The show went on.

As you can see from the title, just two weeks after the dress rehearsal my surgery went ahead and I am now home, convalescing with daytime TV and chocolate biscuits!

On the appointed day I went through the same procedure as before, and when I saw my surgeon he apologised that my hospital gown was not black ( you know the type, one tie at the back that leaves everything exposed to the world!). But I did manage to get a pair of support stockings in a very dark green that could look black in the right light!

I was then wheeled on a trolley to meet the anaesthetic team. Here I am afraid my very shy veins let me down again, and sadly my “good” vein was on the side that my lymph nodes were going to be removed from. After a few attempts to raise a vein I mentioned that when having chemotherapy they had put my hands in warm water for 5 minutes which had worked. My anaesthetist disappeared for a while, and then came back with a couple of surgical gloves filled with warm water and tied up to make little hot water bottles! I did have to laugh, but it worked a treat! Once the cannula was in the operation could begin.

I thought I would be “knocked out” in a side room and then wheeled into theatre, but no, I walked into the room myself and was greeted by the whole operating team, the table and a lovely set of shiny steps, like those used to mount a horse, for me to get onto to the table with!

Once I was up and settled down a few monitoring pads were put on my body, an oxygen mask applied and anaesthetic injected into my cannula. My last words were, “ I can feel it taking effect now”…

When I woke ( it seemed like only minutes later) a lovely nurse was offering me a drink of very welcome water and thanks to my surgeon’s magic spray I discovered that I had no drains in my wounds. This meant that I would be able to go home the following morning if all went well overnight…great news! I was then wheeled back to the recovery ward. It felt slightly surreal that it was all done after such a long build up to this day and when the nurse on the ward asked how I was feeling…I said I felt a little tired…she found this very amusing as patients usually mention pain, soreness, discomfort etc; and told me I was entitled to feel a bit tired as I had had a busy afternoon!

After an even more welcome cup of tea and biscuits I was given another heart pillow so that I now had one for each side and made my way to the main ward. This journey was also on a trolley and I did my best royal wave as I was trundled through the corridors, my trusty porter telling me if I had missed anyone on the way!

By the time I was settled in the ward and had chosen what I wanted for breakfast I was really looking forward to a good night’s sleep…

This was not to be!

The frailest member of the ward showed that she had the strongest lungs, and kept me awake with sounds ranging from loud sighs, through dirty chuckles to full blown orgasmic sounds!. The nurses took pity on me, and as they could not find any ear plugs moved me into a side ward. Even though I could still hear her through the closed door it was muted enough for me to sleep until I was awoken by my Rice Krispies and a blood pressure check!

I travelled home later that morning with my heart cushions held to my chest to protect it from the seat belt, still not quite believing that my surgery was finally done.

A couple of days later I went to my doctor’s surgery to have the dressings changed and am pleased to report that all looked well.

Walking out of the surgery a wonderful thing happened…a total stranger walked past me, turned around and said “I love your style, you look amazing”, and then walked on. This was directed to me, in a military style hat covering my bald head and my first outing with my newly breastless chest.

That man had no idea how much his comment meant to me, or how important it was. It just proves that if you feel like saying something nice to someone…do it!! It may make their day like it did mine!

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False start/dress rehearsal?

 

So, I had the date for my surgery and I religiously followed all the instructions. I set my alarm so that I could have tea and toast before 7.30 am and only drank water until 11.00am. Little did I know how long it would be before I ate and drank again! And I also did a ceremonial throwing of my bras into the bin ( apart from the one I was wearing of course).

On arrival at the hospital I was fitted with an appropriate wrist band and an additional shiny red one, as a warning that after surgery my left arm should not be used for blood pressure checks or needles of any type due to the removal of my lymph nodes. I tried to convince myself that it looked like a festival wristband, but I don’t think I will be keeping this one on when I leave! The nurse advised that the only thing left to do was to remove my many ear piercings. This was because they may injure my surgeon or his team…I do love my spikes!

I sat and waited, and was visited at various times by medical staff including the anaesthetist who told me that I would have a morphine pump, so that I could administer my own pain relief post surgery. He must have seen a particular look on my face as he hurriedly advised me that I couldn’t give myself so much as to become addicted!. The next visitor was my surgeon who wrote some intriguing hieroglyphics on my breasts with a marker pen.

Now I sat and waited, and waited, and waited. I did some Soduko, read for a while, tried not to look at the clock (without success) and was also aware of a whispered discussion about theatre delays coming from the nurses room. Finally at 4pm my surgeon and anaesthetist came into my room and told me that unfortunately my surgery would not go ahead that day. The reason for this was an emergency that had occurred, which had taken the operating team so long to resolve that there was not enough theatre time for me.

I felt a strange mix of emotions, but the strongest was disappointment, closely followed by concern for the emergency patient, which put my disappointment in perspective. The nursing staff were great and knowing how long I had been fasting rapidly produced two cups of sweet tea and practically force fed me sandwiches!

I then realised that I was 20 miles away from home and had no money as all the hospital paperwork had said to bring no valuables! Luckily I had taken an old “clockwork” Nokia and a spare sim card with me which meant I could ring someone to come and get me. But as everyone assumed I was “under the knife” no-one seemed to want to answer a call from an unknown number!

The nurse then told me there was a bus that could take me for free if I had my hospital letter…but clever me had not wanted to have my house key and a letter with my address on in a bag that may be stolen…so no letter.

Luckily I managed to contact my mum, who rang a friend, who cancelled a book club meeting and drove all the way to pick me up.

I have learnt my lesson and will take with me some way of paying for a journey home next time, But I am hoping it will be a case of “bad rehearsal, great show” and on my next scheduled date for surgery all will go according to plan!

P.S Once home I luckily remembered to take my bras out of the bin.

P.P.S After three showers I still have the hieroglyphs on my breasts…an interesting look!