Chapter 1 – The Big Day
Hey, society might say your wedding day is your biggest day. For me, it’s facing reality head-on, sorting out my body and having an operation to free me from endometriosis hell: this will definitely change my life for the better not for worse. ‘Til death us do part, after all (ahew ahew, you’ll be glad the wedding metaphor is finished now).
The morning of the operation I feel quite nervous but also ready. It’s been a long time coming and planning and now detachment is no longer possible. Staying up until 3am until the Moviprol worked its full glorious way through me was not the best start but at least I’ll be on time and raring to go right? Yeah, except I’ve been given the wrong time – so I roll in at 11am to find my surgeon and anaesthetist standing at the top of the stairs waiting. Ah, admin. Thanks for that.
On go my white DVT stockings, on goes the hospital gown, off comes all nail varnish, earrings and my precious ring from Phil. Now it feels real, last texts being sent, final well wishes being absorbed (thanks sis, mum, dad, nan & grandad G, Lozza, Nic, Emily, Rufus, Lizzie, Saff, Ron, Elena, Natz, Marie, Debbie, Ingvild, Cass, Mark, Kaflar, Maxine – you helped more than you know) and nervous laughter all round. The nurse comes in to take my blood pressure, temperature and heart rate, the anaesthetist comes in to discuss allergies, that I will feel sick and shaky afterwards and to slow down the whole process this morning as I had a glass of water an hour ago, as my paperwork said I could, but apparently that was wrong too. Gosh admin, you really are doing us proud today.
Mr Trehan comes in, in his trendy suit, to reiterate what he will be doing, to explain how major this surgery is and to tell me I will be ok. What a guy. I feel fluttery, the terror is rising and all I can think is that I want to tell Phil how much he means to me, if people can just give us a minute. I get my wristbands, no latex or NSAIDs thanks, and the nurse tells me I’m ready to go. Everything rushes in on me, the room feels full of pressure and I know I’ve got to let everything go, just give up all control to my delectable doctor. Which, given my previous experiences, is a lot easier said than done.
I delay, pretend I want to go to the toilet so I can say one last goodbye and I love you to Phil. There is always a part of me that thinks if I am having a general anaesthetic I may never wake up again, I’ve got to get across what life is about, what people mean to me. I fret that I haven’t sent my will back to my solicitors, that I haven’t spoken to my friends in ages, that I haven’t said thank you enough to my counsellor who has just been a formidably comforting rock, that I haven’t apologised to Phil for just being so constantly desperately unhappy because of the pain.
OH, THE PAIN.
Then it all floods in on me, why I am doing all of this; the everyday agony; the eternal pressure on my bladder; the daily cystitis; weekly UTIs; life-stopping stomach cramps; sobbing in the toilet; the almost-faints; the incessant, metallic nausea; the not being able to sit up for more than 10 minutes without needing to lie down; the stabbing back pain; the drawing pain down my legs; the emotional rollercoaster; the depression; the anxiety about my fertility; the achingly loud loneliness; the isolation; the white hot searing pain of terror. Every night and every day. This is no life. This is why I’m doing this. I want to get better. I want to be better. Life is everything and without health life is so limited.
One last squeeze from Phil and the nurse escorts me to theatre, I make jittery high-pitched small talk Bods style. The anaesthetist is there, we share a joke about me always keeping him waiting, I lay down on the operating trolley,two nurses are putting heart monitors on me, we have a laugh about my left-handed witchedness as they all have to swap sides so my cannula can go on my right hand instead, I pump my hand so the nurse and anaesthetist can find a vein, Mr Trehan manoeuvres around to hold my left hand, my what soft skin he has, and tells me that I will be ok, I’m told the inevitable ‘you’ll feel a sharp scratch’ before the needle seeps in to the back of my hand, that I’ll wake up with a drip to keep me hydrated, a catheter to give my bladder a rest, oxygen and very strong painkillers, can we all believe how late the anaesthetist is going to be home tonight as we started late, he’ll have to call his wife, how does that first injection of anaesthetic feel, Emma? You’ll start to feel fuzzy now, Mr Trehan stroking my hand, the oxygen mask goes over my head, oxymoronic feelings of happy dread that the next time I am conscious will be when the operation is done but that I already know the pain will be immeasurable, I picture Barbados beach with Phil, running again for the first time in years, having a family, being free, Emma, you’ll be leaving us now, we’ll see you when everything is done, breathe deeply, we’ll look after you…
And I’m gone.