Month Two

Dear Cancer…

It’s not your fault, you weren’t to know. When you crashed the party and searched for a place to cosy up and multiply, you had no idea, you shouldn’t blame yourself. You see it’s simple, you’re not welcome here. People have been telling me I’m strong, I wouldn’t say that Pre =but it’s dawning on me maybe they’re right. I do do my own waxing – yes, even those bits! And I suppose I will take risks, others might not. So cancer, I’ll meet you tomorrow in theatre, shoulders squared, chin up, with a touch of swagger, in a rear opening gown!… You’re toast my friend, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll hop it! What you started, I will end – me and my battalion will take you down.

‘I’m bullet-proof, nothing to lose, fire away, fire away.
Ricochet, you take your aim, fire away, fire away.
You shoot me down but I won’t fall, I am TITANIUM.’



Pre-op ponderings: I need to be less ambitious. I feel like it’s my drive to prove myself that has caused this and it needs work. But it’s so much a part of me, I try to imagine myself without my drive and frankly, she bores me.

So surgery…

We arrived at 7.30am, to a waiting room which looks like an airport lounge. Nusband couldn’t stay so he left shortly afterwards.

I was taken to a room for blood tests. Then another room to be admitted. I was asked about crowns and false teeth. Why? ‘Because they need to secure the airway’… Oh. Do I have any problems with: incontinence, fainting, allergies, no. Weight:

‘You’ve put on weight since pre-assessment’,

‘I’ve just got more clothes on.’ Defensive much?  All of this from a man who was clearly at this early hour, a smoker and my mind boggles. He deals with people potentially dying every day but is actively ruining his health. I felt angry even though I shouldn’t.

Then into another room to meet with my consultant. I will be having a full mastectomy on my right side, replaced by an inflatable implant to stretch the skin. Then a port leading to just under the surface of the skin, where it can be filled up later (clever). And then an augment (small implant) on my left side to even things up. My consultant used surgical marker pen, to make a visual plan of the operation.  I look odd afterwards, like one of the kids has got felt-tip happy while I’ve been cat-napping. Then into another room to meet with the anaesthetist. She was foreign and aloof, I wished she’d smiled more. I remembered that I have a brace fitted on the back of my teeth, so I told her… for the airway.

Mine was the first surgery of the day which I was thankful for but I still had to wait in another room with two women having knee operations. A nurse came and put on some surgical stockings and gave me a pillow which was nice. The telly was on. Lorraine Kelly was all about Breast Cancer Awareness, I now know it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month! I was momentarily distracted as Gary Barlow was coming on but then they came to take me through to theatre before I could see it – rats!

The first room was an anteroom, it was all a bit too Grey’s Anatomy – full of medical stuff. I reminded myself to take long, slow breaths. It was a small room only just fitting in a gurney which I climbed on to, four women and an anaesthetist, with no room to spare. A cannula was put into the back of my hand, I was then rolled onto my side.  I knew this was because they were going to put me under using the cannula and then inject my back with a block so I wouldn’t feel anything. The anaesthetist keeps sniffing aggressively. Can somebody get him a tiss… That’s the last thing I remember…

Then someone called my name. And it was done. Writing this, I’m welling up… and I just chatted with the nurse, who I later didn’t recognise but she said we’d talked about ice skating! I wanted to get Nusband in but they were stalling because my blood pressure kept dipping and I couldn’t stay awake. I have to say, I like this feeling. I felt no pain whatsoever. I had a look, all I could see was bandages, it wasn’t too freaky. One very nice left boob and some dressings where the other one had been. It didn’t and still doesn’t feel like there’s anything missing.  I kept asking them to call Nusband, he’d be worried, he would have expected a call much sooner than this. We called him. He didn’t answer. Brilliant.

I was taken up to the ward and someone eventually got in touch with Nusband who had been fixing a kite in the shed – of course he had. He arrived and I tried to sit up using my hands to push me but the pain party in my armpits soon stopped me. I also had a pain in my right side but not where the boob was, it was down on my ribs. This is where there was a drain to take away any liquid from the surgery site. The port which will be used to inflate the implant is just moseying around my rib cage: “I’m a port, I shouldn’t be here, I live by the sea and now apparently between this woman’s ribs…” It was a mutual discomfort I think.
My consultant, Miss Lovely, comes to see me. She tells me that the pain in my side is because my muscles have been separated from my ribs; that’ll do it I suppose. The drain was uncomfortable coming out, not gonna lie to you, but it’s seconds and over, yowzers! Miss Lovely tells me that the cancer had come out contained and was not attached to the chest wall, which is great but we still need to get the results of the sentinel node biopsy to see if it spread. As she’s about to go I ask her to clarify what this means for our insurance. She tells me she’s happy to say I will be getting a critical illness pay-out – on the day of diagnosis, when we realised we had this cover, I finally cried. Freedom from worrying about money – something that I haven’t had in such a long time (ever?) – such an overwhelming relief!

Facebook update:

Emi has had a long surgery today and is tired and sore. She is in good spirits and is glad to be through this bit. She sends her thanks for all messages of support today, she was going to say something profound for me to put on here but the morphine kicked in!!

Maybe later.

Nusband x

I was kept in a woozy state for the next few days with drugs, but I can honestly say, there hasn’t been much pain associated with the operation.

Facebook update:
Hello! Inflate-a-Girl here. Super Powers = unusual buoyancy in troubled waters and very slow, one-handed typing. So home now, bit woozy, not too much pain, huge relief. It looks like someone’s pushed one boob in and it’s popped out the other one, it’ll be a bit uneven for a while…

Facebook update:
Had my bandages off today and actually not too shabby! In Nusband’s words “Not as much of a car crash as I was expecting” (I know he means it with love). My surgeon has done a beautiful job. So now I can have a bath, hurray!  So another surgery will go ahead in a few weeks. But I am the Hob Nob biscuit of cancer recoverers. Dunk me again, whatever it takes. In good news my nurse says I have wonderfully healing skin, very proud of it :0) clever skin. You see you find out amazing things about yourself in times of adversity!

Facebook update:
Getting better every day, that’s all xx

Sometimes it felt like the engorgement when my milk came in after having the kids, sometimes pain nerves fire off momentarily and it hurts and as soon as it’s come, it’s gone. Mostly it just feels numb. I took myself off meds four days after the op. That gives you an idea of what the level of pain was like.  I wasn’t wearing a bra, even clothes would aggravate my port (I could hear far-away, mournful sea shanties) so I opted not to wear one as it would cover that exact area. When I told a breast care nurse she said, “No you have to get one on!”, so there is now a complicated arrangement of sponges, courtesy of Nusband’s engineering, holding the elastic away from the area.

I have a numb tongue. I’m told this is because of the pipe that was in my throat, the ‘securing the airway’ business. And in five days I have shifted the half a stone that’s been plaguing me since having kids. Stick that up your jumper admissions man! It is mostly just uncomfortable and not normal. To begin with it was more about the things I couldn’t do but I had so many nurses helping me, I did’t really realise until I could do them again. I couldn’t sit up using my hands, I need to be lifted, leaning forward felt weird, like my boobs could fall off! I couldn’t open medical bottles, close the car seat clasp, put my clothes on, use deodorant, shave under my arms, raise my arms above shoulder height, reach up for my dressing gown, take a bath or shower, sleep on either side. Then within days I start to be able to sleep on my preferred right side as the port settles down, accepting he’s not going home, the bruising goes down, the dressings come off, I can go to the toilet on my own! Get dressed on my own! Put my hair up, even reach the washing up liquid.

I’m pleased to get home, to my beautiful family. Nusband always teasing me and making me smile. The Boy asks ‘Are the boob bugs gone?’, Baby Girl says, ‘I love you more than butterflies’. I keep toppling over in bed! You’d be surprised how much you rely on your boobs for balance! I am suffering from short-term memory loss, I’ve just forgotten the next thing! I do that a lot!

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