If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans

After quite a lot of running around we confirmed the 4th of April as the operation date. I would be the first on the list, so would need to be admitted into hospital at about 6:30am, to be ready in theatre at 8:30am. I would then be up to half a day in theatre, depending on how well all the surgery goes. To get me there, I needed to line up the IBM medical insurance people (who have been absolutely great in their dealings with me), meet with the Stoma care nurses to get marked up for my temporary ileostomy, undergo pre-clerking (checking I’m able to cope with the surgery) and then undergo bowel preparation the weekend of the 2nd/3rd April. A fine plan.

Needless to say, it hasn’t quite worked out as expected.

On Thursday the 24th I noticed my throat was a little sore. But I’d had to stay over in London on business the previous night, and the hotel room had been ridiculously over-air-conditioned, so I thought no more about it. By Saturday morning my throat was so sore I was struggling to swallow, and I had shooting pains into my right ear when I did. Classic signs of an infection in my Eustachian tube. So I took paracetamol, and soldiered on. By Sunday the glands in the left side of my neck were all swollen. Clearly it was not getting better by itself, and I had less than a week to the projected operation date.

Time to take some action: an emergency appointment with the GP on Monday afternoon resulted in a weeks prescription of antibiotics (penicillin) to help me knock it all on the head, before it started to put the operation at risk. My GP’s are pretty on the ball with me and my operations by now.

During Tuesday and Wednesday my glands steadily went down, the pain faded quite a bit, but stubbornly didn’t go away completely.

Thursday was a bit of a mad day, as I needed to pop up to London in the morning (as you do!) before the appointment with the Stoma nurses & the pre-clerking checks in the afternoon. And it all sort of fitted together and worked, apart from a bit of a snarl up on the M3 which made me arrive with a little less contingency time than I would have liked. I didn’t quite have to run down the hospital corridors, but I did have to walk very briskly.

  • Stoma appointment: No problem, I’ve done it before, I know what to expect of an ileostomy. We mostly used the time to mark the best possible spot (assuming my surgeon has a lot of choice) and talk about the options around colostomies, as that will be where I end up if this doesn’t work out.
  • Pre-clerking appointment: The junior doctor was clearly being extremely thorough. BP was fine. Pulses to my extremities all fine. Weight fine (up a touch, but the operation will soon fix that). Long medical questionnaire was fine. She reckoned the glands in my neck were still up a little, but not enough to worry about. But she really didn’t like my cough. “Cough? What cough?!” The cough I seemed to have developed since walking into the hospital. Unbelievable. So she wrote me up for a chest X-Ray, and sent me off for an ECG, to have my bloods drawn, and to collect my prescriptions while she went to consult with a more senior doctor.
  • I passed the ECG with flying colours (as usual)
  • Phlebotomy had terrible trouble finding a vein that wanted to give any blood, probably because I was getting dehydrated, and I ended up very light headed and dizzy, which was not fun
  • I put the prescription into the Pharmacy be filled as I walked past on my way to the X-Ray department … who were closed by the time I got to them

Then met up again with the pre-clerking doctor on her colorectal ward, and passed my Blood O2 levels test (98% – probably thanks to walking all around the hospital!)

And then she took my temperature. And we discovered that it was elevated – 98.4c, despite me already being on antibiotics. And that’s well above normal for me as I’m usually slightly lower than the “average”. Very bad indeed – though it may go some way to explaining why I felt dizzy at the phlebotomy department.

So we agreed that things were not looking good, she assured me that my surgeon would get in touch later that evening to discuss options, she advised me to start on a maximum does of paracetamol, and I picked up my prescription and went home. And started shivering.

My consultant had a good chat on the phone later that evening, and we decided we’d better pull the plug on the operation now, rather than wait to the last possible moment before having to cancel it. He also advised that I see my GP’s and get my treatment regime changed to a wider spectrum antibiotic, and recommended that because of my elevated temperature (which didn’t seem to relate to my throat problems), I should also get my urine tested, just in case there is an infection in my kidney stent.

So today I was swapped from Penicillin to Augmentin and had my urine tested, which proved positive for infection. So now I’m waiting on the lab analysis at the start of next week to understand what the infection is, and hence how to best treat it. In the meantime I’m depending on the broad spectrum nature of Augmentin to tide me over the weekend.

Meanwhile I’m still running hot and cold, coughing, sniffing, and feeling rather sorry for myself. But at least I’m not going to be cut up while I’m in this state, which I imagine would be a nightmare to recover from.

So, at the risk of provoking more other-worldly laughter, the new plan is to reschedule my operation for the next appropriate slot more than 2 weeks in the future, and try to get me fully well in time for it. Another cunning plan, Baldrick!

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