The extra weight. That’s what I noticed. My upper left side just felt heavier. No sensation, no pain, no tingling. Just this weight. It was like nothing I’d experienced before.
“Are you in pain?” I’m a bit sore and achey when I move my arm, but nothing major.
The codeine was doing its job. I hated it. I don’t like taking meds, but in this case I knew it was needed. So the codeine “freed” me from pain, and I sat there in the hospital with this heaviness on my left side.
Katy had removed a number of lymph nodes from my left axilla (aka armpit area) as well as the breast tissue. The implant was in; as were two drains for any excess fluid build up from the breast tissue and lymph nodes. The drains were about 500ml in size each. The nurses would need to monitor the volume daily; and once the output had reduced to a certain amount, the drains would be removed.
For the most part, the hospital stay was nice. The facilities were spot on. I had food that you could eat at any decent restaurant; the nurses were exceptional. The routine for each day would be:
- Morning observations, meds, and breakfast
- Katy popping in to check on me
- Katy laughing at me eating boiled eggs or generally eating whenever she saw me
- Morning nap, observations, meds, then lunch
- Watch a movie/trashy daytime tv, afternoon nap
- Observations and visitors.
- Dinner, evening meds, and sleep
The days went by pretty fast. I had flowers delivered, additional snacks from visitors. The nurses loved the community feel I’d created in my room. Mi casa es su casa. We’d hang out, I’d offer food (because it had reached epic levels of ridiculousness with the amount of cookies, and cakes I’d received). I’m not sure if my fellow neighbours were necessarily my biggest fans, as we were never quiet; but for the most part my hospital stay was pretty good.
The only issue I had was the bathroom routines. I couldn’t do little things that I could before. I couldn’t wash my face properly. My left arm was restricted in movement. Tying my hair back was difficult; and I had the drains with me all the time. Getting changed was not easy. I still managed it, but at the back of my head, I just hoped that it would be sooner rather than later that I would be back to some form of normal mobility.
The nurses removed the drains after a few days, and removed all the pressure dressing. I was expecting things to feel less heavy, but nothing changed. It felt the same as before; and my upper arm had a slight numbness.
“It’s beautiful. Katy has done a really good job. It’s very neat and tidy” *Beautiful?* I haven’t really looked.
The truth was, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I just couldn’t. Despite feeling rested and looked after, every time I went into the bathroom I avoided looking at the area. I would turn my back or look up while getting ready to shower. I wasn’t ready to see how “beautiful” the new breast looked.
I hadn’t been sleeping well prior to the surgery; but the medication and hospital environment had allowed me to sleep. To slow down and do nothing. I felt the most rested since all this had started. So when it came to my last night in; I was frustrated that I couldn’t sleep. I was restless, and probably survived on 4 hours only. By the time morning came, I was an emotional mess. I couldn’t do anything.
Delphine called. I broke down. I tried to talk, but all I could muster were sobs.
“Is it because you’re going home?” I think so.
The reality of everything was sinking in. Being in hospital, I was in a bubble. I had everything there for me. Going home would make it real. Would confirm that I was now in it. No delaying on surgery. No questioning of why or what. I was in it. The plan for dealing with my cancer had started; and I was going to go home and live with this new breast; and process it, and everything else was going to follow.
I was scared. I was leaving the comfort of a hospital, and going home to my flat. I would have family with me, and friends would visit. I had offers of people cooking and hanging out; but it would just be me living with this “new body”. It was the first time I knew I would have to depend on others; and it freaked me out. I felt crap. I’d gone from feeling “ok” and getting on with it; to being vulnerable and scared.
“I was expecting this to happen.” Really?
I had been fine. I felt ok. I was joking around. Visitors had said I looked rested. So, to me, I was surprised at the expectancy of my low. Katy had said after surgery it was normal for patients to go into a dip. I was in the dip.
The nurses gave me the pain relief meds. I had some physio exercises to do. I was in the dip; but I was ready to go home. Pathology would take a week to examine the tissue removed, and all I had to do during that time was rest and heal till my next appointment.