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A new found respect for my surgical patients

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Last month I went ‘under the knife’ for the first time in my life, to relieve myself of an 8 lb 8 oz cause of abdominal distension that had been growing steadily for the previous nine months. Of course, I am talking about having a caesarean section.

The end of my pregnancy had been a stressful time due to concerns over fetal macrocrania. I can confirm that as parents-to-be there’s nothing quite like the roller coaster of being referred for extra scans, amniocentesis, a fetal MRI, and then watching the awkward realisation dawn on the faces of the specialists as they measure your own skulls and realise your husband’s head circumference is over the 98th percentile.

Aetiology aside, the baby was only ever going to make it out, as the consultant put it, ‘through the sunroof’. Combined with the fetal-maternal disproportion my choice of mate appeared to have caused, a breech presentation meant a caesarean was the only option.

‘It’s got to come out one way or another’, I said, cheerfully. ‘Cut it out!’

The midwives looked at me suspiciously. And not just because of my use of gender-neutral pronouns.

I now appreciate their scepticism. I’m happy to admit that my enthusiasm for the surgical option was simply based on watching so many other species bounce back after this procedure. OK, some patients need a bit of encouragement initially to get walking, but we all know that it’s really only the odd sensitive soul that isn’t happily trotting around again 24-hours later. I was strong, fit and healthy. I’d be like that bitch spay who’s jumping the garden fence the day after its surgery, no worries.

Nope, not the case!

The caesarean itself was smooth and speedy. I chatted about species differences with the anaesthetist. Meeting our son for the first time (whose head appeared to be a normal size) was wonderful. My husband lifted him to me when needed so I didn’t have to twist. As the spinal block wore off it left me a little sore, but that was to be expected. I was coping fine. I drank tea and ate biscuits and had a jacket potato for dinner. Lovely.

But then it was the following day and suddenly I was told I had to get up. And walk. Words cannot quite describe the horror of that first painful shuffle to the bathroom. Or of the journey home, where every pothole left me pressing a pillow into my belly and stifling a scream. Or of three days later, when I needed to cough and ended up kneeling against the sofa making the kind of noises that would be expected from a calving heifer.

It’s now been five weeks and I’m finally up and (literally) running again, albeit with the much reduced level of fitness that comes from spending an extended period of time sitting on the sofa eating ice cream and watching box sets. I’m told this is excellent progress. But I do not agree. I can only be disappointed in the human healing capacity. However, having now gone through this experience myself I can say that I have a new found respect for my surgical patients. And in future I definitely won’t be trying to get that bitch to walk again before she’s ready.

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