Beginnings or endings. Often the same thing. So January 2010. A beginning and an ending. The beginning of a saga that has changed my life forever; the ending of a blithe confidence in the medical profession to stay with a problem and ferret away until answers are found.
So a routine operation, done a million times by orthopaedic surgeons the length and breadth of the country: a total hip replacement. An NHS operation performed in a private hospital. How simple is that?
I liked the surgeon, Mr George. I liked his attitude, he said when he had looked at the X-rays, which showed that I should barely be able to walk, let alone do what I was doing, “I treat patients not Xrays.” And later, on Saturday morning after the operation, he stood in my room and said, (to my amazement because I had just been wondering to myself if it was boring doing the same op all day,) “You know every hip is different, I never know what I am going to find until I go in. I have to be alert to all sorts of possibilities and the day that I become blasé about it is the day I should stop doing it.”
I liked him then, and later, much later, when it came to crunch time, I still liked him. Even though we would be profoundly at odds.
The thing is that the day before this Saturday morning conversation, I had been given an infusion of my own blood that was thirty hours after the operation, and was on the point of coagulating. It entered my heart, clotted, caused extensive pulmonary emboli, flowed into the tiny stuff, clotted there and left my lungs permanently damaged and my health seriously compromised. But I didn’t know all this until months later.
I did say it was a saga, didn’t I?