If you’re going to have anyone slice you open, it might as well be Mr. Kiely. I have to commend him here. He’s very professional and puts his patients at ease right away. I’ve been in contact with four or five other patients of his and they all agree with me. So Mr. Kiely, if you’re reading this, thanks!
Immediately I knew he took my case a lot more seriously than the previous surgeon I’d spoken to. He’d seen lots of similar cases and knew how scoliosis can progress and what a pain it can be to live with. It was decided there and then that I’d be put on a Private waiting list because, although it wasn’t exactly easily affordable for my parents, I needed to be fixed ASAP. You see, the public health service leaves a lot to be desired and waiting lists are very long—I’d probably still be waiting for one on the health service as we speak.
There were a few things that needed to be taken care of before I could go for my operation. First, I needed to start exercising. I’m somewhat of a couch potato because I don’t enjoy team sports, so there’s not a lot of drive there for me to join in. For the next three months I began going on long walks and runs, dancing (poorly) and swimming. I needed to be in the best condition possible for my operation. Writing this has made me realise I probably need to be doing more of that right now!
I also had to go for lots of X-rays and be asked lots of personal questions—if you’re a girl and have been for an X-ray, you’ll know.
I had to see a dermatologist because I had some acne on my back that needed clearing up. They seemed to think nothing of putting my on birth-control and other drugs to influence my hormones, but I wasn’t keen on that, nor was my situation that serious, so in the end we settled on a cream which worked a treat. This meant that there would be no worry about cutting the skin on my back.
I then had to have an MRI scan. I have lots of pictures of my scans and X-rays, but I’m not sure if you’d like to see them or not (let me know either way). If you’ve not been for an MRI, basically what you have to do is lie on a surface which slides inside a tunnel. You have to ensure you’re not wearing anything metal because the machine is magnetic and... well, nothing good happens. There is a sound akin to a pneumatic drill but in my case I was given headphones which played music. I clearly remember going into the machine, thinking...
Ok, we can do this. Not feeling claustrophobic. Not too bad.
The nurse called out, “How are you doing, Catherine?”
“Fine, fine thanks.”
“Alright, I’ll put on some music.”
“And I was like baby, baby, baby, oh, like, baby, baby, baby no...”
Let me out. Please let me out.
Anyway, once the song ended the scan was pretty uneventful, and I got a disk of pictures which were really interesting.
Two weeks before the operation, I had to go into the Blackrock hospital for two consecutive days of testing. Let me just say at this point, as I probably will say again, that it was a brilliant place and the staff could not have been more helpful.
On the first day, I had to go under anaesthetic. In a way, this was good, as it meant that I’d have experienced it before the “Big Day”. The reason I needed to be unconscious was so that Mr. Kiely could check me over and see what my back was like and my flexibility, without me being in any pain or making things difficult. That day wasn’t too bad. I just had to be weighed, get dressed in a gown (which had a back, thankfully) and then meet with the anaesthetist, Dr. Sheeran. He’s another very nice man who, like Mr. Kiely, works with children a lot. He knew just how to put me at ease. I was taken down to the theatre with my mum and then injected. I didn’t feel too scared and was surrounded by nice people...
The next thing I remember is waking up in “recovery”. I felt sleepy but absolutely fine. I was wheeled up to the ward I’d started in and got to have tea and scones as I’d not been able to eat that day. They were awesome, by the way.
The next day was rather more trying. I was already crabby when I woke up, as my parents will tell you. I had to have so many tests I felt like a bit of a lab rat—though of course, I can’t say enough times how nice everyone was. I had to have a chest x-ray, a breathing test, something called an “echo test” which involved having gel put on my chest and those stick-on pads which tested my heart. I then had to give blood and urine samples—yes, I peed in a cup, come on, we’re all grown-ups here, let’s move on.
I think there might have been a few other tests I can’t remember. I then had to meet with a GP who would be looking after my general health over the course of my operation.
It was quite a difficult day all in all, but at least I knew by the end of it that the only problem I had was my spine—other than that, I was healthy as a horse. Hurrah!
Now all I had to do was have the operation...
Read part 3 here.
Read part 3 here.