I was welcomed back home by a massive firework display at home. Well, maybe not at home, but at Baghdad. And not fireworks, but missiles. Yes, I was home in time to watch endless rolling news reports about the US/UK invasion of Iraq, which went well!
We stayed with Mary’s parents for the first few months as I got adjusted to home life and was still very weak. I could walk with the aid of sticks, but got tired out extremely quickly so I spent most of my time sitting down watching telly. Mary’s dad hired a wheelchair and took me for a walk (well, push) along the seafront, blanket over my knees, too tired to fully respond to people I knew, but it was great to be outside.
As time went by I gained strength and was able to ditch the sticks one at a time. My appetite increased as well. I asked for pizza on my first night back home, but could hardly eat any of it. That eventually changed, though, and I started to put back on some of the weight I’d lost. Then some more. And more still. I like food.
To start with I also needed a nurse to visit me at home to change the dressings on my, still open, stomach wound, as the surgery didn’t want the great unwashed (ok, someone with MRSA) coming in every day. I made it to the stage, though, where I could change the dressings myself and we were just left with all the relevant equipment, and painkillers, along with some very hefty prescription charges. By changing the dressings on the wound I could see that it was getting gradually smaller and started to look forward to not having any dressings at all.
At the end of May, Mary saw a job advertised in the local branch of Barclays Bank. It was a little less pay than I was on at the time, but it was walkable from home and the job paid more than 3 weeks sick pay before fobbing you off with SSP. I went for it, probably before I was really strong enough, but found myself getting an interview. I went to Dorchester for the interview and, much to my surprise (especially as I still had an open wound on my stomach which, to put it bluntly, smelled quite badly) I got the job. I started on July 15th, 2 weeks before a 30th birthday which for a while it didn’t look like I was going to see.
So, normal service was resumed. I was back in my own house, back at work and had a scar on my stomach which could pass for the result of a shark attack. I mean, it was massive! I had now, however, noticed something very odd. Moving lumps around the scar, especially around an hour after I’d eaten. I knew what it was, but needed to see a doctor to confirm it. An incisional hernia.
What had happened was this: Because the wound had been left to heal naturally and not stitched back up, the abdominal muscle wall had also not healed properly. What I could see was my intestine and the movement was it digesting dinner. Lovely! And strangely interesting as well. It couldn’t stay like it, though, which meant one thing. Another operation.