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The high dependency unit was not a pleasant place to be. By the time I had got on the ward it was about 10:30 so all the lights were off as it was past our bedtime.
The ward is stupidly hot, this is because muscle and skin grafts take and bind better over a certain temperature reducing the risk of infection. Pain in my leg wasn’t really an issue as you are given what’s called a nerve block; a small IV is put into your nerve right at the end of your leg giving you local anaesthetic.
All you can hear is the beeps of machines and alarms, so along with the heat getting to sleep was not the easiest. Mentally, I was not in a very good place, exhausted and emotional, I needed to relax and try and get some rest. I had been sent some guided meditation from a friend and thought anything is worth a try at this point. As I started to follow it and manage my breathing, to my surprise it did work. I was getting more relaxed; the only problem was it slowed my heart rate down which set my heart monitor alarms off making a nurse come and check I wasn’t dying. So, it didn’t quite have the effect I was hoping for.
One thing about hospital wards is that there is only a curtain between you and the next bed, so there isn’t what you would call privacy. The guy in the bed on the other side of my curtain had been in a similar accident to me from what I could work out. The difference being he had obviously decided to save his foot by grafting muscle to the wound. I know this because he was visited during the night by his consultant, who proceeded to tell him how much of a better choice it was and how much better it looked than amputation. I didn’t take it very well and broke down crying which again set my alarms off due to my heart rate.
A nurse came in who instantly realised what had happened and ran off after the consultant. She came back very apologetic and said that she didn’t catch up with him but promised me that she would get in touch with him to let him know what had happened.
It’s safe to say I had zero sleep and it had got to a silly time in the morning when my friend in the next bed had another visit from a nurse and a different consultant. I can’t remember exactly what was said but it was along the exact line as the consultant from earlier that night. Again, I broke down and set my alarms off. The nurse popped her head in and realised again what had happened. This consultant came in to chat to me once she had finished and was very apologetic and explained, working in a hospital you forget that its only a curtain separating the beds. She was very nice and understood why I felt the way I did.
Shortly after I was also visited by the consultant from early that night. He was also very apologetic but came across like he had been made to come and say sorry and scuttled off very quickly. Word must have gotten round as I had a guy come to see me who was, I’m guessing, quite high up. He said sorry for the night that I had had, and that he had sorted me a private room on the ward so hopefully I could get some sleep.
I do have to mention the washing. Due to the temperature and humidity of the ward as you would expect it’s a little sweaty. To stop bed sores, you get washed by the nurses twice a day – all dignity is lost when you spend time in a hospital! The nurses roll you onto your side and wet wipe from your neck, your whole back, down your bum and then over your balls. Yup, down the crack and over your balls. It was a bit of a shock the first time this happened, I wasn’t sure if it was a mistake, like, “oh shit, she got a bollock there.” But no, it was a thing.
I was moved into my new digs later in the day, it was still roasting hot but quiet. After something to eat and a dignifying wash from a nurse, I settled down with some Netflix on my tablet and finally got some shut eye. It was very broken sleep but sleep non the less. The nurses even left me to sleep instead of doing the nightly washes, as they thought the sleep was more important.
I woke up the next day feeling very strange. I was so happy I had slept I can’t explain it properly. The sun was shining through my window it really felt like a new day which made me really emotional. It’s strange what a little bit of rest can do for your brain. Don’t get me wrong, I was exhausted, but I was WAY better than the day before.
The morning brews and toast came around and then came the wash.
If you find you need some support, don’t be afraid to speak to friends and family. If this isn’t possible please consider giving the Amputation foundation a shout at amputationfoundation.org or even get in touch with me via my contact page