Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer

IGAP Reconstruction

April 2010

by ay

Firstly things to take with and trust me this is more about what to NOT bring with - I took a massive holdall with all kinds of clothing etc believing I'd be up and about getting dressed - I didn't use ANY of it.

To take: dressing gown, slippers, wipes of all kinds, mineral water, hair scrunchie, my own pillow or 2, a beaker, conspitation remedies, Dioctyl or fibregel, tracksuit bottoms

Ask others to bring me: soup, smoothies, bananas and grapes - was ravenous but didn't have the energy to eat anything - the hunger pains were not hunger pains I've experienced before!

Things to tell medical personnel: no plasters NEXT TIME I'LL WRITE IT ON MY FOREHEAD COZ THEY DIDN'T LISTEN! - bad allergic reaction, no morphine - makes me feel sick, need medicine for conspitation, oh yes a wheelchair to take me out of the hospital when I leave

Day 0: Wheeled down at 9am - came round in recovery around 7.30pm and shown how to use morphine pump.

Yes I did ask my sister to take a photograph of me at this exact point in time! I was covered in tubes and lines, one in my foot, one in each hand, a central line coming out of my neck with 3 attachments, a catheter, 2 drains, oxygen.....

10pm wheeled up to HD ward - not many memories of this or the first day.

Day 1: tight chest finding it hard to breath. Had x-ray to see if I had some air in part of my lungs where it shouldn't be. X-ray thankfully clear. Bloods came back showing anaemic and RBC count of 6 therefore showing all signs of not having enough of the stuff going round my body hence 2 blood transfusions blasting the figure to 9.

In addition, low white blood count 0.6 - however told haematology had checked this out and nothing untoward - just my weird body.

Have recollection of nurses saying that day 1 stay in bed, day 2 into chair for a bit - they were having a laugh

Couldn't move in bed myself at all so whenever I slipped down the bed, a nurse came on either side of me and yanked up the sheet with me on it. Also when I did try and move, had this terrible burning pain in breast and also electric shock/like when you hit your funny bone going down my leg. Luckily as well the beds were electric. Oh forgot one important part of this - the first 3 days had to lay with a heater blowing hot air into a sort of duvet that lay on top of me to keep the new part of me warm - that was very uncomfortable - so very hot therefore think will bring in fan next time.

Day 2: I was not getting into any chair. I slept all day and all night. Felt really sick. A friend popped up and I couldn't even speak to them.

Day 3: Slept all morning and then by afternoon a bit more with it. Decided to cut out morphine as think this was making me sick and sleepy . No more oxygen.

Day 4: Call of nature so got out of bed with nurse by my side but couldn't stand on my leg so had to sort of hop using nurse as support - try that when you've been in bed for 3 days after an operation.

Day 5: Much more with it and could tolerate a few visitors - only close family. On this day, the central line came out of my neck, drains came out, catheter came out,

Day 6: Final tube came out of hand. Physio came to see me to see me walk so I leant on him and sort of hopped. He brought me crutches and taught me to use them which I did quite easily but was very slow as sore and feeling very delicate.

Day 7: More physio and learning to walk/use steps. Then home.

Something really nice though - there were 2 other women on my ward of 4 who'd had similar ops to me and we all recovered at similar rates and exchanged stories - we really kept each other going and it really helped plus the nurses were just amazing - really dedicated and really good natured - that so helped boost everybody.

Weird being home - felt a bit sort of out on a limb but soon got into the swing of things. Being waited on hand and foot BUT I'm very independent so found this hard. Also pretty unsteady on my feet and arm very sore. Too many drugs for my liking so slowly tried cutting down to see how I felt - this was a good move - feeling less like a zombie

Slept well the first night. Spent first week being very tired and even set my alarm clock each morning for 8.30 to keep to some kind of routine but promptly switched it off each day and went back to sleep until around 10am! Everybody is just telling me to go with it so I'm sort of trying to. They say I need the sleep and I guess I must do.

I'm now getting out for a coffee locally and feeling ok. I get so irritable if I stay at home all day. Speaking of which, I'm off to vote now - being picked up - can't miss out on that!