Home, healthy and healing.

Hello!

First of all, let me say a huge THANK YOU!  The amount of support and good wishes I’ve had over the last few weeks has been amazing, and all the positivity has certainly helped me through the last ten days, so, thank you.

It has been nine days since I went in for surgery and the time has flown by.  The morning of the surgery itself was pretty scary, but I was more worried for the people around me than for myself, if that makes sense.  After all, I was about to spend eight hours in an induced sleep and wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.  Everyone else, however, had to wait.

My (beautiful, wonderful) husband left me at the theatre doors.  Looking at his face as I was taken in, I was so close to telling the nurse I couldn’t do it. After all, I didn’t really want to do it.  I haven’t chosen this path for myself and I’ve never had major treatment for anything.  In short, I was terrified.

I spent a lot of the time during my pre-op trying not to cry, mainly because I knew if I started, I wouldn’t stop.  I’ve found that the waiting around has been the worst bit.  As soon as a health professional enters the room and I can ask my questions, or be talked through the next step, then I’m fine.  I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m one of those patients who wants to know everything.  I know not everyone wants the details, but I found it has really helped to be prepared.

Anyway, once I was taken through the double doors, I was given a gown and asked to change, turn my phone off and put my things in a locker.  I locked myself in the little changing room and text my mum and husband, telling them I loved them.  My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t wake up from the surgery and I would leave them behind.  How I didn’t cry then I have no idea, because I’m sniffling just writing this!  I’m forever grateful that it all went well.

Once I was changed, I saw the team that would be operating on me.  They were wonderful, and once I made the anaesthetist promise that he would keep me asleep until it was over, and then wake me up, I was ready to go.  Due to my op being so long, I had to go straight into theatre.  That was scary, but when I saw the amount of people who would be working together, I felt better about it all.  There was no going back now.  A cannula was inserted on my hand and I was given something to make me feel spacey.  I got settled on the bed I was on and that was it…

I woke up at around 5:30pm.  I had been dreaming (about what I sadly don’t remember, as I bet with all the drugs in my system it would’ve made a great book) and remember being annoyed I was waking up, until I remembered what I was waking up from.  I think I smiled from that second on for the rest of the evening.  Once I’d come round, I was wheeled to the ward, where my mum and hubby were waiting for me.  They’ve both said since they couldn’t believe how with it I was!  Apart from being a little sick, I was fine, and they both got to stay with me until visiting hours were over.  I was genuinely just happy to be alive!

My first couple of days are a bit of a blur now, especially the first night.  I was exhausted, covered in a special blanket that was heated to twenty eight degrees and attached to a heart monitor, a drip, four drains full of absolute ick coming from various areas of my body, and the worst, a catheter.  My stomach wound and new breast had to be checked regularly – in fact, for the first twelve hours, my breast was checked every 30 minutes.  They used a little ultrasound wand called a Doppler, and I soon learnt to listen for a whooshing sound.  That noise meant that the blood vessels that had been stitched together during microsurgery were working properly – if that sound wasn’t there, then the blood wasn’t flowing well and I might have to rush back to surgery.  I did NOT want that to happen!  The nursing staff who looked after me for those first, critical 48 hours were nothing short of amazing.  I never once felt worried or in pain and I was able to chat to them whilst they were checking my blood pressure and whatever – that made such a difference to my stay.  The next few days I was up and about, shuffling down to the shower room and sitting in my chair instead of the bed.  My hubby visited every day and by Sunday, just five days after a major surgery, I was allowed to go home!

Our house has never looked so beautiful, let me tell you.  Home really is where the heart is. Since I’ve been back, I’ve improved every day.  I’m almost standing up straight (because a chunk of skin was removed from my stomach and I was stitched back together, it has to slowly stretch itself out to cover the area, so I’ve been really hunched over) and I can potter around the house.  I’ve read a book, watched movies and rubbish TV, eaten lots of chocolate and generally feel pretty good.  In fact, I’ve only taken two paracetamol so far today!

So, right now, I’m looking forward to getting back to myself and having a bit of a break.  I had my dressings changed on Tuesday and got to see my wounds – they’re pretty big but not too bad.  The one on my stomach is hip to hip, but neat enough, and once I’m all stretched out it should be hidden pretty well.  I have also got the flattest stomach I’ve ever, ever had, and cant stop looking at it!  As vain as it may sound, I can’t wait to go shopping when I’m well enough!  Poor Tallulah took a bit of a battering – her legs were chopped off and she’s much further down my body, so  I’m planning a cover up as we speak.  My breast looks pretty amazing too.  It’s a little bigger than planned, and a bit bruised and swollen, but it looks like me.  All my skin is still there, apart from the nipple, which looks a bit strange, as my very pale stomach skin is there instead.  I still have a couple of procedures to go, way down the line, to make them match, but all in all, I’m delighted with the results.

The cancer has GONE, I’m healing well and I am happy.

 

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Murphy’s Law.

You know the saying, ‘What can go wrong, will go wrong’?

Well…

Let’s start at the beginning. Last time I checked in, I was prepping for a small surgery. Well, that went without a hitch. Honestly, the worst bit was all the hanging around before hand (I arrived at hospital at 8:30am and was operated on just after 4pm😴). I had a radioactive injection (!) and then sat in the day patient waiting room, until I was called in to get changed. I donned my glamorous gown and a very fetching pair of bottle green compression stockings, before being walked to theatre. I lay on the trolley, had a cannula inserted into my hand and took some deep breaths. 

Then I woke up. All done and feeling nice and fuzzy. I’ve never been so relieved! I took a few days to get back to normal, as the anaesthetic really kicked my ass in terms of tired/wibbly-ness, but now I just have a small incision under my armpit. I took the weekend to recover and geared up for appointment with my surgeon on Monday morning.

Which is where Murphy’s Law kicked in.

I arrived at The Christie with my hubby and we were seated in a little room to wait. I was already pretty anxious, after all, this would be the last time I’d get to chat with the surgeon before the actual op, so the fact that hubs decided it was a good idea to have a rummage in the supply trolley didn’t really help… Anyway! We waited for a little bit and when the surgeon arrived he had bad news.

He wasn’t allowed to do the operation and, to be completely fair to him, he was not happy about it.

I still don’t know how I felt at that moment. I nodded and asked questions – hubby was pretty mad. Essentially, it boiled down to politics between hospitals. Two surgeons would be working on me on the day, one undertaking the mastectomy and the other performing the reconstruction. They come from different trusts but have worked together in the past, so there never seemed to be an issue. This time, however, only one hospital would be paid for the procedure-and it wouldn’t be The Christie.

So they cancelled my surgery.

I think I’ve been through the full range of emotions since then. I’ve been so angry I could have set several small fires (erm, not really for any law enforcement people reading), I’ve cried, I’ve had the ‘Why is this happening to me’ rant. I just couldn’t believe that a hospital that prides itself on its excellent standards of care, would cancel something that I have now found out is classed as an emergency operation. Emergency. As in, life saving. As in, if you don’t get this shit out of me ASAP I’m going to be a very poorly person. I kept thinking, if this was a book, or a movie, I’d find out the name of the person who wouldn’t sign for my surgery and I’d go round to their house. I’d show them that I’m a good person, that I deserve to have this surgery and they’d be won over by my passion and my sassy attitude. Then they’d sign the paperwork with a pen I just happened to have handy.

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work like that.

So, what now? Well, I’m glad to say that my consultant is the most organised man ever. By Tuesday morning, he had me booked in with another surgeon at another hospital, which I’m delighted to say is one of the best in this field. They have women from all over the UK there for this kind of surgery 3 or 4 times a week. When I got the call, though, I cried after. The surgery is a day earlier than planned, which I now know is amazing, and they have gone above and beyond to accommodate me, but I initially felt like I was losing a day of normalcy. It’s scary to think that my body won’t be my own for a while and I hate the thought of being so dependant on people, but I’m so grateful to those who I know I can depend on. The thought that some people go through this with little or no support breaks my heart, and I know how fortunate I am. Unfortunately for them, I also know how stubborn I am, so apologies for being a nightmare in advance!!!

So, Murphy’s Law…what can go wrong, will go wrong.

But I’d like to make an amendment to it; Cynthia Murphy’s Law. What can go wrong, will go wrong…but there will ALWAYS be a solution. Otherwise know as Serendipity; Finding something more suited to your needs without looking for it.

I met my new surgeon this morning and he was brilliant. He even has the same surname as my brother and sister-in-law, so that has to be a good sign! I feel more confident about this surgery than I ever have and that, in itself, is a blessing. All of those prayers and positive energies are doing their thing, so keep them coming for Tuesday please!

I have some lovely plans for my last pre-op weekend and fully intend to enjoy it, I hope you all do too and thanks for reading…

Cyn x