Some Things are Best Left Unseen


I have just returned from the deepest, darkest recesses of the worldwide web in search of illustrative material for this piece. Reader, I must tell you there are places you do not want to go – beyond even the hideous halls of cat videos and the bottomless and nausea filled caverns of Jose Mourinho interviews. I have scoured this resource of infinite horror, but I have found nought to compare with the reality that I wish to portray.

In the hours following my hip replacement operation – three long weeks ago now — the recovery nurse captured the offending area on my iPhone. You will appreciate that capturing one’s posterior for posterity has not been a frequent pastime for this blog, but Mrs. Blog has ruled that the outcome was so unprecedentedly repulsive that its circulation on the world wide web would give rise to trauma amongst even the most robust, and the possibility of premature death in the ranks of the more vulnerable – though it was not clear whether she was referring to the appearance of said backside before surgery or afterwards.

I will admit this: I am now supported by a purple, glowing mass of vast proportions, which, when the lights go out at night in the hospital, continues to illuminate most of the town of Haywards Heath. If the hospital were in Lewes, I fear I would be in contravention of our national park’s policies on dark night skies.

But I am getting a little ahead of myself.

I was fortunate enough to be allotted an admission date at the hospital immediately after a very sociable weekend involving house guests from Manchester and a visit to Shakespeare’s Globe. I spotted on the calendar in Mrs. Blog’s handwriting, for the Sunday evening, the words “Pre-Op Drinks”, which seemed like a jolly way to spend one’s last night of freedom. Disappointingly, this turned out to be Mrs. B’s reminder for me to consume the distinctly wholesome, non-alcoholic concoctions provided by the NHS by way of nutritional supplement. Certainly an excellent way to prevent any attempt on my part to ignore the looming prospect on the morrow.

Once delivered to the hospital, I was swiftly issued with paper pants, a gown open at the rear and a pair of knee length compression socks. I have to tell you, this is not a good look for me and, when combined with the “loose fitting shorts” that I was asked to supply, brings to mind nothing so much as the image of a disreputable scoutmaster.

I should point out that I have some history when it comes to the replacement of worn out body parts. Indeed, when I am eventually obliged to arrange some terminal one-to-one facetime with my maker, I suspect she/he may be a tad miffed at the number of my original working parts which I have subsequently felt obliged to upgrade. Anyway, some few years back, when having a full knee joint replaced, I awoke from the sedative during the operation and could both hear and smell the chainsaw working its way through the bone. (We lacked more sophisticated forms of entertainment in those days.)

Having failed to be awake enough this time round to take a selfie on the operating table, I also felt disinclined to take one when the catheter was being inserted back in the ward. (Oh, come on, you didn’t really think this blog would be too sophisticated for references to bodily fluids and naughty bits?)
I recall being strongly advised on a previous hospital admission to set aside any current (in my case, theoretical) “diets” and, as an aide to healing and recovery, eat as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. This advice I took to with some enthusiasm, to the extent that I am still pursuing it some seven years on and can heartily recommend it.

Ever the optimist, I assumed it would be possible to make good use of time spent in hospital to learn a new language or refresh my grasp of quantum physics, but in the event, it has all just been too, well, busy. There’s always something to be measured, jabbed, swallowed, drained, wiped up, drizzled into a vein, or passed. Decisions have to be made on the choice of tomorrow’s breakfast cereal while being connected to a drip or suffering some other bodily indignity.

There’s an initial period post-surgery when the effects of anaesthesia produce a sense of wellbeing unlikely to extend far into the next day. For me, on this occasion, my early ambitions were wrecked on the shores of very low blood pressure, low blood oxygen levels and considerable blood loss and I was unable to rise from my bed for three days to begin the physio programme. The supply of somebody else’s donated “full red” proved the key to me switching from a horizontal to a vertical plane. I am more than grateful for this, of course, but I do wonder about the extent to which I will have acquired any personal characteristics from the donor(s). If you should, in the future, spot me with a copy of the Daily Mail in my hand, or hear me talking about the possibility of voting for UKIP, I would be most grateful if you could, discreetly, bring it to my attention….

Once the magic qualities of the new blood (“very nearly an armful”, as Tony Hancock’s Blood Donor had it) kicked in I was soon up and about and challenging fellow in-mates to Zimmer or crutch races – I’ve always been competitive. The layout of the ward meant it was possible to complete a satisfying “lap” along the corridors, and back to one’s starting point. Stimulated by the “pursuit” race format from the velodromes of Stratford and Glasgow, I was extremely tempted to see if this could be replicated around our circuit, with competitors starting off on opposite sides of the building. Before I could put this into practice however, it occurred to me that one’s opponent might simply drop out and go back to bed – or hide in the TV lounge – and you would never know.

You will not want the gory details (and I’m not keen on them myself) but I was discharged on crutches after five days but, sadly, readmitted less than a week later with far too much of the red stuff gushing through the bandages – this blog really should have had its own health warning.

It appears that I have acquired somewhere along the line one of those award winning celebrity bugs you see on the telly and am to be confined to the ward for a number of weeks. This, I must tell you, does not, for me, constitute a major source of humour but I felt a blog coming on nevertheless and this is it. Apologies if it reads a little more self-absorbed than usual, and fails to meet this blog’s usual production standards.

I confessed in an earlier blog to an excessive pre-occupation with crime thrillers on TV. This may account for me having requested that an armed policeman be on guard outside my door whenever I’m put on a drip (though, in my experience, they almost invariably get “taken out” before the drip is switched to fatal effect.)

The array of drugs that has seeped through my system in the past three weeks has been impressive, and with a rich variety of side effects, including some strange and troubling dreams and nightmares, However, I am reminded of a recent exchange I had with blogdaughter:

Self: “I had a really weird dream last night.”
Daughter: “Did you dream I was the kind of person who’d be interested?”

That said, I will make reference to my 85 year old mother in law who fell and broke a hip while in our care in France four years ago and, while under the influence of anaesthesia in the local hospital, became convinced that she was being held against her will in an underground garage. When I was allowed to join her by the French hospital staff, who were struggling to restrain her, I asked what she thought their motive might be. “Body parts”, she replied mysteriously.

I mentioned this one day to Fred, who cuts our grass and stuff. In return, he told me how he’d been preoccupied while in hospital recently with waves of planes dropping bombs nearby and had refused to let the nursing staff check his blood oxygen levels as the bombers were using the little red light on his finger clamp for “homing” purposes.

Now, that’s not an effect you can get on a couple of pints of bitter. Or, if it is, I’ve been drinking the wrong stuff.

How, I hear you ask, is Mrs. Blog coping with all this. On the positive side, she’s looking forward to carrying out my stomach injections that are part of the anti-DVT measures when I’m eventually sent home. And she likes to invest in new furniture whenever I’m away, “to cheer the place up”. On the other hand, she is struggling with the recycling boxes in my absence, and fears she may be obliged to reacquaint herself with some of my bodily parts that she thought she’d said goodbye to.

I’ve memorised all the notices in the ward and counted and recounted the ceiling tiles. I’ve put back the dance classes – it seemed wise. There was a little bit of excitement this morning when I dozed off immediately after being issued with my pill bucket and had to hunt for them later amongst the tangled bedclothes. I found one more than the records indicated I should have been given, but one turned out to be a Tic Tac, so that was ok.

Well, I don’t know about you but I’ve got a busy afternoon ahead. Somebody will be here shortly to check my blood pressure, and there’ll be the lady that changes the water jugs, and I have to make sure that I’m by my bed when the tea comes round. Don’t want to miss that. Talk to you later.


9 thoughts on “Some Things are Best Left Unseen

  1. Sue says:

    Sounds grim, Steve. Hope you recover before you become institutionalised! My DVT jabs came with a “how to” DVD which I have now thrown out out although I did consider donating it to Oxfam. Strange how this element of care (or do I mean control?) affects the spouse …

  2. HelenPhilWiles says:

    Good to see the ‘return of the blog’ and hope this represents the crown feathers of the Phoenix as you emerge from the saga of adverse events. Having witnessed the pre-surgery drinks and being the only (we were assured – and believe me that is the way it should stay) recipient of the posterior selfie, we feel privileged involvement with this blog content. Hope the coming weeks bring a better outcome and the book launch goes well – milk the ‘interviews from the author’s hospital bed’ for all it’s worth! As always, Dancing Blogfriends

    Sent from my iPad

    • Dear dancing blogfriends, your posted comment is a blog in itself, and much appreciated! The posterior selfie was sent for purely professional reasons and this blog may take a frosty view if it should be spotted on the net alongside those of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and others.

  3. Steve – ‘Respect!’ as the young people say (or did the last time I checked). I hope all goes well with your second incarceration in hospital and you’re soon home harassing Mrs A (sorry, Mrs B – that could get you into trouble, even more so if there’s a Mrs C) with the recycling. I am full of admiration at your spirit, not to mention your ability to bash out several hundred words while in a horizontal position. I hope the technology you used didn’t play havoc with the various devices that monitor and maintain life in you and your fellow patients. And just to be political – viva the NHS. All the best. – Roger

  4. Dr dementhia says:

    Your ironic take on things will see you through Steve.
    Share whatever, whenever, you can…while you have this extended period of immobility.
    All the best Dave

  5. Jean McKern says:

    One day your hospital notes will be the making of another book. Written in you inimicable style it will be a “must read” for all potential victims!!! I identified all along the way. Mine was a gangrenous gall bladder right out of the blue. Lucky escape and excellent surgical team. Home and doing well.

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