Saturday, 28 March 2009

51. My week in hospital - Day 2 to Day 7 and home we go!

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This is the biggy - the full hospital encounter.

Day 0 and Day 1 were spent getting pumped with fluid and mostly on the operating table and so I recalled the day leading upto and the morning in my last post.

Fluid changed me from this..



To this in 8 hours.


Day 2 and Day 3 - Waking up to face the heat!



Day 2 and Day 3 were days of personal challenge and tolerance. I am so glad I barely remember this bit because it was hot...hot as hell and I was chubby as you like from about 6 units of fluid they put in through my Canula on the back of my hand. I sweated, a lot. The morphine was on tap with a thumb presser. I remember the nurses kept coming and going checking my morphine use and telling me I could use it when I wanted and commenting on how I wasn't using it much at all. I was though, I was not in pain as such more discomfort. The more morphine I used the more I itched and no-one told me until later in the week that I could have taken anti-histamine tablets to stop the itching! It would have halfed my personal torture I can tell you. In and out of morphine haze I remembered the physio had told me to clench my buttocks and wiggle my feet, bend my knees periodically and breath deeply to reduce DVP (deep veing thrombosis) and pneumonia chances. So I did. The bear hugger blanket kept my body temperature at 38 degrees Celsius to help the healing, open the capillaries in my blood and such other good for me reasons. It was nauseating hell! It didn't help that when I did the physio I kicked the bear hugger inflating tube and it would deflate, I would cool, I would call I nurse on the button and then, when reconnected to the inflatable blanket my body would try and aclimatise to the nauseating heat again. It was a nightmare. It filled me with dread every time it came loose. Day 2 I was visited by my gorgeous hubby who I was so glad to see.

Day 3 was the worst day for the bear hugger - during a bed bath it was disconnected and I had to endure sickening pain as I moved to aid the nurses change my bed linen whilst I was in it and to get me clean. I was so exhausted from all the moving and the morphine itching (that I couldn't reach or hurt myself trying to scratch), the shifting relentlessly to find some comfort (without much success) as I led on my drains in my back. As I was sponged down by nurses my mouth dried so much I couldn't speak or swallow and I was scared, genuinely. The nurses were busy sorting my drains out as there were 10 of them and bed baths and bed change is not very friendly to drains! I panicked and then tears streamed down my face as I got stuck in a sad, painful, too hard place. I had never felt so low or so afraid in my life. What the hell have I done to myself - why do I have to do this to live? Why? The nurses plugged me back in just before lunch arrived and my temperature soared. I tried to eat some toast but I took one bite and then wanted to cry as the nausea reached a point where I nearly asked for one of those cardboard bowls..but I survived. It passed. I controlled it and then I knew it would be okay. I was tough. I heard a lot of women in the nearby wards who were not so well, I felt for them - I had major surgery and I was well. I was more well than I realised as people kept telling me so.

Day 3 lingered and my tolerance waned as the deadline to remove the bear hugger came closer. At visiting time in the afternoon my husband and my mum-in-law arrived. I was grumpy. I was so hot, so sick of the itching, so tired that I spouted utter crap that I don't really remember. I apologise to anyone I offended if I did..it was hard. I was suffering under that damned blanket. I sprayed myself lots to cool down. I counted the hours, the minutes until it was off. I celebrated the moment everytime someone came in - telling them that today it was coming off. Then..as if the moment would never arrive..it was coming off!! Whoooopeeeee!!! A nurse said the most precious of words to me.."It's nearly time..only 15 minutes to go. Shhhhh..I'll take it off now as I am in here. Okay?" I wish I could have hugged her (no pun intended). It was the best thing ever. Get it off!!



Above is a picture of the very very very helpful healing bear hugger blanket that I loathe. It had moments where both the heat and the morphine combined to create a moment of peace and null void feeling. I remember little really and very glad about that!

At 5pm two of my favourite nurses came in to transform me back into a woman! It was bliss! Another bed bath and a breast surgery nightie (wide and able to slip elbows into arm holes). Angela (my angel) brushed my hair and made me happy again. I felt amazing and by the time that my husband arrived back for the next visiting slot I had been transported half way back to his wife again. I was happy! And I had beautiful flowers and messages of support. Surgery, bear hugger, morphine drip now off the list. I was down to catheter and drain removal now. Halfway there...halfway.





Day 4 was a celebration of surviving Day 3 and getting out of my stupid air mattress bed that made my bum numb and sore. I sat in my chair for the first time and it was almost bliss. Comfort. I ate for the first time in 4 days. I marvelled at the size of my thighs whilst I carried so much water still. I took a photo of my anti-DVT socks...hate them, itchy, get them off too!





I sat for hours and paid for it when I was helped back into bed. I tried to sleep that night but I woke with my teeth chattering, feeling scared. My body had got so used to laying numbly stiff like a log and the drugs had worn off but I didn't wake up in time to be ahead of the pain. My body was in shock. I called the nurse and told her I was shivering. She got me a blanket and left (I was a little stunned). I couldn't settle..still shivering and teeth chattering I pressed the button and asked for pain relief and to get back into the chair so I could sleep. The air mattress was so uncomfortable to lie on with my drains I couldn't stand it. So they changed it at 3am in the morning (sorry ladies) and I slept upright in my chair for 5 hours. Bliss!

Below is a picture of the bum eating but but bed sore preventing air mattress which alternates inflation tubes. You get comfy and then it deflates and you shuffle to get comfy, then it re-inflates..the process repeats. Stab the mattress!! ARRRRRGH!!



This is a picture of one drain - I had 10 of these babies! OW OW OW OWWWWW!!!



Day 5 out came 5 drains! Woohoo!!

It was time, they were coming out - finally some peace. Unfortunately the ones coming out were the ones in the front. My back ones were still draining well and I was not happy. They were agony to lie on. I reminded myself that they would be out soon - the levels of fluid were less each day. The nurse thought it would be the next day they would come out. I hoped, prayed, wished. They didn't come out until day 7 after some mishap with labelling new exchange bottles for some of the drains and the output chart was out of sync. I suffered another 2 days instead. I was a little angry to say the least.

This is a picture of me on Day 5 - tired, exhausted, pained, fedup me! This is what the drains and the bed and the blanket did to me. God I need a facial!! ha ha!



My day improved again when my lovely physio Martine called by to take me for my fist wobbly walk - which I did twice along with catheter and 5 drains in two little handmade shopping bags. Excellent - I was up! I was strong. It was harder than I imagined, like I had been hit with a steamroller but it felt good.

Day 5 was a great day! I began to enjoy my food and the evening hot drink and some light entertainment as the week went on. Things were on the up!



My least healthy meal of the week - cheese and onion pasty and beans with strawberry cheesecake and after dinner drugs! Tasty! I took this one for the hubby!



Day 6 will I ever get out of here?



I looked so much more like me, I had finally got some rest (some) after sleeping for only hours at a time and suffering lots of drain pain. But things were better and the final day was approaching. Although I hoped my remaining drains would be out, they weren't. The mix up with output levels prolonged their stay until Day 7. I coped, I had my catheter out. Still constipated (thats morphine and lazing around for you!) but able to walk up and down the corridor with my shopping bags filled with delicious drain juice bottles! Tomorrow I would fight to get the damned drains out..tooth and nail, I would fight. It was getting silly.

Day 7 Release Mrs Jones!!!



Finally, the day had come. 7 days after I had arrived, 6 days after surgery - I was freed. I was scanning the drain charts with my husband and showing him how they had been messed up and I knew they were ready to come out 2 days before but hadn't been removed. I could see what had happened but in the grand scheme of things, it didn't matter because today I would make them come out. As we studied the charts my surgeon arrived, asked for a boob flash to check healing, checked my drain bottles and paperwork - recognised the error and said that was it, they were coming out today and I could go home! I was speechless!! HOOOORAY!!!

I gulped - held my breath and gambled that the very last drain would be the worst, the one that had haunted me in my sleep. I was right..it was last..it was the best feeling after though as they were all out. WOW! How different my body felt. I had been so tight and now all the spaghetti tubes were out. WOW!!

Angela (my angel nurse) wheeled me and all my stuff, balloon floating high and hidden behind bunches of flowers to the main entrance whilst my husband negotiated his way out of the hospital on his crutches to get the car and come and collect me. I hugged that wonderful lady goodbye and kissed her, thanking her and all her fellow nurses for caring for me. I was free. I was going home!!

Home

So quiet, so peaceful. It was good and weird to be back. The garden was looking great, buds bursting and flowers blooming. The start of the real recovery was here. 4 days after getting home I had my dressings off and everything was looking good and healing well.

Phew..

50. My week in hospital - Day -1 and Day 1

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Arriving at hospital - Sunday 15th March 2009

Arriving at Derriford Hospital was freaky - this was it, my time..my operation. Chris was cool and calm as usual. We made our way to Primrose Ward and booked in with reception and was shown my room. A nice but small room with an en-suite toilet. Very private and with a view of Dartmoor! Bonus!




We sat and talked for a while and then my consultant/surgeon arrived to go through the surgery one last time and to mark my body the areas where tissue would be removed and to be moved. Chris was tired by 9pm and so he left me..the complete me. I told him I would see him in the morning and settled into my room and bed.



At 10pm I was offered a hot drink and I welcomed it with open arms..I hadn't eaten anything since the morning when Chris cooked a large full English breakfast! I played Nintendo DS games til I couldn't stay awake anymore and tried to sleep on the air mattress as best I could.



Surgery - Monday 16th March 2009

I woke really early and watched the sun rise over the moor from my room. It looked like a beautiful day and I waited for Chris to arrive. 6.30am he left home and arrived with me about 6.50am. We had a good 2 hours together before the hustle and bustle started outside my room. We'd met the anaesthetist who was lovely and ran through some paperwork and questions. She was gentle and made Chris feel good about who was dealing with me whilst I was asleep. Mr Drabble arrived (my surgeon) and lots of nurses with theatre gowns and head scarves on. I became one of those people you pass when visiting, the people in the beds being wheeled around. Chris came with me as far as he could and then we said goodbye. I told him to have a great surf and prayed for myself and for perfect surf for Chris, he would feel better about me if he was having a perfect session. The trolley was wheeled by a man and woman nurse, they were calm and negotiated me through the hospital with ease. The woman and I talked a little and she talked about how she lived in the city but had 2 ducks. It helped pass the emptyness between room and theatre. When we got to the waiting bay I started to shake, almost like shock and the lack of food and sleep had kicked in. A lovely nurse called Karen arrived, rubbed my feet kindly, joked about some things and then broke the news that there were no theatre beds to wheel me in.. I had to walk into the place you only see on tv. MAD! I said it was cool and that I would be fine but I needed to cover my bum because of the split gown. They wrapped me in a sheet and I joked about looking like a ghost wandering the corridors as they opened the anaesthetist doors and we passed through the little room that is normally the last thing you see before you wake up again, into the vast theatre.

It was light and very big. There were people almost hiding in the side wings, waiting for me to get settled. I wonder if they had all been told to hide away so as not to frighten me. Apparently there would be about 10-12 people in the theatre with me but I only saw about 4 and some hiding as I jumped up onto the high stainless steel slab of the theatre table. I led down. The anaesthetist came in and identified herself in case I didn't recognise her all dressed in green gowns and head scarf. She gave me the G 'n' T drugs that make you woozy before they add the knock out juice but I don't remember another moment, I must have passed out with the first stuff.

I was gone..I was in their hands and I would wake up any second. Everyone else would be waiting another 12 hours before they saw me awake again.

I went in at 9.45am and I came out of recovery at 10.10pm over 12 hours later.

Recovery Room

I woke up feeling sleepy but good. A man and a woman were there in green gowns but no other patients. I remember asking if the room was normally so empty and the man explained that there were normally a few people at a time there. The next thing I knew I was almost at my room again with Chris smiling but looking apprehensive. He gave me flowers and kissed me. He was relieved and so was I. I woke up. Chris told me everything had gone really well and that the surgeon was pleased and so was he. I don't know how long he stayed, I barely remember a thing from there. I complained about the hot blanket (bear hugger) apparently but I do not remember doing so. Later that night I remember a nurse in white who asked about my catheter and told me she had to change it as it wasn't draining. I told her I felt full and then I passed out. Apparently my catheter was not draining my bladder and I had another fitted whilst I was out of it.

The hard part starts here, the heat endurance, the nausea, the morphine itches.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

49. The dressings are OFF!

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I have realised I use far too many exclamation marks!!! I am gonna try and give it up a little (if I can).

Not quite up to recalling my week in hospital but I will soon.

Today's update is that I had my dressings off. Everything looks clean and healing really well. I am so pleased. Voiced my concerns about the slight swelling around my left armpit and side of my breast which is where the muscle has been pulled forward under my armpit and into the breast skin. The right side looks amazing but the left will need a little more loving and softening to get it to 'relax'. I know it will take time but I am rather impatient but a realist too so I am not expecting perfection.

The pain of wounds and bruising has subsided immensely ovenight - weird! I am experiencing more middle back pain as I spend more time supporting my upper body sitting. My bottom is numb a lot from the amount of lying down and sitting I am doing but a quick get up and walk around is sorting that out. In saying that, having my arms hanging is quite painful in itself. My back is now compensating for the loss of the latissimus dorsi muscles and I will have to take it easy and do lots more physio. I think I will be ready to do some more advanced exercises in a few days. Things are so much easier today but the mammoth walk into the hospital and out again was slow and tiring. I was with my husband who is on forearm crutches and people would assume I was with him and not there for me. I became quite paranoid about being banged or knocked as people avoided the more obvious disablement of my hubby. The lift made me edgy - people jammed in and I sheilded my chest and thankfully had worn a nice puffy feather gilet which made me feel more protected from a knock.

My BCN (breast care nurse) is pleased with my results and said Mr Drabble has done a good job for me and it is all looking good but that I must take it easy.

Now that moments of comfort are appearing here and there it seems I can enjoy getting better.

I have had some days of sheer frustration, dropping things, can't pick them up, making my hubby bend down with his bad knees and help me. I thoroughly advise anyone who does the back muscle op to get one of those long reach grabbers for picking up small items that go to the floor - getting down there is hard work. My core muscles and glutimus maximus are getting a good workout I can tell you.

Anyway..all is good. 2 weeks of body torture are worth every moment I stop and remember that I don't feel the fear, the anxiety. It is totally priceless and drives you onwards, even when you think you can't get out of bed, or you can't sleep. The tiredness is the hard thing, it makes everything else so difficult but it seems to be fading now..just 11 days ago I was out of it..6 days ago I was in agony..today I feel good, twinging, aching, sore but good.

Today is a good day. And I got flowers from family and they are gorgeous. Never had so much nice post in my life, its like a prolonged birthday and it is so appreciated.

Something perks you up everyday. Surgery is hard - harder than I thought but the feeling is amazing and it makes accepting the body change so much easier. I have been given a life and I want to hug my consultant and everyone. I stopped a lady I recognised in the hospital who had only popped her head in once during my stay, I thanked her and told her I was doing well. She said I had got up and on my feet, coped and progressed so much quicker than most women they had seen. That made me feel good - I know I am doing well. I am so glad.

Whew...tired arms now..signing off.

BAck in the social scene again soon..at the moment, its all about me and I only have small time slots on the internet (hubby will kill me if I am on here too long: ) x)

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

48. Back Home...at last

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Hooray!! I made it home..in one piece(?)..or several rearranged pieces anyway.

The sun is shining and my garden has blossomed with a beautiful week of sunshine. I can now enjoy my hard work and relax (??!! I 'will' know what this feels like again one day).

Thank you for your well wishes, your thoughts, I had a good operation and the results are brilliant! Some of the nurses said it was the best reconstruction work they had ever seen so that's reassuring. I think I am about the same size as before but it will take some time for things to settle.

I feel relieved though - not something I can explain here and now..I feel free of the worry. It is truly something I never thought I would feel and I have to sit and think about this some more.

Its good to be home but it is even better to be without my drains. I had 10 drains, 2 from under the breasts each side and 3 from the back where the latissimus dorsi muscle was taken out for the reconstruction. I don't want to detract from the gladness of being home but I am in pain. They sent me home with paracetamol and ibuprofen which often feels like a joke but they take the edge off enough to stop a lot of wincing. I can't lift anything, I can't dress myself, I can't get up in the night and put on a dressing gown..it is a nightmare. Having no arms sucks. The operation means the muscles from your back are tunnelled under your skin, under your armpits and the bruising and ache is hard work. My poor disabled hubby deals with his own pain and now he has to run around after me too. Nightmare..but it will get easier..it will.

It seems like such a mammoth journey to write down at the moment and so I will save the full detail write up for another day when I have the brain power (fuzzy does not begin to describe my memory, speech or concentration right now). My darling hubby has taken lots of photos to document the process, the healing, the changes that occur and I will post these privately on BRCA Umbrella when I can.

I have followed lots of blogs and seen lots of photos of other reconstruction work but not ever really found anyone who had the back muscle reconstruction work done. Most women seem to opt for the implants or TRAM Flap (tummy muscle) option. Everyone seems to say it is not that bad and the drains will be out and things will feel better but with the back muscle (see below image of Latissimus Dorsi muscle) and the site of the drains, you have to sleep and lay and rest on your wounds and drains.


I cannot tell you how uncomfortable it has been and still is. I am not pretending that it is easy. I got no rest without morphine, I constantly shifted my body through pain to ease the pressure on my drains in my back (long tubes under my skin attached to vacuumed bottoms to suck out the weep (sorry for the gross description but that is what they do). It was relentless and I am exhausted from lack of sleep and the pain. The drains, although everyone says that you just breathe in and the nurse tugs them out, were a nightmare to pull. I had 5 each side of me trailing off the bed and put my hands on them trying to lift my body to move and shift, tugging them. My back was so drum tight where so much skin was taken (a large eye shape each side) and the drains touched nerves and my skin was bruised and sore from lying on them all coiled under my skin. This was never going to be a pretend everything is cool site, the enormity of this operation is not to be underestimated..it is tougher than I imagined.

This has to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but everyday it should get easier. I am plateauing at the moment where my body is healing now I am more rested without all the nurses coming in and out, checking blood pressure, emptying my catheter, giving me pain relief, feeding me, offering water, seeing how I am, visitors, cleaners..it is relentless. Home is where you heal and rest - hospital is where they put you back together and give you a headstart, care for you at the very core.

I watched the amazing nurses of Primrose Ward, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth work flat out, juggle priorities as they constantly change, meet the demands of their patients, share a moment with me, hold my hand, wash my body, ignore the irritability, the tiredness, make me feel safe. I am humbled by the beautiful women they are, they work with their own disabilities like MS, joint problems, single mothers juggling family life, working shifts, being short staffed. They are paid nowhere near enough for what they do - they are amazing and they do an relentless and tiring job. I wonder how many people say thank you to them - tell them they are brilliant? I did, I made sure that I thanked everyone for tolerating me, for helping me, for caring for me, for sharing with me, for feeding me, for cleaning my room. I have shed tears at how stunning these people are, the ones that help people get well again. They have touched me deeply and my week in hospital, for all the pain was worth it to have my faith in humanity restored, to jolt my life back into perspective, to allow me to see the beauty in people again.

I felt like Neo in The Matrix.. I could see all the positive in the process, I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to live a longer life - and I am ever grateful!

:)

Sunday, 22 March 2009

47. One day to go..one day

2 comments

I look normal again. On monday i was so pumped with fluid for the op i had no creases in my eyelids. Look what i week can do! And 2 nights of decent rest. Full update when i get settled back at home. 5 more drains to come out today..eek! :)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Leigh-ann's surgery

4 comments
Hi all,

As most of you know, Leigh-ann had a double mastectomy with reconstruction yesterday, and to cut a long-story-short she is doing fine.

I went into the hospital at 6:50am yesterday to be with Leigh-ann whilst she went through the pre-op prep, and she was taken down to theatre at 8:20. She went into theatre at 9:45 and then didn't get back to the ward until 21:50; that's a whopping 12 hours (2 hours were in recovery). The surgeon is initially pleased with how everything went, though we'll find out more today.

Leigh-ann is extremeley tired and hot (she is kept at 38 degrees to promote good blood flow), and very agitated and irritable, but she is pleased it is over (though I think the hard bit has just begun), and last night she was drinking and talking happily.

It was a phenomenally long day, but when I left Leigh-ann at the hospital I went straight to the beach with my kayak. I knew everything was going to be fine when I came over the hill to find glassy smooth 2ft waves peeling over the sand bars, and there was no-one else in sight!!! On such a perfect day I knew nothing could go wrong and so I happily surfed until 12:00 and then got a load of stuff done at home before I headed back to the hospital.

Thanks to everyone for your wishes, Leigh-ann appreciates them all.

Chris

Saturday, 14 March 2009

46. With danger boobs - pre-op blog entry

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So, here I am. Less than 24 hours until I am sat in my own hospital room on the final countdown. I have been fine all day..all week actually but today I had a 'moment' when I realised the enormity of what I am about to do. I just talked myself round that women do this everyday, they survive and cope. I am fine now.

I have been gardening and completing paperwork today. Its been a weird but nice day, slow..long. I have just completely lost my appetite but at least I have eaten today..going to try and have some dinner when I sign off.

So, here's my list of things to take with me. I am not going overboard, I haven't read anyone elses list and I think I am being practical here.

Body
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Wash stuff/flannel
Shampoo
Wipes (useful for keeping cool and clean)
Hand gel (I am a bit of a germ freak)
Bio-Oil
Tissues
Ear plugs
Alice band
Hair bands
Hairbrush

Clothes
PJs
Slippers/slipper socks
Jog pants (for going and coming home)
T-shirt (for going and coming home)
Undies (no bra though - lol!)

Gadgets & Entertainment
Mobile phone (now that you can use them in hospital)
Charger
Nintendo DS (keep the brain busy)
Charger
MP3 player
Notebook
Puzzle Books
Pens

And that's it..if anyone knows of anything I should take but haven't listed - please let me know. I will log on tomorrow (Sunday) but not posting again until I am awake (which Chris will do for me - thank you honey x).

I know I will be nervous but I have no choice now, no control, no options other than to just go forth - go with the armour that is my strength and think about the blessing that I have been given.

And finally, some Thank yous..


Mum - thank you for doing your DNA test and for being so level headed about things.
Dad - thank you Dad for coming to see me this week and for talking with me.
Lori - my in-law mum - thank you for gathering so many bits for me and for your kindness throughout.
Bob - my in-law dad - thank you for being you and for supporting us.
BRCA Umbrella friends - thank you ladies..thank you for your continued kind words and for sharing intimate stuff, your lives, your feelings, your thoughts, your photos. It is a priceless gift and I wouldn't have made it this far without you all.
Selina Goodman - my genetic counsellor - you have been a peaceful oasis of calm every time we have talked. Thank you for understanding me.

And finally..

Chris - my wonderful, thoughtful, patient husband - I adore you, you have been through all the hard stuff, wiped my tears, held me when I have been scared, felt alone, talked sense to me, kept me grounded and stood by me through every wobbly moment. I love you more than I can tell or show you. You are my rock. I know you will love the new me as much as the old me and I love you for helping me through this - without you this would have been impossible. Thank you x

Whoa..okay folks..signing off now, going to the beach tomorrow for some fresh air, relaxing quality time with Chris and then taking my mutant ass to Derriford hosptial for and overnight stay and then some major danger boob removing surgery on Monday!

Friday, 13 March 2009

45. Pre-Op Check - all systems go

1 comments
I spent hours in the hospital yesterday having my blood taken, swabs up my nose, my groin and mouth for MRSA testing, blood pressure, weight, height, filling in forms, answering questions and finally, a last chat with my BCN (breast care nurse).

She asked if I had thought about if the surgery went wrong or not to plan. I could wake up with one breast, no breasts even. Although it is not likely, I have already thought about it and I cannot control that. I would be upset for a little while but I know it would be temporary and I could have follow up surgery to fix it. That's all I can think about that really..no point worrying now, its too late..its happening on Monday.

I have to go into the hospital (Derriford) on Sunday evening at 6pm and stay overnight. My surgery will be 8-9am on Monday and I will be in a side room for about a week. The Primrose Ward is a cancer ward and it will really hit me that I have been very lucky but also a little guilty too. Silly? Yes, I can't help that I know, I have fought long and hard to know - to change my future. I just have to focus on being strong and a good patient. I was told that I am not to suffer in pain in silence, that pain meds will help me heal because my body will be relaxed.

I probably won't be on my feet until Thursday, so thats 3 days flat on my back, sponge baths twice a day by the nurses, the hot blanket for the first 2 days and morphine on demand. It all sounds okay. I can handle it.

There are some other major stresses going on in the background that poor hubby is dealing with and I think we are both just very, very worn out right now. CSA crap and money issues just don't make life any easier but we have to keep moving forward.

Well..time to get on with my day. Got a lot to do. I will probably post again tonight. My packing list will make a feature I'm sure. Mum-in-law has been amazing and gathered lots of bits for me to keep my overactive brain occupied. That will also help with pain management.

Lets hope its gonna be a walk in the park but I am ready for whatever happens.

: )

Monday, 9 March 2009

44. Make way..here comes the Operation Queen!

1 comments
The title is for my hubby - he (and my sepson) call me the Queen of all things..the Bead Queen (hence my jewellery website name www.beadqueen.co.uk), Gardening Queen, Photography Queen..generally you are the "fill in the blanks" Queen, attached to anything that I am doing at the time. I love it..I know that I am appreciated and loved because I am their Queen.

So..today I am preparing to be the Operation Queen.

I am sat in my conservatory on a less than sunny day, a bit windy, a bit dull and dreary. I have a cup of tea and my laptop (for those concerned..yes it is staying at home and not coming to hospital with me).

This morning I went to see my GP and I explained that I needed a few signatures about stairlifts and my sick note for my op and recovery period. He signed me off for 10 weeks, to be reviewed but that should be plenty for me to get back on my feet with no complications. I also told him about my secret worry: my right breast with an area of thickening, the one that got needle biopsied when I was 27. He examined me and said it is free moving, although lumpy but nothing to worry about probably but with my family history and the BRCA1 gene, it was worth highlighting to the surgeon. He called the hospital whilst I was there, just so they can check it when I do my pre-op medical check on Thursday.

He wished me well and I left feeling much happier about my lumpy boob. Its always caused me concern but I just hope that I am about the nail it from ever becoming anything other than a breast thickening. Whew!

I pottered about town after that, gathered some ingredients to make a delicious Chocolate Guinness cake (yum!) and made my way back home. The phone has been ringing increasingly over the last few days, understandable I guess and today I have spoken to BT (telling them to go away and leave us alone), Jenny my breast care nurse, my Dad - twice, my husband, my mum-in-law and my dear friend Sam.

Jenny, my BCN (breast care nurse)called to see how I was after the shock announcement about my surgery date moving. She wantede to re-organise another time to meet with me before my op and so I'll pop in to see her after my pre-op checkup and just run through the final questions and maybe take some bloods etc. I am due into the hospital on Sunday but I am not sure what time. I have to be in the night before my op so that I am not delayed at all as the surgery will take all day (approx. 8 hours).

I feel strangely calm, I felt very alone for so long although Chris has always been there but recently confessed that this BRCA thing has taken over our lives a little. That's the thing with it all, it can be all consuming but soon, I will not be the worrying BRCA bint - I will be free of the boob worry. I cannot wait. I think I might cry with relief.

I have lists of things to do, what needs to be packed, what I want to ask, what will happen on Sunday, checked around the house for things unreachable, been through my clothes for easy to wear things (do up at the front is preferable but I am short of such items!).

The hoover is still pathetic and so I will spend a few hours trying to get as much clean as possible before the week is out.

I feel very tired today. I think the mental strain is telling. All the years, months, days of the nag have almost come to one point. I am amazed that it is nearly here. This is the biggest goal I have ever aimed for, it has taken the longest time, the biggest of battles and once Monday evening arrives and I wake up..I will have made it.

My goal is in sight. My breast cancer free goal. Sod off thickening - you are just that and nothing else. I am going to beat you to the finish line.

Cancer? No..not for me. No No No No No!

On Monday evening I am blowing the biggest, fattest, rudest RASPBERRY at you Breast Cancer!

I am winning..I am the Operation Queen! : )

Friday, 6 March 2009

43. All aboard! This train is going FAST FORWARD>>>

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My phone rang earlier..Private, just missed it. I picked up the message left, it was my surgeon, Dr Drabble. He just said he would call back again or if I could, to call him or his secretary.

So, what could it be? Either a cancellation or a postponement of my operation date - logic says. I'm sure he wasn't phoning for a general chat.

I call the hospital and ask to be put through. Dr Drabble's secretary picks up the call and then tells me to hang on and she will pass me over to him.

"Hello Leigh-ann, now..you know we were planning your surgery for the 30th, well I am afraid I am going to be away for some time around then. I'm sorry, but we are going to have to move your operation date."

"Right.."

"We can bring if forward 2 weeks to 16th March."

"...oh..um..when is that?"

"That's a week on Monday. I know it will make it might make it more difficult for your hubby to be able care for you. What do you think?"

"I guess I'd rather have it done sooner rather than later. We will have to sort something out."

"We could keep you in hospital a little longer until you are feeling a little more able to cope, if it helps."

"Yeah..we will see what happens. I guess I am just a bit..well..you know..shocked. I was ready for 3 weeks. I guess it's okay. I won't see you before now, not until the surgery. Should I speak to the Breast Care Nurse instead?"

"Yes, we are making all the changes that need to happen here, to bring it forward so if you could speak with the BCN that would be good. We'll be in touch. See you then, Leigh-ann."

Okay...so someone pressed the fast forward button on my life. I had a minor panic attack, light headed moment after I got off the phone. My dumbass period and hormones mean I am very sensitive at the moment. Yesterday I wanted to cry in the job centre when, yet again, the dumbasses forgot to tell me I didn't need to drive all the way into the city, pay for parking and queue for 20 minutes. I was livid! 3rd journey in a month that they have wasted my time now. The whole place makes me edgy - if you can get beyond the frontline hardnuts and security guards (yes, security guards!), there are real people sat at desks, thankfully.

Chris popped in on the way through to pick up Max. We were both shocked and both a little tense about the date move, but - it will be fine. I am just worried about Chris and school and time off. He will be so knackered running around after me, school won't give him the time off and that's why it was planned for Easter. What a mess.

So here we are..9 days until I have to climb into a hospital bed. I just want it over..I want it over. It's been the longest time coming - eons in fact!

So..all my DIY plans, my gardening plans..all gone. No time left. To top it all off, the hoover had a big accident today. Dyson fell all the way down my steep stairs and dust poofed out all over the place..bits pinged off him and he lay, battered on the bottom step..parts strewn around. Only the pipe suction worked on it before and now..after the accident, he has little energy at all and is virtually on deaths door.

Dyson is just how I feel today. A little battered, had the wind knocked out of my sails but it's okay because I know there will be a replacement one day soon.

Just like my replacement boobs.

Give me strength to get through this week calmly. This is the beginning of the end.

Monday 16th March 2009 - Operation Boob Removal commences!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

42. Where am I? 27 days to Operation Boob Removal!

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I decided to stop pacing around the house trying to fill my day..I decided to make coffee, sit down and get this out of my system.

My last blog was sadder than I intended. I'm okay though. Being at home with my mind is hard work - it needs feeding all the time. I must learn to slow down now or I will face frustration whilst laid up. I am keen to do DIY in the house and I am scared that I won't be able to do much of that after. It even made me think about implants instead but I don't know..it's so close now, I can't change my mind. I also know that after my op I won't be having a gardening extravaganza either and I am a keen gardener. Lots of jobs seem to loom ahead of me in the next few weeks but I can't do them all and I have to think that I will be fine after, that I won't suffer back pain or shoulder weakness. I will make myself good again - it just seems massive at the moment, I want to be normal me but I will be changed me.

It's lashing it down today and the conservatory is just warm enough to hang out comfortably in today. I may have to employ some cosy blanket around the house though for added comfort. It's a wheatbag day coming. I can feel the dull ache building. Getting my daily dose of daylight which brightens my mood even when it is lashing it down outside.

OTHER TOP NEWS..

Boat renovation. I helped hubby with his surf kayak repair project last night - masking up the stripes and revealing the great results just before bedtime. He is pretty amazing really. His blog is Adventures in Kayak Surfing!!! if you are interested. Chop a cheap battered boat up and restore it. Looks GREAT! Looking forward to the launch..camera, flask tea and the beach. About a week to completion.. : )

Life update. We might be getting a stairlift to help Chris look after me for a while and maybe permanently. Cool? Yeah..kinda :)


































Nature action. Groped female number one hasn't been seen since her ordeal with many male frogs. Three lots of frogspawn made it though. I hope she is okay out there.



A stunning new female frog is in the pond and had two suitors already. But she is facing an ordeal too. There are about 10 males in our pond..she is the second to brave their mug the woman tactics. Well..update soon.

That's all the news for today.

Back to my seeds and garden plan.

Smile.. : )

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