Wednesday, 8 June 2011


So, here I am in a hospital bed at the ENT Hospital on Gray’s Inn Road. I seem to have a drip attached to my arm, which is making typing rather difficult, as one hand feels a great deal heavier than the other. I feel pretty chipper, though even though I’m a touch light-headed and have a slightly sore throat. I’m getting a little annoyed with the nurses asking me direct questions, which I can’t answer because I’ve been told not to speak for a week! I’m also slightly offended that no one has actually asked me how I’m feeling. It’s quite a frightening experience to wake up after general anaesthetic, and these nurses don’t seem to have eaten many compassion beans. Furthermore, they promised me lunch two hours ago and it’s still not arrived, and a big fat nurse has just removed my cup, so I’m now having to drink directly from a jug. Talk about dodgy after care. Is this really what the NHS is all about?

Obviously I don’t remember anything about the operation. It’s weird to think that so much happened in my absence! I’m wearing one of those undignified paper nighties, and even more hysterically, a pair of deep vein thrombosis-bashing knee length stockings. I look pretty as a picture.
I was Mr Rubin’s first operation of the day and within seconds of arriving in the theatre, was being prepped for the op and administered with a dose of anaesthetic. “It will feel cold as it goes up your arm,” said the charming anaesthetist, “and then there’ll be a funny taste in your mouth... And within 5 seconds you’ll be asleep... Sweet dreams, Mister.” As he spoke those final, kindly words, and I felt the darkness approaching, an overwhelming sense of sadness engulfed me, which made me cry. I wonder how often he sees people drifting away with tears in their eyes.

The next thing I remember was an Asian nurse waking me up to tell me it was all over. True to form, I asked him if he was the Angel Gabriel. I sort of knew the answer was no, but asked the question anyhow. He shook his head, not seeming to be particularly surprised by the question. I guess he’s heard it all in his job.

I felt sick for a while, and don’t remember coming back up to the ward. I do remember having an oxygen mask attached to my mouth and great big clouds of smoky air surrounding my face as though I’d just stepped into a refrigerator. I think the operating theatre must have been very cold.

Mr Rubin has already been to see me, and informed me that I had a polyp, and not a cyst, which is good because he didn’t need to cut into my vocal chords. He told me what an amazing job he’d done of splicing it off and that I shouldn't expect to be in much discomfort. He was so proud of his handiwork, in fact, that he took photographs to show me. “As smooth as a baby’s bottom” he said. I can’t wait to hear the results, although I’m told speech therapy is a strong possibility.

There’s a black nurse in green who keeps coming round to test my blood pressure. I think it’s her job. She has a little trolley and she’s going from patient to patient in an never-ending cycle. She, like me, doesn’t speak, not one word, but I suspect, unlike me, she’s taciturn because she hates life. That’s not the vibe you want from a nurse.

350 years ago, Pepys went to the theatre to watch Ben Johnson’s Bartholomew Fair performed for the first time since the interregnum; “a most admirable play” wrote Pepys “well acted, but too much prophane [sic] and abusive” so there. After the theatre, he went with Mr Creed to the tobacco shop under the Temple Bar Gate. They went to the top of the house and sat drinking Lambeth Ale “a good while.” I like the idea that they were able to take in a good view of London from their elevated position as they drank.

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