Sunday, 27 January 2013


Going Under

So I was wheeled into the little anteroom by the operating theatre; the connecting doors were open so I could see into the main theatre room, which was a bit weird. The first thing they do (reassuringly) is to check you're the right person, both by asking you and by checking the ID tags on your wrist and ankle. Then it becomes a bit of a flurry of activity really; you have to untie the hospital gown so it's basically just an extra blanket, make sure your glasses are labelled before they take them off, etc etc. The various anaesthetists and nurses and assistants are really lovely; both times I've had a general anaesthetic, they've done a stellar job of distracting me and keeping me feeling pretty calm about the whole thing.

I had a mask with some oxygen flowing to breathe while they put a cannula in my left wrist. The anaesthetist warned that I might feel a little sting as the anaesthetic was administered, but it was actually surprisingly painful as it moved up my arm. Upon waking up I discovered that at some point the vein had blown, they'd taken that cannula out and put one in my right wrist instead, so I don't know if that would explain why it hurt more than I expected. Equally possible I guess is that it always hurts like that but most people forget once they've been knocked out?

Incidentally, common misconception about cannulae; they're little flexible plastic tubes that sit inside the vein, they don't have needles in - the needle is just used to insert it and is then removed.

Waking Up

I woke up gradually and was fully awake by about half-past twelve; there was a clock opposite my bed. Immediately I took this to be a good sign, as I knew I'd had the general anaesthetic about nine. Given that it would have taken some time to get me into and out of the theatre, that vaguely indicated an operating time of around three hours, which implied there probably hadn't been much in the way of complications like, say, a cerebrospinal fluid leak. Lack of complications is good.

The first thing I noticed, of course, was pain: I didn't have much of it. The second thing I noticed was: there were no bandages in my nose! Last time I had transsphenoidal surgery, my nose was packed with rolls of wadding afterwards, and having it taken out was a pretty unpleasant experience. This time? Nothing. My nose was a little delicate, but it was bandage free and, remarkably, not even oozing at that point. A lovely nurse explained they had filled the wound with a kind of foam, which sets hard and then dissolves slowly. Occassionally over the next few days I would feel it creaking slightly in my head and sinuses, which was an extremely weird sensation but happily caused no actual pain.

As expected, I was really thirsty and my throat was sore from the tube they put down it. The very nice nurse came and asked me my name and where I was, and brought me a cup of water. With a straw. On reflection, maybe I should have remembered that you're not supposed to drink through straws after pituitary surgery, and in hindsight the three cups of water I proceded to drink using said straw may have contributed to the epic nosebleed I experienced some time later once I got back onto the ward. But it's hard to think straight when you've only just woken up...


  1. Why no straws? This seems like the weirdest thing.

    Glad to hear that there was no nose-based awful! I wonder why they didn't do a nicer nose thing the first time. Hospitals eh.

    1. You're supposed to avoid anything that could create pressure changes inside your head, because that could induce a cerebrospinal fluid leak. So no straws, try to avoid sneezing, no bending down, and I'm not allowed on a plane for 3 months post surgery! Not sneezing has been a real challenge though :P