Thursday, September 29, 2011

Post Op: Thursday

[WARNING!  If you're squeamish about medical details, this post might make you squeam.]

I woke up back on the ward, feeling incredibly thirsty.  The nurse said she couldn't give me anything to drink, or I'd vomit for sure, but she moistened my mouth with a damp gauze.  It helped.

Then I noticed that the other patient wasn't there, even though she'd gone down to theatre first, and I got a bit worried.

And then I was incredibly thirsty again - I think I must have slept quite a while - and the nurse came back back with her damp gauze.  And the other lady was back, asleep.

And I slept, and woke up again, I think.

And then I managed to vomit anyway, or at least my empty stomach made frantic, painful attempts to empty itself further.

"Here it comes," I thought.  All my previous experiences of general anaesthetic have involved hours and hours of dry heaves, and very unpleasant too, especially with abdominal stitches.  In fact that was the part I'd been most worried about in advance.  (These days, your chances of being killed by the anaesthetic are one in half a million.  I could live with that.)

But that was it. Just the one two-minute bout of dry heaves.  For which I an deeply, deeply grateful tot he anaesthetist.

After a while I was allowed cautious sips of camomile tea, which, amazingly, stayed down.

I managed to talk a little to the other woman.  She'd had the keyhole op too, but it had taken much longer than usual.  They'd told her (presumably while I was asleep) that her gallbladder had been so full of stones and sand that they'd had real trouble.

My husband visited, and I went back to sleep.

The surgeon popped in to ask about the vomiting, and didn't seem a bit surprised when he heard I was OK.  He also said that I'd had lots and lots of gallstones, and that one of them had been stuck in the bile duct, and he'd had fun and games getting it out.  I'd come quite close to needing the old-fashioned op with the seven-inch scar under the ribs.

Suddenly my four narrow-but-deep little holes from keyhole surgery seemed very small.  And I had a few more sips of camomile tea and went back to sleep.

And then he dropped his bombshell.  I'd have to stay on the strict diet for at least another two weeks, and then bring in the forbidden foods slowly, finding out what I could and couldn't eat.  So no English breakfast yet!

My husband left, to look after our son.

The nurse helped me to the bathroom, and I noticed that I had a drainage tube in my side, attached to a little bag.  I had to hold it to get to the loo, but I didn't examine the contents too closely.  Instead, I referred to it as my Gucci bag, "latest fashion from Milan", and made the other woman laugh.

I felt well enough to read a bit.

My husband and some visited, and I got my English breakfast!  My son had drawn one on the top of a pizza box.  It was a really good one, too, with sausages, bacon, egg, beans, mushrooms, cheese on toast and toast and jam.  And all calorie free.  The other woman and her visitors and all the nurses admired it.

Visitors left, and I catnapped some more.

And then at 11 pm I used the last quarter of the cup of camomile tea to wash down a sleeping pill, and it came back up.  Ow!  I didn't know which incision to hold.  But at least it didn't take long.

Oh well.  I slept just fine without the pill anyway.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Sale!

Just what I needed after the op.  The Dunesteef audio fiction magazine are buying my story "The Appliance of Science"!

It may be some time before it's published.  I'll let you know, of course.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Op

I went into hospital on Wednesday at 6pm.  It turned out that I would be sharing a side ward with another lady having the same op.  She's only a few years older than me, but she's in far worse health, and she was in constant pain from her gallbladder, compared to my frequent niggles.

To be honest, I didn't think we were going to have much in common.  But I felt sorry for her, and cheering her up took my mind off me.

Then the nurse breezed in with a BIG smile.  "Hello ladies.  Who's having the first enema?"

And we shared a Look.

And then we shared the experience of an enema.  I'll spare you the details.

It went on like that.  We shared an insipid, meagre dinner:  dishwater soup and apple purée.  We shared out symptoms, including plenty that you don't want to hear about.

In the morning we shared hunger, and silly-looking bandages on our legs.

I went down to theatre during a thunderstorm.  As they strapped me to the operating table, the anaesthetist asked me whether I wanted a holiday in the Caribbean, or somewhere else.  I said I wanted a young man with a feather fan and cocktails.

And it all went buzzy and black.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Home, Sweet Home

I'm sore, but I'm home - minus the dratted gallbladder.  Still tired, and still on the very strict diet for at least two weeks, but the worst is behind me.

In fact I'm too tired to write any more today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Into hospital

Most things are organised, and what isn't will have to wait.  I took a group around Grantecan this morning (which stopped me thinking to much), and packed my  little bag.  Any minute now my husband ill come home and drive me to the hospital.

Still dreaming of chips, crisps, scrambled eggs, chocolate cake...

Monday, September 19, 2011

At Last!

The hospital just phoned.  I go in on Wednesday evening, and they'll be taking my gallbladder out on Thursday morning.  I should be back home by the weekend.  Hopefully I won't have to wait very long after that before I can eat cheese again.  And eggs.  And lamb.  And bacon. And nuts.  And...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A busy day at the Roque

Putting the Galileo's mirror onto the carrying case, which is on the lorry.

 I didn't have any guiding work yesterday, but I drove up the mountain anyway.  I wanted to get photos of people moving the main mirror from the Galileo to the Herschel telescope for realuminizing.  They only do this once every three years, so I was keen not to miss it.  That mirror weighs about 6 tonnes, and if they break it, it's much worse than even years bad luck - they'll close the telescope and everyone will be out of a job.  You'll appreciate that people were somewhat nervous, and I was careful to keep out of the way.

The Galileo's mirror arriving at the William Herschel Telescope.

And there's more.  At the same time, people were working on top of the huge dome of GranTeCan, just down the hill from the Galileo.  I stayed well back, partly because that gave a better angle for photos, but also because a nut falling from up there would be fast enough to be dangerous by the time it hit the ground.  The guys up there obviously aren't scared of heights.

People working each side of the massive GTC dome

And when all that was over, for once I was up there with old clothes and no deadline, so I finally got a close look at a monument that I've driven past for twenty years. It's well above the road, with no path to it, so I had to scramble over and around the codeso bushes for 25 minutes to reach it.  It was all a bit more intrepid than I'd bargained for.

The Union of the Earth and Cosmos from the road

It's was made by Cesar Manrique to celebrate the opening of the observatory, and it's supposed to symbolise the union of the Earth and Cosmos.  But honestly, most people find themselves thinking of something else.

Well I've been there, done that, and I don't think I'll bother again, but I'm glad I did it once.

Monument to the Union of the Earth and Cosmos up close.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

More paperwork

It's been a busy week. I was horrified to find out yesterday that today was the last day to get my son signed up at school for the academic coming year.

I'm not fond of paperwork at the best of times.  It really doesn't help that I've recently had to renew my British passport and help a friend with paperwork over the car she sold years ago. I really wasn't in the mood for more.

Doing it against the clock sends my blood pressure through the roof.  The earliest I could collect the forms was 9am, and they had to be handed in by 1 pm.  4 hours.

At least I could get his  photos passport-type done in advance.  Last night we dashed into town to get them just before I dashed off to Los Llanos for some completely unrelated paperwork.

This morning I ran around like a mad thing, and got the bits together: blank forms collected from the school; small amount of money transferred to the school account with receipt to prove it; photos with his name on the back; formal authorization; application to borrow text books; his promise to study (ha!); application for school bus, photocopies of his ID card, my ID card, my husband's ID card and his health service card; authorization to send me an SMS if he doesn't turn up at school; certificate to say that I've sacrificed a black goat under the full moon, signed by the head of the observatory in his own blood...

OK, so I made the last one up, but all the rest were real.

Now that I've got it sorted, I've relieved and tired out.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Photographing telescopes at sunset

Me and the Superwasp follow-up telescope at sunset, Roque de los Muchachos, La PalmaMe and the Superwasp follow-up telescope.

Last night I went up to the Roque to photograph telescopes at sunset. The time rather snuck up on me, so I left in a hurry and a bad mood, worried that I'd drive up (200 hairpin bends and about 75 minutes each way) and not get any photos after all.

As it turned out, I got arrived with about five minutes to spare. So I said "Hi," to Don, who was commissioning the Superwasp Follow-up Telescope and then got out of his hair - commissioning is a hard work, and sunset is a very busy time for astronomers. I was a bit disappointed with my photos of Superwasp itself, but I was pleased with the ones of the Liverpool and the Follow-up telescope, particularly the one at the top where I set the delay timer and put myself in the picture.

Then I went to the Automatic Transit Circle in hopes of getting one of it open - no such luck, but I couldn't resist trying to get a photo of the constellation Scorpio over the Roque itself. And while I was doing that I saw a very bright satellite over the other side of the sky, and hurriedly took this shot of the William Herschel Telescope, Cassiopeia and the satellite. The long streak is the satellite, because it moved during the 15 second exposure. I'm almost certain that it's the International Space Station, because it's so bright.

The William Herschel Telescope, Cassiopeia and the International Space Station seen from the Roque de los Muchachos, La PalmaThe William Herschel Telescope, Cassiopeia (the W of stars) and the International Space Station.

And finally I tried to get photos of Mercury and Venus. This was tricky, because stars and planets are too faint to see in the viewfinder of the camera - you have to take a 15-second exposure, and even then, you might not be cable to see anything until you upload it to a computer. It's rather like using rolls of film that way.

This photo of Mercury won't win any prizes, (I think the main problem was my 30-year-old tripod, rather than the camera. It certainly wasn't the sky!) But you can still see that Mercury isn't round. It goes through phases, and at the moment it's gibbous. Incidentally, the phases of Mercury and Venus are proof that Ptolemy and the Vatican were wrong, and Copernicus and Galileo were right. There's no version of the Ptolemaic system that accounts for Venus and Mercury being sometimes crescents and sometimes gibbous.

Mercury in a gibbous phase, seen from the Roque de los Muchachos, La PalmaMercury in a gibbous phase.