Posts Tagged ‘Smurfette’

The BC blues

Posted: November 5, 2012 in The Big C
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On Tuesday I had the first of two operations I’m having this month. I survived my first general anaesthetic and aside from a little tiredness I feel fine. I have a rather fetching blue boob or a blue-tit as my mate Jane delightfully pointed out – those cute little birds will never look the same again. There are a few other lasting reminders of the blue dye they injected me with, but I’ll leave that to your imagination. Suffice to say I got a shock when I went to the loo.

The procedure I had on Tuesday was a sentinel node biopsy. This operation was a pre-emptive strike. If the cancer is metastasising (spreading), the sentinel node is the first port of call. If the sentinel node is clean, it is assumed that the cancer has not spread elsewhere. Here’s hoping I get the all-clear, otherwise my big operation will be even bigger. My last scan showed that the cancer hasn’t spread to my lymph nodes, however only the biopsy will confirm this.

I saw this operation as good preparation for the big one, so I was looking forward to it in a weird kind of way. I had nearly a four-hour wait before my operation and a trip to nuclear medicine helped pass the time. Here, they injected me with a radioactive isotope to make my lymph nodes visible during the operation. I was slightly alarmed that the injection came in a box marked “Hazardous –Radioactive” and it’s easy to get blasé about these things: chemo one day, radioactive injections the next, I can take it. With any luck it will give me some Godzilla like super-powers.

On my return from nuclear medicine the nurse asked me to provide a urine sample and said that a man in a cowboy hat would come and collect it. My over-active imagination didn’t think to question this, so I went to the bathroom, removed the hat shaped bowl from the toilet and wondered when the cowboy would appear. I found out later that what she’d said was ‘pee into the cowboy hat’.

Rooster Cogburn – suprisingly he doesn’t collect urine samples at my local hospital

I’ve never had a general anaesthetic before and was keen to tick this off my ‘to-do’ list. My worst fear was becoming conscious during the operation although this is so rare, I’d be freakishly unlucky for it to happen to me. I was scared but I actually enjoyed that moment of bliss before being completely knocked out. It’s the most peaceful I’ve felt since my diagnosis 5 months ago.

It took a long time for me to come around after the operation and I didn’t want to wake up. I enjoyed drifting in and out of consciousness. All I can remember is the nurses trying to wake me and the surgeon asking “how are you Manchester girl?”. The thought of food and coffee eventually made me wake from my slumber. I hadn’t eaten for nearly 24 hours so I was ravenous.

My friend Jenny had bought us tickets to see Ross Noble that evening. I was unsure about going in my post-operative state but thought some comedy would do me good. The hospital advised me that my excursion could be curtailed by a Smurf like hue, but luckily I was just a bit grey-blue, maybe even a little gravy-blue.

I could have ended up looking like this!

Mr Noble provided us with nearly three hours of mental meandering so he was great value. Three hours is a long time for most people and I was pretty tired after my operation so when he left the stage to come back on for a Q & A session we called it a night.

Nearly a week has passed since my operation and my scar is healing nicely. It isn’t too big and it’s in my armpit, so in the hierarchy of scars, it’s pretty low down. Bizarrely the stitches are on the inside.

I’ve taken another small step towards the end of my treatment & with operation lymph node under my belt I’ve decided I’m taking a cancer-break. A cancer-break is like a career break with extras. It’s great, you get time off work, a free wig and lots of drugs, everyone should take one. Cancer has completely taken over my life for the past five months so I’m taking a break from all things medical. I have a few weeks grace before the big op and I’d like to regain some normality in my life before round two begins.