Blog 13 - The Day

March 2, 2020

So. Blog 13 – The day of the surgery. Don’t be fooled by the blog number.

I woke up at 6:20. I didn’t sleep well at all- why would I? I got up, got showered and went to say good morning Nick who was still asleep as his phone died during the night. A gentle nudge and he was awake so we both got up and left. It was cold and icy outside. I thought about how it was perfect conditions to come back to while on crutches. We headed to Glasgow Central and then connected to another train to Mount Florida. My only experience with Mount Florida train station was going to Hampden Park so I semi-knew the area. We aligned from the train walking past Glasgow Clyde College and then onto our destination – Queen Victoria Hospital ‘Day Surgery’ – a short walk around the back, past minor injuries unit entrances.

“My name is John Tofalis- I’m here for a day surgery”, I said to the front desk. A few questions followed; standard. “Have you got someone to take you home”- he asked. I paused, pointed at Nick and said “this muppet”. “Hello Muppet” he chuckled, “..what’s your name?”. That made me smile, or at least on the surface. Muppet and I sat down and it wasn’t long until I, and three others, were called up- first surgery of the day and all. She informed me that I’d be out at 2 or 3 o’clock, and knowing that Nick hadn’t planned on staying that long- I went back to tell him.

I followed the lady and it was a little bit of a walk to my bed…and strangely quiet. It was so early that the hospital had an almost abandoned vibe to it – very weird. I was led to my bed and left for a bit. This was my bed- it had my name on the whiteboard and everything. The first nurse came over, asked me a few further questions and checked my blood pressure. It was high. Probably because I was nervous. After that, the surgeons came in and did some final tests (anterior draw and twisty one) just to confirm that I’d not been faking it this whole time or something like that- great if I was. They asked if I’d still like to go through with the surgery which I guess was quite nice on the off chance that people wanted to drop out last minute. I said I did and he drew a massive arrow in black sharpie on my leg pointing to ‘that’ knee. Another nurse came in and gave me the two gowns and then some mesh underwear. I hated the mesh underwear. I looked like a shower cap with two holes in it. It was semi-transparent and not supportive at all – very far from Calvins and just horrendous. No idea why they were needed.

After I was “dressed”, a nurse said to come through whenever I was ready. I wasn’t ready- I was kind of shitting it. I went to the toilet to combat that shitting it feeling and while I was there, I had a quiet moment of reflection- a big sigh before going in – the last moment I’ll be able to jump for a while. So what could I do? I did a couple of little jumps on the spot and went for it- let’s go in.

I was led through more corridors as the nurse tried to small talk with me. The classic question of ‘how did you do it’ came up and I replied as a rookie- ‘Ultimate Frisbee’ I said. What a noob move. It was only a sentence or two until they mentioned a dog and I was out. For fuck sake. I went through and sat down on the bed I was going to be operated on- it was like a scene in a film: there were medical gismos everywhere, three medical professionals surrounding me and as I laid down they started attaching things to my chest. The nurse felt my hand and remarked on how cold I was. I was freezing. My veins, that usually pop out and have been previously described as a ’Nurses wet dream’, were too shy when it mattered -fluffed it in their moment to shine. She gave me oxygen and I thought “well, this is it then”. I had my line ready for when I was going under. Something witty like: “I have buried treasure! Millions in gold! It’s under the…” *blacks out* but I didn’t even get to the “there”. I was out like a light.

I half woke up and then went straight back to sleep again. I was told I wouldn’t remember that bit- where they remove the tube from my throat and I come up for the first time. I didn’t really remember it, although I do remember asking the nurse to prop my leg up and to give me a blanket. Then I said something on the lines of “Well this is just excellent service and I can see when my taxes are going”. Clever Johnny. Clever. Some time past and I woke up again, for good. I felt alright, very cold, but alright. The blanket they gave me from before wasn’t actually a blanket. It was like an inflatable lilo that was sandwiched between me and my sheet to circulate warm air- not really what I expected but very toasty none-the-less. Toasty on the skin at least, but I was cold at the bones- it was probably the nerves and the anaesthesia.

I was wheeled through to my initial area. My nurse came in and asked if I wanted anything and I said I was still cold. He said it was probably because I was dehydrated and was fasting for the surgery so he went and got me some juice and a sandwich:  A Cheese and Tomato on white bread. Wowzers- I take back what I said about the good service. As I hadn’t moved in a few hours, my joints were stiff. I rolled my wrists and woke them up and did the same for my left ankle. I then did my right ankle and it was weird. I wiggled my toes and that felt very weird. I went down to poke them and that’s when I found out the effect of local anaesthesia: freaky. After my sandwich, I tried to snooze, went on my phone, tried to snooze and went on my phone. I couldn’t snooze- my heart rate was too fast.

The surgeon came in around 2 o’clock and said it was a complete success. As it was a partial tear, they were able to remove the torn ACL and then threat the new graft through the old one- apparently it aids with proprioception which was very interesting. Just as he was leaving, I asked him the difference between meniscus and cartilage just to round off my knowledge of all things knees. I now consider myself a seasoned knee pro. 

I waited for the physio for a while until he came around 3:30. I hadn’t really moved all day apart from my wrists and ankles so I was looking forward to it. Mainly because I needed the toilet and I was very much waiting for him to give me crutches to go pee. He asked me to do a few little exercises working on the flexibility of the knee which was a little painful but manageable. He then handed me the crutches and he encouraged me to go nuts on it- this was kinda nice to hear. Literally hours after the surgery and he said: “Well there’s nothing you can really do is there”. I like that- it gave me confidence. The nurse helped me put some clothes on (and take that stupid underwear off) and off I went. My knee didn’t hurt as much as I thought. That being said, I had nerve block and painkillers so I’m surprised I could even feel anything at all. I walked around and the knee was generally fine- the majority of the pain was from my hamstring where they took the graft. It was so tight! Looks like there’s a lot of work that needs to be done there. Should be alright though. As I thought, motivation to walk is motivation enough and frisbee will come later; one “step” at a time. I got my things and was wheeled out with my crutches, a book full of exercises and a bag full of drugs. Now the hard work begins.