46. Disappointment and a doughnut

Meanwhile back on the NHS Conveyor belt… I had received a letter from the CT/Angiogram scanner clinic.  Mr X had written to them and on the 8th of June I was booked in to see if my blood vessels were going to be suitable for a DIEP reconstruction.

On the evening of the 7th June I received a telephone call from Derriford Hospital – the machine had broken.

The poor girl who’d drawn the short straw to phone was very apologetic.  I told her not to worry as I didn’t think she’d broken it. She told me I was the only person who’d been nice to her.  What a rotten job to be given.. here is a list of telephone numbers… go away phone them and disappoint people.  Poor kid.

I knew of course that my scan was for elective surgery and wasn’t classed as urgent, whatever was going to be revealed wasn’t life threatening (touch wood).  I did feel disappointed though and that familiar rise of impatience bubbled up.  I still find it difficult to let go when things are beyond my control…. the NHS Conveyor belt had ground to a halt.

Just before school broke up for the summer holidays I did have an appointment letter – six weeks later than the original.  Would I please attend X-Ray west.  Eat nothing for 4 hours before the scan and drink plenty of clear fluids.

Back to Derriford but a different venue… once checked in I was given additional water to drink to keep hydrated.  There were a few other couples waiting, including a father and his daughter… his heart had to be scanned to ensure he could fly long haul to attend his son’s wedding in the States.

I was called through to the scan room.  The machine – a lot smaller than the MRI, looked like a big, white, technical doughnut with a long tray in front of it.  The Radiographer, wearing scrubs, explained the processes in a matter of fact way and put a cannula in my arm – being an old hand at this now I didn’t ask if it was for the blood vessels in my arm.  I had already worked out that the dye would be highlighting those DIEP vessels around my tummy button.

I lay down on the tray – skirt off but bra on, not the usual position… and then there was a practice scan, followed by the super fast scan which happened almost immediately once the dye had been injected.  As predicted by the Radiographer the dye felt warm and it felt as it I needed to pee.  A really odd sensation (no spade required!).

With the usual routine it was an efficient removal of the cannula, micropore plaster on the wound and then I had to wait 15 minutes before we could leave.  It was 5pm and there were 2 days left of school.

I know I am the impatient patient but also grateful…. as few as 3 years ago a skin sparing mastectomy with a temporary cannonball would not have been an option.  I suspect that DIEP or other permanent reconstructions would have been less common.  Time and techniques move on.  I phoned Mr X’s secretary the next day to find out if the follow up appointment would be 2 weeks later.  She responded and said after August and so another appointment in September was set.


Author: fionaosmaston

I live in Plymouth, Devon with my husband Nick and near my parents Sandy and Sheena. Our three children, Marcus, Phoebe and Miles are grown up. I am a geographer and love teaching Geography. My current role is as an Assistant Vice Principal in an inner city comprehensive school where I lead on coaching and initial teacher training. In August 2017 I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma and following a skin sparing mastectomy and endrocrine/hormone treatment I am now awaiting a final reconstruction. These views are my own and writing this story has helped me come to terms with where I am in this interlude of life which has been dominated by breast cancer.

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