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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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).


  • 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!


  • 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.


  • 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?


  • 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.


  • 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.


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’.


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


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.


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.