21 June 2017. I woke up at 4am and annoyingly couldn’t get back to sleep. I was ready to get on with it! Will and I had slept on the floor in Archie’s room on our comfy camping gear so discomfort wasn’t the issue. Our Cath was in our bed next door as she was helping with the morning drop off at nursery – we had to be at St James’ Hospital for 7am.
When everyone was up and we were ready to leave I was keen not to prolong the goodbye. I selfishly didn’t want to get too emotional as I wanted to focus on the day ahead. The kids were both preoccupied so I said my goodbyes quickly and we both left.
Will and I agreed that I’d go to my parents house for the critical period following surgery to help recuperate. I have to carry around four drains (two attached to each boob) in little shoulder bags for the two weeks following surgery and I could just imagine Archie and Elsie’s curiosity with them to say the least. I’d also been told 5% of reconstructions fail within 6 weeks after surgery because people overdo it. So strictly no lifting, no pulling, no pushing, no sudden movements, definitely no cleaning and housework 👍🏻 etc, etc.
This of course also meant I wouldn’t be able to pick up Elsie which is heart breaking. Archie is a little less difficult in that he can walk, talk and understands that I have at least poorly boobies and that I’m going to hospital to get better. Elsie is totally dependable and has no concept. It doesn’t help that she is so adorable and irresistible to pick up. Being at my parents was the best – if not most difficult solution and 6 weeks is a mere drop in time.
We arrived promptly at 7am and was ushered into a room saying ‘Mr Turton’s patients’. We were there first but two more older women with their partners soon arrived afterwards: one was having a second lumpectomy after being given the all clear 10 years ago; one was having a single mastectomy after her chemo had failed twice to reduce her lump.
I was ushered into a room with Vivienne a nurse who was looking after me until surgery. She gave me a breakdown of what was going to happen before surgery, gave me a gown and some sexy DVT socks and my look was complete. Very special 🤣. I look almost manic in the second photo – I’m sure that was the adrenaline.
Next up I saw the following people:
- Anesthetist. She went through the whole process of anaesthetising before surgery, my health history, allergies etc and asked me to sign forms of consent
- Junior Doctor – who drew pen on me ready for surgery. See my Boob diary for more info on this
- Vanessa Windsor, nurse from Leeds Breast Research tissue bank. Vanessa was there to ask if (after analysis of my breast tissue from the pathology team was complete) I’d donate my tissue to the Leeds Breast Cancer Research Bank for research. In a heartbeat I said yes, signed some forms and had 5 blood samples taken.
- Mr Turton, Consultant extraordinaire. An amazingly positive, funny, sympathetic, non-condescending yet no-nonsense man. We had a final pep talk and he made some final drawings on my boobs. I also found out I hold my right shoulder higher than my left which I think must have been mildly frustrating when trying to make sure my boobs were symmetrical.
- Heather Wright, Advanced Practitioner Technologist. She works in Nuclear Medicine and administered a small amount of radiation into my infected left breast intended for my lymph glands so my lymph nodes can be better identified during surgery. Heather asked me whether she could attend my surgery adding that they rarely see how the work they do on patients aids surgery and the outcome. So of course I said yes so long as I could have a pic for my blog 😉. I promptly signed the consent forms. I was also able to send her a picture of my MRI and marked up boobs and she was hoping to use the material for a seminar in October. Afterwards Heather emailed thanking me saying “It was pretty amazing from a professional point of view. Mr Turton was able to explain each stage of the surgery and we certainly will be able to look at improving the process of patients coming from Nuclear Medicine to theatres.” 😁
I had to wait for what felt like an eternity. The two women in my waiting room had had their surgery first so I had the longest to wait. I had a nap on the couch and struck up a conversation with one of the ladies partner who was clearly anxious – as we all were. In the main we discussed the big C, perceptions of it, getting your head around all the info, and the hopeless feeling felt when it’s someone you love going through something and you sitting on the sidelines, often feeling like the one not coping as well. More on this in a future blog.
At 13.15 I was called for. I said my goodbyes to Will walked into the room where the anaesthetic was to be administered – which looked liked how I would imagine the inside of a space rocket with all the machinery. Lay down on the bed. Had my cannula put in, blood pressure taken. Had a laugh with the people in the room about toy boys (!!) and next thing you know I was waking up feeling like a matter of seconds later.
Left mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy and right risk reducing mastectomy and bilateral sub-pectoral implant ADM reconstructions. Say no more – eek! 😬
Liz, 27th June 2017