Digested week: surgery scared me stiff. I'm sure I used to be a stoical hypochondriac

1 month ago 7

I’d love to say I took it in my stride, but a 2% chance of something going wrong seemed a little high

When I got a letter from our local hospital, inviting me to a telephone consultation with one of the urology team, I didn’t give the matter much thought. My kidney stone was no longer giving me any pain and I assumed it had either passed or had found its way into a place where it couldn’t do much harm. Big mistake as the consultant brushed aside my insistence that the hospital must be rushed off its feet with Covid cases and told me the stone was in an awkward place, the hospital had available beds and I needed urgent surgery to remove it. After that, things moved at remarkable speed and within a matter of weeks I was under the knife in a private hospital – the NHS had taken over some of its spare capacity – as a day case. I’d love to be able to say that I took it all in my stride, but the reality was that I was scared stiff. Principally because I had made the elementary error of asking if the procedure carried any risks and I didn’t find the 2% chance of post-op infection to be particularly reassuring. A one in 50 probability of something going wrong seemed rather on the high side. Still, I didn’t seem to have much choice – other than to completely ignore all the medical advice – and so I came out of the operating theatre minus a stone but plus a temporary stent. That too has thankfully now been removed and, having passed the dates by which an infection could occur, I am now more or less back to normal. Though I did feel surprisingly roughed up by the whole experience. I’m sure that in the past, I was a much more stoical hypochondriac.

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