“I hadn’t realised…. I now had metal rings up my ribcage, holding it in place….These metal rings along with a cow’s valve are now part of me.”
During my recovery time I was concerned about how well my chest was healing. The wound looked fine, as fine as a scar all the way down your chest can do, but when I moved or got up it made a cracking sound which was very unnerving. I would hear a snap coming from my chest and I was anxious that the bones hadn’t fused together and were jarring on each other or could split further and worse, pop open! So I managed to arrange an appointment back at Bart’s to discuss this with the team.
I saw the same female doctor who greeted me with her big smile and colourful outfit as well as a practitioner who was the surgeon’s ‘number one’ in the operating theatre. He was a tall man in his late forties whose hair had started to whiten. He wore square glasses that matched the square frame of shoulders and upper body. He looked stereotypical and without his shirt and trousers he would have been indistinguishable amongst the other staff.
Like all the professionals I had met he had an air of certainty about him, just like the surgeon.
I felt reassured seeing them, they both had a lot of involvement in my case and knew me well. They were welcoming, although a little unsettled about why I was there. I explained my concern over the cracking sound coming from my chest. Placing his index and forefingers on my chest the man moved them up and down around the edge of the scar in a clockwise motion, asking how it felt as he pressed down firmly on the skin. I didn’t feel any pain and couldn’t even really feel the pressure he was applying, it was all still numb and the scar tissue was dense.
‘‘It’s fine,” he said with conviction, continuing: “with a procedure of this nature it takes the body a long time to heal. It feels good to me as there is no movement. Just allow the body to heal, it does take time.’’
He was reassuring and told me exactly what I wanted and needed to hear. What I hadn’t realised was that I now had metal rings up my ribcage, holding it in place as it simply wouldn’t be held together by anything else. They would literally spring open without the clamps that had been used to seal me back up.
The below images show before and after surgery.
These metal rings along with a cow’s valve are now part of me.
It was a pleasant conversation and we discussed a lot of things. I had a fond memory of him checking on me on the third day after the operation and saying he would do his best to get me out within a few days, which was just what I had wanted to hear at that time, so I had instantly liked him. He asked if I would like to come back to Bart’s for my yearly checks instead of the other hospital, to which I answered: ‘‘definitely!’’
The other hospital hadn’t instilled much faith in me, not just because of my meeting with Manuel but because when I had been there it felt like the whole place was full of crazy people. Although, I should have been getting used to that by now.