Finally the time had come to bite the bullet and with some hesitation and feelings of fear, I entered the hospital for my appointment with the surgeon to get his opinion on recurring inflammation in my legs, to be precise in my varicose veins. For some time now I had made attempts to ignore this, trying to visualise the problem away, imagining white light and tiny creatures repairing my leg, failing miserably because, apparently, I don’t trust that theory enough.
In the meantime the stress and the subconscious worry about the pain in my legs made me comfort eat, which is the opposite of what I should have been doing and I had reached a stage where my left leg looked like a Chinese vase painted by a drunk Blue Delft ceramic painter. Oh que joy!
Meantime I was worried about the doctor being super handsome while I imagined that I had to expose my middle-aged legs with possibly here and there a few tufts of hair. Not so unthinkable given the fact that my reading glasses kept falling off my nose while I bent over to shave my legs that morning.
Becoming middle aged means that the hair is creeping up. It seems to be disappearing from the lower leg area and has now reached my upper leg and groin and will soon, so I hear, move up to my face…good thing I am pretty good at pretending I am not in my own body when I find myself in an embarrassing situation. Happens often enough.
The door opened and there he was, doctor handsome. I entered the consultation room and was told that my legs were in a pretty bad shape and in desperate need of an operation. Aargh!
Two weeks later, on the twelfth of April, I walked into the hospital, appropriately nervous for the operation on my left leg. After some formalities and preparation I was taken to my hospital room for the night. The knock on the door shortly after raised my adrenaline and then having to drop my trousers in front of the surgeon and two blonde nurses in order to mark out the treatment area on my leg with a waterproof black marker felt far from comfortable.
It being my first ever operation I was pretty much shocked when I was told to take off all my clothes and put on the hospital top in an uncomely baby blue with a high neckline and a seriously unflattering back, revealing far more than I, an operation virgin, could find acceptable. An attractive youngster came to get me on a wheelchair that felt extremely unstable, leaving my vivid imagination with pictures of me rolling across the floor of the hospital hallway in utter embarrassment. But it never came to that.
My ultrasound was carried out by a kind lady and I was rolled back to my room by my young companion who now told me to lie on my hospital bed. I could not help but feel rather ridiculous, as I was perfectly capable of walking to whatever destination in the hospital. I tried having a cheerful chat with my kind ‘carrier’ but my unusual mix of Spanish and Italian, ever so logical for a Dutch woman, was a bit too much for his understanding.
I arrived at the surgery ward a little later where I was asked to lay down on another bed. My hair was held in place by what seemed like a green shower hat, making me feel increasingly less attractive, at the same time wondering why that mattered anyway! The door opened to a bright green hallway which resembled a tunnel of light. My overactive brain could easily make the comparison. I was left in a room with some other patients which, I presumed, was the recovery room, where I would await my operation.
Trying to look unbothered and as if all this was very normal to me I could not help noticing the influx of gorgeous looking young doctors and male nurses walking in and out of the room. The scene could easily be mistaken for a Mister Universe competition. I was painfully aware of my almost naked body beneath a thin cotton sheet and became more and more nervous. A male nurse came to check out my ‘papers’ and read out my name, Doña van ‘nietje’ as he pronounced it. Which in Dutch means staple, but can also be read as a ‘nobody’. I clearly felt that both were appropriate given the situation. I responded with a ‘more or less’, referring to my name which squeezed a smile out of his cute face.
I was given a ‘stent’ attached to an obligatory drip, of water, I was told, and probably an hour that seemed to be 3 hours later the anaesthetist, yet another Mr. Handsome, and the surgeon, came in. I was suddenly surrounded, so it seemed, by an army of mouth-wateringly good-looking males whilst my bladder was trying to ignore an unstoppable urge. I had no choice, immediately prior to the operation, but to ask whether I could quickly empty my bladder first. There was no quickly about it and after a calming ‘don’t worry, this is normal’ I was driven, on my bed, to another ward to relief myself.
Just before I was finally pushed into the operating theatre I was introduced to two lovely young Finnish nurses who would attend my operation as part of their internship, which I welcomed with enthusiasm, being able to get some of my nervous thoughts out into the open, with a smile of course. A little later I was moved onto the operating table.
The view of my bottom part was rapidly obscured from my vision by a piece of green fabric, which was just as well. I was attached to a heart monitor and a blood-pressure machine and given a medicine to calm me down. I was vaguely aware of some shaving going on down there; apparently I missed a bit, and was soon calm and ready for whatever would come my way.
Apart from my awareness of a fairly explicit position, it was not nearly as bad as I could have imagined. It was very easy to pretend that my bottom-half did not exist despite my ‘exposure’. The noticeable tiny punctures and later the rather intense burning of the laser treatment and unpleasant pulling out of some side-branches of my over-sized varicose vein were at best a little awkward and painful, but by practicing yoga and going into the pain with my thoughts it became absolutely bearable, helping me to achieve a calmness that kept my heart at a regular slow beat, apparently unlike most other patients who often have an increased reaction on the heart monitor at painful moments.
I had unknowingly turned into an exemplary patient. Well the feeling was mutual. The atmosphere was uplifting, I was surrounded by warm and friendly experts, without doubt, and it was easy to keep a lively conversation going. Viva España! I’ll be back…
To be precise on the 28th, for an operation on my right leg.