Thursday, 12 February 2015

Operation Boob Removal

As I'm now safely back in my own flat thank goodness, I'm going to try and write about my surgery and hospital experience. However, some of it is a little hazy due to the copious amount of morphine I had pumped in to my veins and later thrown down my neck. It's also taken a while to write as typing hurts! But anyway, here it is.

Thursday started with me arriving at the the hospital at 7.30, ready to be 'processed' for surgery. I'd had to wash myself that morning and the night before with a special anti bacterial shower gel - sadly it did not smell of coconut but was a lurid pink colour, rather like toilet cleaner. I'm guessing the effect it had on my skin was the same as well.

Once again, I had to stand almost naked in a cubicle whilst I was examined and drawn on ready for the surgeons knife. When I was taken down to theatre, they very kindly let me keep my little hat on so my fluffy chicken head would not be displayed to the world and its wife. I now have very little dignity left so it's nice to be able to cling on to the final shreds of it once in a while! I had concerns about the anaesthetist being able to cannulate me, basically because the veins in my left hand and arm are quite wisely hiding themselves somewhere beneath the surface, however he was very reassuring that he could cannulate my right hand to administer the anaesthetic and then once I was asleep he would find a vein in the other hand. I definitely need to be unconscious for that one, due to the fact that the chemotherapy has ensured that having a needle anywhere near that arm is very, very painful. I'm now not able to have needles anywhere near my right arm due to the risk of lymphoedema after lymph node removal. There goes that tattoo I was planning! 

After having the inside of my breast scooped out and replaced with an empty implant (well - half filled implant) and having all my lymph nodes removed, I came round in a haze of morphine. Cue the talking of absolute bollocks. I had one hand connected to the morphine pump and IV drip - he had managed to cannualte me in my left hand - after a bit of trying judging by the state of it - and three drains attached to my right side. In case you have never seen one of these, this is what they look like:

I had to carry these around with me in a fetching green plastic bag like a spare body part everywhere I went whilst in hospital.I still have one of them in which has been christened Billy or 'this fucking thing'. I don't think I'll miss him when he's removed next week. The stuff in the bottle looks rather like beetroot juice and I would imagine just as unappetising.

Being unable to move very far at all due to pain and being incredibly woozy from the morphine and general anaesthetic, having a pee was not a simple as it once was. Even though I was in a side room with a bathroom, there was no way I could make it to the loo. So I was given a bed pan. If you've ever had to try and use a bed pan you'll know that lying flat with a cardboard bowl under your bum is not the easiest position to have a tinkle in. So in came the commode. Again, if you've never seen one of these, its basically a wheelchair with a hole cut out of the middle with a bed pan stuck in it. Having a pee sat in a chair is a very bizarre experience. Almost as weird as having to try and have pee lying in bed.

Apparently morphine can make it difficult to wee (who knew?) so the second time I sat on the commode my bladder appeared to have gone to sleep. The nurse then inserted a catheter which just made me feel like I was constantly bursting for a wee until I begged her to take it out later, hoping that my bladder had now been given the equivalent of a slap round the face and had been shocked back in to action.

This time I seem to have had quite a bad reaction to the general anaesthetic, meaning I spent a lot of the time in the 24 hours after my operation in fits of hysterical tears. Indeed, my surgeon found me stood in the bathroom the morning after my operation bald and with my arse hanging out my gown crying my eyes out, desperate for someone to come and help me have a wash. Not my finest hour.

At this point I also had a cannula on the inside of my wrist due it falling out of the back of my hand in the middle of the night and the nurse being unable to find another vein. If you can imagine how thin and sensitive the skin on the inside of your wrist is..... ouch.

The morning after my operation two nurses sheepishly came in to my room and told me that unfortunately they had to move me on to the ward as they needed the side room for another patient. Cue more fits of hysterical crying. As I said before, holding on to the final shreds of my dignity is important to me and being displayed on a ward with my Phil Mitchell haircut and broken body like some shit circus attraction was really not what I wanted! My bed was also positioned directly opposite the nurses station meaning that I was party to the comings and goings of the entire ward whether I wanted to be or not. To add insult to injury, the woman in the bed next to me was insisting on telling everyone who would listen to her that she hadn't had a poo for a week and nothing would work 'not even prune juice'. Poogate continued for the rest of the time she was in hospital (luckily she went home the next morning).

My wrist cannula also had to be taken out due to it being incredibly sore and swollen. Because I had been having injections to thin my blood to try and avoid blood clots due to lying in bed all day, the removal of the cannula created a scene akin to something from a Shaun of the Dead - i.e. blood squirting everywhere:

No more IV morphine bah!

The nurses on the ward were lovely albeit overworked and not enough of them. However, i did have to fight the daily curtain battle - I wanted my curtains drawn around my bed to retain a modicum of privacy, whilst they wanted them open. Also being woken up at 6.30am every morning really did not make for a even tempered Rebecca. And the food was terrible. The last evening meal I had there was roast chicken with creamed potatoes and vegetables. Ah that sounds nice, I hear you say? Well, it consisted of a lump of dried up chicken you could have used to polish your boots with and lumpy jaundiced looking mashed potatoes which tasted like they'd been mixed with gone off yoghurt. They were also ironically fashioned in to two mounds which bore a fleeting resemblance to a pair of tits. Talk about rubbing it it.

However, it wasn't all bad as I was treated to lots of visits and pressies from my lovely friends and family including a suprise visit from these two beauties, my friends Sarah and Aimee from the Younger Breast Cancer Network:

Hospital selfie! And a distinct lack of real boobs between us!

There was also a nice array of very attractive doctors. Ladies, if you're wondering where all the fit blokes are in Birmingham, they are hanging out at City Hospital.

As I said at the beginning, I'm now back at home and it's now a week since my operation. The pain level has subsided a bit and has been kept in control with copious amounts of codeine and a sneaky bit of oramorph that I had left over from when I was having chemotherapy. One of the nicest things about being at home is not being woken at 6.30am by glaring fluorescent ceiling lights and being able to eat food that doesn't resemble something that the dog has just chucked up. Anyway, I've rambled on enough now so just to finish with the fact that Operation Boob Removal is hopefully complete -  now just to wait for the results eeek!

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