It’s been a year since I had my gallbladder removed. Before I had the surgery, I was in and out of the hospital because the doctors weren’t 100% sure what was causing my jaundice at first and my liver function wasn’t great.
My gallbladder was removed in emergency surgery (which I was extremely grateful for) and I’m doing so much better now! I suffered with undiagnosed gallstones for years, which I have spoken about in a previous post.
There are a few things that I learned while in the hospital and I’d like to share my experiences, but the post I drafted is SO long, so I’m going to do a series of three posts.
This is the third and final instalment of this series.
Other patients are wonderful
Getting to speak with other patients was very helpful. It helped to distract from the nerve-wracking environment and I was able to meet some wonderful people.
I was on a few different wards. On the first one, I chatted with other patients and told them about how the doctors thought my issue was probably gallstones. Two women on that 4-person room had also had their gallbladders removed. I was shocked at how pesky gallbladders are!
I ran into one of those women on the post-surgery ward after I had had my gallbladder removed. She had lived through the Second World War and she was telling me how they used to have gardens on the roofs of their garages to protect from bomber planes. They sounded adorable, even if for a terrible reason.
It’s crucial to try to give the other patients as much privacy and respect as you can, so if they don’t want to talk then don’t be offended. Being ill is exhausting, and sometimes it’s too much to have to socialize.
There was a sense of camaraderie amongst the patients. We all looked out for each other. If we were worried about how someone was doing, we would call the nurse’s bell. As I was usually the youngest and most mobile of my roommates, I occasionally had to go find a nurse or healthcare aide if we thought someone was especially poorly.
It was really nice to know we had other people looking out for us.
My support group
I am very grateful to my support group. They were truly wonderful! From wrangling piercings from my ears to bringing me snacks to playing cards, I was very lucky.
John and his parents were incredible. John’s mom was the decision-maker during my illness because I wasn’t really in a state to be. She was the one who made the call to take me to the hospital both times and, both times, she was right.
John visited me at least once a day and charmed my roommates. He comforted me a lot. I wasn’t sure how long I would be in the hospital, so having him visit helped to moor me; that there was a future out of the hospital and that he’d look out for me. He also brought me clean clothes, food, and my game boy!
He and his mom also distracted me from having a doctor dig around the back of my hand with a needle trying to get a blood sample – by ordering me some very cute pyjamas.
Note: If someone wants to take blood from the back of your hand or put a cannula in there, it’s going to hurt more than it would if just went into your arm. If they have to then let them, of course, but it’s good to have a heads-up!
My friend Rebekah also visited me and we played cards. I was hilariously bad at them, but it was a great time!
I was very lucky that I had visitors and I am grateful to them for helping me. I had a lot of online support, as well.
I’ve been in the UK for a few years now, but my family and a lot of friends are in Canada. That was difficult, but being able to message back home to my parents was really nice and they were supportive.
Try to stay optimistic and keep a sense of humour
My mom is a nurse and I have done volunteering and training in the healthcare field. There is so much joy, hope, and strength in a medical setting, but there is also a lot of tragedy and hardships.
It’s important to try to stay optimistic and have a sense of humour, even as a patient and for the workers. Having a positive outlook can help with recovery and it can be a necessary tool to keep morale up amongst nurses, etc. There was a porter who whistled, sang, and was friendly, and he lightened the atmosphere in the hospital.
One mortifying, but now funny, thing that happened was when I was in a ward with three other women and I flooded the bathroom and half of the room.
The room had 4 beds and a bathroom. It was a fairly standard hospital room. There were curtains we could pull to have privacy and a bathroom attached to it. The shower in the bathroom had a door, but the shower was just a sectioned-off part by a curtain and a very small lip in the floor to keep the water in the shower section. (Or that was the idea, at least).
I was the third to shower. Now, showering while in hospital can be difficult. You have to be careful of your cannula, you don’t feel well, and privacy is tricky. I was really excited to shower, though.
While showering, I noticed that the water was a bit high, but the curtain was drawn so I didn’t think much of it. I heard voices outside of the bathroom, “is she OK? Has she fallen?”
I was fine and hadn’t made any noise, so I was reluctant to hurry in case one of my roommates wasn’t well and I didn’t want to get in the way.
There were knocks at the bathroom door and someone was asking “are you alright?”
I hurried out of the shower and was greeted with a lot water and several concerned nurses. It had gone halfway across the room! The clothes that I had put on the floor were soaked.
I was so embarrassed. Everyone was very nice and were all laughing about it, and after a few mortifying moments, I could laugh, too.
Things aren’t always going to go smoothly while in the hospital, so finding humour where possible is important.
This is the last of my experiences in the hospital. I am grateful to all of the NHS staff who supported me, John and his family for keeping me safe and sane, friends who kept me company, and the other patients who looked out for me and showed me kindness.
The hospital can be frightening and heartbreaking l, but is also filled with new beginnings and recoveries. My recovery has been significant; my quality of life has improved to an extent I didn’t think it ever could.
Thanks for joining me for this series. Sharing such personal experiences has been a bit daunting, but I hope there can be comfort or entertainment taken from them. (Or both!).
Health is fickle and universal. We won’t all experience the same health issues, of course, but I think that by sharing our stories it can help connect us to each other so that we don’t feel quite so alone.