... that undergoing general anaesthetic increases your chances of Alzheimer's and other brain mushing diseases. Well, that's nice isn't it? Just what you want to read when you've just undergone general anaesthesia for the eighth time in your life and this time it was for NO REASON AT ALL.
I have been a supporter of the NHS in the face of a fair amount of dodgy treatment. I always think that it would be so much worse if I was in the Third World. Or America. And I have never received a prescription or had an appointment without reflecting that we're lucky as fuck in this country to have free healthcare for everyone.
And then this week happened. And I'm done.
They sliced me open, had a good rummage around, saw that yes, my endometriosis has got a lot worse - they saw loads of it apparently, but didn't bother to burn it off.
"I'm sorry, what?" said I from my prone puking position on the hospital trolley. I
reacted badly to the archaic anaesthetic they chose to inflict on me - I have never once in all the years I've been experiencing the joy that are NHS operations had a mask thrust over my face so I could breathe in nitrous oxide. You know, because it's not the 19th century anymore and we should be past all that. It makes you sick as a dog and gave me an uncontrollable shaking fit as I came around. So that was a nice bonus.
"Yes, well, we didn't have time."
"We didn't have time to burn off the endometriosis. If we'd done that someone else would have been cancelled"
But why? Why didn't you schedule enough time you massive bitch? You already knew I have endometriosis because I've had this done before. What is the fucking POINT of opening me up to confirm something I ALREADY KNOW but not HELP ME?
She was a mega bitch. As soon as the consultant swept in to the ward in the morning to talk with us all before she opened us up, I could tell she was a bitch. She didn't even try and hide it. She was rude to the really lovely anaesthetist, rude to the nurse, to the student nurse and to the patients.
She rustled her paper. "Why do I have a note saying YOU are first on my list? hmmm?"
"Maybe because you cancelled me with less than 24 hours warning last time?"
I mean, I don't know. But it's just a thought.
"Well, here's the consent form but you don't have time to read it. Just sign it, yes? Yes? Any questions? No?"
And she's gone. Rustling away in a self important blur. I feel less than reassured.
But, y'know, I'm here. Finally. All the need to do is go in there, laser off the bad stuff and we're good to go. I will have some relief, at least for a while, and might be able to get a semblance of my life back.
The 'ward' is a room with six sad looking chairs facing into the centre of the room. Six women sit sheepishly looking at each other, pretending that it's all completely normal.
"Are you pregnant?"
"Are you sure? People often don't realise they are."
"No, really. I'm sure. I haven't had sex since last July."
"Well, do a test anyway."
So the first thing I do is wee into a pot. And remember that from now on I need to surrender any semblance of dignity I may have.
I sit uneasily on the chair and am handed a backless robe, paper knickers and those weird leg stockings. I sit back on the chair in my finery. It just feels so awkward. A ward without beds is weird. Really, really weird. The student nurse tells me that it's time for me to walk to the operating theatre. Yep. Walk. To the operating theatre.
I mean, why not?
We get to the corridor and then she realises she forgot to ask which theatre I'm meant to be in. Reassuring. She skips off to find out. I stand in a public corridor trying to look nonchalant while trying to hide my paper knickered ass from the curious gawps of passers by.
She comes back and eventually we find the right place. They are lovely and ram the canula in with only minimum pain. And then they come at me with a mask. "Do you want some oxygen?"
I like oxygen although I've never been offered it at this juncture.
Just as they clamp the mask over my protesting mouth, they start mumbling about opiates and 'sweet smell'. It's fecking nitrus oxide. Last seen used as an actual anaesthetic in Queen Victoria's day. I have barely seconds to get angry before it knocks me out. It is single handedly the most horrible way to go under general anaesthetic that I've ever endured. Usually they just pump stuff into your arm and you eventually drift off, after the usual depths of hell sinking feeling. This stuff basically chokes you out.
I come round and have an uncontrollable shaking fit. Like, I couldn't stop. I was sick and shaking like someone with Parkinson's. The nurse told me on more than one occasion that, as my temperature was fine I couldn't be cold and it's in my head.
Yeah, OK, lady. In my head, is it? Tell that to my limbs as they flail around uncontrollably.
I get back to the ward eventually.
Approximately 90 million hours later bitch consultant wafts in. "We found lots of endometriosis to the right of your womb."
"Right - so you ablated it, right?" An ablation burns off the endometrisois patches so that you have a fighting chance of having a period that doesn't feel like it's killing you from the inside out.
"No, we didn't."
"We didn't have time, dear. Oh and your bowel is fused to your womb and you have an awful lot of scar tissue from your appendicitis."
"My what is what now?"
"Your bowel. Fused to your womb. Probably very painful [you DON'T SAY] but you need to go and sort that out with someone else. Oh, and it's likely you have colitis as well."
At this point I'm still majorly groggy but it sounds like she just told me that she has diagnosed endometriosis - which I ALREADY KNEW I HAD BECAUSE I HAVE HAD AN OP LIKE THIS BEFORE - but hasn't done ANYTHING to actually, you know, help me. And in fact, is now shooing me away like I'm some kind of nuisance.
"What happens now?"
"Well. You go to your GP and get the coil."
"I've already tried the coil three times and it doesn't work for me."
"Well, try it again."
And she's gone.
That was it.
She opened me up, stuck probes in me, found loads of endo, a fused bowel and a casual diagnosis of colitis and then just zipped me back up again.
I basically went through that for nothing.
And now I have to go and fight the GP for another specialist, more waiting lists, more months waiting in pain to try and find someone who might actually help me.
And I actually feel bad. Like it's my fault somehow. Like I'm going to let down all my lovely friends who have been so kind while I've been ill and so hopeful that this will actually help me and I might get my life back. I feel ill and in pain and so, so, so disappointed.
It's time to take back control and face facts. The only way I will get anyone to help me is to pay for it. The NHS doesn't work anymore. They are concerned with getting through operations to meet their targets. It was clear that this consultant didn't give a shit about my problems and my illness and how much it's affecting my life. I have suffered with chronic illnesses since I was around 24 and I have waited for the NHS to help me. In some cases they have left me on waiting lists for 12 months + before operating (that was my gall bladder - when it came out they were appalled that it had been left in me for so long as it was rotting. So that's comforting). And now they've actually operated on me without treating me. What a waste of tax payer's money that was, you dumb fucks.
So, I'm going to have to try and find some money and I'm going to have to try and sort it out for myself. Because finally it's clear to me that the NHS is dying. And it's dying fast. And I'm done with putting any faith in a broken, corrupt, unfair system.