What I did next? Celebrating my release from hospital

Freedom

This heading sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it? But it’s genuinely how I felt.

On day 13 (yes, day 13 in hospital) I knew going home the next day was pretty much a sure thing. However, whenever Mr F tried to say something nice about it, I told him off as I’d been in this place before and boy is it heartbreaking when it doesn’t happen.

The tester for going home would be the levels of fluid in my re-inserted right drain. They hadn’t been high since I went back into surgery to clear out the infection, but had increased on Day 12 to 30ml, the cut off point for removal. Every night the nurses swapped my drain bags over to new ones at 12am. So on night 13 at 11.55pm I lay in wait for the nurse. 12am came; 15mls, Bam! I promptly fell back to sleep, safe in the knowledge I was getting released the next morning.

I woke up at 6am, like a kid on Christmas Day, washed and started packing. CPS came to see me at 7.30am and confirmed my fate. I apologised for being a bit mental during my stay. I think he appreciated it?

Discharge

Mr F came to the hospital as my bust out-apprentice and carried ALL my bags to the car for our trip to the supermarket! Some of you will appreciate the mundaneness of hospital food, and even with multiple takeaways from friends and trips to the cafes, all I wanted was clean, fresh food.

In my pursuit of clean food I underestimated how difficult going to the supermarket was, and I didn’t really do anything. Some items were just way too heavy to pick up and there are a lot of people in the supermarket.

Once we were done I was beat! But had my wonderful couch and head chef, Mr F to make me a lovely fresh chicken and avo salad for lunch.

Treating myself

Having any operation and spending any period in hospital, I believe, requires nice things to happen following discharge.

For me, I jumped on the internet and booked a spa weekend away for me and Mr F for a bit of relaxation and pampering. Apparently booking a champagne breakfast by helicopter tour, or wineries by horse and cart, was a little over the top. This trip is only allowed to be 40% romantic.

Then yesterday I went window shopping for nice clothes that are appropriate for someone who has just had a mastectomy. I really don’t think they have to be that different. I wasn’t big enough to be a cleavage hoochy mamma before so I just need to be a bit more wary of choosing higher cut tops and making more out of the bottom half of my body (I saw this amazing leopard print mini – I promise it won’t make me look like a bar-tender).

Finally I went to the hairdressers to get my birds nest excavated. I washed my hair 3 times in 14 days (14 days? But that’s 2 weeks? Yes) so the girl had her work cut out. With clean hair in check, I could resume my position on my sofa, congratulating myself on a day’s hard work.

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Muted celebrations of the simple things in life: Day 12

simple things 2

Over the last few days I am acting a little more cautious and my celebrations of ‘get Trisha the heck out of hospital milestones’ are somewhat muted. It is within this context that we recount Day 12 (yes day 12) since the operation (hurray, smiley face. I don’t really like emoticons outside of social media), and day 12 in hospital (really, 12 days? She must be going out of her mind? Correct).

Health Rating: 6/10

Mental Health Rating (where 1 means sane and 10 means mental): 8/10

Day 12

–          CPS (Child Plastic Surgeon for any newbies) comes to see me at 7.30 am. He is either a) scared of me because I shout at him all the time, or b) punishing me because I shout at him all the time.

He says the left drain that has been in my body for 12 days (yes 12 days!) can come out.

–          I go get a coffee in my hospital gowns, pushing my IV and carrying my drain bags. One of the drains is so long and the fluid inside is so yellow it looks like a catheter. Everyone smiles at me. Pity smiles!

–          Silver-fox Plastic Surgeon comes to see me. He is sporting a healthy, tired look that can only have been achieved through water sports and beach walks with chilled white wine chasers on the veranda each night of the Easter break. These tired eyes are brought out by a deep, mahogany tan that even Australian’s wouldn’t frown at.

He confirms that the left drain can come out and switches my IV antibiotics or oral. Main benefits of this:

  • I can walk around without pushing my 6 foot friend (the IV)
  • I can take off the gowns
  • I can wash

Downsides:

  • People will invariably stop pity smiling at me and just wonder why I’m wearing an adult baby-grow?

–          The nurse comes to remove my left drain. The incision site looks like an angry, inflamed, teenage piercing (I had plenty of these so I know). She then goes to take it out and I swear it’s grown feet the thing’s been festering in my body for so long (did I mention anything about 12 days?). So she has to give it a good yank, I feel its claws dislodge, it comes out. I never want to see it again.

–          MT comes to see me. I have a smaller visiting pool now as I’m too tired and unpleasant to entertain anyone who doesn’t have to be my friend due to longevity. When I wake up, high on the news that Hollyoaks is coming to Aus, we both watch a round-up episode that introduces me to all the latest characters and their story lines. See below footnotes for more information on Hollyoaks.

–          Mr F comes to see me – HURRAY! He brings Vietnamese. We watch the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 3.

And those are the highlights of Day 12. There is a lot of talk of ‘home’, but this is causing me different levels of optimism and distress for reasons I’ll discuss in Day 13.

p.s. one of the search terms that led someone to my site yesterday was ‘Intimacy hot boob play’. Ah ha ha ha! How disappointed they must have been. Ha ha. Insert smiley emoticon 🙂

Hollyoaks

Hollyoaks is a UK soap opera set in the fictional town of Chester.

It only features incredibly attractive actors between the ages of about 15 – 28. They may be attractive, but on the whole they are very common. For those in the UK (who probably know Hollyoaks anyway) by common I mean chavvy, Australians, I mean bogan.

Anyone who is not attractive or falls outside the above descriptor is what is known as a token character. Examples of token characters may include:

–          Not attractive people

–          Overweight people

–          Ordinary looking people

–          Old people

–          Crazy people e.g. cult leaders or murderers

When I was in the UK, Hollyoaks was on about 5 nights a week, which was then re-shown as an omnibus on Sunday morning. Hungover, me and my friends, or my brother’s friends, or just me, would eat a bacon sandwich and watch Hollyoaks for the majority of Sunday morning. It was ace.

Infection = Bad: The last 48 hours

Boy. That’ll teach me for being bored. A lot has happened in the last 2 days (days 9 and 10) so I’ll cover everything in bullet form so this doesn’t become biblical. Before I do here’s a quick synopsis to bring you up to speed.

In a nutshell:

Some of you will remember my right-side drain leaked on Day 6, we tried to save it, but it looked like it was on the way out so we removed it on Day 7.

I woke up on Day 8 to find my right boob had swollen up and felt like a water balloon.  I freaked out because I’ve repeatedly been told fluid in the breast cavity is bad, fluid can lead to infection, infection = bad! Ultimate consequence, removal of the expander that is sitting behind my pectoral muscle, we have to wait until it heals, we can then run this show all over again.

Both the plastics and breast surgeons didn’t feel I had anything to worry about. The fluid wasn’t much, it would in all likelihood dissipate through my body in time, otherwise they’d drain it with a needle…

Got it? Now we can begin:

48 hours

Day 9

8am – 10am

  • I woke up and updated my Twitter and Facebook status claiming that today was a think positive day.
  • Nice breast surgeon from Manchester came to see me. He checked my right boob, said it was OK and unless I was in pain, to leave it. Looked at my left side drain and said if plastics were happy, I could go home today or tomorrow. IMMENSE!
  • My lead breast surgeon comes. He agrees with what everyone has said. Offers to overrule everyone and take out my left-side drain and discharge me there and then. I may be a bit bolshy at times, but I don’t like breaking rules so I say no. If it wasn’t for the fluid build-up in the right side I would have jumped at the chance and agreed.

12pm

  • Plastics team come to see me. They are less enthusiastic about the discharge chat, but agree that the right boob still looks fine and IF, IF, my drains are low enough tomorrow, I can go home.
  • I hit rock bottom, cancel my visitors for the afternoon, but head out to meet Mr F for lunch. There are no trips to the beach today, just up to my usual coffee shop around the corner.
  • Lunch – I cannot stop crying. Mr F has a rubbish lunch.
  • I come back and try to read but am too woozy so I got to bed for a couple of hours. Wake up shivering  Put some more clothes on and get back into bed. My chest is really tight so I loosen up my binder and try to go back to sleep.

6pm

  • Can’t sleep, still shivering, I feel sick and my chest tightness is becoming unbearable. I can’t breathe and I’m having sharp pains down my back.
  • I call the nurse and ask her to take my temperature. She does and it’s fine. However I can’t sit still long enough for her to take my blood pressure and run to the toilet thinking I’m going to be sick. No vomit.
  • My breathing and pain in my back becoming worse. My most matronly like, and Welsh, nurse tries to run an ECG but my back pain is too bad to sit still. She calls a Dr.

7pm

  • Before I know it I have 3 Drs in the room asking me questions. They have felt my right boob again and still don’t think that’s the culprit. I have blood taken from 3 different places. A 4th Dr comes, lots of questions, finally an ECG, and they take my temperature again. My heart rate is 100 beats per minute and my temperature is 39.3.

8pm

  • They want to take a chest X Ray and ask if there’s any chance I might be pregnant. It’s very unlikely, but this whole surgery thing has played havoc with my cycle so is there any chance? A minute one, possibly? I think I could maybe sue them if I am and my unborn baby is damaged by the X Ray radiation? So, I take a test… Not pregnant! Don’t worry; X Ray commence.

10pm

  • Cut a long story short, it is determined that I have some sort of infection, they pump a lot of antibiotics in me and my temperature comes down. By this point I’ve called Mr F to hospital from the pub. He is lovely, concerned and smells a little of beer.
  • I am shattered and terrified.

Day 10

8am

  • Wake up feeling better than I did, txt my friend who I had cancelled on to tell her about my infection, she calls straight away, I can’t stop crying.
  • She calls my ward and requests to break visiting hours protocol to come and sit with me.

9am

  • She brings me breakfast and sits with me to do crossword puzzles.
  • My nice Manchunian breast surgeon comes, he looks at my right breast. He’s not happy. The fluid has increased and my breast is red. He recommends we do an ultra-sound to determine how much fluid in there. We’ll stick a needle in to drain the fluid (remember, plastics don’t like this as it’s a foreign body, which also may risk infection).

10am

  • My Child Plastic Surgeon (CPS, who I now really like but I need consistency in my names so you know who I’m talking about) comes. He also thinks we need an ultra sound, but at the same time he is concerned. Wants another urine sample. I am forced to drink a lot, quickly, in short succession. I pee on demand and, sorry this is gross, but it’s boiling hot!

11am

  • CPS returns to say he has spoken to a plastic surgeon (not my main guy, but another guy who I don’t rate for reasons too long to discuss) who recommends that I go back into surgery, they open me up, remove the expander, clean out my cavity, sew me back up again and add another drain. I ask CPS what the chances are of this not working and me losing my expander – he says’ there’s a 15 – 30% chance I will lose it. CPS is clearly a glass half full kinda man, and I think he’s made up these stats.
  • The surgery can’t be until 5pm as my lovely friend just brought me breakfast.

11.30am

  • Mr F arrives with a Cadbury’s Whisper Easter Egg, which of course I can’t eat as I’m nil by mouth. My temperature fluctuates throughout the day and my chest is still tight, making it difficult to breathe.
  • I have a moment where I question everything and wonder what the hell I’ve done. I’ve mutilated my body on the off-chance I might get cancer, and now I’m about to go back into surgery which may or may not increase the chances of this whole thing failing?

6pm

  • I’ll be honest with you, I’m still not in a great place as we head into surgery. Just as we are about to go through the double doors into theatre, CPS tells me that he has spoken to my main silver-fox plastic surgeon and he doesn’t want to remove the expander and just wants CPS to open my right chest cavity, drain it and give it a good clean. Everyone seems really pleased about this and is implying I should be too. In retrospect I understand it’s a much less risky procedure.

8.30pm

  • I return. CPS says it went well and the infection had’t spread to my muscle and my chest expander. My temperature is down and I can breathe a little easier.

So, as I was saying, a lot can happen in 48 hours. What happens next is anyone’s guess. All I know is I’m going to sit very still, not move very far from my bed and hope for the best.

Time

Day 8: What Happens After Drain Removal?

Yesterday was Good Friday, 8 days after my operation and 8 days in the wonderful Royal Hospital for Women.

The day started well as I accepted the ward breakfast for the first time since I’ve been here. This featured a very hard, yet tasty, hot cross bun. The reason for it being my first ward breakfast is partly because I’m an incredible food snob and also, I have started to combine my morning walk with a lush Campos coffee and nice sourdough toast and Vegemite – as opposed to processed white bread and instant coffee. Please don’t judge me.

Campos

I was still on a high from the removal of my right-side drain the day before. And despite the drain levels on my left side doubling from the previous night, the left-side fluid had turned very pale so I was confident that it was doing its thing.

Riding on my wave of positivity, I was about to embark on my first half-shower in 8 days, when I took a peek at my blossoming foobs (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Foobs).  After a slow start I’m pretty good with them now and have become increasingly familiar with them over the last few days. So imagine my surprise when my right boob looks like it’s got a blister on the side of it and feels like a water balloon to touch.

red_water_balloon

For the past week the many surgeons who come to visit me, breast and plastic, have stressed how bad it is if my smeggy bodily fluid collects in my breast cavity. The unwavering message I have taken from multiple conversations is fluid (or smeg), in breast cavity = bad!

So the only natural reaction from someone who’s still on a quite strong meds, has been cooped up in a hospital for 8 days, and has a dramatic disposition at the best of time is to FREAK OUT!

I ask my lovely nurse, who is a small women in her 60’s with an Australian accent like someone from 80’s soap opera, Sons and Daughters, seems a little concerned. However, when I ask her to call a Dr she nervously says we should wait until they come round this morning. Hmm, I have already mentioned how Australia officially closes on Good Friday and I imagine that applies to surgeons too, so waiting is not really an option I want to entertain.

Next step, call Mr F crying, saying my boob looks like a water balloon. He’s just woken up. Is not a Dr and is not really sure how to help me.

Destination number 3, go to ballsy, 20-something Irish nurse who’s been saying I should be allowed to go home since day 3. This is a good stop. She looks at it and says, don’t panic, I’ll call the Dr. Great response.

I sit and wait, cry a bit more, and eventually a plastic surgeon, who I have never met and looks around 23, arrives. My relief is minimal. My plastic’s team aren’t the warmest bunch, but at least I know them.

Child plastic surgeon (CPS) looks at my boob. I am holding my breath and waiting for the worst until he shrugs his shoulders and says… well, it’s quite normal for a bit of fluid to collect after your drain is removed. It will disperse over time.

WHAT?

This clearly wasn’t the answer I was expecting and I hate to say it, but work Trisha comes out to play. (Brief summary; work Trisha can be very nice, but she’s also quite pushy, doesn’t like to be taken for a ride and generally wants to know that people aren’t taking the piss. Sounds like a dream, right?) So I begin to quiz CPS on his diagnosis. I use words such as ‘with all due respect’, ‘please try to appreciate where my concern lies’ and ‘I’m sure you know what you know what you’re talking about, but please understand, I’ve never met you before.’

He clearly thinks I’m a bit of a dick, but reassures me that it’s not a lot of fluid. They could drain it out but that involves sticking a needle in my boob, which involves sticking a foreign object in there, which increases the risk of infection = the pinnacle of  this is a bad thing and something you don’t want to happen. OK. He leaves and the ballsy Irish nurse tells me that he is good and he’s older than he looks. She also makes a valid point that if he gives me bad advice and gets it wrong, his boss, my main silver-fox plastic surgeon, will be pretty peeved.

My lovely 2IC breast surgeon then comes shortly after that and confirms that he is not worried by the fluid. He then recommends I start applying Betadine to my bruised looking nipples, once a day. It makes them look more bruised in the short-term but I trust this is an effective way of keeping them infection free!

So everyone leaves and I’m reassured (I’ve also triple and quadruple checked with my friend from Pink Hope http://pinkhope.org.au/and my step mum, who is also a breast surgeon), but still a little teary. It’s at this point the nurses urge me to escape from hospital for a few hours. They can clearly see I’m going slightly mental and losing the plot. So with more information and less tears I call Mr F and ask him to break me out!

And here I am, patient on the run, complete with name tag and smegggy drain bag at the beautiful Bronte Beach, Australia. One large skimmed latte, poached eggs and avocado on sourdough please. And order is restored.

Breakout

 

 

One Down One to Go: Expulsion of a Post-Mastectomy Drain Revealed

Well someone or something has to get out of here at some point. And if it can’t be me, it may as well be my right drain.

donald-trump-youre-fired

After Smeg-Gate yesterday, my fluid secretion on my right-side decreased a lot. Despite 4 Drs telling me it would come out tomorrow, the big honcho, plastic surgeon boss over-ruled them all and ordered it to be expelled immediately!

A couple of things you should know before I go on. Drain-Gate is still in full swing and despite the smeg from my left side becoming much paler in colour, the fluid levels are still pretty high. Even higher than yesterday. So I’m still quite upset about this as it means, as my Drs bugger off for Easter (I don’t know if they all are yet but I reckon they will), I am definitely here until at least Monday, maybe even Tuesday! 12 days! I wouldn’t spend that long on holiday in Port Douglas and I really like that place.

The other thing I need to warn you about is, what you are about to see is pretty gross. I’m not going to go on about it for ages, but the following pictures may upset you,especially if you are currently devouring an Easter Egg. You have been warned.

Expulsion of a Post-Mastectomy Drain Revealed

Low fluid levels… check. Hurrah.

Drain

Empty suction ball…check. Gross but yey!

Bubble

Part of the drain that was very much INSIDE my body – check out the stitch that was attached to my body to see how long it is. It’s about 6 inches. And a real 6 inches gentlemen, thank you very much.

innertube

And here, a little bit blurry, is the hole in my arm-pit where the drain resided. Apparently it closes in 24 hours. I said to my lovely nurse, “a bit like a tongue ring?”. She couldn’t confirm or deny this, and to be honest I’m 33, what do I know about tongue rings?

armpithole

And at the end of all this, I am left with this rather fetching drain bag, currently up for grabs to the highest bidder.

Drainbag

The Patience of Being a Patient


Patience1
I went for a walk today and felt something smeg-like on my arm. I looked at my arm pit and I had a mini freak out that my right drain – the previously well behaved one – had fallen out.

I pegged it back to the ward and no, it hadn’t fallen out, but it had come out a bit from where it should be and has stopped sucking the smeg out of my right breast cavity.

The Dr tried to plug this up but it didn’t seem to work. This would be OK if my drain amounts were low enough not to worry. They weren’t. There are several potential outcomes as a result of smeg-gate:

a)      My body fixes itself and gets rid of this waste by itself and all is well with the world

b)      The fluid builds up in my cavity and they have to drain it with a needle

c)       The fluid builds up in my cavity and they have to go in and drain it with an operation

How will I know which one will happen? I can’t. I simply have to be patient.

None of these things sound too bad, until you get to the potential sub-outcomes of b and c. You see, both b and c increase the risk of infection and if I get and infection, the likely sub outcome is, they have to remove my expanders, I am fully boobless (even more so than now) for some time and I have to come back in and have another, stage 1 operation, and new boobs are quite a way off.

How will I know if this will happen? I don’t. I just have to be patient.

So that’s smeg-gate. Combine this with drain-gate on my left side, which doesn’t seem to be abating…

Me: Hi plastic surgeon. If after 10 days, if my left drain is still going, what happens?

Plastic Surgeon: Nothing

Me: I’m not getting out of here for ages am I?

Plastic Surgeon: I’ll get you out of here within a month

INSERT > EMPTY SILENCE

Tumbleweed_rolling_2

The Power of Patience

DalaiLama

For me, the boobs were the easy part, something in my control that involved action. This part however, that I have no control over and as an otherwise healthy and able person, just have to let it take its course, is taking me to limits of my puny patience.

With even more time on my hands I decided to look at the definitions of what it means to be ‘patient’, versus what it means to be ‘a patient’, to see if I can pick up any pointers on how to be better at both.

Patient

Definition 1. Bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance with calmness.

Trisha’s Patient Barometer: Trisha is enduring pain, difficulty, provocation from her annoying drains and smeg and the annoyance of being in hospital with limited calmness.

Patient Verdict: Fail.

Definition 2. Tolerant; understanding: 

Trisha’s Patient Barometer: Trisha is tolerant to pain but shows very little understanding for the fact that the body will do what the body will do.

Patient Verdict: Fail.

Definition 3. Persevering; constant.

Trisha’s Patient Barometer: Trisha is constantly persevering (to try and go home).

Patient Verdict: Pass (questionable).

Definition 4. Capable of calmly awaiting an outcome or result; not hasty or impulsive.

Trisha’s Patient Barometer: Trisha is incapable of calmly awaiting the outcome of drain and smeg-gate. She is hastily trying to behave like a normal person and impulsively crying.

Patient Verdict: Fail.

Being A Patient

Definition 1. One who receives medical attention, care, or treatment.

Trisha’s Patient Barometer: Trisha is definitely receiving medical attention, care and treatment.

Being a Patient Verdict: Pass.

Definition 2. One who suffers.

……

According to the above I am rubbish at being patient but really good at being a patient. So, with my prognosis unclear and my exit date, within this month, I have decided to seek guidance and motivation from the Dali Lama. He says:

“The practice of patience guards us against losing our presence of mind. It enables us to remain undisturbed, even when the situation is really difficult. It gives us a certain amount of inner peace, which allows us some self-control, so that we can choose to respond to situations in an appropriate and compassionate manner, rather than being driven by our disturbing emotions.”

Roger that, Dali. What’s another week between friends, eh?

Patience2

My Little Book of Gratitude

Some of you will have seen that I sporadically talk about how grateful or lucky I feel at the moment, during what may questionably be one of the most challenging times of my life.

It really is an amazing feeling and is part of what’s getting me through each day. Even when I temporarily hit an emotional, and I believe drug induced, wall. Every day I feel so grateful that I have been given the opportunity to glimpse into my medical future and take back some control. Each day, when I’m surrounded by my loving and supportive network of friends and Mr F, I thank my lucky stars I’m not alone in this. And even when I look at my chest that currently looks like action man, after he’s gone through a few rounds with GI Joe, I’m thankful that these bad boys have less power to hurt me anymore.

Action man

And in my support of gratitude, it seems I am not alone.

This dude, Dr Robert Emmons (who looks very grateful) has written a best-selling book called, ‘Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.’ http://gratitudepower.net/science.htm. He believes gratitude can improve emotional and physical health and without it, “life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished.” Wowsers, steady on Dr Emmons!

This article from the NY Times gushes even further. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/science/a-serving-of-gratitude-brings-healthy-dividends.html?_r=0. They claim that “cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.” Lucky Mr F… I wonder if he’s grateful?

It’s obviously with these weighty claims in mind that my friend, MT, who I’m incredibly grateful for, made me this gratitude journal. Or as she’s called it, ‘A little book of good things.’

GratitudeBook

Throughout the book she has pasted happy looking pictures, underlined by inspiring, happy quotes. Some of my favourites include:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr Suess.

Dr Suess

And, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible.” Audrey Hepburn.

 Audrey

The 3 GTs:

Then each day, from the day of my op, MT has earmarked 3 spaces where I must write down 3 of my grateful thoughts. I have been pretty good with this and think it will help when I look back at this time in the months to come, and hopefully, see how far I’ve come. My GTs are very simple and may seem pretty banal at times, but I think the more simple the GT, the better as it’s easier to conjure back when it’s most needed.

I won’t bore you with each GT from the past 5 days, but here’s a snapshot of the small things I’m grateful for since my two friends left my inhabitance:

Day 1

–          For coming through the operation

Day 2

–          For HP bringing me coffee

Day 3

–          For being brave enough to look at my chest

Day 4

–          For my right nipple looking less purple

Day 5

–          Going to the toilet!

Oops, much better now: Day 4 Day and Day 5 Morning

Right, so you’ll be pleased to know, I am in much better spirits today. As I also was yesterday afternoon so apologies for that little dent in my spirits as I hit the wall of the Macquarie ward.

crazy

After pouring out my soul yesterday I had a nice visit from my two, no frills friends. This is not an insult to them or anything to do with their appearance. It’s due to the fact that they are two of my friends I know I don’t even have to speak to when they come or make any effort, so in short, no frills. They took me for breaky on the grass and we watched patients, hooked up to their IVs, puffing away on their cigarettes in the hospital amphitheater.

????????????????????????????

I am not one to judge, especially as when life throws you a hundred curve balls, sometimes a cigarette is the least of your worries. However, I am glad I knocked my once social habit on its head years ago. Especially as smokers have more chance of their nipples failing post-surgery due to poor blood circulation. (you may pick up that as well as bowel watch, I am also on my own private-ish nipple watch)

I then slept for a couple of hour’s yesterday afternoon.  The first time in the day, since surgery.  Bliss! Even on waking, with eyes full of smeg, I felt a heap better than I had that morning.

My two friends, northern K and German K came to visit in the afternoon. They brought with them a lovely zebra plant with the famous last words ‘you can’t kill this plant’… I have killed every plant that has been introduced to me in this way. Then more importantly, German K washed my hair and plaited it. This is important because:

I smell;

Wash

It’s been a good few days and I’ve only been able to wash with these wonderful, Bed in Bath wipes. They are essentially like baby wipes on speed. Massive! The packaging says, ‘for a complete bath’, which is a ‘complete lie’. Until the drains come out I can’t shower, so I have been festival washing any skin that hits the air. I still have the surgeon’s marker pen on my chest, as well as the black sticky marks where plasters have been. I have been wearing the same surgical socks for days, and whilst, as you know, I have been changing my pants daily (yesterday was luminous orange, today, turquoise) I am starting to hum. Thanks to the pesky drains coming out of my pits I can’t use deodorant and I’m too scared to try and shave them in case I catch something (small mercies that this is definitely wouldn’t be one of my breasts.)

Before the op I worried about how attractive my boyfriend would find me sans boobs. I hadn’t taken into consideration this might be mainly because I’m gross. A fact, which Mr F confirmed last night.

Bowel watch:

Day 5 and there is still no sign. This is now, the main question anyone is asking me. My pain is well under control, and so it seems, are my bowels.  Victorian control! Despite laxatives, multiple walks round the car park, stomach massages and a couple of squats, there is no movement. My stomach is so swollen it is now more prominent than my deflated chest. However, whilst I’m still able to breathe and not in pain, I’ll resist the urge to double dose on the laxatives.  Do not fear – I’ll keep you updated.

Drain gate:

Whilst it’s a bit minging, I fear it’s difficult for anyone to really understand what I mean when I say I have drains coming out of my armpit, so see below for a graphic visual. These lead into the cavity of my chest, where all the potentially cancerous tissue and fat has been removed and where my expanders are currently sitting behind my pectoral wall.

drain1

Blood coming out of the drains is a good thing because if blood collects in the cavity I have to go back under to open up my wounds again and the risk of infection is high. Also, as the Dr’s keep saying, it’s better out than in. However, before I can go home, and essentially before they can start filling up my expanders and giving me new boobs again, the drains need to run dry.

drain2

It is this area that is causing the delay. My right side is doing OK and the volume of blood and serum that collects in the bag each night (that they change at 12am) is decreasing. My left side on the other hand remains pretty heavy and the blood is darker. There is nothing wrong per se, as long as it’s draining out, but it does have to do its course before I can continue with mine.

Infection = bad! Especially with expanders as if this happens, they have to remove them and it could be a while before the reconstruction process can begin.

Day 5

So a day 5 begins my aims are as follows:

  • Walk
  • Read – I usually love reading, but have been too hyper until now to settle down with a good book
  • Meditate
  • Keep on an even keel…

Crash: Day 3 and Day 4 Morning

kind

They warned me that day 2 would be crash day. The day when all the drugs wear off and you realise the enormity of what you’ve done? Well for me that was day 3. Although depending on how you look at it, if you count surgery day as just being surgery day, yesterday could well have been day 2.

On paper yesterday was good. I got up in the morning and did my exercises – congratulated myself on being so strong and threw in some squats. My friend, Kiwi A, came in the morning and we had coffee and breakfast outside on the grass. My two friends, D and S, came straight after at the same time as my boyfriend, with another coffee (this may have been too much), and stayed til 1pm. As they left I saw them out with a walk round the car park with Mr F.

I returned to my room, had a peek at my chest, fell asleep and was woken by two new friends, M and L, who brought me nice pants from Peter Alexander in an egg carton – ingenious. I went for another walk round the car park before greeting my lovely friend, E, who brought a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. E and Mr F stayed until about 7pm. When they left I repeated my exercises, watched the Real Housewives of Miami and went to sleep.

However, extract things from paper and this was not the entire day.

Boob Watch:

I did look at my boobs. They are not as bad as you’d think. My left nipple looks OK and my scars are really tiny. However my right nipple looks bruised and sore and my overall impression was that I looked like action man.

I called Mr F and cried. Bless him, everyone else sees good Trisha, he on the other hand has the one that can only cry with him. Besides, what can you say when your girlfriend calls you up and says she looks like action man?

Bowel Watch:

Despite drinking 2 glasses of prune juice, walking around A LOT and having A LOT of wind… (sorry – oversharing) I still haven’t been to the toilet since Wednesday evening! I wouldn’t mind if I didn’t feel so very, very full and swollen.  Bearing in mind I’m only eating 2 meals a day and avoiding the 3 servings of white bread they are giving me in here. By the time I went to sleep last night I was struggling to breathe I was so expanded.

So of course I called Mr F-Therapist and cried, again (man going out with me is ridiculously rubbish), and he told me to ask for some laxatives.  I didn’t and went to sleep – until I was woken up to change my drains at 12pm and the nurse offered me some.

Midnight Caller:

I was then awake (as I have been at this time for the last 3 nights) and got a txt from AF to see if I was a) asleep and b) OK.  This time I blame him as I txted I was fine and he insisted on Skyping. It was at this point I cried, again!  Long story short he cheered me up and I managed to go back to sleep.

Morning has broken…

Got woken up to take pain killers this morning. If only pain killer could make me sleep and go to the toilet. Saw that my drain incision in my left armpit had leaked… cried… you realise this is again, right?

So look, I know, I’m shattered. I haven’t slept for 3 nights, some people took my boobs away and I still haven’t been to the toilet. I just feel a bit bad as I have been this positive poster girl for how to react when you wake up flat chested and my current emotional state makes me feel like I’ve duped you all.

Game plan

Today the game plan is to sleep as much as possible. I have been for one walk already and I’m determined the next one will push me to the toilet. Finally I’m going to give myself a break.  All this positivity is really hard work and despite what my many self-help books and Pinterest mantras may say, it’s alright to feel like crap from time to time and I’m allowing myself that indulgence for day 4.

kindess

2 Aims For Day 3

GoalI have 2 aims for today, my third day after the mastectomy. One is to look at my new boobs – or lack thereof. The other is to move my bowels for the first time in three days.

Boob Watch:

I have had little peeks of my deflated breasts over the last few days.  Drs come and want to look and my support bandage keeps slipping down. However, I have not been brave enough yet to go full frontal and look at what my chest is currently doing. I’m not going to lie, I’m not hugely looking forward to this moment, but I have to look because a) they are part of me, b) I need to be familiar with what’s happening so I can tell if anything is going wrong and c) they won’t look like this forever so I should just suck it up.

I have no real game plan for this, I just need to do it.

Bowel Watch:

I promise I won’t gross you out with this. It’s bad enough I’m broadcasting about my deflated breasts, let alone my bowel movements. However, I have not been in 3 days and as a healthy, coffee drinking girl, this is not like me. I haven’t done anything wrong, it’s the wonderful painkillers I’ve been on, plugging me up to numb the pain.

So this is my game plan on operation, get things moving down south:

  • I have done my exercises for this morning (I’ll share these in a separate blog post). I have progressed onto the exercises for patients 7 days after their surgery as days 2 – 7 were too easy.  Don’t tell Mr F! I also threw in a few squats and lunges.
  • I have drunk my first glass of prune juice for the day. Look it’s not gross, but it’s full on.  Read here for why prune juice is amazing. Essentially it makes you go to the toilet and helps fight cancer. GO PRUNE JUICE! http://www.wisegeek.org/what-are-the-health-benefits-of-prune-juice.htm
  • I am going for a coffee in the sunshine. I have been told to move more today and move I will. Sod that regular sized coffee I had yesterday. Today it’s large, skimmed latte to have here, but in a take-away cup, followed by a walk round the car park.

Wish me luck. I’ll report back on my missions. Hopefully I won’t be crying / full of prune juice by this evening but I’ll let you know. x

Prune