I have so much to tell you.
As you may remember, I was feeling really excited in the lead up to my operation which is unusual for me as, having suffered with anxiety most of my life, my default setting is imminent doom.
The day before the 'double off-double on,' my sister and I went off to the hospital for a scan of my sentinel lymph node (which involved being injected with a small dose of radiation and having a plank of machinery pass really close to my body to build up a picture) and my pre-op assessment. With bloods, weight and height checked, MRSA swabs taken and a bottle of Hibiscrub to give myself two surgical washes before the morning I was off home. Later on that afternoon I found out I was going to be admitted for 7am and so for the rest of the evening I added random objects from home to my already bulging suitcase (think appropriate size for a two-week family holiday).
The next morning, having dropped the girls off to my BFFs at an ungodly hour, we headed to the Admissions Suite at Maidstone Hospital- if it's already building an image of an airport you wouldn't be far wrong- myself and the other ladies being admitted that morning hung around outside the suite until the doors opened in much the same way as you do when waiting for your gate to be listed for a flight. One thing my sister and I noticed from the off was how everyone else had a rucksack or at most a bag for life while here I was, dragging ginormous luggage, so cumbersome it got stuck if both double doors weren't open.
After check in, we were sent round to a waiting room and very soon after to a consultation room where my vitals were once again monitored and I met pretty much everyone who would be in theatre that morning- this included having to repeat my name, date of birth and what I was having done to everyone who entered the room (many) and having lines and arrows and dots drawn across my chest and abdomen, a surgical map, if you will. Despite having no partner for a long time and being in a chemically induced menopause for the past six months, it's still procedure to take a pregnancy test before theatre- that felt odd- and an hour or so later I was walking myself into the theatre/the place where they give you the good stuff that makes you fall asleep....
Five hours later, I woke up in recovery and apart from feeling like I'd been used to lick every stamp and envelope the hospital was sending out for the next year, I didn't feel any pain or discomfort, save for the pressure I felt around my chest which turned out to be from them putting my surgical bra on inside out (turns out men have got taking bras off down but putting them back on? Sheesh).
Sometime later I was wheeled off to the ward I would be staying in for the next two days and I was very fortunate to be given a side room with a tv and an ensuite so I can please myself throughout the day and night. In typical Ballsy fashion, I surprised my mum and sisters with a call as they were expecting the hospital to let them know once I was our of theatre. A doctor came and checked 'what was going on' under my gown/ how I was bearing up and it was then that I was in for a shock.
"Do you want to look?" They asked.
"Yep, best to know what I'm dealing with," I said. Typical journalist, needing to know first.
I was expecting to be bound with bandages and for there to be red, angry incisions with eyelash-type stitches clawing out of my tender skin.
My gown came off to reveal clear plasters- I could actually see my bobalobs- which appeared bruised but LOOKED THE SAME AS BEFORE. Complete with nipnaps and everything. Effectively my chest had been on a formula 1 experience- complete with like for like pitstop.
"They look the same, I look normal!" I said to the doctor and nurse who smiled at me as if to say 'surprise!' (and also looked flaming happy with themselves!)
I wont give a blow by blow account of the rest of my stay in hospital as frankly it mainly involved my sister and I doing hundreds of puzzles and riddles to pass the time, an endless supply of tea, food and the best care I have ever had. I can only imagine it felt akin to the same treatment you get on a First Class flight- but it was courtesy of our NHS. I was genuinely sad to leave.
In terms of pain I can't say I've had any. Sore and pressure, yes, but pain not really.
I was discharged with four drains which were an absolute treat for Child 2, who once spying they had blood in wanted to squeeze them out like I was a mummy/water activity table hybrid.
Child 1, my sensitive little-big girl, was quick to let me know how proud she was of me and we have exchanged many a cuddle and a squeeze since I've been home.
The girls have gone to their dad's now for a week as I am unable to lift anything or do anything strenuous with my arms for the first two weeks and then by adding bits and by trial and error from there on in. It seemed sensible to not be a martyr about it and send the girls off for a great time with their other family while I recover/ drink tea and watch yet more Netflix. Thank you, House of Cards.
I went back to the hospital yesterday to have two of my drains taken out with a hope the remaining two will be removed early next week, and I have a follow-up surgical appointment on Wednesday where I hope to find out the results of the node biopsy and if radiotherapy will be necessary.
I'm going to head off now as my arm hurts from typing, I wish I could show you the surgeon's miraculous handiwork but you'll have to take it from me that there's no complaints from me on the result. It's do-able, ladies and gents and like pretty much everything else, the thought was worse than the deed.
Lots of love to you all xxxx