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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Wednesday, 9 March 2011


It's been a busy year so far - work has changed beyond all recognition since I got the job as manager not just of the specialists with whom I was previously working but of those in News and World Service. Something of a challenge!

Over Christmas I think the whole family was beset by a really bad cold (in fact it may well have been 'flu) and I was suffering quite badly with sinus pain at the front of my head; I finally made an appointment with our GP in January (since she was on holiday) and was referred for a CT scan and an appointment with a specialist, which came through remarkably quickly.

The results came back quite soon and I had my consultant appointment in the middle of February; he said that the four sinuses on the left side of my head were completely blocked, but the ones at the right hand side were OK. This was a matter of concern to him, since it's not normally so polarised, so I was referred for surgery to investigate and to give them a good clear-out.

Once again, the surgery appointment came through really quickly - in fact, I was in work on Tuesday (the 1st of March) when I was called on the phone asking if I was available to go to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital that Thursday (the 3rd!). Fortunately I was able to clear it with my boss, and confirmed there and then.

I was aware that it was going to be an operation under general anaesthetic, so I couldn't eat anything after midnight, nor drink anything after 6.30am, before arriving at the hospital for 7am.

The atmosphere was quite informal as we stood by the 'Waiting List Office' to be given our orders; we were about the third set of people to arrive, and many of the others who turned up as time went on also ended up in the Day Surgery ward (Ward 21 of the Surgery Block)

After a short wait - a de-facto element of the way the NHS works - I was taken to a vacant space in a ward to chat to the man who was going to carry out the operation, then the anaesthetist, and then I was asked to sign the consent form.

Shortly(ish) after that, and after changing into one of those rather unflattering gowns, my name was called (another few people had already gone) and I was accompanied to the lifts to go to the theatre floor (the fifth, I think!) Then another wait, and then it was onto the bed, a brief chat to some very engaging and friendly pre-operation assistants, and, after just a few moments I was under. It doesn't take much to send me off!

I awoke to hear a name being called - I could tell by the tone it was directed to a child, and quite insistent; I rested for a little while and then, when they'd checked I was OK, I was wheeled to the ward where I was to spend the next day. This was something of a surprise, since I was expecting to go home that night, but apparently they'd found some further infection and wanted to keep me in to make sure it didn't go horribly wrong!

This, therefore, is how I looked shortly after everything had settled down - Beth was with me until the end of visiting time.. something of a turn-around given that normally it's me doing the visiting!

It was strange to be in hospital, confined to one place - and, in fact, one position, but I think I was probably still under the influence of the anaesthetic.. I was able to read (and tweet) and I was able to watch a really interesting documentary about Brian Eno, who's a musical hero of mine.

It was a fairly unsettled night, save for - despite my best efforts (and advice) - a fairly serious sneezing fit with my mouth open, since my nose was blocked with padding). It was nice to have in-ear headphones that doubled up as sources of podcasts and ear-plugs, but I woke up and had some porridge and simply had to wait until the marass of doctors and scribes and nurses whisked up to my bed, gave me a brief summary of what happened and told me of my future (that I would, indeed, be going home once they'd sorted out my antibiotics and - slightly less comfortably - removed the plugging from my nose... this stuff was clearly stopping my brain falling out, or at least protecting the bits that had been operated on.

It turned out, in fact, that all four sinuses on the left side of my head and, indeed, one on the right had become blocked and infected, and they needed to drain it all out. They also straightened up my septum, which apparent is a fairly standard procedure, and used a new technique called coblation to get rid of some bits and pieces that shouldn't be there.

Two weeks off work later (now that wasn't easy...) and normality has pretty-much returned. In as much as life is ever normal! But that's another blog post.. eventually!

Posted by james at March 9, 2011 11:31 AM

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