Thursday, January 10, 2008

8 jan 2008 - George is OK

8 jan 2008
George is OK
Sam and I arrived early – about 7:30am because George was due to go in for the operation at about 8. However, last night’s surgery overran, so he didn’t end up going in until 12:00
This meant that by the time he went in, he hadn’t eaten for hours. Like most Darkins and Most Davies’ he doesn’t like missing meals, and he was not easy to live with in the morning. We went down to breakfast to discover a fire alarm going off which only the restaurant staff seemed to think was worth taking notice of. The rest of the hospital, staff, patients and visitors ignored it completely. We did get breakfast in the end (all except George).

Throuought the morning, Sam did a great job in distracting us – we spent the time planning the next South London Food Club meeting. This time it’s going to be 1970’s canned and packet food only, so we had a great time reliving angel delight, fray bentos pies and canned macaroni cheese. More of that in February when the dinner party takes place...

What’s in a name?
Anyway, they came for George at 12:00. The nurse noticed his name tag read “George Darkin” which I thought was pretty accurate. However, as it turns out, all his medical notes are in the name Darklin because of a spelling mistake when he last visited the hospital (I’ve learned throughout my life that nobody can spell Darkin and that most of the time you need to spell it out every time you meet anyone new. The nurse’s name was Thomas – and since he worked in st Thomas’ hospital, he probably didn’t suffer from the same nonclemature problems).
I had noticed that they got the name wrong and when they called at Christmas to arrange this appointment, they promised to correct it – but of course, they didn’t.
The nurse today decided that it would be much better if instead of changing the name on the records to Darkin, they changed the name on the tag to Darklin. Aparently, calling him Darkin would cause so much administrative disruption that his operation and probably his whole case would have to be cancelled. It would also lead to him being given the wrong blood during transfusion...

Lisa and I took George, who had by now fallen asleep because he’d been crying so much, down to the operating theatre where he woke up just as they gave him his sedative. He was suddenly very alert, taking notice of everyone and watching what they were doing as they injected the drugs into his system.

We said goodbye to him as he drifted off to sleep and left him with the surgeons. Lisa was in tears when we left the room, but it took me until we got into the lift to leave the hospital before I lost it too.

Sam took us out of the hospital – shepherding us down to a restaurant called ES (which seemed to be another name for TAS) under a railway arch. Again, she distracted us while the trains passed overhead like imagined thunder. The time passed quickly, but every time I closed my eyes, I saw George in the operating theatre – his tiny heart exposed.

Not allowing us to stop for too long, Sam took us to a selection of shops – for some reason this part of London is home to a series of shops selling 1950’s memorabilia – ranging from bizarre dolls of henry VIII and his wives to clothing and old magazines. There’s even a hairdresser offering cuts from bygone times (although not to me). After a lot of dressing up for Sam and Lisa, we ended up in a cross between a Parisian cafe and a motor cycle repair shop.

There among the vespa’s and the faked photos of the Eiffel tower we played connect 4 and drank tea (I’d resigned myself after two undrinkable espresso’s in different cafe’s today that I was having a bad coffee day) and waited for the call from the hospital.

It came at about 3pm – an hour earlier than we’d expected. We rushed back to the hospital to be told that the operation had gone fine, that the surgeon had discovered that the hole was oval instead of round, so instead of putting a patch on the heart, he’d been able to just sew it closed - a preferable option. We were also told that George had MRSA – which apparently is not as serious or as rare as the media have told us it is. In fact, most of us have MRSA on our skin naturally – and it only does harm if it gets into the blood.

Apparently, it’s so common outside of hospital that they used to isolate patients who didn’t have it. All MRSA means to George is that he gets his own private room and has to have his skin cleaned with pink liquid every day for a couple of weeks.

Going in to visit him, he didn’t look his best – there were half a dozen pipes taking things into his body, about half a dozen more draining fluids out and a further half a dozen wires measuring his vital signs. The scar on his chest was fresh and he was breathing through a tube. However, we assured that everything was fine by a nurse who was constantly at his side minutely altering the doses of his medication. His blood pressure was a little high, but nothing out of the ordinary.

We sent a few text messages and made some phone calls – and lots of people responded with good wishes which lifted our spirits a lot.

Sam didn’t want to come in to see him – not her kind of thing and I don’t blame her – so she went home. Lisa and I were given a room (provided by McDonallds in an uncharacteristically charitable, but probably very calculated move) so we could both stay while he was in intensive care.

It took a while to clean the room (because of an ongoing dispute between the cleaners and the nurses which seems to lead to constant rows), so we had dinner (leftovers from the French dinner on Sunday) and watched an hour-long episode of Emerdale (joy of joys). It gave us a bit of a break from watching the graphs trace his life signs constantly across the screens.

When we went back, George had been moved to his own room, and the plan for his next couple of days began to emerge. They wanted to slowly wake him, slowly transferring responsibility for his breathing from the machines to his lungs and reducing his medication until he could cope on his own. They hope to remove his breathing tube sometime tomorrow, and we’ll be able to feed and cuddle him then.

Over the course of the evening, the blood pressure continued to be a problem, but it improved, and the alarms went off less and less. He constantly fought the effects of the sedative – waking himself up (to a point) no matter how much SMP and Morphine they gave him, he still kept waking up. But then that’s George – he always wants to know what’s going on. Just like his parents.

We went to bed at about 10pm. I knew Lisa would have stayed all night if she could, so I had to tear her away. I can’t look after George, but I can make sure she gets food and sleep. We’re convinced George is in the best hands and far more confident than if he were at Kings...

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