Well, here I am again - at last; just looked back to my last post and realise that almost a month has elapsed since my last post.

I guess I just got so tied up in making preparations for my surgery, and especially in making sure that the home was as ready as possible, that time ran out and I was on my way down to the RNOH for my op!

i have a lot of information to pass on about my preparations for the op., the hospital admission and stay, the procedure itself and immediate aftermath, and my experiences since arriving back home, that I think I'll split it into two different posts -

In this one, I'll cover the period I was actually in hospital, from admission to discharge, and in the next will focus on both my preparations for being at home after the op. and the actual experience, particularly in terms of the various gadgets I decided to buy to hopefully aid/facilitate my recuperation,and my actual experience of using those items.

So, first,  the spell in the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore.

I had been asked to check in to Admissions at 7.00 a.m. on Monday, 6 July for an operation that same day. I was subsequently told, in the week before the op., that my procedure would be fourth on the consultant's list, meaning roughly early afternoon. Having to travel from Norwich, I called admissions and asked whether I could be admitted somewhat later than 7.00 a.m., given the likely timing of the procedure, but was told in no uncertain terms that it was 7.00 sharp for everyone! Although this struck me as slightly bureaucratic at the time, I guess - having been through the admissions process - that I can understand the need to process all admissions at the same time, as it fits in with the rhythms of the wards.

So, an early start (4.30 a.m.) from Norwich; thankfully both the M11 and especially the M25 were very well-behaved for a Monday morning, and so we arrived just after 6.30 a.m.

Nonetheless Admissions was open and bustling, but I was processed very quickly and efficiently, gaining the first of two identifying "LaserBands" round my wrist. I was then asked to wait in the main reception area for further processing.

This is when my time in hospital took a departure from the experiences of most other patients waiting for surgery that day.

Partly as a result of my writing this blog, the foot and ankle team, on behalf of the TARVA trial, had asked me whether I would mind doing some filming during my time in hospital, to which I had readily agreed (hence my references to "becoming a movie star" in my previous posts). Well, I was certainly involved in a lot of filming, but it was yours truly who did most of the filming! The production team had decided that it would be more impactful (and more practical) to present the filming from my - the patient's - viewpoint. 

So, Jan Letocha, Film Director at RNOH found me in the waiting area and presented with a "go-pro" body-worn camera, which was to be my constant companion for the next 72 hours - I was wearing it all the time I was in hospital (except when sleeping and in surgery), and was filming what I was seeing all the rest of the time (except during bathroom breaks!!). I do believe we may be adding edited highlights of the footage to this blog.

Also, in the same vein, my surgeon, Mr. Andy Goldberg, wore a headcam during the operation, in addition to fixed cameras in the theatre (my understanding is that that footage will be used principally for training, but some bits of it may be included on the material available through this blog).

So, with camera strapped on and running, I was taken through to the surgery reception area, where I then shortly met my anaesthetist - Dr. Nadaraja. He explained to me what the team would be doing in terms of anaesthesia and pain relief (general anaesthetic plus nerve blog in the leg during the procedure, and morphine drip pump immediately afterwards).

i then met Mr. Golberg's registrar, Dr. Ali Najefi (whom I had also met at re-admission), who (re) examined my ankle and, to my great delight and relief, pulled out a black marker pen and drew an unmissable black arrow running down my left shin and pointing squarely at my left ankle. (I have to tell you that, despite my being an absolutely rational being, and having already built up considerable admiration of and faith in the team who were to operate, I had nonetheless considered using a similar marker the previous evening to mark my right ankle 


(In fact I must say that right through my stay in hospital, everyone was meticulous in carefully identifying me (name and DOB) on every occasion when they interacted with me "medically".)

I was also introduced by Dr. Najefi to Dr. Amana Ifie, SHO, a new member of the Foot & Ankle team.

Thus reassured, I was taken off by wheelchair to my ward (Jackson Burrow), and my bed (no. 15)

By this time it was around 9 o'clock and, having had it confirmed to me that I would not be called for surgery until at least 1.00 p.m., I had plenty of time to settle in. 

Having read the admission guide, and although I was on an open (male) ward, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of space around my bed - enough for my two bags (one with clothes and "tech", the other with my (disassembled) crutches).

For those of you like me who have come to rely on tablets and mobiles, make sure you take your recharge cords with you, and either an extension lead or a multi-plug, as you may well find there is only one socket available to you.

My first bed visit was from the two day-shift nurses looking after me that, and when they introduced themselves I guessed from the name (Marcelle). that one of them might be French. She actually turned out to be from Brussels, and so I was able to resurrect my rusty language skills for a few exchanges then and subsequently in French, somewhat to the amusement of other staff on the ward. Marcelle turned out to be the life and soul of the ward, always smiling and joshing with her patients, so it's sad in a way to learn that she will be retiring at the end of this year.

I then met the pharmacist, and went through my existing and likely future medication, which was then locked away in my nightstand. I was also pleased to renew contact with Deirdre Brooking, the Trial Coordinator, who has been my main point of contact from the start.

It was now just about that time of day for a much anticipated cup of coffee, but with the dreaded NIL-BY-MOUTH writ large on my board, no chance of that (though I was allowed to drink water until a couple of hours before my scheduled time).

I then whiled away the time before my op. catching up on The Times on my iPad, and a couple of old comedy episodes of Yes, Minister and Only Fools and Horses. Just managed to get in my order for supper, and change into my hospital gown, before the men in blue arrived to transport me down to the operating suite.

As I said right at the beginning of this blog, I'm not particularly one for wearing my heart on my sleeve, and nor am I particularly introspective, but I must confess that - on what is quite a lengthy trip down to surgery - I did have one big moment of doubt, such that for a brief moment I thought of aborting the whole thing, but that quickly passed.

Once down there I saw the anaesthetic team, and then Mr. Goldberg came to see me to show me the operating plan (I researched this later and discovered just how technically sophisticated it is), and also covered a small issue that had been previously mentioned - some cysts which had showed up on the MRI scan and which he explained would be filled to hopefully avoid any subsequent problems.

Then the anaesthetists started to ply their trade and .....................

woke up about four hours later (I think) in the ward (I think) feeling quite "woosy". I guess one fear most of us have in relation to surgery is pain, but with the anaesthetic and the nerve block, I felt nothing then and, mercifully, for the rest of my time in hospital (and nor, touch-wood, up until the date of writing this piece).

Managed some water and a cup of tea, only to find I had quite a sore throat (I believe I had had a tube down my throat during surgery). Nonetheless, and feeling quite hungry, did manage to demolish my pork sausage and mash, and subsequently a cup of coffee, before "lights out".

During this time, I am having my BP, pulse and temperature taken every two hours, and being given regular feeds of medication. I was given a morphine pump on a drip to use for pain if I needed it, but thankfully I didn't.

I think this has become quite a long post already, and there is a lot more to tell of my time in hospital, so I'll post this one now, and do part two of my hospital stay in the next day or two.

As a final point, I had been a little puzzled - despite the number of views of my blog - at the total absence of any comment. Well, mystery solved. I did finally have a comment from another individual awaiting a TAR, and she told me that comments are apparently restricted to those having a Google/Wordpress account, which I guess most don't have - I'm going to see if I can resolve/correct that tomorrow.

So I'll leave you at the point I was drifting off to sleep the night of my surgery.

Hope to see you here again soon!