Loosing Control

Loosing Control

There are times when we hand over all control to others. We may sign a consent form, or not. We may be aware of the full extent of what’s ahead, or not. Sometimes, we just have to put our trust wholly in the hands of the experts, and hope that what they think is best for us, in fact is.

General Anaesthetic, prior to brain surgery: definitely in my best interest I think, both in hind-sight and ahead of my big operation. Once under, my trust in the experts earnt, it was up to them.

Movicol, where the clue, a bit like “Ronseal” paint, is in the name. It’s job is to ensure that I don’t get bunged-up and don’t have to “strain” post-operatively. No-one needs a monster battle on the loo after surgery, and a very wise precaution following my change in diet to hospital food, and the change in activity level from active, to bed-bound.

After several hours of surgery, I remember being very pleased with myself for being (a) alive, and (b) remembering what day of the week it was, where I was, why I was there, who the Prime Minister is, proving that, along with a bit of finger squeezing and leg raising, that my physical and cognitive function was in tact.

I don’t remember being fully briefed on the side-effects and consequences of all the drugs I was on, which really, at the time, were of minor significance. So, my first night after surgery, my body still full of drugs and pain relief, I recall that in the middle of the night, I had the need for the expulsion of some gastro-intestinal wind, a fart. I was used to the farts and snores of my ward companions, and thought I’d be able to slip out a dainty one. I’d been horizontal, in my bed for or on the surgical table for well over 24 hours. I like my bed, and a lie-in, but this was taking the piss. I needed to fart. Alas, a dainty one post Movicol, is not the same as a normal dainty one. Oh Dear. I had flashbacks to the toilet scene in Trainspotting. The realisation that a dainty one on Movicol, was not just a dainty one, but in fact, it was so much more, and that I had no control over my sphincter. My early morning little fart was so very much more. The relief when the flow subsided. My dignity in tatters, only to be semi-restored by clean pyjamas and bedding. That was Night One on Movicol.

What I then learnt was that Movicol effects were lasting, diminishing gradually over the following few days, both for me and my fellow ward post-surgical siblings. The four of us who shared the ward room, with one bathroom between us, and due to “infection control” policies, had no window, and no air-freshener. As Movicol gradually worked its way through each of us, it was, at certain times of day, like being at a drumming convention for beginners. When any one of us closed the door to our windowless bathroom, there would be a dramatic pause, and then varying lengths of drum-breaks, by what sounded like teenage boys on Christmas Day, after getting their first ever full-size drum kit. Luckily, we were all in the same Creek, in the same boat, with the same paddle.

Movicol: A beginners lesson in muscle control and drumming

Vicky Galbraith April 2011


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