"Do you read much?" the nurse had asked me at my pre-op check a few weeks ago.
"The thing is we need you here by 7am, starved since midnight but we might not 'do you' until 4pm, a book might help pass the time."
Nine ravenous hours of waiting and thinking about it all, this would all need to be mind over matter, calm and careful military planning, in fact a schedule, that's what I needed.
7am - 8am : Settle in and knit, watch everyone else in day surgery waiting area (like an airport lounge minus Borders & Starbucks) and try and decide what they are having done, while they do the same to me.
8am - 9am : Read some of Book One.
9am - 10am : Knit some more of the new and therefore exciting Noro socks with iPod playing soothing Joni-wish-I-had-a-river-I-could-skate-away-on-Mitchell.
10am - 11am : Read some of Book Two.
11am -12 md : More sock knitting more Joni-I-could-drink-a-case-of-you-Mitchell
12md - 1pm : More of Book One etc
So I had a bag packed to the gunwales and nine hours of pre-operative play scheme organised, all to take my mind off the matter in hand as we joined the worryingly long queue of ready-starved, nervous-looking day cases waiting for the ward to open.
My heart sank, it was indeed going to be a long day but undaunted I settled into a chair and embarked immediately on Hour One. I was really looking forward to Hour Two as well because I'd made a good start with Book One The Children's Book by A.S.Byatt.
All jettisoned into oblivion when my name was called at 7.10am to be told I was first on the list.
"First on the list ????
But hold on, I've got nine hours of activities planned here...books, knitting..."
To no avail, fetching flight garment donned, passport checked, ticket checked, luggage checked in and spirited off to the ward where I'd land...did you pack this yourself...any liquids...sharp objects (uergh knitting needles). Then a quick chat with the pilot and the engineer about the flight path, previous flying experiences, possible turbulence and adverse conditions, birds in the engines, diversions, hidden metalwork, hazards on landing that sort of thing and before you could say "Z victor one to control tower, do you receive me" there I was taxied out to the runway outside Theatre 14 by a very nice nurse called Gladys and waiting to take off.
I'd just watched the news and heard that Swinfluenza had hit Devon so glancing at a stack of theatre supplies I couldn't help noticing 'Made in Mexico' stamped across the boxes.
I spent a happy few distracted minutes wondering how long viral droplet infection could survive on an intermediate host and realised this knowledge was by now too far down to retrieve.
Next thing the anaesthetist was telling me a terrible joke...
'Why did the banana go to the doctor's?"
"Erm, well I'm not really sure"
"Because it wasn't peeling too well!"
This completely took my mind off any thoughts of asking whether he'd been sure to check the tubing was on the machine the right way round or was the surgeon in there washing his hands thoroughly, and to be honest I think they took one look and thought let's get this one under quick before she starts.
And that was that, those blessed hours of anaesthesia.
Two hours later I'm waking up and tentatively searching for the damage...four keyholes?
Well I suppose one each for the knife and fork, the periscope's got to go in somewhere and then there has to be an exit strategy.
Oddly (though possibly not, given what's been pumped into the veins) I then felt surprisingly high, mostly at the thought of no more of that miserable fat-free diet I feel as if I've been on forever.
"Could you pass me that A.S.Byatt book please?"
Well it seemed worth a try. Over-ambitious it has to be said, but I did manage quite a bit of Book Two Lesley Blanche's Journey Into the Mind's Eye before the euphoria wore off and everything else set in.
No slacking with day surgery.
First signs of life and you're dressed and in the chair and just to make sure you're on-message, the bed's stripped in case you're tempted to get back in. Then you have about four hours to wait while they make sure you're not haemorrhaging for England or anything and in which to eat a biscuit if you truly want to get out. This procedure notorious for the post-op nausea, so whilst the broken noses and limb-settings were woofing down cheese and pickle sandwiches within ten minutes and going home, it did indeed take me four hours to force feed one digestive biscuit, crumb by wretched crumb.
Filled to the rafters with enough drugs to Lucy me up with the diamonds I even walked to the car and having fallen into bed and slept and read and slept it all off for a couple of days here I am, sore but good to go albeit very slowly for a couple of weeks.
I also think siestas should make a comeback here in the UK, mine will.
Bless Derriford Hospital, they often get a terrible press locally but I couldn't fault them; excellent nursing, meticulous infection-control procedures, sent me home with enough substantial pain relief to flatten the town which, thanks I think to an excellent surgeon, I haven't needed beyond the usual.
Bless Nurse Bookhound too who has been running the Convalescent Unit with a very assertive Hattie-Jacques-like manner. His aseptic technique may be ready for assessment within the week, just a little quibble about sorting his patient before he attends to the ferrets in future.
And bless all of you for your lovely kind messages and e mails all so very much appreciated.
There might be the odd interlude but I think we're back on dovegreyreader schedule here tomorrow.