Horror of horrors! I have just discovered that the Daily Mail does a Top Ten of knee surgeons and, even bigger horror of horrors, my surgeon hasn’t made it in. He is only ‘Highly Commended’. Should I reconsider my options at this late stage? After all, the very eminent surgeon who came top is well known to me (it was he who told me to have put in whatever implant the surgeon was used to putting in) and he actually offered to do my knee for me. Mind you, he was talking about some new technique he had read about and I suggested he came back to me when he had at least 10 years’ of follow up data. Anyway, it’s a bit of a hike to the East Midlands from where I am and the train journey would be considerably longer than the one I face this morning. I also doubt that the Unfeeling One would come all that way to get me on the morning of my release as she would have to take a whole day off (which would mean even more early starts and shortened lunch breaks to make up the time). He did say, however, that I was in good hands so I shouldn’t really pay too much attention to a survey of ’40 of their colleagues’ published in the Daily Mail. Considering we have about 3,500 orthopaedic surgeons registered on the National Joint Registry, 40 can’t really be considered representative. My surgeon’s response to the survey, published on his NHS Trust’s website sounds so unlike anything he would say: it is pure marketing department speak.
Well, I got here at the stated time, none the worse for wear after my 3 minute hobble to the rail station. Had a shocking 5 minute wait in reception at the hospital until a very smartly dressed gentleman grabbed my trundle bag and showed me to my room: ‘Best one we have sir, in my opinion’. I am not an afficionado of rooms in this hospital, but it is a corner room with lots of windows and a view. Of sorts. No sooner had the nice gentleman left, than it became busier than Piccadilly Circus during a very busy rush hour.
Firstly, it was the guided tour and flight safety brief (she very thoughtfully left me a glossy menu card, complete with pictures, knowing that I am ‘nil by mouth’ for a while). The tour of the room was succeeded by a nurse with more forms to fill and more questions to answer and, no sooner had she departed then the physiotherapist arrived. Mid-way through that visit we were interrupted, briefly, by the anaesthetist with another form to fill in. The physio did her bit and, just as I was completing the road testing of a Zimmer frame, the anaesthetist returned. Apparently my blood platelets are ever so slightly low so they want more blood ‘nothing to worry about, I’m happy’. However, what I am not so happy about is that they are not going to give me a general anaesthetic! Even more horror of horrors. ‘You will probably fall asleep, most people do’. I explained most vociferously that there was to be no ‘probably’ about it: if I get the vaguest hint of what is going on around me, they will know about it. Be in no doubt. No sooner had the anaesthetist left, then the medical officer turned up, took blood, had a quick chat with the anaesthetist (who had popped back to pick up the questionnaire she had forgotten), and departed with reassurances that ‘everything will be fine’. Then in came Freddie, wanting to know what I wanted to eat for my post-operative banquet and for breakfast tomorrow (it was almost like choosing the condemned man’s final meal but the wrong way round). Satisfied that I wouldn’t be wasting away on her watch, Freddie left to be replaced by a nurse who clipped a number of bands around my wrists so, I assume, that they know who to return me to in the event I get misplaced somewhere between my room and the operating theatre.
It was all getting a bit exhausting. I managed to get 10 minutes to myself in which I unpacked before the great man himself appeared. He didn’t seem to be too concerned about achieving only a ‘Highly Commended’ from 40 of his colleagues when I tackled him about it. Having explained to me what he was about to do to me (including doing some resurfacing work to my knee cap, apparently), he got me to sign the consent form. The die is cast, I am committed, no turning back, etcetera, etcetera.
After all that activity, I expected to be rushed off to theatre. I am, however, sat here in the clothes I arrived in, less the lower left leg of my zip off trousers (not even the Unfeeling One thought of that clever idea) after the surgeon marked up my knee. We agreed it was the correct one. I am told that it will be at least 6pm before they come to get me, and it has only just gone 2pm. All I can do is wait. And brood. And worry. Especially about the lack of a proper anaesthetic. I need to be as tired as possible so I mustn’t nod off this afternoon.
I will be back, possibly. If not this evening, then certainly tomorrow. Kneedyman.