So two mornings later, maybe three, memory tricks me now, a lovely young lady and her even younger male assistant, the physio's arrive. Cheery smiles with a clear "Here to help" attitude.
"Right Alan, can you stand up for us please"
I was horrorstruck.
"I can't even lie down for you". I croaked.
"All right Alan you stay there then, now let's just move these blankets over here" she said.
Well perhaps things were picking up, I mean it isn't often that one finds oneself in this fortunate and promising situation!
She opened my pyjama jacket and spread it wide exposing the white rather charmless opaque and fleshy chest beneath.
She placed both hands on top of my chest, palms down with fingers spread wide.
"Alan, now I want you to cough for me please, nice and hard, need to clear this anaesthetic and get your lungs working"
Well I felt grim and I hurt like hell but thought, well she only wants me to cough; so I did
Now I really screamed; it is difficult to explain, unless you have been in a similar situation, what a simple cough can do. I made an attempt at a fairly vigorous expectoration. Not fully appreciating the engineering involved, like breathing in as much as possible into lungs captive beneath fused ribs which by chance were attached to a fused spine, which in its turn had recently been drilled, chopped, screwed, glued, opened and closed, broken and subject to goodness knows what other random D.I.Y (Do it yourself). The cough and the energy in it rocketed down to the operation site. The pain was just, well, beyond all that I have already described in these pages. Short lived thankfully and I immediately realised that, if I didn't cough, (I learn quickly when pain is inthe offing) I wouldn't have to bear that particulary exquisite agony.
"Oh Alan that was really good, hands spread once more, now can we do (we??) one more"
Head shaking, well carefully moved from side to side, no no, not again.
"Now Alan you really must, just to make sure your lungs are clear"
I thought to humour her and attempted a throat clearing noise which I tried to dress up as a cough.
"Ok Alan yes, we will do some more tomorrow"
"You bloody won't" I thought, but was relieved that they had done...hadn't they?
I was coming rapidly to dislike her voice.
"Right, let's see if we can stand you up and take a few steps"
I didn't know what to do.
Next thing I was log rolled slowly and carefully, sideways across the bed so that my feet were on the floor and the top corner of the side of the bed behind my knees.
So far so good. The youg feller takes one of my arms and the girl the other, a brief scream, an agonising but very short pain at the operation site and I was on my feet. I felt that a round of applause might be appropriate but was denied such plaudits. Next they let go of me, mistake, a terrifying mistake, I knew at that moment that I was not going to survive. I was going backwards, like a tree being felled, a slow, inexorably langorous backwards fall, tall rigid, unable to help my self. They managed to grab my arms, to my amazement and relief, I landed almost where I had started. Flat and across the bed and they managed to make it a soft landing. The only pain was the pain of fear, had I broken my spine, had the wound been opened, had the rods come adrift, what if a rogue screw was now positioned beneath my heart just waiting to pierce me for good and all. But, I was ok.
Log rolled again back into bed where I was left alone for a while.
I didn't realize it but I was covered in tubes, a garden hose still insered, drains in the wound,things in my mouth and ears, a line through the neck directly into the heart, a catheter, lines into both hands, this was the cause of the tied down vision I had had on the first day. A pulse taking clip was on my finger, and I still had to wear an oxygen mask.
The weather was very hot. This was unfortunate and did add somewhat to the general feeling of discomfort.
By now I was seeing my visitors, (not my children, even Ellen didn't want them to see me yet. I must have looked a fearful sight. Well mig has a pic or two, she might put them here?). I was beginning to unscramble the morphine mix in my brain. Sufficient to say that pain was severe, ever present.
Log rolling was essential, when they mistimed it ever so slightly, rarely for they were super, it was agonising. I wasn't managing to eat, even my beloved tea was impossible to get down.
The staff nurse, a chap called Jim was concerned about the warmth. He stood a floor standing fan at the foot of my bed, it was lovely, I basked in the cool flowing air.
I had not been to the bathroom yet, you will recall that I had a few days before, on the morning of the surgery, been unable. My gut wasn't working, it hadn't switched on yet.
The following morning I felt as dreadful as I ever have in all of my life. I had a severe chill, no gut, in pain, no nourishment. So, so poorly did I feel, that they rang Ellen and asked her to get to see me early.
Fred nd Mavis,(my own music teacher and long standing family friends) came to visit. I lay there unable to communicate, and apart from feeling desperately rude to them, I was unable to sleep, pain, pain, pain, and really thought what a complete and vain idiot I had been to do this thing. Now I was going to pay a real price for it, and I didn't care I just wanted someone to flick a switch and turn me off.
Oh to be free of this mess.
Ellen was distressed, I could see it, even through my self pity.
I slept all night.
I awoke at 6, log rolled myself onto the edge of the bed, stood and walked to the bathroom. God knows how I did, but I did, and, without dwelling too much on unnecessary, less pleasant matters, I was in there for nearly an hour because it was errrr......difficult, and again required pressure on the spine, so very painful.........but, a nurse came in in the end and helped me back to bed.
God, I felt so dammned good.
Ellen rang the ward sister, sobbing, convinced that she would be told the worst. The sister brought the phone to me, we chatted, she was disbelieving,
"I thought you were going to die"
"So did I, I think it was the loo that did it! Will you bring me some lemonade and a crossword book please" "WOW"
The corner had been turned. There was worse to come, the leg pains referred to on the eve of the surgery decided to come a calling, leg pains was then and remains a wholly inadequate description, the turtle impression was yet to happen and Ellen walked me up the ward where she knew there was a full length mirror.........