As you've probably gathered I'm home now after a rather extended stay in hospital, but am hopefully well on the way to recovery.
I hadn't mentioned before, but the reason my surgery was brought forward was because my oncologist found a lump in my left breast, and as a mastectomy was planned they felt it best to bring the surgery forward and do a Sentinel Node biopsy at the same time to make sure there was no cancer.
I have to be honest and admit to being very worried… as were my family and close friends. Sensibly, I knew that with all the treatment I'd had, the chances of the lump being cancerous were slim, but then again, as some of you sadly know, it can happen.
Colin took me into hospital and I was delighted to find that many of the nurses who'd cared for me last time were still there, so I felt safe. :) The operation went smoothly and I had implants plus some Strattice to pad out and protect the skin on the left side. Strattice is actually made from pig skin, so I will have to make sure not to use too much oil when sunbathing, otherwise I may create my own crackling! :)
Debbie Greenwood came to see me the following day but I managed to sleep through most of her visit! I kept waking up, throwing a few random words at her, and drifting off again. Bless her, she said she didn't mind – it's probably the first time she's ever got a word in! I don't think Kathy fared much better the following day, but it was SO good to see her too.
Unfortunately two days later my left breast began to swell, and they discovered internal bleeding which was also causing bruising down my side. I went back to theatre and they drained it all, so I felt more comfortable for a while, but sadly it started to swell again, and was extremely uncomfortable. I equate it to when you've just had a baby and your breast milk comes in for the first time! Your breasts feel like boulders! How on earth my poor children could even breathe let alone feed while clamped on, was beyond me! :)
That aside, it was decided to take me back to theatre to find out what was occurring. Unfortunately I'd had my supper at 5.30pm so needed to wait until the morning to have the procedure carried out…. it was a long night but my nurse was very kind and filled me full of pain killers so I slept little.
My dear friend Jo – who'd come up the day before – was back in the hospital at 7am and I went to theatre at 7.30am. There we played the game of 'hunt the spare vein' for my cannula, and then before I could even start counting I was asleep.
Apparently a small piece of tissue or debris had blocked my drain and so the fluid had built up. The surgeon removed all of that and also replaced the implant, and gave me new drains! Such a treat
When I awoke Jo was there and we passed the time watching television until Colin came and attempted to play a game of scrabble with me on the iPad. At 10.20pm he kissed me goodbye and told me I'd won the game! I'd slept through the entire thing but he'd used my letters and played for me bless him :)
Praying all was well
I prayed very hard over the next two days that all would settle down, and on the 9th day I was told that if all was well I could go home the following day. Ros had arranged to visit me on her day off and so said she could sort things and bring me home which was a great help as Colin was working.
Friday morning dawned and the doctor on shift called in to see me and said she thought it looked swollen again… I had felt it tightening up in truth but didn't want to say anything. Long story short we had to wait until my oncology surgeon could call in to see me and he was happy that the two drains I still had in would deal with it.
He also brought me wonderful news… the breast that was taken had no cancerous cells, but did have evidence of lobular neoplasia, which is a pre-cursor to invasive cancer – the same cancer I had before. I was SO relieved that the breast had been taken, and even happier that the Sentinel Node was clear as well.
It should have been champagne all round, but with the pharmacy style collection of pills I had with me, I was advised to stick to fizzy water for the meantime :) Armed with that advice and my little gift bag containing my drains (necessity is the mother of invention) Ros brought me back to my cosy cottage.
Some days have been better than others
A good one was when Claire Sutton came to see and made me laugh with her stories of the children and family life. I have had had one of my drains out but have to keep the other one for a few more days – I've moved on to a single bottle gift bag now as you will see!
As for my new chest, it's different – still very bruised and swollen but with no feeling or sensation on the skin. It took me a while last time to get used to losing a breast, and I guess it'll be the same this time, but I know that I have been VERY lucky. Bless my oncologist for his foresight.
I had a duvet day yesterday, but Colin has washed my hair this morning (clearly AFTER this photograph was taken!) and I am about to get dressed. The Aah Bra I have is wonderful and I also have to keep a wide strap tightly across my chest to keep the implants down – after all it wouldn't be seemly for a 52-year-old to have breasts under her chin would it! :)
Please do keep writing, and I will continue to reply. You make all the difference to my day :)
With my love, Ali xx