The rollercoaster events of the past few weeks came to a conclusion yesterday. Once the decision for me to have a mastectomy was made last Wednesday we began to make plans for the weekend. Being away from home helped, and while we obviously discussed the operation, we also concentrated on having a good time.
The music festival got off to a great start with workshops about the poetry of Lord Byron and it’s musical settings, followed by a day on Debussy. There were evening concerts and meals in our favourite restaurants.
On Saturday night we drank a little too much, and Master took a few photographs of me naked in our Airbnb living room. I don’t know if we will ever show them, but we have a few good shots for ourselves.
Sunday was spent at a study session, learning about classical composers and their music across European and transatlantic borders. Then we travelled home. Driving home in the rain we encountered heavy traffic, but once home spent the evening quietly.
By now we both felt ready to face the inevitable. It was time to get this operation done. The time for commiserations done. On Monday morning I had an early breakfast and then we went back to bed for a while. Snuggled together he stroked and kissed me before bidding farewell to my right breast.
It turned out to be a long day
Although we arrived at the hospital at 12.30, I didn’t go for the operation until 4.30. My son came over to spend the afternoon with us. A slightly surreal but pleasant afternoon passed.
My first ever anaesthetic and operation passed smoothly and by 6.45pm I had woken up. I was amazingly awake and felt pretty good. The first face I saw as I arrived back on the ward was Master’s. A feeling of immense relief passed over me. Within minutes I was speaking to my son on the phone to reassure him all was well.
As I lay in my bubble of post surgery euphoria, I snuck a peek inside the front of my gown. My left breast remains in tact, its nipple still holding the plastic bar I bought for the operation. My right side is flat, the wound hidden by dressings, it’s breast and nipple is no more.
There were 4 of us women in our shared bay, all recovering from surgery for breast cancer. After Master and other visitors had left we lay in our beds talking about our experiences to date. Reflecting on this shared journey. Our nurses were kind and compassionate, encouraging us to talk.
It was a long night
Only one of us slept last night and that someone wasn’t me. The ward was quiet, but each of us had our lower legs encased in machinery designed to prevent thrombosis. The intermittent noise generated by each one seemed to prevent sleep. Added to this, regular observations by the diligent nursing staff and alarms elsewhere meant none of us slept for more than a few minutes at a time. Still the sence of cameradey carried us through to breakfast at 7am.
While the two women who had lumpectomies headed home at lunchtime, two of us remain for another night. I am hopeful of being sent home tomorrow. I faced my bare chest in the bathroom mirror this morning as I washed and don’t relish the thought of seeing my scar. But this has to be faced, and now hopefully the cancer is gone. Difficult days lie ahead for me and for him. But we are facing this together.