“Take a deep breath and go to your happy place” he said in a voice with more gruffness than the words suggest, while placing an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. My darting eyes caught sight of the thick black tattoo along his inner forearm, and as I attempted to focus on the lines of the tattoo to make out the meaning, my inner mind’s eye tried to focus on my future happy place of the Greek Islands…. azure sea dreams floated by. The anaesthetic must have kicked in, as the azure mixed with the tattoo and then my happy place morphed into oblivion.
Outer world gone.
Inner world gone.
I wouldn’t call it ‘waking’, coming out of anaesthetic. It’s more like…’remaining’ yet with your eyes slowly opening. Then closing. Then opening. The white ceiling blurs, the oblivion sits within you still, body thick and motionless. You know you are awake, while images do not make complete sense and the people are all the same yet different. This feels far from my happy place. Yet also, feels like nothing.
‘Waking’ to the sight of the tattooed anaesthetist in a white formal dinner suit significantly added to my disorientation; dapper. What has happened in the last few hours? I glance down to see if my outfit has changed so dramatically, am slightly surprised to see no ball gown. I respond positively when he asks me if I feel ok before he exits swiftly. I had been last on their ‘standard procedure’ list this evening, and he clearly has some place to be.
My eyes drop and lift repeatedly, heavy. Words from the nurses float about me, gossip of Yeovil and their thoughts of the anaesthetist’s wardrobe change. They confirm during a handover that my procedure went according to plan, ‘textbook’.
Relief amongst disorientation.
Wherever I am now, I’m better.
Fears of irreparable insides subside.
The familiar face of Katie, my prep and recovery nurse, smiles down at me, enquires how I am. I manage a warbling “good” and a grateful “no” when she asks about feeling nauseous. “I can’t see the outline of anything”, I manage. She re-assures, “that’s just the anaesthetic, it will pass”.
Her reassurance has been unwavering since I met her six hours earlier. The word trust floats through my mucky mind, behind closed eyes, along with words like droopy, drugs, dapper and ….blah. Perhaps its the drugs influence, yet I start to feel strong feelings of universal love for reassuring nurse Katie, twinned with a fuzzy insight that its probably a good thing my mouth is compromised and cannot instigate words, saving me from embarrassing confessions of inappropriate love.
Take a breath and go to your happy place…
Is my happy place a sun-drenched Mediterranean island where skies are clearly defined and love is freely confessed? A place where reassurance is a constant kindness and the egg and cress sandwiches are organic and cut into small triangles, made with care by another?
Some time later the sweetest of sweet student nurses, Isaac, gently removes the final drip line from my hand and confirms the discharge plan. He wisely advises me to accept the kindness of others. I exhale, handing my recovery-drug-filled bag to my ever-kind-patient-pal-Roz, her hand out-stretched to carry whatever needs carrying. We leave this mixed up happy place, and head towards my happier place, home. The Greek islands are not too far away.
Take a breath, and go to your happy place. It could be anywhere…