing! If only we could bottle it and run our cars more cheaply! Good choice on the tattoo design front. When you're up and about we should have a "you show me yours..." session. I wish I'd been more imaginative with mine than a little black dot!

Good luck next week. Thinking of you and knowing your humour will pull you through. The mind's much more powerful than the Beast.




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