Chapter 21 : Stitches

‘‘I think what really happened is you’re an undercover spy and you got into a fight with someone very dangerous, and these wounds are the outcome.’’


Towards the end of the second week post op I had an appointment at the local doctor’s surgery to have my last remaining stitches removed. There were two large holes made between the bottom of my ribcage and the top of my stomach for tubes which allowed all the excess liquid from the operation to be drained out. 

I can remember seeing them in hospital as they were not taken out straight away, and the odd feeling of witnessing a couple of tubes sticking out from what seemed like the centre of my body. They resembled two clear hosepipes; images of The Matrix sprang to mind.

I also remember having the tubes taken out. As the nurse began to pull on them I felt the strangest sensation from under the skin, like an itch I could never quite reach moving along inside me. I then heard a ‘blop’ sound, like pulling a cork free from a bottle of wine, to signal they were clear of the body. The subsequent holes were large and needed a while to heal, hence the stitches.

I sat with my girlfriend in the waiting room and looked around, I thought about how you never know what people are going through. Here I am at thirty having just had open heart surgery two weeks ago and I am sure to everyone in the room I just look a bit dishevelled.  The thought lingered for a moment as I contemplated how impossible it is to know what people are going through; major surgery, cancer, divorce, financial ruin, any one of these could be the reason for someone’s behaviour and reactions towards you or another. They may do something that seems completely uncalled for, out of character and unjustified but there is normally a reason for it; they aren’t simply like that. 

I contemplated it for a while, and the thought had brought a deep sense of calm and respect towards everyone around me.

I was called through and left Tiana in the waiting room as she didn’t want to see the stitches being removed. A young nurse was sitting waiting for me in a bright and airy room. She had blonde hair, a welcoming smile and was wearing clothes unlike any nurse I had seen before. She looked quite civilian in that sense and if it wasn’t for the name tag around her neck I would have thought I had walked in on another patient.

Gesturing that I should sit down she started reading through my notes and we talked for a while.

By now I was used to feeling a little hazy and having a general sense of sleep deprivation; thanks to the painkillers I had grown accustomed to a generally spaced out vibe, but even in my warped state I could never have imagined what the nurse was about to say.  She turned to me and quite sincerely said: ‘‘well, I’ve read through the notes and understand what you have just said but I don’t believe you. Are you sure that’s what happened?’’

I paused for a moment thinking ‘’err…’’ and smiled at her uneasily.

She continued to say: ‘‘I think what really happened is you’re an undercover spy and you got into a fight with someone very dangerous, and these wounds are the outcome.’’

She nodded her head as she went through the notes again and said: “I imagine they came off worse. Let me see what I can do to help.’’

The cheeky smile on her face reassured me and I relaxed. It was nice to have someone play with the whole thing and not take it too seriously.

She came over and leant down, removing the stitches with a curved shape knife that looked like an extremely sharp fishing hook and I barely noticed her doing it. We continued to chat about the other appointments and how I was doing. As I got up to leave she said: “be careful on those streets!’’  and I left feeling a little bemused.

I walked back with Tiana and told her what the nurse had said and she seemed to be in as much disbelief as I was. Then I realised she was actually annoyed because the nurse had really been flirting with me.


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