When I got my diagnosis I began a diary, my head was so full of worries and stress I thought writing things down might help relax me and it totally worked. I definitely recommend keeping a diary during any hard times of your life as it helps get all the mind monkeys out and is great to look back on. So I thought I’d share with you what I wrote about my lumpectomy operation as it was a pretty big and scary part of my cancer story. When I was writing this I imagined I was chatting to a friend……
Thursday 27th May 2016
“ I was super nervous for my op, I’m a pretty squeamish person so the thought of someone cutting in to my boob makes me want to barff!
I just did my best not to think about the op, the few days before, this helped me stay calm and sleep better.
The day of the op was hard going, I slept not too bad and was at the hospital for 8am. I wasn’t taken for my op until 12.30pm, this was a long and hungry wait. I hadn’t eaten since dinner time the night before and I was starving, I’m one of those annoying people who need to eat every two hours and is always hungry.
The hospital was brilliant, super new and clean and all of the staff were lovely. They took me to a ward first to get changed in to a gown, my dressing gown and slippers. Of course I’d forgotten my specially bought slippers and had to wear my bright pink new balance trainers, not a good look. The consultant, anaesthetist and a few nurses came round. They drew an arrow on me to make sure they cut the right boob, asked me a lot of questions about allergies and illnesses and the consultant looked sad at me being so young. Next I got a very fetching pair of anti-clot stockings, horrible nylon things that make your skin cold and sweaty, better than a clot though! Top tip: wear cotton pants so you can keep your own on, this is something to do with them not being flammable as they use a laser during the op.
I was off up to the x-ray clinic next to get dye put in my nipple, my cancer nurse came up with me and another lady and chatted to me while we waited which was nice. They use radiation dye to show up your lymph glands on the x-ray which is very sci-fi but pretty cool. So they inject the stuff in to your nipple, which was kinda stingy but not awful and passed quick. It takes about 10 minutes to move round the glands then you get to hug an x-ray machine while they locate the glands. It was a little uncomfortable as you have to stay still for 5 mins, my arm got tired. The nurse used a special pen against my skin which lit up on the x-ray screen beside my glowing glands, this was really cool to watch.
I was taken last so sat in the TV room watching crappy Britain’s got Talent on my own for what felt like years, probably the most nervous I have ever been. Finally, at 12.30 off I went to the anaesthetic room.
My consultant and I presume the anaesthetist were in a small room. I must have looked like a rabbit in the head lights because my consultant was very kind and gentle.
He said “I’ll put this glucose cannula in your hand to make up for the tea and toast you missed this morning”
It was just a little nip and within half a minute I felt a head rush, he then said the medicine was in it to make me sleep and I was out! It was done so calmly and gently that I didn’t feel scared or upset which was wonderful.
My biggest fear about the op was how I would feel when I woke up, I was so scared I’d be in terrible pain.
Waking up is all a bit of a blur but I do remember my first thought being “ its not as bad as I expected it to be”.
I felt uncomfortable but not in any real pain. They put an oxygen mask on when you come round but I can’t really remember much else just the kind voices of the nurses. Stew told me that I was there when he spoke to the nurses on the phone but I have no memory of this. They took me to a ward with four other ladies and gave me some water, I was very dry and croaky from the breathing tube. I was left with the oxygen mask to sleep off the anaesthetic and felt very drowsy and light headed. Around me I could hear the other ladies chatting which was oddly comforting as I dosed in and out of sleep. My heartrate was very fast which was making it hard to get over to sleep properly and I felt quite breathless, this tends to happen to me after any sort of trauma as I was exactly the same after giving birth.
Gradually I became more alert and chatted to the other ladies who were all lovely and a lot older than me. They all went home, one by one as the day went on, one of them sat and talked to me while she waited for her husband to arrive, she was really kind and it was nice she was looking out for me.
I continued to feel very dizzy and the nurses had to help me to the toilet, I think this was partly to do with not having ate for 21 hours as I get shaky even if I just skip breakfast normally. I finally got some dinner at half four, this was a challenge as I felt pretty sick every time I moved but I knew food would help me feel better so I persevered and ate slowly. Stew came in to see me at seven for visiting and stayed for a few hours, it was so good to have him there and I gradually started to feel better. They decided to give me an ECG because of my fast heart rate and keep me in over night which I was quite happy about, the hospital was lovely and quiet as most people were only in for day surgery, I felt like I was in a cosy little cocoon on my super comfy bed being very well cared for. I asked for a sleeping tablet as I know I would struggle to sleep with my heart racing. I slept pretty well and listened to my audio book when I woke up. Audio books on your phone are fab for hospital as they keep you amused with little effort and are really calming.
I got out of hospital lunch time the next day, by this time my heart had calmed down and I wasn’t feeling nearly as dizzy. Weirdly I found leaving the cocoon of the hospital very hard. I cried all the way home in the car feeling very broken and sorry for myself. Walking in to the light of day had really brought home the enormity of what I was going through. After an operation, even a relatively small one like mine, you feel like damaged goods. It’s as if you have been broken in to pieces and stuck back together, although you’re fixed you feel like you could fall apart at any moment”