Fantastic people!

I’m lucky to lead a healthy life. Tonsils out at five, gallstones gone at around forty, and that’s pretty much it.

Therefore going into hospital to have a total knee replacement was a big deal, but the hospital care couldn’t have been better.  I was phoned at home by the anaesthetist – a female doctor with a pleasant Kiwi accent and a very long name. She said she’d be doing a spinal block with some sedation, and that if I didn’t want to hear the operation proceeding then I should bring some noise-cancelling headphones! Whoa – that scared me silly for a while until I found out from friends that it’s reasonably common these days.

She proved to be a tiny lady and her long name came from somewhere in Asia. She was the second of the fantastic people I met. The consultant surgeon had been impressive in his dark suit and white shirt a couple of weeks earlier, but in his scrubs he looked like every other TV doctor. And when he appeared in my room in running shorts and singlet for an early Sunday morning check-up, he was an absolute hoot.

“Do you work seven days a week?” I asked.

“Pretty much,” he agreed, bounding off down the corridor for his weekend exercise after making certain I was doing okay.

But the total treasures were the nurses. They had names and accents from all around the world – including Estrella and Lara and Regina and Teina. The came from the Cook Islands, the Philippines, and assorted other countries. I’ve never been looked after so well or woken up so often to have my temperature taken, my blood pressure checked, etc. They insisted I took enough pain relief, drank enough water, got out of bed the first night to prove to myself I could still walk (on a walking frame.) They re-made my bed, found an extra blanket when I got the shakes, got me safely to the shower, and emptied bags and bowls. They stuck a nerve-pain patch on my neck when my old Shingles started playing up, and hooked up a big bag of fluid to a drip when they decided I was dehydrated. The standard of care was incredible.

The physio started the day after the op. Two lovely men – both with brown beards and north-of-England accents. Hard to tell apart in my addled state. I’m fairly sure I called them by each other’s names as they gave me walking lessons, stretching exercises, corrected my crutch-holding technique (I had them backwards) and gave me the courage to tackle the stairs.

And how much of the operation did I hear? Quite a lot! What incredible information for a writer. The surgical team placed a screen across my chest so I couldn’t see what was going on, but I heard a lot of the chat and instructions, and I can tell you the bone-saw made a really high-pitched roar as it chomped through me. The noise of the electric driver winding the screws for my new joint in was much quieter.

What did I feel? Nothing! I simply got rather chatty. I seem to recall them laughing. Thank you team!