Tuesday, 3 February 2009


Last Thursday the day of reckoning arrived. After over five years of sneezing, acute rhinitis, sinus infections galore, several consultations with several consultants, an MRI scan and a CT scan, it was finally concluded that surgery was the only answer.
“You see”, said my lovely consultant, showing me on his computer the CT scan of the inside my head, “It is completely blocked. And this area here”, pointing under my eye sockets, cheeks and forehead, “Should be totally black which would indicate air; instead it is dark grey, which indicates no air whatsoever, thus you are completely blocked”.
I nodded. No bloody wonder whenever I fly I am the one clutching my head and screaming that my head is about to explode with the pressure and my brains really are about to splatter across your aircraft like a blended smoothie, unless we land. Immediately.
My consultant asked me if I understood everything about the surgery and if I was at all worried. I explained that I was mother to many children and therefore could he make sure that I was allotted an experienced anaesthetist. I think he thought I was joking until I added, “Oh and I don’t like the last sentence in the letter you sent me.” I rummaged in my bag before pulling out a letter and reading, “with any surgery there are risks and there is a slight risk, given how close the sinuses are to the brain, of leakage”.
I looked at him, “If I’m honest, I really don’t fancy my brain leaking down my nose. I hadn’t realised there was such a thin crust between brain and sinus”. He looked at me askance.
“Well Mrs Band. It wouldn’t exactly be your brains leaking down your nose. Just fluid from the brain”. Call me old-fashioned but that was just being picky. Brain or brain fluid, whatever, they both sounded fairly crucial and I didn’t want either trickling anywhere.
“See you in a couple of days then?”, he said.
“Just another thing. I won’t get a minute’s rest on my return, is there any chance of staying in overnight?”
“That won’t be necessary Mrs Band. You will feel as right as rain”, and smiling he shook my hand to dismiss me.
The night before surgery I wondered whether I ought to imbibe. “Best not Alice”, said Hubby, sanctimoniously.
“But I’m very nervous. What if he does penetrate my brain?”
“Well there’s nothing in it, so I wouldn’t fret too much”.
I went to bed early, my tummy rumbling due to the restrictive ‘nil by mouth’. Of course it was purely psychological, it is only when you are denied something that you really crave it and so I fell into a fitful sleep, dreaming of sausage and mash. My alarm went off at some ungodly hour of the morning and I couldn’t even have a reviving cup of tea.
At ten past six there was a gentle knock at the front door and dad stood there, “You ready Alice love? You look a bit peaky”.
He’s getting on in years and I didn’t really think he’d appreciate my worry of my brains being tapped into and the subsequent seepage.
“I’m fine dad”, I said handing him my bag, “It’s just very early and I could kill a cuppa”. He dropped me off at Derriford Hospital and, arriving on the ward I was given the obligatory name bracelet and then waited. Eventually I was called to see my consultant again and this time he was surrounded by medical students, all of them gawping at my congested CT scan.
“And this”, I told them pointing to the screen, “Is my brain. See how close it is to my sinuses?” They all nodded, rather alarmingly; as though I’d just told them something they had previously been quite unaware of.
“You are quick learner Mrs Band”, said the consultant through, I swear, gritted teeth.
I went back to the appositely named waiting room and sat there for an hour, parched, when a nurse handed me a thick manila folder, “Please take your notes to the 10th floor to pre-operative assessment.”
The lack of communication in hospital does little to instil confidence in the patient because as I handed over my notes, the nurses were most aggrieved.
“You should have had your assessment done days ago. You surgery is in hours? What if you have MRSA?”
What indeed. There is no way you are sending me home, I told them in no uncertain terms. Hubby had taken two days off. The Royal Navy had been most inconvenienced. After swabbing my nostrils for said infection they let me return to my previous ward where staff were waiting for me.
“Come on then Mrs Band! Let’s get you undressed and take you down to theatre”.
“Oh! What play are we going to see?” I joked. It went down like a lead fart. I felt like Bernard Manning at a socialist convention.
I lay on the bed and again pleaded with the anaesthetist not to kill me. I suppose I was only joking but, when I awoke on the ward two hours later, inside a body bag, a hair dryer in it warming me up and an oxygen mask strapped to my face then perhaps I’d had a close shave. Several nurses were peering anxiously at me.Within half an hour though they wanted me dressed but I still couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. When I arrived home four hours later, a hammock under my nose to catch the seeping, blood filled gel, Hubby had to carry me upstairs. As he returned to the kitchen to feed the masses leaving the youngest in my room, where almost instantly they clouted me in the face, inadvertently by one of my boot shapers, it did beg the question: Was there really no way the NHS could have provided a sleep-over?


Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Wow. Are you black and blue near the eyes?

I ask because I think I am heading down the same road...bloody ear infection/blockage that has hung around since September and sinuses that trigger a flare up.

Mary Alice said...

THAT was a terrible story. Awful. There should be NO leakage of ANYTHING brain related. Ever.

It's just me said...

I agree. No leakage. I went in for something completely different at New Year and even the private hospital sent me home the same day.
Hope all well now though!

Sally said...

You told te story brilliantly as always...

I find it unbelievable that they won't let you stay in overnight any more. It really is dreadful. As you know, they nearly killed me last year when they did my knee, by letting my blood pressure drop dangerously low. Again though, they didn't let me stay overnight. Like you, I asked the question. Hubby has private medcial care through work .. for him, but the rest of us rely on the good old NHS. I'm glad we've got the NHS, but they are a bit too blase nowadays aren't they?

I'm very glad that the brain didn't leak out anything important. You did though I have to say though look quite beautiful (if a little wan and interesting) in your fb photos though. Sort of an Austenesque look.....

Alice Band said...

Sal - that's all very well, but where's Fitzwilliam Darcy when you need him?

sally's hubby said...

...I'm right here!

Alice Band said...

Ah, let me see you in a wet shirt then..

Sally said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so glad you're ok.

You didn't get out of bed and cook?!


Jen Ballantyne said...

Dear Alice, hope you're feeling much better now. I hate hospital 'procedures' but I think you were very brave considering the risk involved of brain leakage! Take care Jen xx

Alice Band said...

My dear Jen,
Given what you've been through, my procedures are small potatoes indeed!