A week on

Tomorrow it will be a week since my surgery. It has been a strange time. A period where I and we have had less control over events and our lives than we like. I know in the future we will look back on this time and recognise it was just a week. But right now, it has felt a lifetime.

I wrote about the day of the operation and my immediate thoughts here. Remarkably I was less than 24 hours post surgery. I was still under the influence of the anaesthetic and a strong pain killer taken over night. The disappointment of not being allowed home that day had subsided. I knew I wasn’t ready. But I did feel very well and positive. Sadly my positivity didn’t last that night.

In the afternoon I had a visit from the lovely Indie, who took time out of her sightseeing schedule to spend time with me. she brought chocolates and a friendly ear. We chatted and laughed as well as discussing some of the more serious aspects of this whole episode. 

Later that evening I developed haematoma. The operation had taken place in a hospital with no emergency facilities, and although there was an on call doctor, he wasn’t part of a surgical team. Around 11pm at night, he and I imagine the more senior doctors he sought advice from, decided I should move to another hospital. It is only a few miles away, but involved an ambulance, time in an assessment unit and then transfer to a ward. Suddenly I felt alone, scared and completely out of control. My bubble completely burst and over a period of a few hours I felt quite desperate. 

Looking back

I can see I was unrealistic about the size of this operation and the potential complications. It is also clear that those explaining things were pretty blasé about the risks. The chance of me ending up with a wound drain was high, yet I was told it was something I might have. 20% of women end up with a haematoma after mastectomy, and that is a reasonable risk. But I hadn’t really looked into it at all. We were told that it would likely be an overnight stay, but from where I sit now, I can see that was unlikely. 

I wonder why it is clinical staff are so keen to shed a positive light on recovery times. The fact that I went into this with such a rosy view has meant that what happened after was quite a shock to the system.

Getting out of hospital was quite a challenge on Thursday. My surgeon is based at the original hospital and seems to have a pretty heavy workload. So another doctor saw me on Wednesday and Thursday. He would have preferred me to remain in hospital but I had had enough. Because I still have the wound drain home services were set up for me. But I really didn’t want them. My long nursing career means I know how to manage a drain and understand what to look out for. Sitting around waiting for someone to measure the output is not something I want to do. I don’t think I was being difficult when I asked for Saturday off from visits. But it is not something they seem all that used to. 

Practical stuff

I have ordered a bag so I can carry the drain around. It arrived yesterday, but unfortunately I was out and the postman has taken it to the sorting office. Meantime I have a shoulder bag that is the right size and shape. I am getting quite good at hiding the tubing. And as with other things, people don’t really observe what is going on around them so I doubt many people have noticed. 

I discovered last week that Marks and Spencer have a range of post surgery bras. At the moment I need something front fastening and soft, so have this one. But have already found a company that sells colourful and pretty soft bras and have one on order. Soon I will buy something much more delicate. I want to be able to feel at least a little sexy. The insert I have is soft and while it feels odd I can see that it does look pretty normal from outside. 

I am pretty bruised – I even have a shiner on my remaining tit (I wonder how that happened). but at present the scar is hidden by dressings. My body looks weird to me and I know to him too. We are not quite ready or indeed able for him to explore it. But we are speaking about the changes to my body, my body image and what that might mean.

There is a long road ahead and it has only been a week, but we have coped amazingly well considering. I am not brave or special, I just want to be able to look back and know that I have managed this process in the best way I can. This might not have always made me popular, but I am not changing my personality for anyone. What is more, I could not have done this without the love, care and support of the man I love. The man who is my Master. 

12 Replies to “A week on”

  1. I hadn’t thought of it like that. Yes, it is difficult to talk about these things but I feel I must. The deep psychological stuff may be a little more tricky, but I will try.

  2. Congratulations at getting through surgery. I know it isn’t easy. Growing used to the little alien (aliens) now residing in your chest takes some getting used to. took me months but finally I can look at them and think wow they aren’t bad. None of this process is easy but you get through it. Sometimes with smiles sometimes with tears. My thoughts are with you and my prayers for a quick recovery. kit.

  3. Thank you for your kind thoughts kitten. It helps knowing others have gone through this whole thing before me and emerged the other side. xx

  4. Well done mate, this is a pretty comprehensive coverage of events. We all need to know about this stuff- it’s all too easy to forget the reality for many people is not what society presents. I hope you do get to a point where you can share sexy pics of yourself as part of your ongoing journey, as we discussed. But if not that’s ok too.
    It’s heartening to read and see the support you are getting from everyone especially Graeme and your son. Sending you loads of love, hang in there and dare I advise – don’t overdo it just yet…
    Xxx Indie

    1. Thanks, To be honest I have no choice but to take things easy. Firstly Graeme is taking no chances and secondly I actually can’t move as quickly as usual xx

  5. I think you are brave too. Sharing this experience openly is not something many people would do but you have been honest and open and I think that is amazing.

    I am glad you are finally home and i hope the healing speeds up.

    Molly

    1. Thanks. This is firstly for me, but if it helps others that will be great. Also it feels wrong to be so open a d suddenly shut up because life is difficult.

  6. Hey Julie, I remember the post operation euphoria well, and then it all the drugs wear off, and you had a complication (so did I) and then you feel a whole lot less confident – just when you need to have an overload of confidence. But Julie you have rallied, well done you.

    I am glad you have been out and about and I am glad you are already thinking about comfortable things and pretty things to wear – don’t be alarmed if you are slow to feel ‘yourself’ for a while (let alone sexy), it will bob back up as the healing progresses.

    Like you I couldn’t face looking too closely at my body for a while, but gradually I could (for wound healing and dressing it was necessary, but I ‘pretend’ nothing much had changed for a while, it helped me cope better (I’m a bit of a denial kinda person – you probably aren’t). Even though my scar was on my lower abdomen (below my belly button) I couldn’t face any pressure round my ribs, I wore a soft sports bra for a while, so be accepting of what your body will and wont tolerate.

    Thank you so much for sharing, I for one think you are coping very pragmatically and seem to be making great progress. Go easy on your temperament, one day at a time, on some days you will feel less buoyant than others. This is all perfectly natural. xx

    P xx

    1. Thanks Posy, that’s really helpful. I agree I hardly feel like myself let alone feeling sexy in any way. I am definitely up and down, but taking things as they come. Xx

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