Then back to reality. Into Neath Port Talbot Hospital on Thursday the 4th April at 7:30am. It's an amazing place, reminded me of a five star hotel with a section carved out for shops, galleries and eateries. A wide open space three stories high. Amazing.
The nurses were pretty amazing too. I was talked to firstly by a lymphoedema care nurse (Sue), who discussed the things I need to be aware of. As I'll have fewer lymph nodes to fight infection I will need to take care of any damage to my right arm immediately; from something as insignificant as a paper cut or insect bite to anything more serious. From now on I always need to make sure I get blood samples and blood pressure taken only from the left arm. Also if I'm considering flying I need to order a compression sleeve from Jill (my breast cancer care nurse). Keeping my skin supple by moisturising is a good idea too. Sue gave me some exercises to do which so far I've been keeping up with and she measured both arms all the way up from the wrist round the circumference at 4 inch intervals. Sue told me that we all have a different number of lymph nodes, some people might only have 10 and others 40. Funny what you remember.
I was asked lots of admin questions and repeats of those questions and many forms were ticked, scribbled on and completed. I remember speaking briefly to the surgeon and the anaesthetist.
I undressed and wore one of their hospital gowns. Then I was walked down to the radioactive isotope area where the injection was given to me in my right mammary gland. It felt like lots of bee stings, being pushed deep in my breast. Not too painful really, more uncomfortable and probably only lasted 10 seconds or so (though felt like longer).
Then I had to wait awhile. I think the time was about 10am. All jewellery had to be removed and as I wasn't wearing cotton knickers I had to wear some paper ones provided. (Not sure why cotton is important, I'll have to find that out). I also had to put on some compression stockings that ran from toes to thighs.
Again I was walked to the operation area. I was getting emotional and I remember a nurse holding and stroking my hand and talking to me... it makes me want to cry now. She was lovely, they all were. Very gentle. I was at the point of no return. I drifted off in a haze of morphine and other drugs.
|The red squares are my biopsy areas.|
Blue dye and isotope injected near the DCIS to locate path to sentinel nodes.
These nodes have been removed from my armpit and have been sent to a lab for further examination.
I hardly slept... don't know what was keeping me awake as it was a very quiet ward. After a long night Him and Her Next Door came to pick me up at 10am the next morning. (Him Next Door just had to sample a breakfast in the
Although I've been given post op pain relief I've not had the need to take any. I'm really feeling fine... in trepidation a little for the mastectomy operation booked for next Thursday but still positive and at least the first hurdle is over. I should get the results of the lab analysis of the removed sentinel nodes in a week or so. I'd still like to get off this roller coaster but I have to deal with the cards I've been dealt. So be it. "Onwards and upwards" as someone who's been through the whole process said to me.