Bleeding patients/patience!

Not todaySo,today’s the day. Some 10 months after the initial discovery of my pituitary adenoma I am scheduled for surgery and arrive at Leeds General Infirmary at 0700 as scheduled. Interviews with one of the surgical team, the anaesthetist, the nurse, a CT scan of my face…and then the wait…

Let me cut to the chase – at ca 1400, I leave LGI because my surgery has been postponed. While I was waiting another patient had a brain bleed and needed the bed in the High Dependency Unit that had been reserved for me. I totally understand this and am really pleased that someone more in need than myself was able to have their needs met. Sitting in reception at the same time as myself was another old guy who was waiting for surgery on a ‘proper’ brain tumour that had been discovered only 3 weeks ago. He too was waiting in the hope of an HDU bed and I would be very happy for his needs to also come before mine.

So here am I writing this while hacked off, tired, slightly hungry (although the first thing we did after seeing the surgeon – of which more later – was to go downstairs to Costa for a sandwich and a coffee) and relieved that we have also rescheduled.

The surgeon (Mr Phillips) came to see us, full of apologies explaining the situation and recalling that he had only had to cancel a couple of these procedures in 10 years of doing 1 or 2 a week. The issue was not surgery but the HDU bed that the anaesthetist insists I need because I have slight to moderate sleep apnoea. (I wonder about the relative costs of wasted theatre/surgeon time c.f. wasted HDU time). Apparently the target for rescheduling is 4 weeks, and I was really pleased that he had remembered my Turkey trip around which today’s date had been arranged. To cut a long story short we agreed that there was no fundamental reason why the rescheduling could not wait until late June when my sailing in Turkey was over. My vision had not significantly deteriorated in the 12 months since the first Goldman Test, no other symptoms had emerged, the prognosis was not threatening so we were both cool about the postponement. The only significant risk is that there is a big bleed – causing serious headaches and blackouts, so we would know about it – and that’s no more likely in the future than the past. Bearing in mind that this thing has possibly been growing in my head for 20 years this seems a risk worth taking.

I keep surprising myself about the calmness with which I find myself handling this. Those of you who know me well might not recognise ‘Calm Geoff’, although I do know from my own self-reflection that when things get serious I find myself very calm, rational and far from the extrovert gobby loudmouth many of you will recognise. Yes, I know that I have felt stressed – a low level background most of the time, although it was surfacing yesterday before the ‘distraction therapy’ of a visit to the theatre (Chicago at Bradford Alhambra, since you ask, which was very good). Even so, my stress levels this morning can’t have been too bad because my blood pressure and heart rate were perfectly normal for me. Red Heart Hanging on Branch Something tells me that somehow this may be more stressful for those around me than for myself and I can only thank Suzanne from the bottom of my heart for her help, support, forbearance and love throughout it all.

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