The long wait

Now, I know the waiting lists can be long with the NHS. It’s to be expected sometimes. However, my diagnosis and placing on the waiting list was in October 2001. At the start of 2003 I still had no word of a date. I finally got fed up of waiting and gave the hospital a ring.
I’m not saying that my file had been misplaced, but the person I spoke to spent a good 10-15 minutes looking for it and, when she found it, offered to call me back. Later that day I had a date, 3 weeks later in a private hospital opposite Poole General Hospital, at NHS expense. Hmmm.
I’ll admit to being nervous at the prospect of being cut open, even with a small keyhole wound. I made the mistake of looking the operation up on the Internet (don’t ever do this. Just don’t). I came to the conclusion that, no matter what happened, I wouldn’t end up in the same condition as the guy who ended up with his stomach in his chest cavity! On the whole, though, it looked as if this really was relatively routine and I shouldn’t worry too much.
So, the day of the op came. I was dropped off at the very, very nice hospital indeed and waited for the knife. When I was finally taken down I knew it would just be a few hours and I would wake up in a very comfy room ready for 3 weeks rest.
I woke up the following morning in a rather different place. My first memories are a tad hazy, but I remember seeing the unfolding of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on the telly and other people in beds next to me. Oh yes, and I was on a ventilator!
What happened was this. After the operation I was taken to recovery. I was starting to come round when the surgeon decided to take me back in to check something out (I still have no idea what). I was given a short term general anaesthetic which was expected to last 20-30 minutes. What no-one was aware of was that I have a condition called Scoline Apnoea, a deficiency in an enzyme needed to process this particular anaesthetic. As a result I just didn’t wake up. Rather than 30 minutes I was out for 12 hours. No-one’s fault, it’s very rare and nobody had any reason to know about it. I certainly didn’t. (No, it wasn’t just me oversleeping due to a lack of desire to get up!)
I was discharged directly from the Intensive Care Unit I had spent the night in, feeling that having been there was a sort of badge of honour, and my wife and I went home. I spent the evening eating a fish pie and watching Midsomer Murders. Rock and roll!
I went to bed feeling a little tender, but quite good, and dropped off quickly.
At about 2 o’clock that morning I woke up and immediately knew something was very badly wrong.

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