Friday, 22 September 2017

Recuperating on a rocking boat after abdominal surgery

Photo of one of my post op walks on Maryport beach

One of my post op walks on Maryport beach - less than 48 hours after surgery

I have to confess that I was a little bit apprehensive about returning to Ravensdale immediately after surgery.

However, I needn’t have worried at all. It’s really no different to recuperating in a house.

Climbing on and off our 43ft cruiser is no problem, thanks to the big sturdy metal steps the previous owner left for us.

Photo of a bag of fruit left as a gift on our big chunky steps

A bag of fruit left as a gift on our big chunky steps

And the rocking of the boat is a very comforting feeling, especially when under the influence of heavy duty painkillers J

I went into West Cumberland Hospital at Whitehaven in Cumbria at 8am on Tuesday morning to have my gall bladder removed by keyhole surgery at the day case unit.

I had previously warned hospital staff that I’d been very slow to come around after earlier operations so they put me first on the list.

The procedure, which involved making four small holes in my abdomen, took just under an hour. It was carried out between about 10am and 11am and I was back on the ward by 12.45pm.

A selfie taken soon after I returned to the ward

A selfie taken soon after I returned to the ward

I had been unsure whether to go ahead with the operation as I had not had any problems with my gallstones since two very unpleasant flare ups in March and April.

But I am now very glad I did.

After the operation, I was told that my gall bladder had been inflamed and could have caused me a lot of trouble if I had kept it.

I was back on board soon after 8pm the same day and tucked into a normal evening meal.

I’d been warned that people who’ve had this operation often feel nauseous afterwards and I was given medication to take if this happened.

However, despite a very rocky first night, I haven’t felt in the slightest bit nauseous.

I was told I needed to go out for three gentle 30 minute walks a day starting the day after my op to prevent blood clots forming so just 24 hours after I was on the operating table I was walking along the pier amazed that I was feeling so well.

It is now just three days since the op and I can carry on with most of what I would do on a normal day. I’m just not allowed to lift anything heavy and I’m avoiding getting things in and out of the very low drawers in the galley, which involves a lot of serious bending.

I also get quite tired after my walks so am making the most of the opportunity to lounge around in the saloon reading and snoozing.

One of the best things about recovering from an op on a boat is that, even when I’m indoors, it feels like being outdoors.

In a house, I would’ve been surrounded by walls, whereas here there are windows on all four sides of the saloon so I can prop myself up on the sofa with my feet up and still see everything that’s going on around us.

Photo of the big windows in the saloon that bring the outdoors in

The big windows in the saloon that bring the outdoors in

Yesterday (Thursday) was dry and fairly warm so we were able to leave the door and windows open to allow lots of fresh air to circulate.

And, when the sun came out yesterday afternoon, I sat out on the aft deck to have a coffee.

Today (Friday) it was dry first thing so we walked into town to get a bit of shopping, stopping for coffee and cake at The Aquarium cafe, but it’s now raining so I guess I’m going to get wet on my next two walks today.

I’m hoping to start reducing the painkillers tomorrow so it will be interesting to see how I feel then.

As well as looking after me, Phil is also finding time to keep on top of Ravensdale’s needs.

On Monday, he noticed that the water level in two of our four batteries was very low.

Photo of Ravensdale's battery bank

Ravensdale's battery bank

The two that are most accessible are sealed and we thought all four were the same, but he discovered that the two hidden away at the back were not.

He topped them up with a few litres of deionised water and tested them with a hydrometer, which gave a reading like pure water.

We really thought we were going to have to buy two new ones, but he retested them yesterday and they were reading a full charge so we’re now hopeful that they may be OK.

While down in the engine room, Phil noticed that there was more water in the bilges than usual and set about finding the cause.

He discovered that the outlet pipe from the Whale Gulper waste water pump, which gets rid of the water from the shower and the washbasin in the en suite head for our bedroom, was leaking.

Photo of loose connections on a sensor on the starboard engine

Loose connections on a sensor on the starboard engine

It seems the jubilee clip holding it on had worn a hole in the pipe and the water had been pumping out into the bilges under our bed and running through into the engine room.
The fuse in the pump had since blown, which meant it stopped working completely and all the water from the shower and washbasin was going straight into the bilges.

Phil used a hand pump to remove the water and carried about eight buckets full of water up out of our bedroom.

He has shortened the pipe for now, with the intention of replacing it soon, and the fuse has been replaced so hopefully the problem has been sorted.

Photo of Phil working in the engine room

Phil working in the engine room

Phil also spent some time in the engine room tightening up loose connections and carrying out the regular engine checks.

Photo of starlings on rigging

Starlings on rigging

We won’t be taking Ravensdale out to sea for a couple of weeks as I won’t be able to throw ropes for a while, but he's making sure that she will be ready to go when I am.

While out walking, we spotted these starlings on one of the yachts in the marina and it made me very glad that we don’t have a mast and rigging.

At this time of year, the birds have been feasting on blackberries and their droppings cause nasty purple stains on white gelcoat.

We may get the occasional bombing, but at least we don’t have as many perches as the yachts J