64. How to manage (great) expectations

In an earlier blog,  “51 en route to reconstruction” I explained how I’d met Mr X in September and been told that my blood vessels in my tummy where good for being plumbed into my underarm and chest.  That was back in September 2018 and the dates mooted for reconstruction were the 20th or 27th March 2019.  I’d been offered a possible date before Christmas but I’d declined as I didn’t want another winter at home recovering from surgery and I wanted my students to be as well prepared as possible for their public exams.

I had an appointment to meet with the Breast Reconstruction Nurse and to prepare for this I looked at a variety of forums, spoke with a friend who’d had this reconstruction and typed up an A4 list of questions.  As far as I’m concerned knowledge is power and the more you know the more you can be prepared and then manage expectations whilst looking for milestones of recovery.  My first question was is it the 20th or 27th March …. due to unforeseen circumstances the potential date has been moved to June or July.  The other questions were all about the surgery and recovery but paled into insignificance compared to the date.  I do now know that I will require big Bridget Jones pants, my zip front M&S Sports bras will have to be worn for 6 weeks, a bear hugger (actually a bair hugger) will be used to keep me warm, I will enjoy a carbohydrate drink to enhance recovery, probiotics and Vitamin C and Zinc are good to take… my list was extensive.  The lovely BCN (Breast Care Nurse) was patient and explained that the surgery took about 8 hours and it was 5-7 days in hospital and I would feel as if I’d been hit by a truck.  Nick had come with me and just as well as at one point I cried and needed his hankie… this really, really wasn’t on as I’d come to the meeting in my school uniform with lanyards on.  My BCN was a little taken aback, as was I, as I hadn’t cried for sometime and never in front of her or Mr X. The surgery is daunting and the recovery has to be taken slowly.  I would never be the old me… I’d have a new set of scars.

I think part of the tears making their appearance was the fact that I had a timeline which I’d been working towards… that is if surgery was at the end of March or sometime in April my exam classes would be on the home run, I’d minimise disruption to my colleagues, my other responsibilities would be picked up and held until I could return in July and then… I’d have the entire summer holidays to get really fit and make a flying start in September.   Also the wretched Cannonball would be making a hard Brexit from my chest instead of which it would be hanging on – not even a no deal exit…. just no exit at my convenience.  Best laid plans and all that…..

Tip:  To have an understanding of how hospitals operate and the pressures they face watch the programme “Hospital” on BBC 2 – the tag line is “the story of the NHS in unprecedented times”. 

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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