Monday, 29 May 2017

The first cut is the deepest: part 1

I went in for surgery on 2 May 2017.   I was going to get the lump in my breast and all the lymph nodes in my right arm removed.  

My husband and my son came with me and when I was called in to the ward, my son started to get upset.  'It's just like having a tooth out.'  I told him.  'Um, mum, no it isn't.  It's DIFFERENT', he said between sobs.  How could I reassure him when I didn't believe the tooth analogy either and was feeling a bit sh*t scared myself?

The board above my bed showed that I was '3rd PM'.  Hmm, did that mean I wasn't going to go to theatre until later that afternoon?  Yep, it sure did.  I had fasted from midnight before and the nurse reckoned I'd be called about 3pm.  WHAT?!  I was famished and thirsty!  I looked forlornly at the nurse so she gave me a welcome cup of tea.  It was pure nectar.  

Down to the wire

If you're a bit squeamish, you might want to skip this bit.  

So that the surgeon could operate in the right area, I had to have a wire inserted into my breast directly into my lump.  They froze the area first thankfully but I simply couldn't watch.  When I did, I could see a bit of wire sticking out of my boob...a bit like a 'breast kebab'.  

The nurse then took me for a mammogram on the boob to make sure that the wire was in the right place.  Bloody hell.  They were going to crush my boob whilst there's a fecking wire in it!  Now mammograms aren't the nicest things at the best of times, but with a bit of metal stuck in me and a dodgy shoulder I grimaced (and still do) at the thought of it.

Making the breast of things

The rest of the morning was spent being checked by nurses, the anaesthetist (Dr Foster - I did want to ask him if he'd been to Gloucester in a shower of rain, but stopped myself as I reckoned he'd heard that a million times) and the surgeon, who had originally diagnosed my cancer for me.  She made me laugh when she called the lump under my arm 'the big juicy one' and when she said my signature was as bad as hers.

I chatted to the other women in the ward, one of whom was a lovely, funny, elderly woman.  She was having a lump removed.  'I'm 90 and I told the doctor to bloody well leave it there.  I'm 90 for god's sake - it's not bloody worth it!'  She was a real tonic.

The morning dragged on but it was peppered with nice chats with the other four patients and the medical staff.   I had a lovely German nurse assigned to me who was absolutely fantastic.  We chatted about politics, Brexit, the NHS, Germany and how she ended up in Northern Ireland.  

In the early afternoon, I got into my bed and they fired up something called a Bair Hugger for me.  It was a disposable blanket into which they blew air from a warming unit so that I would stay warm for surgery.  It was heavenly.

Don't say good luck

There were three of us left in the ward in the afternoon.  As one of my co-patients was wheeled away I called out good luck.  My lovely nurse said 'Aargh, don't say good luck!  Luck has got nothing to do with it.'  I realised she was right: 'luck' shouldn't play a part in surgery.  It's the skill and expertise of the surgeons which count, not luck.  I'd never seen it that way before. 

Going down to theatre

By 3.30 I was the only patient left.  The porter walked in, and I said 'Are you coming for me?'  'Nah, I'm not.  I'm just in for a chat.'  My heart sank and then he laughed and said 'No, I'm just taking the piss.  I AM coming for you!'.  Cheeky bugger.  And then he proceeded to wheel me down to theatre, cracking jokes all the way.

I looked at the clock.  It was 4pm when I actually was wheeled in to see the surgeon.  16 hours without food.  A record!

Next time...

I'm going to write about post surgery and my hospital stay.


If you've enjoyed this blog, please feel free to follow me on Twitter: @luvvacurry

Please also consider donating money to my step-daughter, Fiona Dougan, who is running a half marathon in September 2017 to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.


  1. Loving the blog Karen. Keep going. xx

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