Confirmation I did the right thing

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GROSS DESCRIPTORS. DO NOT READ WHILST EATING BREAKFAST

Right Thing

Yesterday, I had my first breast surgeon appointment since my discharge from hospital. Part of me felt like there wasn’t really much for us to chat about, having just escaped 4 days ago. However, it came at a really good time. It was my first weekend on my own and on Sunday I had started to imagine a) there was fluid build-up in my right boob and b) my right nipple was definitely dead and about to fall off.

My sensible side realised that both of these options was unlikely but I was looking forward to getting some reassurance.

My post-op nipples

My poor post op nipples haven’t looked great. I have been assured this is perfectly normal and they do tend to get dinged in the surgery process, forming a blister or scab that will eventually drop off to reveal a healthy nipple.

My left nipple on my preferred boob (preferred because it was 2cm higher than the right breast, a better shape, was never biopsied and didn’t get an infection) had a little scab on the bottom of the nipple. In proportion it was a little like Tasmania to Australia, or Anglesey to Wales.

australia.tasmania.lg_

My right nipple however on my rubbish boob (rubbish because it was more saggy, had been biopsied, was home to an infection, and something else I’ll tell you about in a minute) was complete scab. Yes, my whole nipple was a scab. Imagine if you will a total eclipse of the sun. That was the scab on my nipple and the reason why I repeatedly believed it was about to drop off.

eclps12

A surgeon with a scalpel

I arrive at my breast surgeon appointment, take my top off, lie on the bed and the next thing I see is my surgeon going to the cupboard to grab a scalpel.

OK.

He goes back to my nipples. I don’t really want to look and I can’t feel a thing as all my nerves are dead so I ask him, “what are you doing?” To which he replies “oh just taking the scabs off your nipples”.

Oh well, that’s OK then.

The left side. Simples. Pops off with little persuasion.

The right side. Even before he goes to tackle the total eclipse of the nipple I’m feeling nervous. He takes the scalpel to the scab and assures me that the skin under the scab looks healthy and pink. Reassured by these words I decide to sneak a peak when he goes to get something else from the cupboard. URGH. My eclipse scab is lying to the side of my now, bloody right nipple. Vomit. Thank god he got a plaster and dressed it up because my stomach couldn’t handle any more.

Time bomb tits

Dressed and scab free we return to his desk where he gives me my pathology report, which is the analysis of my removed breast tissue.

Again, the lovely left side had no abnormalities to note.

My rubbish right side however had a couple of warning signs. There was a 3mm fibroadenoma that I already knew about as I had a biopsy needle injected into 4 times it about 12 months ago. Fibroadenoma’s are lumps composed of fibrous and glandular tissue.” Unlike typical lumps from breast cancer, fibroadenomas are easy to move, with clearly defined edges.” OK, job done.

What was also there was an atypical ductal hyperplasia. My surgeon described this to me as “proof that it was on the turn.”

Oh, right. So I came home and Googled it and found this description. “Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH) is not breast cancer, but is considered a precancerous condition…  If you’ve been diagnosed with atypical ductal hyperplasia, your risk of developing breast cancer is 4 to 5 times the average lifetime risk.”

Wowsers.

Combine this with my BRCA2 stats and the way I see it, Rubbish right boob was just waiting to make its move. Whether that be in one year, 5 years or 10 and thank god it hadn’t started already. So no, I didn’t need confirmation that I had done the right thing, but with these odds even I’d place a bet and I can’t gamble for toffee.

What Happens Pre-Admissions Clinic?

Just over a week ago I received a letter from the hospital asking to confirm my presence at my operation, BY FAX!  Who has a fax machine anymore? Well it turns out Mr F does, which is good because the thought of going to the post office during my lunch break is not dissimilar  to shopping in Argos on Christmas Eve.

Anyway, Mr F saved the day and yesterday I went to my ‘Pre-admissions Clinic’.

fax-amarys

Weights and measures

I first met a lovely nurse who measured me; 161cm, which is good to know as I still work in Feet and Inches. She also weighed me.  I wanted to tell her that I’d just had lunch and I have a rule about going to the toilet before stepping on the scales… However, it seemed frivolous so I got on there and ignored what they said, safe in the knowledge I’m at least 1KG lighter when I follow my own ritual. Finally she sticks a thermometer in my ear and sends me on my way.

Mind my mouth

I am sent back into the waiting room – Twitter is a wonderful thing to pass the time. After a while the anesthetist comes to see me. She asks me a few things, like am I allergic to anything.  I’m tempted to crack my joke about the horseflies (which is true) but the audience doesn’t seem right at the moment. She then asks how much I drink.  I am really smug at this point and harp on about how I’ve been sober all of Feb and March.  She doesn’t seem impressed and probes as to how much I drink normally.  I fess up that it’s quite a lot, to which she looks relieved and scribbles something down.  Apparently one of the drugs may tip me over the edge if I’m not used to alcohol   It seems my indulgence has some benefits.

Finally she asks if I have any crowns or caps.  I do, I have lovely teeth that I paid a lot for having knocked them out at 18 months and gone without any until I was 12, when some wonky brown ones grew back.  She informs me that they might chip them… Urm… no you won’t! I ask her if I’m able to claim if they do? It may be nothing in compassion to how much it’s going to cost to chop my boobs off, but I could do without the expense of new teeth. I think she picks up on the fact that this isn’t a joke, and kinda says, yes I can. Mmm, I will be reiterating this point on the day of the operation.  I clearly have everything in perspective.

Dougie Howser

Doogie_Howser_MD_neil_patrick_harris_kid_doctor

More waiting and a bit more Twitter until I am met by a young Dr, who I know must be about 27, but she looks about 12. We go into a room and she starts by saying she’s not looked at my file.  Oh, that’s OK then. She sees that I am having a prophylactic nipple sparing mastectomy with tissue expanders and so starts asking when I found my lump. So I tell her I have no lumps, I instead in possession of a faulty BRCA2 gene. She looks a bit blank and starts asking about my family history. (Insert much repeated family history wrap up here). She still seems confused as to why I am having this operation. It’s at this point I realise she has no idea what my lovely gene mutation is or means and so I begin to relay that statistically I’m pretty likely to get cancer of some sort at some point, that’s why they screen me, and that’s why I think this is a pretty good idea.  She seems to get this now, and is not surprised at my negative reply when  she asks if I have any questions for her? Only how old are you and would you like me to come with you on your rounds? (I didn’t say this I promise).

Puncture wounds

A bit more waiting, I’m even checking work emails now (kidding work. I was doing this all along) until someone decides to tell me to give blood.  I am given a map to navigate the hospital and find the blood clinic. On arrival I am lucky enough to see a man move an Oreo from his forehead to his mouth on Minute to Win It before I am introduced to a nice Indian man.

Oreo

Once you have been to hospital a few times you turn into your Dad i.e. tell the same stories with the same lame jokes over and over again.  When it comes to blood, I always insist on telling people how tiny my veins are and how they look good but I’d make a rubbish junkie AH HA HA. Anyway, the nice man simply smiles at me as if I’m an idiot (fair call) and in what seems like 3 mili-seconds produces 3, perfectly formed vials of my blood. Ah, thanks.

So quite a few bad jokes and a little bit of annoying, I know everything Trisha later,  I am sent on my merry way. And that s what happens during a very long, pre-admissions clinic.