Right, let’s see. Can I type? I know I can’t handwrite; you can’t grip a pen properly with a numb, rigid forefinger and thumb. Tying shoelaces is a problem too. And shirt buttons. My sartorial preferences are going to have to change, temporarily. But this seems to be working, more or less. And it must be good occupational therapy.
I’d better explain, hadn’t I? I woke up in the middle of one night last week to find that my right hand had frozen. Literally - I couldn’t move a finger, and it was numb and COLD. I remember thinking ‘that’s strange’, and going back to sleep. In the morning, the hand was kind of back to normal, but my arm ached every time I moved it. After a day or so, I thought ‘can’t be doing with this’, so I went to the doctor. This was 9.10 a.m. on Friday.
At 11.00, I was in an ambulance being whisked off to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, the nearest place where they do vascular surgery. They used to do it at the Royal Berks in Reading, but the other sort of cuts have put paid to that. “So they can bloody well run to an ambulance,” said my doctor. “This is critical.” I had to agree; there was no detectable pulse anywhere in my right arm.
By 3.00 p.m. I was undergoing a right brachial embolectomy. I didn’t know this at the time, of course – all I knew was that it was something like what used in car maintenance circles to be called a decoke, with arteries playing the role of cylinders and a scalpel that of a socket wrench. It was quite complicated, taking nearly two hours as opposed to the expected forty minutes or so. Apparently my arteries aren’t in the right places. “Next time,” said the surgeon during a subsequent ultrasound scan, “can you please make sure you read the textbook first.”
I came home on Monday, scarred and knackered but at least (let’s hope) clog-free. The hand dysfunction I mentioned at the start is, I’m assured, a temporary by-product and will right itself in time. (They didn’t say how much time, though.)
I’ll report on the actual hospital experience next time. A cross between ‘The Prisoner’ and a Tony Hancock sketch.