Saturday, 18 August 2012

Fly me to the moon

My coping skills are having a day off today, and I'm being the biggest wuss on the planet. I've got my new Portacath fitted and I'm so far not liking it one little bit. Yesterday evening, Mr Lovely opened up my jugular vein in two places, one to fit the Portacath, and he probably had really good reasons to open it in the other place, but I haven't got a clue what they are. All I know is that I now have two dressings which are very slightly seeping blood, and every movement I make I'm convinced will open up the wound, snapping the stitches, and I'll bleed to death. Coughing is terrifying, even every step I take I can feel the pull on the wounds, and last night I was too scared to go to sleep until my exhausted body overruled my head.

On one level, I know it's ridiculous, and this is minor minor stuff compared to the mastectomy, lymph node total clearances and lumpectomies I've had recently, but this my head is playing real tricks with me and it seems like the worst ever thing that I've had to go through. The pain from the wound is actually very low level compared to everything else I've had to deal with recently, but vein pain is very distinctive, and knowing that there's a new foreign body stitched into my jugular with a long tube running down it's length to my heart simply feels very wrong, and very frightening.

I know I'm acting like a precious princess, and you should have seen my lovely kids F and A rolling around laughing at my declarations last night that I was about to bleed to death, but I just feel so vulnerable. My left arm is my good one, or at least it was, whereas today I'm spooked by using it to even hold a cup of tea. Sleeping positions were scary too - what if I squashed it and it popped out of place? What if I didn't squash it and didn't even know that blood might be pouring out of it?

I'll be OK in a few days when I can convince myself that the wounds are healing and holding this thing in place properly, but until then I really have to find a way of getting my head around it. On a rational level, I know this is a "good thing", and it's going to make chemotherapy much less of an ordeal, but my needle phobia is really having a great day out today, it thinks its gone to Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and Disneyland and back, and it's certainly causing me the equivalent roller coaster reactions - people pay very decent money to have this level of fear and scary anticipation, and I'm getting it for free on the NHS, so I should be grateful for small mercies. If I had my way, I'd have an army of volunteers to watch me around the clock in case the worst happens. WM is being magnicifent, patient and caring, and trying really hard not to show his amusement at my patheticness, but he can't be awake and with me 24/7. I even feel vulnerable when he is in a different room at the moment.

The plan was that today I'd go out and buy an exercise bike. Chemo can put stacks of weight on, and I'm far too weighty already, and exercise is proven to play a really important part in banishing cancer cells. Well if breathing and walking is too scary for words,  the idea of ever doing anything even slightly exerting every again is quite, frankly, completely ridiculous and feels like a deathwish.

Hopefully part of this vulnerability is the anasthetic affecting my emotions, which often happens with me. I get very tearful and feel very vulnerable, but even if that is what's happening, and it is pharmaceutically-induced, it still feels very real.

Lots happened yesterday. I had to be up mega early to eat breakfast and have a cuppa before my fasting deadline of 7am, then my sister and cousin arrived to help get Toby ready, fed and dressed, because I'm not fit enough to do it. Mr Zip-Wire arrived too, and Toby thought it was party-time. Everyone really pulled together, and we got everything done and dusted that had to be done before I left to get to the hospital for 11am.

I walked onto the same ward where, two weeks ago, I spent 4 days behaving like a total pathetic wimp, and one of the nurses just ran down the corridor, threw her arms around me and gave me a kiss. What a lovely welcome! I was shown to a four bedded room with three other breast cancer ladies, and within minutes we were like old friends, laughing and conspiring together. One of the ladies has had terminal breast cancer for 15 years, and despite it spreading to her bones and brain and loads of other places, chemo has sorted out each problem as it has arisen, and she looked amazingly fit and well, with a fabulously positive attitude, warmth and humour. The more of these ladies I meet, the more I like them all.

As a bonus, I got the singing nurse! Her rendition of  "Fly me to the moon" would put SuBu out of business. The anaethetist came, and despite every bit of manipulative pleading, begging and cajoling I could muster, he was adamant. No I couldn't be put under with a mask, I had to have a canula inserted.

Then the wait began. It was after 5pm before I was finally called to theatre, 10 starving hours since breakfast. It's funny how, during those hours, resignation sets in. All those weeks ago when I met the "Vein Lady" and she told me about the Portacath, it had seemed so sensible, but so abstract and something theoretical that was ages away. Suddenly, I'm sitting there waiting for it to actually happen, and that felt almost surreal. I was very calm, with the lowest blood pressure I'd ever had, probably due to the hypnotherapy sessions I'd had from WM on the previous two evenings.

At 5pm the singing nurse and I said goodbye to WM and went to get the deed done. She promised to stay until I was solidly asleep, and she was simply amazing and somehow turned what should have been a fraught time into a party. Just as I was about to collapse in a heap as the needle was about to go into my hand, she told me to think of Tom Jones in a leopard-skin thong buying me a bag a chips to share on the beach. Well, what a very bizarre, and rather unappealing thought, but it just set me off laughing, along with the anaethetist and the theatre nurse. Best canula moment ever! And, as Mr Lovely reminded me, hopefully my last ever canula ever too, thanks to this new Portacath. I know I will get over this, and grow to love it perhaps. But that's for another day.

After surgery, more waiting began. I had to sufficently recover, a radiologist had to come in from home, and an xray taken to ensure that they hadn't accidentally pierced my lung in theatre (they really do know how to make a girl feel great, don't they?), It was just gone 11pm before we could finally escape and get home. Then I remembered that A was off on holiday early this morning, and the washing, packing and last minute shopping had been completely slipped off the radar. WM jumped into action, keeping the washing machine and dryer busy til the small hours, then up at the crack of dawn to get everything dry and packed.

The best bit about yesterday is that finally all the mastectomy stitches are out. This probably means that I have far more movement and far less pain in that side now, but I bet you know why there's no way I'm going to test that particular theory today!

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