Actually, they are bunions, but I just can’t help it, sorry.
I decided to have my increasingly painful and malformed feet surgically altered to make them perform like they used to. The top surgeon for such things likes to keep his mates in business, and sent me to several other specialists for preliminary checks. One is Noel, a vascular surgeon. Indeed, he is head of the department for digging around in blood vessels at Royal Melbourne Hospital and Epworth Hospital.
Various tests followed. My American friends will be amazed: they didn’t cost me anything, because Australia has a government-financed health system, one that the right-wing politicians of the past 40 years have so far been unable to destroy.
The scans showed blockages in various relevant places. Noel recommended that we give a go to surgery in the plumbing. I’d have the procedure on Wednesday, go home Thursday morning, and be able to resume exercising by about Saturday.
First I needed a COVID test, then had to self-isolate 125% until admission. Fair enough too. That meant no use of public transport. Healesville, where I live, is home to a wonderful organisation that does things like driving people to and from medical appointments. I am honoured to be one of the drivers, but for some reason couldn’t drive myself and return the car while having the procedure. A nice bloke named Glen drove me.
The anaesthetist, Robyn, was a lovely lady the same age as my eldest child, so the two of us instantly agreed to adopt each other. She decided that I didn’t need to be knocked out, and indeed the only thing that hurt was the local anaesthetic.
Noel spent a surprisingly long time inserting a variety of wires with code names, and eventually cut through a calcium lump in my ankle. He divested me of all internal equipment, sewed me up, and I was good to go the Recovery.
THEN… Some time later, I couldn’t breathe. I was hot but shivering with cold. I didn’t have a mirror, but I reckon I must have turned green. I managed, “I can’t breathe.”
Next thing, I was the focus of a maelstrom of perhaps 12 wonderful people. Three or four worked on me at any one time.
Noel put all his weight onto the focal point of my internal explosion. I screamed with pain. He said, “Local.” I felt the jab and soon agony reduced to pain.
I think it was Robyn who put an oxygen mask on me.
Dark-haired, balding Michael was doing something intricate to my right arm, attracting lots of praise.
Noel said, “Bladder needs emptying.” He was still a battleship sitting on the bleeding spot.
No time for modesty when saving a life. Someone attacked my penis with a red-hot poker.
Then I was wheeled back into theatre. Robyn sat by my head, and I’m pretty sure, was doing Reiki. Noel now excavated into the femoral artery on the other side, and I watched on a screen as little tubes travelled along until one of them overlapped the break in the artery.
When the stint of stent-watching was over, I was taken to ICU to be wired into a space ship’s control station. Main problem remaining was a lump of congealed blood uphill of the operation site. From its size, I reckon I lost well over a litre of blood in seconds. This lump was most unreasonable, hurting at each inbreath, and of course every visiting staff member had to palpate it.
I made some wonderful friends during my time there. The staff could represent the United Nations. About half were Aussies. One young woman spoke American. I saw every shade of brown, and also, as a once-male-nurse, I was pleased to see so many guys in a traditionally female profession. And they all acted as a cooperative, caring team.
Katie was my first nurse. Once everyone was settled, she spent hours talking with me, since pain kept me awake anyway. I managed to entertain her, and she promised to check out Bobbing Around as soon as she had a sleep at home. At 7 am, she introduced me to Paula, who also became a lifelong friend I may never meet again, though I do hope that she, and the others I found so admirable, do contact me. She handed over to Jinny: very tall and slim and dark, from southern India. Paula started her handover with “This is the most amazing person I’ve ever met!” Validation: I am still good at bulldust. I got Jinny to promise to pass on hugs from a Professional Grandfather to her two kids.
My final nurse was Yvonne, a tiny China porcelain doll, who, like everyone else there, amazed me with her competence. She in turn handed me over to my darling daughter, because I convinced Noel to allow me to go home.
Two medical students also joined my team, after I was allocated as the patient they had to interview.
This has been my 12th opportunity to die, and I would have, except for the competence of the doctors and staff at Epworth Hospital, Richmond. If you’ve read Ascending Spiral, you’ll know that I am required to stay on this planet to either witness the end of homo stupidens, or to be part of the team to save us. So I am still here, improving hour by hour but still very easily tired.
And yes, Noel told me, under no circumstances should I have operations on my feet. My bunyips are safe.