Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Goodbye Lymphnodes, Hello Blue Smurf.

14th September 2009


I and my husband arrive at the hospital in the morning only to see a queue of people waiting outside.
“The doors are locked.” says a woman as we go to investigate.
“It’s your chance to escape.” says Steve smiling.
“If only.” I reply.
My humour is turning to nervousness and a hurry to get the operation over with.

Then a nurse opens the door from the other side asking people to give there admission letter to the receptionist. I and my husband go sit out in the corridor again once I had booked in. I sit on a bench facing the entrance of the ward anxiously waiting for my name to be called. My husband’s hand rests on top of mine. I start to think is this what his father went through?
My husband doesn’t talk about much he just skates across pointers, but won’t fill in gaps. His replies are brief and direct with no if’s involved. My husbands’ mother died of breast cancer. He was Sophia’s age and look what fate is repeating. Maybe that is why he is being so distant from the situation.

My name is called and I am taken into a ward where my oncologist consultant is patiently waiting. She guides me to an empty bed and pulls the curtain around us. We go through the procedure I am having done. Left sentinel lymph node biopsy is written on the paperwork. She asks some questions
“Are you allergic to anything?” The consultant asks.
“Elastoplasts don’t put it on me.”
She writes that in capitals on the paperwork in the allergy section
I answer a few other questions about past medical history and the consultant explains the full procedure and complications that could arise.
“Do you have any questions you would like to ask?”
“I just want the nightmare to end.” I reply.
The consultant says a few comforting words then leaves to get ready. I am then taken into a waiting area. There is one patient going down before me so I have two hours to kill.
“I’m going to get my laptop so I can do some work. Do you want anything?” Steve asks.
“Nil by mouth, remember!” I shake my head.
“I know!” he replies frustrated “What about a magazine?”
I walk over to reception and ask, “Can I walk to the lobby with my husband?”
Not a chance I have to remain on the ward. Steve vanishes off the ward while I sit down looking round the cubical we are in. You could hear a doctor discussing a patient’s personal details and operation. I look at the television and ask the nurse if I can switch it on, but the reply was no. I don’t like listening into some ones personal conversations, but I can’t help it. There is only a small wall partition dividing me from the area they are in.

My husband returns after ten minutes with a smile on his face. I felt like wrapping the laptop round his head, but I see his point. Why be bored waiting?
Then a nurse comes in “Can you follow me pleases? The patient before you has complications so you are going first.”
She takes me into a wing and draws the curtain around me. She rushes to ask me questions as I change into the delightful surgical gowns and stockings they give you. I show Steve as I change into them and smile. “What you think for the bedroom? Are they sexy enough for ya?” I pull the surgical gown up to show him the brown thick grandma type stockings moving my leg in a provocative manner.
“That is instant divorce!” he replies instantly.
I laugh at his answer as the nurse starts to ask me more questions.
“Can you confirm your date of birth and full name?” The nurse ticks the boxes on a piece of paper with the questions she is asking. “Are you pregnant?”
“No!” I look at Steve for his reply, but as usual he remains quiet.
“Can you give me a urine sample?” requests the nurse.
“Yes! But I just use the toilet five minutes back.” Steve helps me put my dressing gown on.
“Don’t worry all we need is a small amount to test.” replied the nurse handing me a jug.
“When was your last period?”
“Tenth of the month.” I quickly reply.
“Do you have any allergies?”
“Yes, Elastoplasts.” I reply
“All elastoplasts?” asks the nurse.
“As far as I know I can use only mepore.”
“Ok I will note that down.” The nurse replies the nurse.
She puts a red band on my wrist with Elastoplasts written on it and two wrist bands with my date of birth and name on both wrists. Several more questions later I put my slippers on and pop to the bathroom. Hoping I can pee into a jug which a nurse has just handed me. I come out of the toilet hand the nurse what looks like a teaspoon of urine. She vanishes and comes back with an indicator stick and shows the other nurse waiting.
“Right off we go.” she says.
My husband follows me and I am shown into the anaesthetic room where I am asked to confirm my details. They ask me to lie on a bed where the anaesthetist is going to prep me up for theatre. My husband chats to me while they try put a canuler in. On the third attempt Steve suggested he do it.
“What is this pot luck?” I ask in pain.
The anaesthetist suggests the side of my hand.
“No way, not the side it hurts.” I have too many canulers in to know which part of my arm is best to use and I show them where to put it.
So another doctor in the room took charge and straight away the canuler was in without a problem.
“Make a note that the top of her lower her arm is the better place to put the canuler in. Her veins have a tendency to move a lot” he requested to the nurse in the room.
My husband kissed me on my forehead. “I’ll see you later.”
All the other bits were put in place to monitor my heart rate etc. Before I knew it I was fast asleep and dreaming.

I remember my dream well I was sewing the costumes for one of the plays.
Then I hear voices, but I did not want to wake-up. My eyes started to focus in on a face and the face moved away. Then I tried to focus in on a clock, why a clock? Every time I have had anaesthetic I am drown to search for a clock. Then I hear someone ask me a question. I reply “I am cold”. My whole body is shaking and I cannot control it.
He gets an extra blanket and looks at a screen at the back of me checking my blood pressure and heart rate. I felt the urge to be sick and I tell him I want a bowel? He goes and comes back with a syringe and attaches it to my canuler to inject an anti-sickness drug. He says “The sickness will fade just give it a minute to work.”
I look at my armpit, but cannot feel a thing. Still groggy I look around the room trying to fight to keep my eyes open. Then a yard man as my husband says pulls up in the next cubical.

The nursing staffs pull his tube out in his throat and he starts to cough. It took him ten minutes to come round. I know because I was watching the clock as he stirred.
He started to shout “Thank you, thank you very much my knee is better now.”
Then he started to move his knee up and down.The nurse who was watching him said, No! Don’t move your knee and convinces him to rest it back on the bed.
“But it doesn’t hurt no more look?” Waving it in the air and bending it. I look at the nurse and she comes over to me.
“Are you ok? Yes I’m fine, but I think I need what he had.” She tried not to laugh.
“Keep still the aesthetic will wear off soon.” She replied.
Then a male nurse comes over and says, “Ok we need a bed for you.”
“Oh no you don’t, I’m going home.”
He checks my notes and vanishes to confirm what I have said.
“Thank you, you have just saved a load of searching for a bed.” He replies on his return.
“Hey, the agreement was if all went well I was free to go home.”
He checks me over “Another ten minutes and we can take you on day care.”

Before long I was being wheel up onto the day care ward escaping my neighbour who was a jolly character, but high on anaesthetic.
I’m taken into a six bed wing and I get a window view to look out of. Some of the women on the ward were waiting for their operations and they were running late going down. I sat quiet until the nurse came to take my obs. She checked my blood pressure and my dressing under my arm to see if there was any fluid built up. It was explained to me that it can happen after such a producer.

The women across from me asked “What have you had done?”
“I have breast cancer and my lymph nodes needed removing to check if the cancer had travelled anywhere else.”
Again I hear the word sorry.
“Why are you sorry? Breast cancer happens to one in nine women.” I say in a positive tone.
“But you’re so young.” she replies.
“I’m thirty nine years old and alive and kicking.” She goes quiet with my reply.
Then I look to the women directly opposite me. She’s nervous waiting for her name to be called to go to theatre.
“You’ll be alright” I said “What you having done?” She had a serious case of piles and they were being removed.
“You are too young to have piles.” She explained her baby was really big and had caused the problem.
“Besides” she said “You have got more to worry about than me.”
I quickly reply “Hey this isn’t my first run in with cancer. I had abnormal cervical smear when I was twenty six years old and had a loop diathermy/DNC. So I think worry is life in general it’s just how you deal with it.”
“Well I admire your courage.” said the other women across from me. “I don’t know how I would have dealt with what you’re going through.”
“Staying positive and upbeat it helps no good crying over spilt milk. Besides I have costumes to complete and that’s keeping me busy.”
“You’re mad” said the other women. “I would not be bothering with costumes.”
“I like to be kept busy can’t bare the boredom.” I reply
Then the nurse came to collect the young women with piles. She wishes me luck with my results as she is prepared for theatre...

Then the nurse asks “Do you want something to eat?” She says “toast with...”
“Butter and marmalade just one slice please.” I reply.
“Cup of tea?” said the nurse.
"No thanks hate tea. I was travel sick has a child. Really bad mum would pump me with sweet tea.” I smile. “I hate the smell of it now let alone the taste.”
“Coffee then” said the nurse
“No just juice if possible” I reply.
My husband had taken my clothes, bag and mobile phone. So I was sat there twiddling my thumbs thinking has he contacted the hospital it was 2pm after all. I was looking out across the visitor’s car park trying to see if I could see his car. The nurse came back with my toast and juice.
“If you have clothes to change into instead of the hospital gown you can if it will make you more comfortable.”
I explained how I was rushed into theatre first and my husband had taken my things. “Would you like to phone your husband?” I nodded in reply to her question while nibbling on toast.
The nurse went away and brought back a phone for me to contact him. I ring home and he answers after a couple of rings.
“All done?” He asks.
“Yes.” I reply.
“When they letting you out?”
“Not sure waiting on the doctors to do their rounds.” Then I said “Come for me in two hours I’m sure it will be ok then to collect me.”
As I finish talking to Steve on the phone the doctors come to my bed.
“Are you ok? Is the pain Ok?” asks the doctor.
“I can’t feel a thing.” I reply moving my arm carefully.
“That’s because we packed the area with aesthetic to numb it for a while. Feeling will slowly come back to the area, but keep up with the painkillers when you get discharged from here. We took away four lymph nodes. Two with dye and two that were slightly enlarged, but they look healthy. I cannot see any problems so far. We shall wait for the results from pathology, but looks like a good result. Your consultant said she will see you in two weeks time to discuss your mastectomy operation. Now once you have had something to eat and drink I think you can be discharged. Do you have someone to pick you up?”
“Yes my husband.” I reply.
“Well no cleaning, hovering or picking up anything heavy. You are to relax as much as possible to give the area chance to heal properly.”
“Ok I will” I reply.
The doctor chats to the nurse and asks her to organise the medication.

I ask is it ok if I go to the bathroom
“Hold on and I will come with you.” replied the nurse.
She gets another gown to use as a dressing gown. “I have something to tell you. Don’t be shocked by the colour of your face. It looks a little blue, but it wears off with time.”
I start to laugh, “So you mean I look like a smurf?”
The nurse starts to laugh too. She said “I never thought of it that way.”
“Well I do say it has it is.” I reply.

I walk into the bathroom and look in the mirror I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I look like the women off star trek just not a deep blue. If you put me under an ultra violet light it is scary. I go to the toilet to see me pee blue urine in the pot. It’s like blue loo just no little rim block jumping out to advertise.

I return to my bed and the fire alarm goes off. I’m looking round thinking ok do I march to the exit. The nurse came over and asks me to climb back into the bed so I can be wheel out into a corridor. I’m thinking I can walk, but I know this discussion I would not win on grounds of health and safety. I must admit I’m still light headed from the aesthetic.

In the corridor we are all making light chatter about the alarm. Who or what caused it?

Making jokes about my blueness went down well with the nursing staff. A physiotherapist was stood by my bed and she had tears in her eyes. She admired my upbeat nature at my predicament. The fact I was able to tell jokes about it.

Thirty minutes later we are wheeled back into the day ward. The ward soon filled back up with the patients and staff chattering about it. Then a nurse comes over to me with a piece of paper to sign for my medication.

“When will your husband be coming? Did you get through to him?”
“Yes and I told him to collect me at 4pm.” I reply
“Ok” she said “When you’re ready to leave call for me so I can give you your medication.”
3.30pm and I was desperate to leave. I was frantically searching for my husband’s car. It was slowly getting dark outside and I knew he could not be much longer.

It is strange how looking out of a window is so tempting. You look at people going about their business with curiosity. The peeping curtain syndrome I call it with a smile.

How many women out there going to face cancer of sorts?

Which ones are going to be lucky enough to reach a ripe old age?

You honestly do not think about cancer until you have it. The statistics are frightening to read. I am praying I do not need chemotherapy. I could manage radiotherapy and the rest. But chemotherapy is so depressing it drains you of energy and I am an energetic person. I should be grateful for any sort of treatment I receive. An extension on my life and to see my girls grow-up to have their own children. But the thought of chemotherapy is my main fear.
Steve turns up on time to take me home and I go straight to bed without a murmur.

2am and the silence of the house is broken with Steve snoring next to me. Part of me desperately wants to wake him up. But I have a saying ‘When midnight falls the loneliness will come knocking.’ It don’t matter who is laid next to you or if you are on your own. It is you and your thoughts that keep you awake.

The pain is starting and I need to take pain killers. I was told to watch for any swelling and if it occurs then call the Hospital, but the swelling and numbing confuse me. I can’t lay my arm flat against my ribs it does not feel right. Every time I touch the area it leaves me feeling sick.

The hospital advised me to make an appointment at my GP surgery for 4/5 days time to get it changed. It is not even twenty four hours and I am itching to change it already because of the discomfort it is causing. Hopefully the pain killers will kick in soon and I will fall into a deep sleep. Yet part of me feels it will be a long morning.

It is 8am and I managed to get a further four hours sleep. Steve has taken a couple of days off from work and arranged his time table for the next two weeks to fit in with Sophia’s school. I’m looking around the house with itchy fingers to do something. Steve has insisted I relax, but do no housework. Now is that realistic ladies when you have kids to think about. It is too much sat in bed the pain is annoying me and there is nothing on the television except chat shows. Sorry it just isn’t my thing watching people slate each other on national television.

I’m thinking about the costumes I would like to finish or the pots. The pot washing wins if I keep my arm still and not over reach. I should be able to do that fine before Steve returns home from dropping Sophia off at school. I phoned the director up at the theatre to say I would be back at the theatre in two weeks. They did not want me to return so soon, but pieces needed completing. People mean well when they say you should be resting, but why? I just want to be busy can’t sit still means to much thinking time.

I call Sandra up I know she can make me laugh. We talk about me going up there to celebrate Guy’s birthday. She says I should have a break from Sophia and let Steve take over. Spend a few days in Scarborough to relax and go to the casino like old times. Then head for a restaurant on another day for a bite to eat. I can dream that will be possible, but times are hard.

We take life for granted on such a big scale until something bad happens.

For a brief moment after we change our life styles, but we always head back to the same old routines for whatever reason. I so dearly hope my life does not alter too much because of cancer.
This is just the beginning of my treatment. I must remain positive no matter what the outcome. I have mapped out in my head what I want to do or happen. At least my attention is drawn to a goal I need to achieve. They do advise when facing this diseases or any illness you should have goals. This can help with the healing process and state of mind.

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