Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Nine Months Only Begin After the Operation [Part 3]

And so the waiting began again. How long would I have to wait for the operation? Justin's guesstimate was "between 1 and 3 months". That would, at worst put the operation at the end of April. I hunkered down.

Once it was agreed that I needed the op I had to go to the admissions department. In there I was asked to fill in a form to confirm I was fit for operating on. "Are you overweight?" No. Lots of questions like that to which I made sure I gave the 'best' answers.

The admissions lady, Catherine, entered everything into the computer and then told me I would get a letter soon with a date.

"Do you get many cancellations because I am available at short notice if you do?"

"Oh, I forgot to ask if you were available at short notice. That's good. I've just started a new system to make sure we use people like you."

"I'm sorry. My knowledge of history is not so good but the NHS has been going for over 60 years, and here, now in 2012, you've just started a system to utilise people who are available at short notice?"

"Yes, I'm excited about it. We often get cancellations and I've never got anyone to fill them."

At this point I expected her to open up some amazing new system on her so-new-it-still-smelt-like-the-box computer, but no. She stood up, opened her drawer and took out a marker pen. She walked over to her white board and wrote the heading: SHORT NOTICE. Underneath she wrote my name, then Dr Knee, then ACL R. The R standing for reconstruction.

She turned to me and smiled. It was a smile that said "I have just invented sliced toast." I got up, thanked her and left.

At home, I knew I couldn't start phoning up to get my op moved forward until I had a date from which to move it forward. I emailed admissions and asked when I would get a date.

"You'll get a letter soon."

I was so close now. My leg exercises were coming on a pace. Each element was now up to 40 repetitions, my wife's pilates ring was taking a bashing but I didn't care. I wanted my leg as strong as possible pre-op. I managed to get my GP to book me four sessions with a physio to show me proper exercises, I was taking this seriously. The first of these was set for the 10th of February. I was too excited.

On Wednesday 1st February I got pencilled for a commercial. It was for Cadbury's and it was me or another bloke who would get it. 50% chance is good for this sort of thing so I was quite excited about that too. It was due to film on the 22nd February, so I thought that would be a nice bonus before the operation.

On Monday 6th February my mobile rang. No one really calls me on it so I was surprised at first and the number was 'withheld'. Normally that means it is someone trying to sell me a new gas supplier so I answered it without enthusiasm.

"Is that Daniel?"

"Yes." Using my first name will not make me change my gas supplier. Nice try mate. I nearly hung up.

"This is Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. We've had a cancellation. Are you able to come in on the 10th February for your operation?"

I couldn't comprehend what she'd said at first. Suddenly it seemed she was speaking Swahili.

"What?" She repeated it and I said yes.

I put the phone down and sighed, a deep, earth moving sigh.

"There goes the Cadbury's job." Life is weird. I'd been waiting for this call for 6 months and now I wasn't even happy. I kicked myself out of it and punched the air. Yes I was happy. Forget Cadbury's, there'll always be the sausage ad.

I rang my wife. She was more excited than me.

"Well done. Good hassling."

"I hadn't even started hassling them yet."

"Yes but there must be a note on your file saying you're a hassler. Get him through quickly, he'll make your life a misery."

"Is that what you think?'

"Yes. I mean, no, not what I think. It's what I think about them." She convinced me, I hung up and looked at my diary.

I noticed that I had a pre-op meeting scheduled for the 9th Feb, phew that was lucky. It was with a physio and she seemed surprised that my operation was so soon.

"My wife thinks it's because it says on my file that I'm a hassler so I should be got through quickly."

She looked at my file, smiled, closed it, and started explained the procedure.

I cycled home, thinking all the way that this was last my cycle for a while. I really enjoyed it. The journey takes me through Hyde Park. It was a cold, sunny day and I felt that I was the luckiest person alive.

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