Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Surgery


In the couple of weeks after my cancer diagnosis all I wanted was this lump out! 

That was until the day of my lumpectomy where all i wanted was to stay in bed and pretend I didn't have cancer at all! Obviously the radioactive injection I had to have the previous day wasn't having the desired effect in that I was hoping it was going to turn me into Superwoman, with an unbelievable pain threshold as one of my special powers! 

The day of the surgery I had to be at Bradford Royal Infirmmary for 7:30am. I had to fast before surgery so no breakfast for me. I was starving! I got to Ward 12 Mum, Dad and Michele all in tow and I was extremely nervous. It all seems so real once you're in the hospital and have been allocated your own bed. 

I got into my gown and my (not very sexy) White stockings. I was then joined by a nurse who started the long process of 'form filling'. They have so many forms to fill in it's ridiculous and I'm sure the nurses time would be better spent actually helping people!

Next came Dr Nervous. He was a junior doctor and he nervously asked me a million questions and hurriedly scribbled down my answers. Allergic to any medicines? No. Any heart problems? No. Any cancers or anything? Erm....Yes. I have breast cancer. That's why I'm here I answered far too abruptly. Sorry Dr Nervous. He coughed and quickly wrote it down.

In comes Dr S. I need to mark you up states Dr S ushering me to take my top off. Since I found my lump I've got so used to taking my top off and getting 'the girls out' that I reckon I could get them out in the middle of Asda and barely bat an eyelid! Dr Nervous concentrates very hard on his form filling. Poor boy I don't think his used to women getting their boobs out in front of him! Dr S draws on my left breast. ' X marks the spot' I joke. I see the corner of Dr S's mouth turn up but he doesn't quite smile. Dr S doesn't like to laugh.

I'm 'third in line' for surgery so I wait patiently until about 10:30am. Then the nurse calls me to go through. 'Do you need the loo?' I'd been for about eighteen 'wees' already so one more wont hurt. Then I was off, pillow in hand, on my way to theatre. Mum, Dad and Michele following behind me. Once we were outside the theatre I held back tears as I said my goodbyes to them. 

The theatre room was like Holby City. About 5 anethatists in blue gowns surrounded my bed, where I delicately laid my pillow down. 

This is it.

My kind nurse from Ward 12 undressed my top half and helped me on to the bed. One of the anethatists introduced herself to me and then snapped at the nurse for undressing me before I had got on the bed. God there's office politics in every office even if the office is a theatre.

By the time I was on the bed my leg was shaking. Familiar anethatist, who I had met earlier on in the morning, squeezed my foot and told me I'd be ok. It all happened very quickly from then onwards. A nurse started putting sticky stuff on my back, another was checking my blood pressure and pulse. A canula was put in to my hand and I started getting injections through it. I felt a liquid come up the back of my throat and I heaved and coughed. 'Sorry that was just me' said an anethatist. God knows what that was. I was starting to feel a bit whoozy. 'Now Kirsty you will feel an ache going all the way up your arm now'. This hurts. 'Arrrggghh'. 

I can hear familiar hospital beeps. I'm awake! Yes I've made it, I'm not dead!! I can see an anethatist with dark black hair and tanned skin. I started asking if she was Chilean as she looked like my friend. As the porter wheeled me back to Ward 12 I started blabbering on about how clean the hospital was and that it should be on Tripadvisor! (how embarrassing) I was so drugged up! 

The nurse wheeled me past the waiting room on to the ward explaining to my family that she needed ten minutes and then they could see me. I gave them a quick wave (Michele tells me I was still cross eyed at this point) and they waved back obediently. 

After a few minutes Mum, Dad and Michele joined me and I was still blabbering on about something or other. I felt very 'peaky' but I wasn't sick. 'I think you're just glad to be alive' Michele says laughing. Yeah I'm definitely glad it's over with! 

Later the nurse tells me I had a bit of a bleed during surgery and I had two bandages on one of my wounds. A waterproof bandage and a pressure bandage on top of that. She said she would like me to stay in hospital overnight so they could keep an eye on me. Visiting hours were over so I was left alone for a bit whilst I had my tea. Eurgh hospital food is disgusting! Soup that was meant to be minted pea but tasted like spicy vegetable. Followed by soggy pasta and over processed rice pudding. At least during tea time I got to know some of the other girls that were in there. A lovely blonde lady who seemed to want to talk to everyone. She had earlier helped tie the back of my gown so I could walk to the toilet without my rather fabulous paper knickers being on show! Also the lady next to her who had just had a mastectomy, who kindly offered me her orange juice. 

After tea I struggled to move my tray back and couldn't put the bed back down as I had no idea were the control was - So no sleep for me. I was hoping I would catch one of the nurses attention when they walked past but unfortunately they didn't walk past very often. To be honest they probably had more important things to do than adjusting my bed. 

My favourite time of the day in hospital was when it was 'drug time'. The nurse would walk through the ward with her drug cart like a mafia drug dealer and we were her smack heads desperate for their next fix. She told me I could have some more codeine and ibuprofen and then gave me an injection in my stomach. 

Mum, Dad and Michele came back to see me at the next visiting slot, which was 7pm. They were quickly followed by Dr S. I didn't expect to see him so late in the evening but he explained he had only just finished for the day. 'Why are you staying overnight' he asked abruptly. 'Erm....because the nurse told me to' I stuttered. 'You need to sleep and you won't sleep here. I'm happy to discharge you'. I had gotten used to the idea of staying overnight but I was more than happy to get back to my own bed and so I quickly got dressed. (Well as quickly as I could after surgery. Both mum and Michele helping me).

I started making my way out of the hospital. Ward 12 seemed such along way from the exit. I was really warm and by the time I was on the ground floor I was desperate for a drink of water. Michele rushed ahead to get some from the vending machine at reception while I sat with mum on some seats in the corridor. Unfortunately, the vending machine was broken so Michele went back upstairs to get a bottle of water. I started to feel a bit sick so I thought I best start making my way to the car. Dad had gone ahead to bring it nearer to the exit. I got outside and down the steps feeling sicker and sicker. Then a wave of nausea stopped me in my tracks. (Oh no I'm going to faint) I looked around for a seat as black spots started to blur my vision. The only seat I could see was in the smoking area a few feet away. Mum had started shouting for help by this point as I was wobbling all over the place. A man rushed over to help and hoisted me up by my left arm that I had just had surgery on. I screamed out in pain. Mum screamed at him to let go. Bless him he was only trying to help. Eventually he let go and I threw myself onto the seat in the smoking area. Next thing I know there was the porter there with a wheelchair and a nurse from Ward 12 waiting to take me back to the ward. It was like i had failed the first hurdle. 

I went back into the hospital until my blood pressure went back up. I was allowed to leave at about 9pm. I did a couple of test runs to the toilet to make sure I was up for the walk. In the end it was decided I would leave in a wheelchair. 

I'm now two weeks since surgery and pretty much back to normal apart from a little nerve tenderness. It was definitely difficult for the first few days. The first day or two I couldn't even get out of bed without help. I struggled not being able to have a proper bath for the first five days. The problem with a wound on your armpit is that your bandage can quite easily stink! The most shocking thing was the blue nipple I have due to the dye they put in during surgery. Apparently this can take 18 months to fade! Brilliant. So add having a smurfs nipple to the list of cancer problems. Oh and don't forget the blue pee! Which I noticed when I first went to the toilet....oh and yes the poo is blue as well. Like shitting slug pellets kind of blue!...No one said cancer was pretty!

At least the pain (and smell) ((and blue  smurf like bodily fluids)) was a distraction from the long wait for the results from surgery. If the tumour is not out with a good margin for error I would need to go back for further surgery. This happens to one in five woman who have this kind of surgery. There's also the lymph node biopsy results to worry about. I had a sentinel node biopsy during the surgery to remove my tumour. If breast cancer spreads to another body part it is likely to spread to the lymph nodes first. So if my lymph nodes show signs of cancer....well that wouldn't be good news.

So fingers crossed...



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