Surgery

Sorry for the less than stellar updates lately, there has been a lot on my mind.

Now I have plenty of time to work things out, as, I’m recovering from chest surgery.

More specifically a double mastectomy with a dermal flap chest wall reconstruction. I had my operation done on the National Health Service (NHS), meaning, I had no choice with surgeon or hospital. Going private is something that a lot of people in my position find that they have to do, I was one of the lucky ones.

My surgical team was headed by Miss Grit Dabritz and for what I know she is based in Manchester, Lancashire. One of the other surgeons I met on the day has worked closely with a hospital far closer to my home and is (if I remember right) based in Bolton.

I was the second of two people in for the same procedure, I was admitted and marked up and had to wait a fair few hours to be seen… all the while the threat of being turned away as in the back of my mind. Emergency patients that come in do get priority with beds on a ward, there were at least five admitted to beds the same day the day patients department opened up.

I found it hilarious that I managed to sweat away almost half of the permanent marker markups while waiting in a very stuffy waiting area. It’s a good thing they do a standing and lying markup.

Having never been put under anaesthetic before I became more and more anxious about it. The people I had met had wonderful senses of humour and were all lovely. I remember panicking when I was being put to sleep, beginning to panic… and then, struggling to move as I was waking up again.

Apparently I was in pain as I don’t really remember a lot from that night. I know I was taken to the ward later than I had expected and managed to send out a text to my parents to say I had landed… and that’s about it.

I had been warned that as soon as I was coming round I would feel as if I had been hit by a bus, I was lucky enough not to be aware when that was the case.

It was (and still is) unnerving to think about the chest drains, well, I think anyone would be unnerved to see and feel tubes coming out of themselves with bags of blood attached to the ends. One of the nurses gave me a plastic bag to put the two drain bags in so it was a little less unnerving moving around, specially when I had visitors seeing me.

Don’t ever be ashamed of not having people visit you, but if you can… Make sure you see at least one person on at least one of your full days of admission. It will help break up your stay and give you something other than discharge to look forward to. If you can’t, I’m sorry try making the most of your stay on the ward by communicating to the bed either side of you.

Thing is, the anaesthetic was still working its way through my system and I was drowsy most of the time. Coupled with a bad first night’s sleep and the painkillers I was sleeping most of the time, or at least barely able to stay fully alert.

I had taken a book with me (only a small one, Phantom of the Opera), I had my phone, I had my 3DS. I managed to read the same passage four times before giving up with my book, I played through maybe one small thing on my 3DS… My attention span didn’t want to work at all during my stay and I was more than happy watching the world go by.

Two days after discharge was when I could finally poop. Sounds stupid, but Dad had warned me that his missus was plugged up for days… low and behold that was indeed the case. On the ward and at home I was constantly drinking water and peeing more frequently than I thought I was drinking.

Three days after discharge I had my follow up appointment with my practice nurse – my surgery was on the Thursday before a bank holiday weekend and I had to wait till the Tuesday to be able to see any medical professional post discharge.

Mum helped me to wash my hair for the first time in a week, knelt over the shower as she helped me get that sorted. At one point she recommended that I take my shirt off to make it easier – and quickly said ‘oh wait I don’t wanna see’ and turned so I could get knelt over the bath. She felt awful after about saying it, thinking it nasty… but… to be honest I get it.

At first I couldn’t stand seeing the dressings as they were, they freaked me the fuck out. Even after the drains were removed. After the visit to the nurse when the dressings were changed, that, that was when I started to calm down about them.

A week after Surgery and I still can’t lie on my side… which is irritating, but I knew that would be the case. I sleep on my side normally and having to sleep on my back is just plain annoying, I can’t lie flat either but hey ho that’s the way it is.

 

I can’t really think of anything really negative about things so far… just…

If you do happen to have your surgeries away from home, be prepared to travel the long distance a minimum of four times. No, really. Unless you wish to spend at least a fortnight at the surgery site you will have to back and forth it a lot.

First will be the pre-op, then the surgery (and post operative appointment soon after discharge), then a two week later-ish checkup, six months later.

When being discharged from the hospital I was told none of this, not even the type of stitches I had or anything. So, to find out four days after discharge that I still have another trip down to Manchester ahead of me I was rather pissed off.

I am not in receipt of benefits so I get absolutely none of my expenses for travel covered. Which, in itself is fine. I mean, if you’re worse off than me financially then I say see what you can and can’t get back. When I say I earn too much to claim, I mean that lightly, there’s plenty of months where I’m barely getting by, and I have to somehow find the money to go back to Manchester after the prior two trips practically wiped me out financially.

 

I knew I’d have to save up, but by the christ this is just too much. Without ANY warning. I mean, if I can have my followup from surgery at my doctors practice, why can’t I also have the two weeks later one done close to home too.

 

Oh well, at least no more binders. When I get back at home I will try one of the easier to get on and off ones on to see the difference. It’d be hilarious to see, that’s for sure. Even mum knows I think of them as a pain in the arse and mentioned them too.

 

I can’t honestly think of anything else to say on the issue, but hell if you have questions please do ask and I’ll do what I can to answer them.