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The majority of us have been there before. And for a healthy (or unhealthy, in this case) whack of money, it’s probably the last place you would choose to get a bit of rest.
What am I talking about? Hospital, dear readers, a place I fortunately spent only one night in during my recent shoulder operation, which has seen your faithful scribe going awol from these pages for the past three weeks.
Some arthroscopic shoulder surgery to repair what is termed “impingement” saw me having to book into a well-known Durban hospital where, despite some attentive staff, I was deprived of peace and quiet, despite the huge bill, which, thankfully, medical aid will take care of.
We’ve all got stories about the shock treatment we hospitalised people get when, at about 4.40am, the lights in the ward suddenly burst alive and one is awoken from about five hours of interrupted sleep.
Yes, at 10pm I had to beg the nurses to turn off the lights – after their endless rounds and an unusual racket coming from another ward, which had a patient shouting at the top of his voice like a deranged maniac, which I was reliably informed he was.
“Give him an armful of propofol!” I cried out to the nurse. It didn’t help.
I know they do a great job, but a hospital – apart from the surgery, aftercare and attention – is probably the last place to rest and recuperate. So when my good surgeon discharged me the next morning, I was grateful to be driven back to my humble abode, where my daughter led me to my own bed and turned out to be an efficient back-up nurse.
Perhaps the most frustrating, but mildly amusing, part of having shoulder surgery is that you are required to wear a sling for a few days or weeks, depending on the op, and what they found when they bored into your body.
That is because some genius has invented a contraption called an “Actimove Umerus Comfort”.
Yes, that’s a posh pharmaceutical term for a sling, and it even took the nurse a while to get the velcro straps into place before eventually getting my left arm into the right position.
But what fun we had later in the day when at home, as first my daughter, and then my next-door neighbour and her son, tried to put the blasted thing back on me.
I did so many contortions that at times I thought I had also put my right shoulder out of joint!
Needless to say, after all that I invented my own home-made sling and then got on with my rehab therapy.
A lady whom I have known for years, and who is one of the city’s finest physios, was by my bedside soon after my shock awakening at the hospital.
So there I was swinging my arm around and going through the rehab routine.
At one stage it felt like I was trying to emulate Chad le Clos, my left arm extended and going around in huge circles as if I was doing the butterfly and trying to track down Michael Phelps for the gold.
The big problem is that at that moment I was completely numbed from my face to my fingertips, the result of one of the surgeons inserting something into my neck while I was under anaesthetic which dulled the nerves.
“Don’t worry when you come around and can’t feel your face or shoulder and have a hoarse throat. We are going to stick a pipe down there while we operate.”
“Gee, thanks,” I said. So when I came around, I was talking like Louis Armstrong, had a constant scratching in my vocal chords (which made me cough all night), and could feel nothing as I went through the physio’s routine.
Of course, the next day I felt awful as the nerve endings gradually regained feeling and the real pain set in.
Shoulder surgery is no fun, and sleeping becomes something of an art form. I thank the medical profession for sleeping pills and painkillers, because nightly I was awoken by pain, which resulted in my lying awake for hours and then mercifully falling asleep until about 8am each day.
Yes, that was the best part of my sick leave. As someone who normally has to get up at 4.45am (just like in the hospital) to start work, it was a real treat to sleep in and give my body time to heal.
But now it’s back to reality, and here I am typing away, with just a tinge of discomfort remaining.
In the end, though, thanks to the surgeons and nurses, and even the physio terrorist, for getting me better, and to those who have sent e-mails (rather send donations), I will remember you in my will.
It’s good to be back on Page 2 on a Monday!