77: Who knew getting into a chair was so hard?

On Thursday morning it was deemed that my goal for the day would be to get out of bed and into the chair next to the bed.  I’ve been able to get out of bed and sit in chairs for almost five and a half decades without too much difficulty.  Not so on this morning!

Sister D was finishing the night shift again she had been wonderful and attentive, kind, funny, sensible, reassuring – everything you would want with a nurse after a major operation.  The same staff nurse, Nurse R, returned and she was much of the same mould.   Nick arrived about 7.30am with breakfast and I ate some (it was rude not too as he’d made it and brought it up).  Without too much fuss I was told how I’d be getting out of bed.. it was one leg over, the next leg over, push up and sit at the edge of the bed then attempt to stand and lunge for the chair.  Nick and Sister D were having a good chat about fruit trees and then both went their separate ways.  Staff nurse R and a jolly health care assistant unplugged the patient controlled pain relief tube, moved the catheter bag, various drains and then helped me move one leg, then the other and helped me to a sitting position on the edge of the bed.  I was very hot and a bit fuzzy… by this point I’d been lying flat from 8am on 9th July to 10am on 12th July.  The aim was to get me to stand and then sit in the chair.  With one of these girls either side, my feet in slippers, I then stood – all my life I’ve been told “stand up straight” as I’m 5ft 9ins but today for the first time ever it was okay to be like a hunched over old crone, I was not to stand straight I was to hunch over and it was fine to hang on to the girls.  They got me up, swizzled me round and I lowered myself gingerly into the chair.  As I felt sick and started to wretch Staff Nurse R got some magic potion and added it to one of the canulas – some form of antiemetic drugs, I don’t know what it was but it did the trick.  I was out of bed.  I stayed out of bed for 4 hours.  I didn’t really leave the chair as I was trapped by drains, oxygen and catheter bag but I could move my legs, doze in the chair and have a cup of ginger tea when the trolley came round.  Today the chair, tomorrow a walk!

Staff Nurse R came in and did the observations and I was introduced to a tiny HCA from Shanghai who was kind and considerate.  I told her that Nick and I had visited Shanghai 8 years ago.  It had been our 25th Wedding anniversary and as I was leaving one school (Marine Academy Plymouth – MAP) to join another (Lipson) it was a good opportunity to go around the world in 6 weeks so we did.  Really it was an extended geography fieldtrip.  We flew first to Las Vegas for the Grand Canyon, then to Hawaii, followed by a week in New Zealand, 12 days in three different parts of Australia, a few days in Singapore, then Hong Kong and finally Shanghai.  From Pudong Airport we travelled to the centre of Shanghai, stayed in a brand new hotel with cocktail bar and swimming pool on the roof, ate as the locals ate, walked everywhere and were absolutely gobsmaked at the cacophony of cars, bicycle bells and people.  We soon learned a phrase  Bu Yao which means don’t or no thank you.  It came in handy as we were inundated with offers to buy trainers with sparkly lights and wheels or “genuine fake” Rolex watches!   I shared my fluency in languages with the tiny HCA who laughed and told me it Bu Yao was not as rude as I’d been led to believe.

After 4 hours in the chair I rang the bell for assistance and asked if I could go back to bed.  The answer was yes as to have sat in the chair for half an hour would have sufficed.  Staff nurse R and the tiny HCA helped heave me up to my new hunched posture and sat me on the edge of the bed, one leg up, second leg up, roll and I was down.  It was exhausting!  Once back in bed the Staff Nurse attached a unit of blood to the cannula in my hand.  Mr A had called for blood tests, the previous evening he’d pulled down my eyelid which looked pale and ordered two units of O neg for me.  This has to be fed in very slowly… one unit takes 3 hours – drip, drip, drip.  I was still on the saline drip and could look forward to another 3 days of this delight but… the catheter might be removed the next day.  Slowly, slowly, slowly I was returning to normality.

That evening the housekeeping team brought my Turkey salad for supper… I ate two slices and some grated carrot –  Nick enjoyed the rest.

This is me in the chair – 4 drains, one tubey thing of oxygen, beautiful ted stockings, hospital gownie and the gamgee held to keep the toob (tummy-boob) warm.  Who knew getting into a chair could give such a sense of achievement. Bring on the walking.

Day 2 on Lynher Ward



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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