I have noticed a fact about life, that when you are feeling your most shitty and vulnerable, everyone around you appears gorgeous and in control. When you are about to be operated on, this is a good thing. Ana breezes into my room, Spanish, bubbly and lovely. She asks me to pee in one of those pots you get chutney in with your take away curry – to make sure you’re not pregnant, she said with a smile. I fell about laughing and told her I have enough already. How many have you got? She asked. Oh yes, that is enough, she replied when I told her.
Next the anaesthetist shimmyed in: suave and swarthy in a white open shirt and smart trousers. He went through my form. 3 glasses of wine a week, he commented, liar! I tried to explain that I’d written 3 glasses 3 times a week, but he remained sceptical. I decided to stop explaining, as it was a lie anyway. He proceeded to tell me in great detail what he was about to do to me with his blunt instrument- it was him who emphasised this, not me. In case I hit a nerve, he said and there’s a 1 in 10,000 chance you’ll die. Any questions? It seemed unimportant after his final statement but I asked if I could have a glass of wine that evening. One of your three, he laughed and with a wry smile on his face, he shimmyed out.
In came the physio, petite and pretty. Can this hospital possibly parade someone in front of me who looks as crap as I do (by now I was wearing the sexy, white support stockings and feeling like shit). She told me that I would need lots of drugs after the op: the pain will hit you when you wake up tomorrow morning, bang!
The surgeon was next in to see me. At least he was in his gowns, so looking as fashionable as I was. It’s the left shoulder, isn’t it? he said. I presumed that it was a rhetorical question, as I’m (mum’s) paying £5000 for the privilege, but he looked at me wanting reassurance. I confirmed it was and while he was scribbling all over my arm, where I felt a small X marks the spot would have sufficed, I asked if he did bogofs, as both shoulders need repairing. He laughed and breezed out, still brandishing his marker pen. I was left imagining the pen transforming into a scalpel and looked down at his scribble, hoping they weren’t the lines he was going to follow.
Next thing I know, my bed is on the move. My driver asked if I had kids. Can’t be bad, he said. They go to school this morning and mum’s taking class A drugs! The suave anaesthetist was there to meet me – looking less metrosexual in his overalls. As he put me to sleep, he was telling his colleagues about my wine consumption: three glasses, he was chuckling to them and with that, I was gone.
I awoke to an male Irish accent- wow – you really do get what you pay for here, I thought. I was shaking uncontrollably, so he warmed me right up…by placing a lilo over me and blowing hot air trough a a large tube under the covers. It worked.
Back in my room I had what tasted like the best cuppa ever and a packet of biscuits was staring at me, so I attacked the packaging with my teeth. In fact, my only complaint about my private hospital experience, was that they hadn’t thought to open the biscuits for me.
I thought it would be churlish to write this in the feedback questionnaire. So I just put that everyone was wonderful and beautiful and kind and wondered what experience the right shoulder will have on the NHS…if the waiting list ever moves.