"Am I more than you bargained for yet?"
Celebrities; Blood-sucking insects; Haribou munching surgical masters;Warrior princes and elvish queens; Surgical stockings; Chocolate Cake; Harry Potter-style scar; Extreme fangirling. Yep that was the week that was! It was a helluva ride. This is going to be a LONG post. If you have better things to do I suggest you put your laptop down. Move away from the PC. But if you have the time, (and the stomach for it!) please humour me and read on.
Right, let get's the rules of combat straight first. Being the battle-hardened, wizened, haggard, old bat that I am, I am savvy enough to know that only a fool goes rushing in, all guns blazing, without a plan and without back-up. You need a professional army. The best troops you can muster. So, please bear with me while I introduce my fellow protagonists.
Now, it would be ethically and morally wrong (and probably illegal) to name names of medical staff. So I am assigning them aliases and I set out our characters in this battleground as follows:
1. My Consultant, aka Prince of Persia, aka the Warrior Prince. He strides tall at the head of the field, surgical scalpel in hand - drawn ready to cut down all the devil cancer imps that he sees before him.
2. My Breast Cancer Nurse (BCN), aka Lady Igraine. She is kind and beautiful and fair with flowing hair. She is smart and funny and both her and my Warrior Prince are probably two of the kindest, nicest and most wonderful human beings I have ever had the priviledge to meet.
3. My Plastic Surgeonis suave and sophisticated, cool, calm and collected. He has nerves of steel and a steady hand. He is handsome. I shall refer to him as Mr Bond.
4. His registrar team - the pocket-sexy doctor, who my sister has nicknamed Doctor D'Arcey. I think you get the picture. Then there is another tall dark handsome doctor (all of the male doctors and nurses are gorgeous at this hospital. Perhaps it is a pre-requisite for working here?) who reminds me of Gerard Butler so I shall refer to him as such. And then there is the tall, blonde European registrar, who sounds French or Belgium, but I shall refer to him, as Beowulf. Simply because I like Anglo Saxon / Nordic literature and he also bloody well kicks butt!
5. Then there are the anaesthetists. The masters of mojo. We have the flaming red-haired goddess and I shall call her "The Red Queen". She works the day shft. And then the night goddess, hair streaming in the moonlight. Beautiful, majestic and elegant, she reminds me of Galadriel. So she shall be named thus.
6. And then there are two very special nurses. A fellow auburn-haired warrior who stayed by my side all through recovery. She is my Boudica. And then the nurse who I have to thank for saving my boob. She is Arwen. A raven-haired beauty who is brave and fearless, yet so kind her humanity shines.
So we are ready to do battle. Let it commence.....
Monday I checked in at my "Hotel/Spa Break Week." I unpacked my PJs and settled into my bed for the night. I met my fellow combatants, Sheena and Rachel. Brave, warrior ladies facing similar crap to me. We laughed and joked and compared previous battle scars. Early night ready for war tomorrow.
Sheena and Rachel left first. I had to wait for my Warrior Prince and my Lady Igraine to journey round the M25. And we all know how long that can take! Whilst I waited, the usual process of marking up was completed. My friend, Lisa, very cheekily suggested that I draw a face with a tongue sticking out on the "devil" boob. I did contemplate it, but as I have already pissed Mr Bond off, decided probably best not to do it again. So they had a virgin canvas which to embellish. My Warrior Price arrived shortly after. Normally when we met, we have a big hug. But all the other doctors were there and I was unsure of the protocol so I just smiled. And then Igraine arrived. She looked a-ma-zing. Awesome. Shining. and I said "Wow, you look wonderful!" and we hugged. Which broke the ice and Warrior Prince came over and I squeezed him tight. It felt great. I was slightly terrified and his arms around me reassured me all would be o.k. And then it was time to go. They offered me a lift on my bed. It was hardly an appropriate chariot to ride into battle on. No flamethrowers. No sabre-toothed tigers. So I said I would walk down with my BCN. And I strode down. Head held high, To battle....
Right. Into the arena. I am gowned up. The Red Queen makes me feel at ease. I trust her completely. I am cannulated. Oxygen-mask and music in the background. And then I drift off to sleep. I don't know what happens. But I summise that it starts with the old boob being hacked off. This is the evil boob. The devil boob. I hope my surgeon, Warrior Prince, sliced it off in one clean stroke and held it high, aloft in one hand, and screamed "CCCAAANNNCCCCCEEEEEERRR" (much like in 300 when they shout SPARTA!). And then I hope he punched it. And smashed it to the floor. And jumped up and down on it. And kicked it round the room calling it a bastard. Because that is what I would have done. But he probably just put it in a box.
I wake 8 hours later. Lady Igraine is holding my hand. She apologies that my consultant couldn't stay as he had to go back to clinic. He is in demand, battling for ladies on a daily basis. I am happy to share him. We move to the Recovery Room. Rachel is opposite me. I am so pleased to see her. We make thumbs up signs and start lobbing comments across the room. We are absolutely high on Class A drugs (courtesy of the morphine) and rambling like two old, doddery bats. I suggest that we have a party when we get back onto the ward. Yeah, like that is really going to happen. And we set the time for party kick off at 7pm. Boudica takes over and holds my hands and monitors me and checks my obs and tells me she is going to see Eddie Izzard later. I say "He is cool. I saw him years ago. He wore red nail varnish. And he is a really good marathon runner." You can see, from the content, I am lucid, but rambling. Anyway eventually I get transferred up to the ward. And I sleep for a bit. And then it starts to get dark. Very, very dark indeed.....
10.00 p.m. its panic station. Arwen has been monitoring the flap attached to the new boob. I think the old boob was really pissed off. Like, really, really pissed. So pissed, she had to ensure that the new boob would suffer too. The flap is dying. It is going purple. This is bad. This is hardcore. Phonecalls to surgeons and anaesthetists and theatre. And I am whisked off again.
Gladriel, hair streaming in the moonlight, advises me that I am tricky. I am Grade 3. Yes I know this already. I have been intubated once already. Generally, its not good to do it a second time. She tilts me so I am almost upside down. More oxygen. I sleep. When I wake I am up on the ward again. I dare not move in case I break something. Arwen monitors me and at 6.30 it all kicks off again. Right now I am starting to slightly shit myself! This time I am taken straight into theatre. No side rooms for me. And The Red Queen and Galadriel are both there. They will work in tandem. My PS, Mr Bond, is back. He stills looks suave, albeit slightly crumpled. But he explains that he can't use the veins from my tummy anymore. They need one from my arm. My left arm. I already have "DO NOT USE" in big letters written on my left arm. I start spluttering "I have had clearance in that arm. You can't use it." He cannot allow me to continue and I am soon asleep.
By this time I think I have got a bit of a reputation. This is my third trip to theatre in less than 24 hours. Most unusual to put it mildly. I wake up in recovery to see Boudica smiling at me. But it soon goes shit as 20 mins later the boob goes purple again. My surgeon is mad. He storms off. With about 10 people following him. I am told that they would like to try a leech on me. I agree. I am obviously completely spaced out. They make a little walled area for the leech and he goes on. The boob starts to go pink. So they go off again for a conflab. Gerrard Butler comes back. I still am able to fangirl, ever so slightly. He explains that its too dangerous to go back into theatre for a general for the fourth time. And if they don't do something soon the flap will fail. He has a plan. I like a man with a plan. He asks if I would be happy to try one last time with a local. I nod my head. He asks if I am sure. I say yes and I sign the consent form. He say "You are an amazing, brave lady" . I am not. I am terrified but more importantly I am pissed off. I am determined at the best of time, but when I am pissed off I am really determined. And really pissed off.
So back to theatre to be numbed, but awake, for the last chance, saloon attempt to save 20+ hours of surgical expertise. The evil boob could not win. She must not win. Mr Butler holds my hand, whilst Doctor D'Arcey injects me. He is dreamy so I don't mind the initial pain. I want to see, but Mr Bond says its not a good idea. So they put a swab over my eyes. I say" Right. This is not the spa break I booked up. Where is my bloody aromatherpy session?" Everyone chuckles. We have a bit of a party vibe going on. Mr Bond says "I have a fridge full of champagne at home" I say "Well you deserve it mate. You are a god." He replies "I hate the stuff. You can have it. My wife left my dinner out for me last night. But I was so stressed out I couldn't eat it. So I ate my daughter's haribos instead". We all laughed. It was absolutely epic. And they manged to replumb the dodgy vein.
In Recovery lots of people came to see me. I asked what happened to "Larry the Leech" and I was told he had gone to Pharmacy Heaven. I started to cry. Not for me but for the leech. And then I went back to HDU and slept for what seemed like days and days.
Thusday was spent in bed. ALL DAY. I didn't complain. It felt, although I was attached to a morphine pump, that I had been hit by a freight train. Every single part of me hurt. Alarmingly my hand had also swelled up in the night to double the size it should be. This was the right hand with all the cannulas in. So they took them out and put the cannula in my foot. Galadriel came up especially to do it for me. And lovely as she is, and caring and kind, it BLOODY hurt. Even on morphine, it hurt.
By Friday I had started to feel a bit better. I wanted to get out of bed and get the cathether out as it was really uncomfortable. I was allowed out to sit on the chair two steps away. And then I had to go back to bed. Doctors came. Beowulf. And Doctor D'Arcey - at 6.30 in the mornings - a special pre-round visit just for me. And my nurses came back to see me. And Galadriel came back too. Everyone was so lovely and kind. I didn't deserve this. I had caused so much trouble for everyone. And then Mr Bond came round. And I said sorry to him for being such an awkward cow and causing so much trouble. I joked and said "Warrior Prince has prior on me you know. He could tell you I am trouble. You know like the Taylor Swift song." And Mr Bond said, "Yes. I knew you were Trouble When You Walked in. We will have to get that played on the hospitals tannoy system next time you come down." I knew this was so that he could put the whole place into lockdown!
And then my sister and mum came to see me. I think I must have looked really grim. They looked quite shocked. I was very tired and they didn't stay long. After they left the Psych Lady came. And we had a chat about "Responsibility Monkeys" And I cried. A lot. And afterwards I realised I had missed out on the major event of the day. A well-known celebrity, who lives locally, had turned up in his Lambourghini to visit the hospital. He walked straight past the window of the ward. And I bloody well missed him. Gutted! All the shit I had to endure. All the pain. All the crap I had put everyone through. And I missed it. I rung my sister and told her. She was annoyed as if she had left 10 mins later, she would have met him in the carpark. We swore and cursed together. And then I went back to sleep.
Saturday came. I needed a poo. Really badly. I was not about to do it in a bed pan or on a commode. So I struggled up. Which hurt like fucking hell. And I hobbled to the toilet. It took about an hour to walk 20 steps. And I had a great big Poo. I felt much better. As I exited, I bumped into Gerard Butler. He was making a special trip up to see me. He asked "What are you doing out of bed?" I said in a very ceremonial way "I have opened my bowels" . And he said "Well done you. Let's get the catheter out. And one of the drains". So small steps lead to bigger ones. Later in the day my amazing hubbie and wonderful kids came to see me. Which was just the best medicine ever. And they brought down chocolate cake which my friend Lorraine had made for all the staff. And we laughed and giggled and had a really nice time.
On Sunday morning, Beowulf strode onto the ward, blonde hair blazing. He said the last drain could come out. Tomorrow, And I could probably go home. Tomorrow. One more day. No one wanted it to fail now. And I agreed with him. One more day was good. My family came back down to visit me. I was very tired so they left early. And then, for the first time in a week, I was moved from HDU to a normal ward. Bigger steps. I slept but woke up at 3am. I needed to go to the toilet. I couldn't sleep and eventually got up at 5.30. I went for a shower. Which was a marathon effort. It took me about an hour. And I put "normal" clothes on. No pyjamas. And I put make-up on again for the first time in a week. And Doctor D'Arcey came round. He is so handsome I thought I would just melt there and then. And he smiled. God, that smile. And he said "Look at you. A different woman!" And he said as soon as Mr Bond had swung by, I could go home. Yay! Discharge paperwork was done. Drugs were dispensed. Bags were packed. And Mr Bond came and we had a chat. I apologised again for all the shit I had caused. And he told me that he had to keep phoning Warrior Prince and Igraine with bad news. And Igraine had been crying. And that made me feel even more shit.
So when I got home I phoned Igraine. I managed to speak to her straight away. And I said I was really, really sorry I had worried her. And please don't cry because I was all right now. And we had a little giggle too. And then later Warrior Prince rang. He was in the car. And he said "I was on my way to see you but I have to get back as my wife has just called about the children." And I told him "Go home and kiss your wife. And hug your children. They are more important." And much as I would have loved to see my gorgeous Warrior Prince, I am glad he did not come. The house looks like a Chinese Laundry. There is washing every where. And I look absolutely terrible. I have brown tape all down one arm, camoflaging a Z-Z scar of Harry Potter porportions. And I have another huge scar from one side of my belly to the other. And I have a flannel stuffed down my top to keep the new "boobie" warm. And I have green/grey surgical stockings on. My arms are black and blue up to the elbows. And I look like some mad zombie woman. And I worried, if I saw him, I would just go completely crazy with fangirling-ness. And show him my bruised, but incredibly flat tummy, and say "Look. See how flat this is. TOUCH IT." and then I would probably fall down in a a dead faint at his feet. So much as I would l have loved to have hugged him (which would probably have hurt too much anyway) I was glad he didn't come.
And then I had a sleep. And shot up with Heprin. In my thigh. As you do. And then I went back to bed. But I woke up at midnight with the shits. I spent 4 hours in the loo. I decided there was no point trying to hobble back to bed everytime. So I just sat on the loo, watching Fall Out Boy videos on my pad. Please don't tell them.
And then just when I didn't think it could get any worse I get the text about Margaret.