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Welcome to Paul and Tracy's main blog. Here you can keep track of what we've been up to, and join us on our adventures.

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Monday, February 9, 2009


One step forwards, Two steps back...

This morning started early, following a restless night. It's always the way when I know I've got to get up early for something, as I wake an hour or so before the chosen time, and then spend the remainder of the night snoozing and waking seemingly every 5 minutes, before I finally give in and get up before the alarm shatters the peace...

So it was this morning, when I emerged bleary-eyed and headed for the warmth of the shower at half past five. Tracy had also had a relatively sleepless night, no doubt the operation ahead playing on her mind. After a quick breakfast (for me, Tracy was simply "fasted") we defrosted the car and set off once again in the direction of Hope Hospital, a place that by now surely has lost the right to call itself that...

We arrived at the allocated time of 7.30am, and wandered the corridors looking for the "Day Case Reception", only to get lost and have to ask for directions (embarrassing when you consider how much time we've spent here over the past 18 months). When we finally arrived at the reception it was in like walking into a furnace - either the heating was broken in the full "on" position, or the nurses think their patients are Swedish and try to make them feel at home (the wooden decor helped with this theory, although due to the absence of towels and a charcoal fire on which to pour water, we remained fully clothed). Once checked in we sat down on the by-now familiar special hospital waiting-room seats. These chairs must be designed by decendants of the SS, as they seem to exist solely to impose extreme discomfort on those unfortunate enough to have to spend any time sitting on them. And we had to spend "some time" sitting on them. Until 9am, when Tracy's name was called and she was shown into a little side-room, which I wasn't allowed to enter (apparently the Day Case ward is too small for visitors). And so I was forced to leave Tracy in the hands of the medics and go in search of a coffee.

Knowing that the treatment would take at least an hour, I bought a paper and read it before returning to the reception area to wait for Tracy to contact me. Now I'm becoming something of an expert at sitting waiting in hospitals, and so am well practiced in the noble arts of "staring into space" and "trying to avoid looking at other people waiting". But there were two interesting characters in the waiting room who put this latter skill to the test. The first was probably a couple of years older than me (which would make him "late forties"). He was resplendant in maroon Doc Martin boots, jeans with little neat turn-ups, bomber jacket, tattoos and bald head (it would have been a skin-head if he'd not gone bald naturally). Second, was a younger man with tattoos on his neck, mohican hair giving way to pink dreadlocks, tartan kilt over ripped jeans, and piercings in his nose, eyebrows and several in his ears, including... yes, a SAFETY PIN! By now I was convinced I'd somehow been waiting in the reception area so long that I had, in fact, gone back in time to the mid seventies...

But no, I hadn't. I'd been there for just 3 hours when Tracy rang to say she would be coming out soon... "Just in "recovery" and they need to check I'm alright as I've been sedated" - "Yeah, me too" I thought (but didn't say, as she didn't sound too happy, and my sense of humour doesn't work its best at times like this). When I asked how it had gone she said "Tell you when I get out". Which didn't bode well...

And so it turned out to be. The procedure was going fine, well, apart from the anaesthetist not being able to find a vein and having to resort to her foot (an unfortunate side-effect of the large number of operations she's had recently) until Mr Ross inserted the needle into her spine and watched the x-ray, when he discovered that the prolapsed disc was worse than he expected. So bad, in fact, that he doubts whether the root block will have any effect, and thinks that Tracy will have to have another operation - a "Laminectomy" - in order to fix the problem. Nonetheless, he finished the root block procedure and told Tracy that if it was still painful on Wednesday to call his secretary and she'll arrange for the follow-on surgery.

This is not what we wanted to hear, especially as a the Laminectomy will mean Tracy will have to be admitted back onto the Spinal Unit for 5-7 days.

So now we once again wait. Since getting home this afternoon, Tracy's not been pain-free, but is unable to tell whether the pain she's experiencing is due to the needles she's had put in her back or the original condition. If it's the latter, then there's no doubt she'll be going back to Hope Hospital soon for another operation. Despite my usually boundless optimism, even I find it hard to believe this is not the inevitable outcome.

Looks like our holiday is going to be postponed for a little while longer...

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