After an operation we are momentarily disorientated uncomfortable and yet happy, euphoric – relief at waking up. But more importantly to note we are full of anaesthesia such as morphine, all very happy drugs. As they leave our system they cause withdrawal and bring us low and may make us tired, negative and even depressed.

I was connected to tubes, ports, machines, catheters and looked like a good candidate for Victor Frankenstein experiments. Most patients have both legs covered in bandages and another covering the whole of the sternum join about 8 – 12 inches. Time is a myth, you sleep you throw up, you throw up and slowly you come out of the stupor to true wakefulness. That is when the pain kicks in –

do not be a hero, take the pain killers!!

When it’s safe you will come out Intensive care unit into a surgical ward, where they look after you, remove the appendages over time and then get you performing routine bodily functions. Tick them off : drinking, breathing without oxygen, urinating, emptying your bowels, eating, coughing, burping, sneezing, laughing and last but not least walking. I tell you the last five hurt. They will give you a rolled up towel to press to your chest, some of us hold onto it like a babies blanky, but it is an amazing low tech device to stop you from breaking your sternum again. Do not open doors, hold your towel, when you want to cough or sneeze press towel to sternum your ribs need to rejoin, do not pull them apart, use the TOWEL.

The rule: drugs are not offered unless someone with knowledge and experience feels you need them. So if they say would you like a laxative say YES please fast! Being constipated after and before an operation can be excruciatingly painful and dangerous. Do not think “I do not suffer from constipation I do not need this”, just do it!

Eat bananas, your potassium level is very low. Take deep breaths and as soon as they allow walk. Have healthy snacks brought in or stored at home, you need to be eating well to recover, nutritionally rich foods. Nuts, seeds, oat biscuits, fruit are good. If you are diabetic or on warfarin check with the nurses.

You are in recovery and will be in grief this is normal, you have lost something important – the YOU, that lived that manic life, the healthy you, optimistic you and some of us find ourselves afraid. It is normal paranoia, it will go quickly, if you work with your body.

Recuperation (recovery), a period of physical and/ or mental recovery and can be as short as 8 weeks and as long as a year. I thought it would be the former not the latter.

I was walking well by day three and had conquered the stairs by day five, then before day seven I was on my way home. I am safe, home, it is just a walk in the park now, you have done it so many times before. Get well and live. Little did I know.

A Recipe? Really folks, I have just come out of major surgery! oh ok! What do I miss in hospital?

Tea, I hate the tea in hospital with a vengeance and when I am not well I like ginger tea without milk or sugar, sometimes a bit of honey! And always lemon.

Traditional Indian Ginger Chai for Two

In a small pan add two mugs of cold water
Bash one green cardamom, half a teaspoon fennel seeds, a clove and add to water. Some people like a couple black pepper seeds too. Wash ginger Then I peel and slice an inch of ginger add everything to the water, turn on the heat.

If you are not going to add milk add a slice of lemon peel. I bring to the boil and leave to simmer at least 5 minutes, look at the colour and smell. For me it’s ready I strain add honey and lemon juice.

BUT this is the traditional recipe:
So add tea of your choice a heaped tablespoon, let it come to the boil and give a strong colour at least 2 minutes now add a cup of milk and let it come back to the boil, now you want a rolling boil for at least two minutes for that authentic taste, the longer the boil the better the flavour. Strain and drink. It is hot take care!
Add sugar to taste

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