We duly turned up to see Mr S at 6 pm the following day, all the while trying to stifle our black humour giggles about him wishing us a pleasant evening the day before. Honestly, that really should be the standard parting shot after delivering any bad news.
Note: If it’s just me and a close circle of sick buggers I call friends that would howl with laughter at that, I DO apologise. But not much.
Mr S told us that he had cleared his schedule for the following Tuesday and looked at me to ascertain if this would be ok. Immediately into my head came all sorts of thoughts about meetings that I had planned, work that needed to be done and I was, for a split second, thinking about when would be ‘convenient’. My mum could see this idiotic pondering going on in my little head and took things nicely into her hands by skewering me with one of ‘those’ looks and saying, ‘Yes, that’ll be fine, WON’T IT?’ while continuing the loving, “don’t mess with me” stare.
Also, just to mention that he endearingly pronounced the day ‘Tuesday’ as “Twesday” and now my mum and I can ONLY hear it that way in our heads.
It probably sounds like total insanity that I could stop to consider anything other than getting my arse to the hospital six days later, but it’s true. I was so set on holding onto normality and control that I felt I needed to consider all the things I thought couldn’t happen without me.
Firstly, I wasn’t indispensable at work (far from it) and everything could happen with me. Secondly, WHO GIVES A FUCK, ITS GETTING RID OF LUMPY CANCER SHIT, right? Once I let myself be guided, I relaxed. Again, bizarre, but the thought that my treatment was in the hands of people that took care of this kind of shit every day and that there was nothing I could do for five and a half days, made it all seem ‘handled’. There was nothing else I could do. The lump wasn’t going to get bigger in under a week. My life was not immediately threatened. Time to chill and get prepared.
I went to work the next day and had a meeting with my boss (a superstar of a man and still a good friend) and his boss (very much a non-superstar in a work context and non-friend as it turned out evenutally, but brilliant in this situation). They’d consulted HR and said that the matter was entirely in their hands. I could have two weeks off or six months off. It was up to me! Amazingly kind, and I am SO grateful that I only had to worry about being well and not fret about paying bills. Not a luxury everyone in my situation has and am still grateful for that.
I was shocked at the ‘months off’ idea. I only needed a week off, right? The operation was on Tuesday and I’d have a couple of days in bed and then be right back on duty. Yes?
This is where I tell you that I’d never had an operation before or any real anaesthetic except the hideous old gas at the dentist in the distant past. No wonder the guys looked at each other and almost did the ‘There, there, love. Whatever you decide’ (deserved) patronising tone. They agreed that ‘if I felt well enough’ I could come back whenever I wanted, but thought it best that I allow myself two weeks at least, just to be extra strong. Makes me laugh when I think about it now.
Tuesday arrived, and I only began to get nervous late the night before and on that morning. I try not to waste energy on emotions and tumultuous thoughts ahead of time. I’m pretty lazy like that. As I wasn’t allowed to eat after midnight and had only had some water in the morning, I was concentrating more on being hangry than anything else! I’d agreed with mum that she’d drop me at the hospital so I could just be alone and read. Or stress. Or panic.
The panic wasn’t about the operation itself, but solely around the anaesthetic. I’d never had one and because I watched too much Grey’s Anatomy, I was convinced that I’d die on the table! Funny now, but I cannot convey how real and awful this fear was. I was almost saying goodbyes to people; it was that bad.
Note to self – for operations in the future – do NOT watch eleventy tenty episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or any other such (too real) programme before a hospital visit. It simply is NOT a good idea. Especially for someone with an imagination like mine!
As the time approached, the nurses showed me to my room and asked me to get into the awesome gown and sexy, scratchy, thick anti-Deep Vein Thrombosis socks. My word, they’re a good look. Comfy too. Not.
They did allow me to wait until much nearer the time to put the paper knickers on. So that was nice.
I hadn’t realised that my boob was going to be messed around with before the op and they had to explain that this particular procedure that I was going to have was called a ‘wire guided lumpectomy’. Essentially, that means that the surgeon has a piece of wire telling him where the centre of the lump is so that he can locate the lump and hack around it to get rid of any surrounding dodgy tissue too. I used the word ‘hack’ there for over-dramatic licence. There was no hacking.
But there was Wire. In. My. Boob.
The lovely nurses that did this could NOT have been nicer or more gentle, and although they numbed the area first, there is nothing that can disguise that they are sticking a piece of metal into my boob. And leaving it there. With a bit poking out. Seriously.
They did keep the edge that stuck out as short as possible, but wherever my right arm seemed to be, so did the wire. It wasn’t painful, though, just ‘there’ and scary because it was so unknown. So that’s another thing to tick off the list. A piece of metal in boob and left there for a bit. I must admit, I don’t *think* it had been on my bucket list, but who am I to turn down new experiences?
Next stop: So THAT’S what an operation is all about?