The evening arrived but I wasn’t taken to the operating theatre, nor had my conversation with the surgical consultant to agree on the scope, risks and limitations of the proposed operation. By bedtime, I still hadn’t been allowed any food or drink thanks to that damned NBM scribble on my whiteboard. My glucose bag was getting changed regularly, so I wasn’t worrying too much.
After watching everyone else have breakfast the following day, a doctor came around surrounded by his gaggle of adoring acolytes. It turned out he was my assigned consultant.
‘We’ll try laser ablation debridement’, he said. This seemed to be over-their-heads jargon for ‘cutting out the manky bits.’
I was given a large yellow sheet of incredibly small print to sign, outlining the procedure and its’ associated risks. The scribble I made on the dotted line looked absolutely nothing like my normal signature, but they weren’t to know that, I suppose. It kept them happy.
An anaesthetist came to visit, like a hangman sizing up a condemned prisoner so he could pick the correct strength of rope for the noose. He had grey hair and a grey beard, so looked a bit like Father Christmas’ slimmer brother, but spoke with a soft Scottish accent. I didn’t catch his name. He was joined by a dark-haired woman who gave her name as ‘Naomi’. They judged I was conscious and sane, and left chatting about who got to play with the gas mask first.
Lunchtime came and went for everyone else. I just lay there and dribbled. Eventually the nurses came and measured all my vital signs once more. A porter turned up. He released the brakes on my bed after the anaesthetist had joined us. I was given a small pile of fresh sheets and blankets, presumably because patients often needed a change of bedclothes after their procedures. They were often needed in anticipation of what was about to happen, I guessed. I was unplugged from my glucose bag and cheerful insulin syringe.
Still on my bed, I was pushed through a series of brightly-lit corridors and into a big steel-lined lift. We went down a couple of floors, and into yet more corridors. A voice droned on over the hospital tannoy system about car parking restrictions. Eventually we reached a small ante-room containing a sink, a few gas bottles, and a door leading through to, I assumed, the operating theatre itself. After a quick chat outlining what was about to happen (to check they were doing the right thing to the right person, I gathered), the anaesthetist plugged a syringe into my venflon, the ceiling jumped sideways, and I was dreaming.
I woke up to find myself being wheeled through a series of glass corridors in bright sunlight. Having been subjected to something similar on a work trip a few months earlier, I assumed that I was on my way to the departure lounge at Dusseldorf airport, which had very similar decor, but contained rather more Germans. The droning voice over the tannoy about not parking in front of the building was identical. Eventually I was back in my parking space next to the nurses’ desk.
I gradually became aware of a figure sat at the end of my bed. He looked exactly like my Uncle Donald.
‘Oh, it’s Don’, I said groggily. ‘That’s a coincidence. What are you doing in Dusseldorf?’
He didn’t have an answer for this. I went back to sleep. I presume Don got less out of his visit than he was expecting since he had left when I woke up again.
My foot had been neatly re-bandaged, but this time using garish blue bandages. With some trepidation, I flexed the ankle and… it flexed. I was relieved – the foot still seemed to be attached and working as designed. I remembered the consultant’s promise: ‘out by the end of the week’. I lay back and waited.