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.

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

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?

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