I was about 7 or 8 years old when my parents woke me up early in the morning to take me to the hospital. It was still dark outside when we got to hospital, but there was a hint of light from the sunrise. We were directed to my hospital room, got changed into hospital garments and I cozied into bed.
My parents turned the TV on which was hanging on the wall and turned to a channel that played one of my favourite shows—The Powerpuff Girls!
A nurse came in to ask which Carol I was, because apparently there was another Carol going in for surgery. I remember my Dad saying something along the lines of ‘uhhh the little one’. Though whether he actually did, I’m not sure; this could very much, and very easily, be a false memory.
The biggest atrocity of the day came when staff arrived to take me to surgery—right in the middle of The Powerpuff Girls! Seven or eight year old Carol was not pleased! Obviously and quite rightfully, the staff didn’t care, the flattened my bed and proceeded to wheel me off to theatre. I continued to watch Powerpuff Girls until the screen was lost from my sight, I still remember the very last scene I saw—it was Mojo Jojo mischievously running down stairs, while his large shadow trailed behind him.
Being wheeled down corridors and past other actual humans made me very self-conscious and embarrassed, I didn’t want people to think I was sick. So instead of lying down like the other patients, I stayed sitting up. I remain in this positional all the way into theatre, where one of the surgical staff told me to lie down.
The doctor asked me what flavour I wanted for my anaesthesia, and I happily said ‘strawberry’! They placed the mask over my nose and mouth and the doctor proceeded to tell me a story. When they released the anaesthetic gas, I remember thinking ‘uggh, this smells gross’. There was definitely a hint of strawberry, but it was a very artificial, plastic-y, gassy smell and made me feel horribly nauseated.
Right before I passed out, the room started spinning, the edges of my vision blackened first and faded inwards. If you’ve ever seen a movie where you got a character’s point of view where they’re dizzy and pass out…it was kinda like that.
Jump ahead 12-ish years later, my bestest southern hemisphere friend in London needed to have surgery. While we waited, I told her my anaesthesia story of the spinning room. She was seemed pretty excited and was eager to see if it would soon be her reality. She went to surgery, and couple hours later she came back, one of the first things she said to me was ‘aww I didn’t see it, I wanted to see it’. Her anaesthesia was administered via a line in her arm, so maybe the room only has a chance of spinning if it was given via gas???
Anyway, back to the tonsillectomy story.
A couple hours later I woke up in recovery, I looked to my right and there was this brunette woman looking very groggy, dazed and uncomfortable. I soon started to realise how raw my throat felt. A little while later a nurse asked me if I wanted an ice-block, I said ‘yes of course’, she read me the options and I chose lemonade (my favourite at the time). I tasted the ice block and immediately regretted it, there was a very intense pain in my throat. I handed the ice-block back as I couldn’t tolerate to have anymore.
When it was time to transport me back to my hospital room, they placed a metal bowl on my lap—for reasons unknown to me at the time—and wheeled me back to my room. Again, I sat up on the way back. As soon as we reached my room, I suddenly felt…off, and to my surprise, I jerked forward and vomited, not regular vomit, but blood. It was really dark and tasted just awful.
For the next couple hours a slipped in and out of consciousness, I remember nurses coming in to check up on me and administer drugs. When it was time to be discharged, I was offered to choose one toy. My Mum, my Dad and I were led to a room where there was a crib filled with soft toys. My Dad reached in a grabbed a very large fuzzy dice and said ‘pick this one!’ My Mum promptly said ‘let her choose’. I took a look and chose one of the toys, but I can’t for the life of me remember what I chose…it was probably a dog or something.
We left the hospital with my new toy and for the next couple weeks my diet consisted of very soft food, with a heavy preference for rice porridge (with sugar and pork flossing). I was given numbing spray for my throat, but I was completely rubbish at using it and instead numbed large portions of my tongue.