And I’m really proud of them

You haven’t seen anything from me for a while, and that’s because I have been a poorly bunny. Not just a bit ill, I have had to have minor surgery. What I had is very common but we don’t speak about it, because its embarrassing.

Which makes it my duty to write about it.

On Friday I had felt ill for a few days, but I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me. By the end of Friday, I realised I had something wrong with my butt, where my butt cheek meets my thigh. It felt like a graze and I didn’t worry about it, but it got steadily more painful. 

I got my husband to take a look, and there was a red area, with a raised head, like a big spot. My mother, a retired midwife, suggested a warm bath. After the bath, the spot looked even bigger. By now it was 3.5 inches by 2 inches wide. I couldn’t sit down properly, I was whimpering in agony despite taking pain killers. 

Here in Scotland, we have a phone line called NHS Scotland. We can dial and speak to someone about health issues, it’s free. I gave them a call and they said I needed to go to the minor injuries unit at my local hospital. This was about 9 pm and I needed to be at the hospital within four hours. 

I’m not keen on hospitals, and the Royal Alexandra Hospital doesn’t always enjoy the best reputation. I went along anyway, hoping for some pain relief. I wasn’t happy about showing people my butt especially as I was on my period. I had been trying to keep everything clean in the region but I was aware I wasn’t entirely successful. 

So I have to show the doctor my butt and when he saw the spot his eyebrows shot up and he said: “That’s one big abscess!” 

After a thorough inspection, he sat me down and said calmly:

 “I could give you all the antibiotics in the world but it isn’t going to be treated properly unless it is lanced. You are going to need to have surgery, I’ll send you along with a letter to the surgeons.”

I wait with my very tolerant husband outside for fifteen minutes, then the doctor gives me an envelope and I have to go over to the accident and emergency department. Fortunately, there were no drunks, just people, and no blood anywhere. No stabbings, no drug addicts. It was pretty quiet really. 

Before long, I was called in and asked lots of questions. They took my blood pressure again, and then I went to see a junior doctor. (In the UK, junior doctors have their medical degrees and are in their first year of general practice.)

The junior doctor was lovely. She assured me that it wasn’t the first time she had put in a cannula, and then she took some blood and gave me some morphine for the pain. I think she was a bit conservative with it because the pain subsided a bit, but didn’t disappear. 

We had to wait a long time, but in the early hours of the morning, I was taken on a trolley to the ward. I was embarrassed, being a woman of size, but no-one had commented nor had any reference been made to my weight. 

Although when I got off the trolley I had to stand on some scales before I got on the bed. 

Looking back, I think they were checking I wasn’t too big for the bed. But I clearly passed that milestone and a very cheerful nurse Fasheera went through some questions with me, took my blood pressure again and left me to sleep.

Sleep is a bit of a misnomer at a hospital. 

The woman in the next bed was snoring loudly. Three of the six women had IV machines which made weird scratchy sounds. One woman clearly had breathing problems and kept calling the nurse on the beeper for a nebuliser. The chances of me actually sleeping were minimal. 

In that dark lonely moment, I was grateful that I am friends with God. 

Around 4:30 am I went to sleep for a couple of hours. When I woke, I lay in bed watching the light coming in through the windows and wondering what was going to happen that day. At 7:30 am an energetic phlebotomy nurse briskly took blood again and blood pressure was not long after. I was nil by mouth so I wasn’t even allowed a drink of water, let alone a cup of coffee! 

The head nurse, Stefan, explained what was going on, I was to go into surgery either in the afternoon or evening and then go home the next day. Another night’s “sleep” in the hospital! In the meantime, it seemed I was on hourly observations with the rest of the women on the ward, even though I was pre-surgery. I was taken good care of by nurse Segun. 

Then the surgery team came round. This consisted of two men who knew they knew practically everything and very much had their own agenda.

Not just that, they had a bunch of students with them, about 15 or so. They asked me if they could have a look at the abscess, I suggested that perhaps not the whole world see my butt. About five of them ended up getting a good view of it. 

By this time my abscess had started leaking and so was much less painful. I suggested that I could just have antibiotics and go home. However, they told me the infection would return and I could get further infections which would be worse. Surgery was going to happen.

They did say it was a nice try to get out of it though! 

I decided I wanted a shower, I had taken sanitary towels with me to the hospital and some pajamas. Stefan, the nurse gave me some single-use flannels, towels, and soap. While I was in the shower the surgical team came to take me down to theatre for the operation, so Stefan explained I wouldn’t be a long time. They said they would be down later. 

Stefan gave me two hospital gowns to wear for surgery, because of my size. He just told me to put one on the front and one on the back. I wore one like a gown you would wear at the hairdressers — it would have tied at the back for a normal sized person. Then I wore another one like a coat. I was pretty well covered by this time. 

Taking that shower and missing out on the early surgery was a really good call because the second team was much nicer than the first! 

When I got down to the theatre for surgery, I could tell they were definitely the fun team. Robert, the nurse that took me down was lovely, he went through a load of questions and took good care of me.

The first anesthetic nurse, Paul, looked like he had just stepped off the set of Sons of Anarchy. Tattoos, beard, the whole nine years. He was lovely though, he asked me lots of questions like do I have my own teeth, do I have any loose teeth, do I have any metalwork in my body (like if you have had plates or pins in broken bones) etcetera. 

They have to go through the same set of questions lots of times, to make absolutely sure I was ready for surgery. 

There was another nurse who I didn’t really speak to that had a fine tattoo of a compass on his arm. 

One anesthetist asked if I had a pen mark on me, marking out where they had to go to find it. When I said no, she went and drew an arrow on me. To make sure they knew exactly what a left leg is? This did leave me wondering, but okay. 

Because I had that cannula that the junior doctor had put in the day before, they were able to use that to put some medicine in that made me feel happy before they actually put me under. It was a weird moment; I was lying on this slim bed with everyone rushing around me, getting everything ready. I just had to lie there while they gave directions and the staff rushed about. 

I had a few breaths of oxygen and then, the medicine to put me under. 

Next thing I knew I had a nurse beside me and I was telling her off. I hadn’t got the angels and horses I wanted to dream about, I needed a Fishermans Friend (a sweet lozenge thing which tastes disgusting and I never eat) and a cheese sandwich on wholewheat bread. 

Fortunately, the lovely nurse Jennifer knew that people who wake up from surgery talking absolute nonsense and was laughing at what I was saying. As I came round further we had a good chat about kids and work. 

A hard-working hospital porter took me back up to the ward. I was given morphine, which meant no pain. 

I had some food (at last, I hadn’t eaten for about 20 hours) and I text everyone to tell them that I was alive and well-ish. 

By this time, it was about five o’clock in the afternoon and I was told I could go home! I was given a load of dressings and packing material to take to my regular doctors as the nurse would have to unpack and repack the wound (a story for another day my friends!) and when visiting hours came along my husband came to take me home. 

In the UK we have the National Health Service. So all that treatment came to:


Not just that. I was treated with kindness and compassion every step of the way. No comments on my size. No recommendations to lose weight. From the nursing auxiliaries to the anesthetist each person was friendly, professional and competent. I am proud of them all, and they reflect the dedication of the staff that makes up the NHS. 


Ruth Stewart is a writer, a mother and wife. She would love to write books and earn a comfortable living from writing. She loves dogs and horses, and dreams of wide open spaces and solitary homes on wind swept plains.
Ruth Stewart is a writer, a mother and wife. She would love to write books and earn a comfortable living from writing. She loves dogs and horses, and dreams of wide open spaces and solitary homes on wind swept plains.
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