It’s still dark now as it’s just 6 a.m. I still do not feel nervous and that is because for several days I did and that’s over. I booked my taxi to the hospital for 6.30. It’s a 20-minute drive and I wanted a hedge as a margin for traffic or something else going wrong. The taxi was ten minutes lat because he hit some traffic. The driver and I chatted all the way to the hospital. He was new to Derby having taxied in London for the last ten years.
The hospital corridors were very long and abandoned as I walked along and I was glad for allowing extra time because of the hike. I’m feeling only a sense of anticipation now. Soon I will hand myself over to several others to steer me through various procedures and as I enter the hand clinic area where the surgeries take place I am greeted by a wide smile and a question of, “How do you take your tea?” The waiting room is empty one minute and then half a dozen others joined me. The accents are midlands or further north––my country. I loved it and loved the very distinct and different Northern humour as we all sat chatting about our various needs for hand work to be done. Every need was different but the third name to be called out was, “Paul!” Followed by, “Okay, let’s get you started.” A little form filling to check on my current health and blood pressure, blood sugars and so on. All good.
Before I knew it I was lying down head on a pillow and arm stretched out with two doctors discussing the procedure. “Slight scratch!” she said and almost at the same time she asked me if I could feel anything. ‘Only faintly.’ I said and she gave it two seconds before she asked, “What about now?” I answered no and then I could feel only the movement of my hand as she manoeuvred the needle inside and along the rising ridge in my palm. Yes, I could feel tugs now and then but nothing more than I could stand. I understood that she was systematically severing the fibres inside the palm skin. I confess some disconcerting snaps taking place in quick succession. There were two ridges on the side of my ring finger too. This needed more needle insertion and some tugging and such. The discussion between the consultant and the junior doctor was fascinating. It wasn’t too long before we were working on the other hand, a lesser problem but still in need. We were done.
I stood up and walked out to a waiting area to go to occupational therapy for follow-up physio and splints for my fingers. This was another insightful experience watching them mould thermoplastic to my hand to add velcro straps to to keep the splints in place as I sleep. This is DIY from here on. Exercises six times a day, splints to keep my fingers straight through the night to aid recovery and stop my hands from making a fist in my sleep.
In every department, I was greeted with warmth, smiles and the utmost care and respect. And it wasn’t just the ones dealing with me as a patient but even the briefest encounters carried a smile in both eyes and mouths. I have never had much to do with hospitals over the past 40 or so years. Minor visits. This was an eye-opener of total hospitality in care and concern. I dropped something and two nurses were there before I could move and handed it back to me. The experience was a total absorption into love! It was as if the whole hospital was utterly dedicated to carrying every injury and pain and absorbing as much of it as possible and without exception. Every door got opened and every chair moved to take your body. This type of human aid should never be taken for granted. Where am I? I am at the Pulvertaft Hand Centre, Royal Derby Hospital, Kings Treatment Centre. Who was the consultant working my hands? Miss K Brown. She was a dynamo of action with accuracy and care.
My taxi arrived to take me to the railway station and I said goodbye to Derby. The train came in on time and was zipping along the two zip-wire rails to Oxford. From there the bus outside took me into the city centre and as I got off that bus my next bus rolled up behind it.
At the house, I was greeted with wild anticipation by Rosie who raced around and around with leaps of joy matching my own relief that everything had gone so well.
Today is Friday 24 November and my surgery is entering three days since it was concluded. I have no pain anywhere and even the exercises every few hours result in a slight pulling even when I extend my fingers as far as I can. I have had no bleeding nor swelling but I am planning to enjoy the rest and celebrate a later Thanksgiving day tomorrow when my family will all get together. Just so you know. I can already do everything as before but now my fingers that were affected no longer get in the way. Why i ended up two hours away in derby and not here in Oxford? Severl months ago I let everyone know about my hand problems. One person, a professional guitarist had had the same issues and had treatment at the Pulvertaft Hand Centre at the Royal Derby. I felt this would be where i wanted to go and I asked my doctor to refer me there which she did. Our wonderful NHS is brilliant and highly respected.