Apologies for the gap in blogging – and thank you for the nudges.
Some of you will know from my personal Facebook timeline that I had a knee replacement two and a half weeks ago. The days counting down to the operation and then getting myself a little mobilised after it have been fairly demanding. I am now back sitting up in my wheelchair without masses of pain for quite impressive periods; moving around doing a passable impression of Long John Silver on one or two crutches, and tentatively beginning to make a nuisance of myself once more.
A stay in hospital is a challenging experience at the best of times. I was immensely impressed by the staff in our orthopaedics ward, here in Inverness. Mind you, the nurse in recovery won numerous Brownie points by recognising that I share a surname with a very well-known orthopaedic surgeon, yes, my husband’s uncle.
There’s something about the stripping away of so many of the trappings that we identify as intrinsically us when we’re in hospital, which has given me particular pause for thought during this stay. I faced the levels of my disabilities in new ways. It was a shock to realise that I am more dependent than I’d realised, particularly in the early days after the operation. I was surprised too by the significant difference between how I saw myself and how others saw me.
I’ve thought a lot about that since I’ve been home, challenging myself to consider the assumptions I make when I meet someone. Thinking too about what shorthand information it’s important for a person caring for me to know up front, if there is to be a minimum of misunderstanding.
I’ve decided I am going to make up a small notebook as a short guide when I am in hospital again. There are some lovely tiny notebooks you can buy which take a sentence a page. One of those would be perfect. It might be what I need to know. (How many beds are there in the ward? Are they all filled? Will the toilet take a walking frame and me? Are there any steps?)
It might be a reminder for me of what’s important – some encouraging sentences – the good wishes of friends – something to make me laugh.
The medical system that supports us all is very stretched. The more we can do to sustain and help ourselves and others recovering, the better it will be for our recovery and the continued maintenance of the NHS.