The big day

Another good friend, Nigel, picked me up at 6am and drove me to the hospital for my 7am admission. I had been quite happy to get a taxi but was grateful for the lift although sorry that it wasn’t to do something fun instead of the reality. The journey seemed like an age as I was living and reliving my night’s sleepless night’s thoughts and when we arrived at the hospital, I just wanted to run away. It took several minutes for me to pluck up the courage to go in and wave goodbye to Nigel (who was threatening to drag me onto the ward!)

I can’t tell you how nervous I was when I got up to the ward. The lights were dimmed and the other ladies in the ward were still asleep whilst I was shown to my bed to wait for whatever comes next. Shortly after I arrived another new patient was shown to the bed next to mine. Her name was Frances and was very chatty. Fortunately she’d been through this before and was, this time in for an elective mastectomy to remove her last breast (the first having been taken following breast cancer). Fortunately, that is, for me. Frances knew what to do and what to wear (or what not to wear), she also was able to put my mind at rest a little with what to expect although in some moments I wasn’t sure if I just wanted to sit and stare at the ceiling.

A short while later a nurse came by and measured me up for some very gorgeous TED socks (to stop clotting) and gave me a gown which I was told to undress and put on. I finally felt trapped in my bed… hey one wrong move and my fellow ward-mates could get a flash! And then the day long tests began – it seemed like my blood pressure and heart rate was checked over and over again. Next I saw an anaethesist who looked at my veins – or rather commented that I didn’t have any!! They’d gone into hiding knowing what’s happening.. apparently I have really low blood pressure. My heart rate however was through the roof and I got to get my pre-meds early to calm me down. Shortly thereafter my consultant popped round for a quick chat and overview of the op, not forgetting the lovely drawing he did in permanent marker so that there’d be no confusion about which boob to excise. Kindly he referred to the op as a mallowectomy which confused the trainee doctors who were accompanying him on his rounds! Fortunately he also told me that I was second on his surgery list so my wait would soon be over.

I was wheeled down to the operating theatre at 10.30am. At that point I felt completely helpless, seeing the corridors pass by and feeling a little woozy from the pre-med but not really knowing what next. What does it feel like to have a general anaesthetic etc. Anyway within a nanosecond of the canula I was being woken up by the nurses. I thought about asking why they were waking me when they hadn’t done anything but didn’t have the energy to speak. I noticed the time was 3.30pm and assumed I must have taken longer to come round from the anaesthetic. I must then have been wheeled up the ward but don’t remember this or anything for ages except the nurses taking more blood pressure tests and monitoring my heart. Also the awkwardness of the canula in the crook of my left arm attached to a drip. Annoyingly though this meant that I couldn’t bend my left arm nor move my right as I was so sore from the operation. Sounds ridiculous but I wanted to cry when I just couldn’t even move myself up the bed or reach the bed covers.

A while later my consultant’s assistant popped round to check my wound. I looked away whilst she had a look as I didn’t want to know what was left or rather what was missing.

When Frances came back on the ward I noticed that she had a drain as well as a drip. Throughout the night the nurses checked her drain and I was grateful not to have one. Somehow not having one made my operation quite small and insignificant. I already felt sore and was struggling with if my scars would change me and how I looked. Ridiculous I know but still something playing on my mind.

The night was really uncomfortable and I’m not sure if I slept at all. I couldn’t move becuase of the canula and drip on my left and my surgery on my right and besides I sleep on my right side or front… slightly difficult! My left hand had swollen up so that I couldn’t bend any fingers and felt every pulse throbbing in my fingers. I felt miserable and tearful and wondered what had been done whilst I was in surgery.

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