Going Under


It’s become more difficult to breathe through my nose and I’m referred to a surgeon. I attend a clinic with my wife, Michelle, and young kids, Lucy and Jack. We’re called into the small consulting room to meet Mr Hogan, who is at the top of his game. A very incisive man and willing to listen. He speaks in a soft Irish accent and I can’t get the gist of everything he says. We talk about my congestion and I’m sent for a CT scan.

A week later, the results show my nasal passageway is almost entirely blocked with cartilage and bone. The choices are to leave the blockage alone or have an operation to clear it. I want the problem fixed and agree to the operation as soon as I hear there will be two weeks off work for recuperation. I’ve been worked into the ground over the last year and a free fortnight away from the office sounds good.

On the morning of the operation, I get a lift to Bishop’s Wood Hospital in Northwood with Michelle. We’re shown to a room and the nurse asks me to complete some paperwork. I’ve eaten nothing since the night before and my stomach rumbles as I strip off and put the flimsy patient gown and paper underwear on. I chat with Michelle and take a few calls from work. I talk to a colleague, who brings up some monumentally dull business and listen to him drone on, achieving nothing. The nurse and an orderly enter the room to take me to the operating theatre, so I get off the phone and an intravenous cannula is inserted into my left wrist. I’m wheeled to the room outside the operating theatre where Bill the anaesthetist is waiting. As he’s sorting out the small bottles of anaesthetic, I ask what the operation involves.

“Mr Hogan will get an enormous drill, stick it up your nose and then…” he begins.

I raise my hands, smiling. “Thanks, I get the idea.”

“Right, are you ready? This won’t hurt. You’ll feel drowsy and go under after a little cough.”

Bill administers the anaesthetic through the cannula. The last thing I recall before passing out is the taste of drugs at the back of my throat and coughing as I try to catch my breath.

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