I need your help: : a question


This time next weekend I will already have been hospitalized and it is virtually all that I can think about.

That’s that, but what about this week? I have finished work, and am at home. The hospital staff told me last week that if I got a cold the operation would be cancelled, or at the very least postponed (and this surgeon is very hard to book).

Naturally, immediately after being told this I get a cold, or at least some discomfort in my chest – which could be psychosomatic, or simply anxiety – and so went to the doctor’s yesterday near my house to get antibiotics just in case.

I actually feel fine;  no fever (although the phlegm is not imaginary).

But this morning I read that some surgeons won’t operate if you have even had a cold or sinus problems or anything like that even SIX WEEKS before a procedure, let alone a week.

So do I have to tell the truth? When the anesthesiologist comes to check on me and asks me if I have had any colds, then what should I say?

I HAVE TO GET THIS OPERATION. It has been so hard to set it all up, and the time off has been sorted out with my school, and I just want to get the damned thing over with.

But I also feel trapped, like I shouldn’t leave the house in case I am ‘exposed’ to more bacteria or viruses, this being exactly the season for colds and all the rest as the weather changes, cold and warm, spring trying really hard to drag itself now through the vestiges of winter, but I fear going out into town (we did yesterday, my ‘last day’ if you like ; had a nice meal – but too much wine (stupid! but it helps me to relax and take my mind off the horror, and trust me, last week’s explanations of the procedure in great detail really did sound like horror). I know that this isn’t good though, especially for the immune system,and that I need to be in tip-top shape for next Monday.

The question: if it were you, would you just sequester yourself away at home until the day, to be on the safe side?  Or do you think it would be ok for me to go out?

It is my last week before six weeks stuck inside the hospital and then four months of rehabilitation at home. This is my last chance (I can’t walk so well, but with painkillers I can) to get out and feel free:  I feel like a ‘last day’ in Yokohama, to just go to the perfume recycle shops because that would give me a boost ; forgive the morbid thinking, I just can’t help it (and any readers out there who feel like just giving me a slap, please do: I know that there are far far far worse situations I could be in – this is ‘just’ my legs) but right now I just feel rather panicked. You should be in my dreams…….

My robe for hospital has been washed and scented heavily with No 19 this morning (because I just had to). My underwear is now being rinsed with lemon and vetiver (because at the very least I am going to do my damnedest not to stink). I have bought and assembled a box of some beautiful essential oils. But should I now just be staying here in the house – Duncan will be free from Friday when his spring break begins  – or would it be ok for me to go out? A Japanese person would wear one of those Michael Jackson surgical masks, which about 40% of the population wears here at any given time, and I suppose that I could do, but foreigners look somehow kind of sinister when they do so and in any case I would just feel like a fool. Again, they just make me feel trapped. 

Anyone in health care or who has had similar experiences or knows someone who has, I eagerly await your advice. Will I be able to have the operation as scheduled ? Must I stay here in this house like an imprisoned, nervous wreck?


Filed under Flowers, neurotic meltdowns

72 responses to “I need your help: : a question

  1. I have worked in a hospital for many years, Michael is a surgeon and we both say with conviction: relax! (I know, not easily possible!)
    It is all not as strict and awful as you imagine. Of course you should not have any infections, but I believe you are a fair way from one. I think you should enjoy yourself these days (not flipping out of course, but live normally). I don’t think a virus is just out to get you. 😉
    You are a healthy person, aside from the knees, so why would you be struck down by random illnesses just now?
    I know it is easy to get sucked into hysterics, but reality is seldom as bad as your imagination can be.
    I’ll be thinking of you, I’m sure things will turn out well. Trust the skills of your surgeon! Hugs.

    • Thanks B. I really appreciate it and I know I am making a dick of myself as usual by splurging everything on here. I had to though (and I KNOW I have to relax………god it is easier said than done though…)

      I think I do have a slight chest infection (though again, it could be psycho-induced, it feels kind of heavy). You think I should go out then?

      • You know yourself best of course, if you want to go out, go. If you think it really could be a chest infection, take it easy at home for a day and see how it goes.

    • ‘Sucked into hysterics’, incidentally, is the perfect phrase for today!

  2. Tuskanny

    Dear Neil, TRUST yourself the whole of you, heart, body and soul, keep that mind at peace. YOU ‘LL BE FINE ! Sending you love and support. As you sure know our thoughts are powerful, not to mention our heart’s intention. XX

  3. ninakane1

    Oops where did my comment go?

    • I don’t know. I want to read it. I know I am probably overreacting but the ‘don’t get a cold thing’ has totally freaked me out seeing that both of us have coldish symptoms ( or is it hay fever? )

      Did you have any time off prior to going in?

      • ninakane1

        Oh, it’s popped up below. No, I was working right up to going in – workshop on the Sunday, University teaching on the Monday then was running a gallery symposium the day before going in. But it was different for me because I wasn’t in any physical pain beforehand whereas your knees must be in agony and they probably need you to rest them to avoid inflammation before. Felt very weird, and was totally preoccupied in the days before but was glad to have something else to concentrate on. I think you perhaps need to strike a balance between resting your knees but getting fresh air and green outdoors environments too. X

      • My long departed Mom (at a very young age) told me the story of how she had scheduled me to have my (enlarged) tonsils take out on three different occasions, and by the third time, she decided that this was a sign that I shouldn’t have my tonsils out. At my ripe older age, I still have my enlarged tonsils, which I credit for keeping me from having any of the childhood disease of the time (measles, chicken pox and whatever else).

      • I forgot to mention in my comment about being scheduled to have my tonsils taken out and by the third time my Mom decided I wasn’t meant to have them out…each time they detected that I had the beginning of a cold and canceled the procedure. Thus, most likely I will die with my enlarged tonsils still sitting on my uvula.

      • You must slightly cherish them by now!

  4. Bee Wyeth

    I’d go out because it will make you feel better and more positive and that’s important – but why not wear the mask just to be on the safe side? Looking a bit sinister is no big deal. Hope you find some perfume treasure to lift your spirits! And don’t worry – you will be fine. Be very kind to yourself and take it easy during recovery and you’ll feel so much better when all this is over.

  5. ninakane1

    You’re fixating on the cold advice as are getting into that hospitilised zone of attention to minutiae and awareness of infection, but staying cooped up this week will drive you stir crazy and towards drink. My advice is to go out into the sunshine and fresh air as much as possible, go perfume shopping, chill out in the temples and the beach, do all the normal things as much as possible. Obviously it’ll be on your mind, but it’s best to keep busy, and try and meet up with friends if possible too x

  6. I agree with the others. Go out and make the most of this week but definitely wear the mask as much as you’re able, especially when using public transport. It’s lucky you live somewhere where it’s so common. You are completely justified in being anxious though – or even a bit hysterical – with what you have ahead of you. I’d be the same.
    Love your scented preparations by the way…

    • They are essential! Utterly. They will ground me. I worry that I will tire of the vetiver/ lemon theme but it will be both grounding and bactericidal ( and I am intent on an enigmatic sillage, even when in a wheelchair.

      I think D thinks I should stay in for a couple of days: the reality is that I don’t want to risk further injuring either knee and if I do much as hear a person cough on the bus or train, me being me I will just lose it completely. Tomorrow rain is forecast but Wednesday is sunny so I can at least walk around the block.

      Sorry for the melodrama.

      • No need to be sorry. Waiting around is the worst part.
        D is being sensible. He knows how awful if will be for you if the op ends up being cancelled and public transport is the worst for picking up bugs. I had forgotten how hard it must be for you to go far anyway. A walk around the block sounds do-able and will get you out the house. All good.
        The vetiver/lemon combination is perfect and not something I think you’ll tire of quickly.

  7. MrsDalloway

    I’d stick to going out in open spaces; admire spring etc. And take some hayfever medicine to knock that on the head.

    • This rings true for me. I feel alright actually, have some medicine for psychological purposes if necessary.

      The fact is that although normally I am not remotely germ obsessed, right now I just can’t get the surgeon’s face and voice out of my head.

  8. rosestrang

    I completely relate to your stress about it, I’m a feardy cat when it comes to operations, but I agree with folks here, it’s best to de-stress in the ways you usually would – the healthy ways anyway 🙂 walking, sunshine, good food. Also after the operation de-stress as mcuh as possible since stress interrupts the healing process. I bet you wish it was the day after! I remember a friend giving me what I thought was odd advice before an operation, she said – ‘enjoy it’, I said – ‘what?!’ she laughed and explained- ‘well, they take care of you and it’s nice to be fussed over’. So that’s one way to look at it!

    • Definitely, and I know exactly what your friend means. I enjoyed aspects of hospital life when I had pneumonia fifteen years ago, because I basically am fascinated by people and new experiences ( and am a lazy bastard at heart ).

      It will be a big challenge, but if all goes well, being able to walk long distances again will be fantastic. D and I love cities: Jakarta, San Francisco, Berlin.. just walking and walking and exploring..

      • rosestrang

        And for more encouragement, two people I know recently had similar – a knee operation and a hip replacement, one in his 80s, doing great, and my mum’s new hip revolutionised her life really. With you being much younger, you’ll do great. Hope you’ll let us know how it goes!

  9. Go in the sunshine, wear the mask, don’t worry about looking like a freak lol….look after yourself. Your laundry scents are the best, good on you!

  10. I can understand all your concerns. Been there myself with another kind of surgery and so has Ric, several times. It’s a drag, the waiting and worrying.

    Sounds like you might be looking up stuff about the knee op more than is good for you. (“But this morning I read that some surgeons won’t operate if you have even had a cold or sinus problems or anything like that even SIX WEEKS before a procedure, let alone a week.”) I know for me it’s quite the rabbit hole, the internet. I’d rather see you have a Need to Know approach at this stage. You don’t want to fuel the obsessive thoughts.

    I would tell the anesthesiologist your (mild) symptoms. Absolutely. You have to. Doesn’t sound like the full-blown cold that would cancel surgery.

    I do think that it’s prudent to avoid exposing yourself to anything contagious out there. Weigh the psychological benefits of getting out and if protect yourself with the mask – a drag, but essential – if you need to be in contact with people. (A trip to look for vintage perfume definitely sounds therapeutic.) Do get out by yourself in the beauty of nature, mask-free. I’d suggest that Duncan try to be careful, too; he might not get sick but could bring home a virus. I’d have meals at home, too. I don’t think you’re being paranoid at all.

    I wonder why you’ll be in hospital six weeks? Are you sure? Seems five weeks too long by American and Canadian averages. And being stuck at home for four months? Wouldn’t you be out and about as part of your rehab? I don’t want to contradict you but I was wondering if there was room to have a little more light at the end of a shorter tunnel!

    For what it’s worth.

    • No, you are right. I tend to go for the most extreme way of putting things and once I am home I will presumably be able to walk a bit ( but on crutches… and I am SO clumsy with really shit coordination). But six weeks, yes, or possibly five. They do all post operative care and rehabilitation in house, which I am grateful for, actually.

      Meals at home… definitely. Our landlords are also our Japanese family and also greengrocers. just two doors down, so it’s going to be healthfest central this week.

      Thanks for the advice.

      • Sounds bearable, then. I suspect you will be pleasantly surprised by how mobile you will be and how quickly. I do hope so! And your fans (including me) are looking forward to lots of missives from the front line, so supplying demand ought to keep you out of mischief. 😉

      • Yes. The Grim Posts Of April.

  11. I have struggled terribly with anxiety in the past, and that feeling when it is triggered, a feeling of immediately isolated by my own brain and my own senses, unable to process any comforting thing and only able to process those things which feed the anxiety, and I wonder if that is what you are feeling.

    We are far, far away from Japan, but this past week has been beastly for allergies here. Even though it is cold, a bunch of flowers have bloomed. My son’s chest was hurting, my eyes were raw and red, others have had similar symptoms.

    I think you should keep breathing, deeply.

    If it was me, I would probably stay indoors for at least a few days. I wonder if there’s anything that would help you feel better about it? Could you indulge yourself in some ways? I know I would be indulging myself. And! Must it be *exactly* a week? Perhaps a day or two less wouldn’t hurt? Maybe somewhere lovely today and tomorrow would be very therapeutic.

    These are not your last days, these are your last days of terrible pain.

    I do wonder if perhaps your recovery might move along more quickly than anticipated, once it gets going in earnest. I hope that for you.

    • ninakane1

      One thing I would advise though is don’t take any herbal remedies in the week before going in, and avoid anything with St john’s Wort in it. I spent the hour before my operation frantically ringing a health shop in Sheffield for them to check the ingrediants in some tablets I’d bern taking after the anaesthetist told me he couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t have a bad reaction with his ‘proper drugs’! Most he passed off as harmless – in fact totally took the piss out of the ginger root tablets as being ‘hocus pocus useless’ and told me a Thai curry the night before would be more risky (this disparagement was in stark contrast to the equally zealous snd partisan health food shop guy who’d told me a couple of weeks before ‘if the pharmaceutical companies could really reproduce the health benefits of ginger root they’d produce nothing else’!!). But once he’d stopped winding me up and saying I could cancel the operation if I had any doubts, he finally acknowledged that the only one likely to be dangerous was St John’s Wort. So avoid anything with that in.

      • How awful. That story reminds me of the time a boy in a vitamin shop spent about 1.5 hours lecturing me about the evils of the McDonald’s cheeseburger among other things, claiming that his father actually traveled around with a years-old specimen. Apparently his father was a lecturer and the aged cheeseburger was meant to serve as proof the cheeseburgers could not be digested by humans. I forget what I was supposed to want to buy in response to this information, or why he started talking about cheeseburgers. It was terrible and I felt lucky to escape when I did.

      • jennyredhen

        why would St Johns wort be dangerous U wonder???. I have heard that gingko, which people take to improve their memory, can be dangerous as it increases the blood flow and surgeons have had trouble stopping bleeding in people taking gingko pills.. but St Johns Wort?? any clues???

      • Wow. I always assume that herbs and so on will be ok..I have taken gingko in the past but it didn’t work for me; I do take ginseng but won’t near the operation and herbal sleeping tablets (especially right now). 72 hours before though it will just be rooibos tea – unless that turns out to be bad for me as well!

    • Thankyou. I feel a bit better today. It’s cold and raining so I wouldn’t want to go out anyway. I MIGHT go out tomorrow ( but then again I can’t really walk very far so what’s the point?

      We’ll see. As the anxiety is focused on not getting sick, perhaps it is just better to avoid any situations that could trigger that anxiety…

    • Reply below somewhere!

      And thankyou for sharing your own personal experience of anxiety.

      I am not usually like this to be honest but yesterday I felt like I was losing it.

      Good to have so many good people on here to advise me!

      • Tuskanny

        A good lot indeed dear ! How impressive! Glad to know you’re feeling better today. Mes meilleures pensées. xx

  12. While the mask is not a bad idea, the best advice……wash your hands, a lot, and don’t touch eyes or mouth. That’s the primary way things are spread. I think your idea of staying away from public transport, but enjoying your neighborhood has great merit. Everything is going to be fine, and your surgery and recovery will be excellent.

  13. I’d go out…you will have more than enough time of being stuck at home. I would just make sure not to drink alcohol the night before your surgery (or smoke any weed at all). I wish you all the best with your surgery, and a good recovery. Make sure you have some good books at home to read during your convalescence.

  14. A

    Dear Neil,

    As Aristotle advocated, find the golden mean. A bit of sunshine, a splash of perfume shopping, some therapeutic pre-op rest and a Japanese mask, however much of a No-No at any and all other times.


  15. Hi Neil…all I know about colds is that colds come from people so
    if you go out stay away from crowds and crowded rush hours at shows,
    restaurants, mass transit situations, stores – but there are times when these
    places are quite empty and “safe” for you to enter. Avoid intense packed
    parties and dinners.
    The other factor is hand washing….for this period wash you hands
    often, wherever and whenever and keep hands away from your face!
    Weather does not make colds but my friends tell me to avoid drafts, chills,
    over-heated places and spots.
    Think of all the nice walks you could go on or eating places you and a
    friend may go to at odd hours, think of a relatively desolate museum that
    you always wanted to go to or a shrine or temple – and visit it.
    Isolation is kind of heart heavy and depressing but you can still be on
    the go for this week. It is special and with the right health-first rules,
    you can make your own memorable time of it. All the best,

  16. jennyredhen

    wash your hands a lot take vitamin c and garlic and lemons and echinacea…eat a lot drink lots of fluids and enjoy yourself.. only go out when its sunny, between the hours of 11am and 3pm… that way everything will be fine.

  17. And of course, my dear, you don’t smoke cigarettes . . . or if you do, you stopped four weeks ago because it’s so important pre-surgery? I thought so, you sensible man!

    • Perhaps five a year and the surgeon himself was practically HYSTERICAL about them! Who knew that smoking was so disastrous when it comes to surgical healing? I mean, obviously we all know that it is terrible for your health, but I didn’t know that the body simply won’t suture from tobacco.

  18. I understand how anxious this must be making you feel, being prone to anxiety myself. But it sounds like getting outside a bit will do you some good. Hope it goes well.

  19. The anxiety is such a difficult hurdle to overcome, but find something to lift your spirits and do it. I have had many surgical procedures during the course of my life and have gone about business as usual with all of them. I always take precautions, but I don’t stay in the house until the procedures. I think you will feel much better if you go out into the sunshine and have some fresh air, it will do you well. You should also go to your shops where you find perfumes, that will definitely take your mind off things.
    I wish all the best for you and am sure things will go well. Take care my dear.

    • Your attitude towards it sounds quite healthy!

      As it happens it has been cold and rainy so I haven’t felt like going outside in any case.

      I went round the block yesterday to go to the post office and that was enough: my knees literally can’t take much more right now so much as I would have liked some perfume shopping the fear of catching something in crowded places is just too much. You know what Northeast Asia is like: there is nowhere more densely populated!

  20. Maybette Santos

    Darling,it is best that you stay home lest you compromise your immune system by going out.Do light exercises and soak up the healing benefits of the morning sun and load up on fruits that will serve you in good stead after the operation.If you’re taking Vitamin E,stop for the moment so you don’t bleed much when you’re operated on.Just my two cents worth,or is it a mouthful of blah blahs?You see I’m a cancer survivor who has had 5 operations.
    Will be praying for you.

    • Your two cents are actually very valuable and although part of me would like to go out, I just can’t. Just to the local shops ( two doors down !) and back is enough. I just can’t risk anything right now.

  21. I know it’s unlikely you will read my comment when there is so many but I will pray to god and hope you will be fine you seem so kind and genuine so I really do hope it will go your way

  22. Gosh, six weeks in hospital sounds like a nightmare. I hope everything goes well. Keep your thumb on the morphine button. You’ll be in my thoughts. ❤ ❤

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