A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times


Yesterday ... All my troubles seemed so far away...

I was completely out of it. The body beautiful had finally given up on me and I was in hospital undergoing an operation where due diligence required I was to be put to sleep.

Almost eighteen months prior to this, Humpty Dumpty was sat on a wall. It was New Years Eve and family tradition dictated that a large cake of fireworks was to be lit at the stroke of midnight. That was to be my job, a simple enough task requiring not too many brain cells, and I was more than happy to undertake it. The trouble was, was where was the best place to position the offending firework for maximum impact for the gathering hoards? Living in a terraced house does have its limitations, and among those is the small enclosed area to the rear that we call a back yard. It simply wouldn’t do. The only viable alternative was to park the firework on top of a flat-roofed shed at the side of the house where the burgeoning masses could congregate on the street outside to witness the timely festival unravel.

The clock tower of the local church began tolling in the New Year, the fuse was lit and it was time for me to run like ‘bloody hell’ to escape being a part of the snap, crackle and pop of the explosive mixture of burning roman candles and rockets. This wasn’t bonfire night, so a guy was definitely not to be a part of the display. So, donning my best James Bond attire, I legged it to the edge of the roof and leapt for my safety. That was when Humpty Dumpty had his great fall.

Within fractions of a second, I was eight foot lower down than earlier, collapsed in a pitiful heap on the ground. The take off was perfect but the landing was a little bit awkward, to say the least. Having launched myself off the shed roof, I gripped the top of it with my left hand in order to steady my rapid descent, whereby I inadvertently tore my shoulder to shreds through over stretching it at  considerable speed, caused by a more than scientifically significant mixture of my weighty frame and gravity. Sir Isaac Newton would have been proud of me.

Everything around me instantly went black, and the day to day business of simply breathing became a considerable strain. The blood rapidly drained from my now pallid face, I was sweating profusely and yet, cold to the touch. Shaking like a jelly, I knew I was going into the early stages of shock. The darkness slowly faded back into a blurred vision of normality as I struggled back to my feet and slowly edged my way towards my family, by which time the 150 shot cake of a firework had receded from its magnificent climax into a smoky smouldering ring of empty cardboard tubes. My demise took less than a whole three minutes.

I was then carried indoors and ceremoniously laid prone on the carpeted floor of the living room where the womenfolk quickly gathered round to administer lashings of well intentioned but unqualified first aid, massage to the suspect arm, copious cups of hot sugary tea and not too much sympathy. It was within that first spate of about twenty minutes that I was eventually deemed fit enough to not warrant a death certificate or further urgent medical treatment and labelled a bit of a thicko for what I had just done. I was however, out of immediate danger, still a little sore and presumed to have been merely winded by the whole experience. The rest of the evening, night, early morning celebrations carried on as normal.

As the rest of the New Year progressed, my shoulder injury faded into what should have been just a distant memory. Everything was fine up until the following April when the shoulder took its painful revenge. Every time I moved my arm, a sharp searing pain would knock me sideways, causing severe nausea and dizziness. The arm was beginning to stiffen up too and its movement was becoming increasingly limited. I sought medical help.

Physio-therapy was the first step to recovery, where I was taught to minimise the pain through specific exercises and shown how to retrain my arm to move as it should do. Progress was slow and still more help was needed. X-rays proved there was no damage to the bones and a later MRI scan indicated a severe tearing  to the upper muscles of the shoulder. In the meantime, I had developed a full blown, frozen shoulder.

Now normally, the ball and socket to the shoulder joint would be lubricated with a substance not too dissimilar to that of liquid honey. In my case, the honey had solidified into what can be best described as the honeycombed centre of a malteser. This was what was diagnosed to be effecting the movement of the joint, for which there is only one real cure. Which brings us, quite neatly, back to the present.

It was not so much an operation, no one was going in as such, but the prescribed procedure was to physically wrench the joint apart and during the process, re-liquefy the lubricating agents between the bony structures through concentrated bouts of rapid movement. Something that could quite easily have led to the annihilations of either the surgeons by myself, or myself by the surgeons had I been a fully concious witness to it all. So I was to be anaesthetised, because at worst, I could expect some broken bones or a full blown dislocation along the way.

After arriving at the hospital at seven o’clock in the morning, I eventually formed the opinion that the choice of anaesthetic was to be nothing more than severe boredom. It was two o’clock in the afternoon now, and I still hadn’t been seen by anybody. Starvation could have been another option, having been ‘nil by mouth’ since seven o’clock the preceding evening. It even occurred to me that I may have been completely overlooked, in which case all my fears of not coming through this alive would have been totally wasted.

Then it all happened at once. I was summoned, plonked on a bed, asked a million and a half questions about my medical history by a million and half different people for the million and a halfth time, when it was then subsequently discovered that nobody had asked for my signature on the treatment consent form. Luckily though, another thirty minutes, had that quickly sorted.

And so I was wheeled off to see the anaesthetist. After a quick game of darts to the back of my hand, he soon gave up trying to find a vein to park his cannula in, so it was a case of double or quits with the darts to the inner elbow. Eventually, having finally locating his cannula, the anaesthetist pumped in some relaxant so he could then, by inserting needles into my neck, sedate the nerve routes from the shoulder to the brain through injection.

Now as butch as I am, I winced and whinged at every insertion and it soon became clear that this wasn’t going to happen as I watched him. The pain was grossly intense and needless to say, quite unbearable. So within seconds, the anaesthetist changed tack and I was rendered dead to the world. (Wimp.)

It was ten past four that same afternoon when I was later taken to ‘recovery’ and finally trawled my way back into consciousness. As I awoke, it appeared I was in mid sentence, recounting some of my stories to a bevy of beautiful nurses who had all gathered round for the recital. Five more minutes and I was fully appreciative of still being alive and coming through the dastardly doings of the medical echelons relatively unscathed. Instinctively I knew why I was there, and immediately put my arm to the test.

Oh-my-God!!! I watched as I wriggled the fingers to my left hand. They still worked, so next I would raise my arm. Hang on a minute! What arm? My brain sent the signals and my eyes stood guard, but my arm was nowhere to be seen. Neither could I feel it. I had visions of spending the rest of my life auditioning for re-makes of the Addams Family where I would play ‘Thing’, the severed hand that answered the door and carried trays of drinks across the floor. I was then told that my arm was temporarily paralysed, but it would only be that way for a matter of hours, and boy, what a sensation that was!

Now, after any kind of anaesthesia, there are three major tasks the patient must perform before being let back out into polite society. The first two were easy and attacked with much gusto. I simply had to be seen to eat and drink something. A simple enough task thwarted only by constantly sliding down the hospital bed and having only one arm to rely upon to drag myself back into position again. The third task was to prove a little harder though.

You see the third of my jobbies, was to simply go jobbies. Easier said than done. Having already had a couple of unconnected operations in earlier times, I already knew about this, so all morning I had resisted going in preparation. The trouble was that because of the sheer amount of time I had been kept waiting prior to the op, I had been forced to go just beforehand. At this stage, you could have run me twice through a mangle and I would have still not wielded anything, and guess what? I didn’t. I was a permanent prisoner on a hospital ward for the want of a pee.

Then it was time for me to get dressed. This was going to be fun and I knew it. With nothing more than a dead weight giant salami trapped between my left hand and the rest of my body, I twisted and contorted in all directions as I struggled to conceal my half naked adonis of a body. I was only a tee-shirt and trousers away from full dignity but the journey was to be fraught with light hearted hysteria and giggling fits as what used to be my left arm went on a journey of its own accord. Revelling in the new mysteries of my total lack of control, I showed considerable care, courage, determination and sheer bloody mindedness in my quest for the slightest amount of control and eventually I mastered the job in hand.

So there I was, fully dressed with un-buttoned jeans held together only by a belt and shoes with their laces blowing in the wind. I was a glittering, shining example of the successes of modern day medicine, for all to see and by way of a reward for my tenacity, I was spared the ceremonial passing of fluids and allowed to go home with my partner June. It was seven o’clock that evening when we finally got back home, whereupon I immediately got into bed and fell firmly asleep. I woke a couple of times during the night, once for a wee (HOORAY!), and once for a bowl of cornflakes (Gannet).

And here I am now. The morning after the night before. Fully aware of my surroundings, with two fully functional arms, and by way of a bonus, none of the afore promised pain. In fact, all I have to show for this whole experience, are the numerous holes to the skin around my hand, elbow and neck (more perforations than a tea bag maybe) but, all in all, I think I can say, this operation, manipulation, procedure thingy, has been a resounding success. And all that remains, is for me to fully thank everybody concerned in making it that way. I thank you all, but will refrain from recommending it, unless it is really needed of course.

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  1. stephie said...
    very scary story you could have been killed ! stay away from roofs so u can continue writing these marvellous blogs !
    Katy said...
    The hospital never spares us any dignities, does it. Sorry you had to go trough all that (says the weird little lady laughing at her computer). I did the same thing to my knee only I still have to live with the pain (NO surgery). I tried to let Gilad 'pump me up' and tore the hell out of my knee-I heard it and felt it as it ripped. But thank you for sharing that--I don't feel like a complete idiot. ;)

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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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