83: 28 Days later (and a few more)

To my knowledge I haven’t woken up in a horror movie where there has been a huge pandemic, however, it is about 28 days later since I said goodbye to the cannonball.  My recovery has been on an upward trajectory – from a low starting point with one or two blips on the way.

Positives about being home are many and varied and include being able to sit in the garden.  My first night at home was restless, so much so that Nick retreated to a different bedroom after asking if I intended to lie still at any point.  I’m sad to say that it was to my advantage as I could wriggle as much I liked and could roll out on my right side without putting any pressure on the new boob to head off to the en-suite.  No more walking down a corridor past all the other surgical patients.  The next morning I was treated to breakfast in bed and then managed a shower by myself and then made my way to a steamer chair in the garden.  Armed with water bottle, full of squash and ice, phone and book and sunglasses I was lowered into position.  Fresh air and sunshine – all was well and I was left to my own devices.  This was great for a while but once the sun hid it was chilly and I couldn’t get myself out of the chair.  Fortunately, I had my phone and could call Nick who came down to the garden and helped to hoist me up.  My first goal had been achieved.  Each day I had a small goal which included walking further.  What I hadn’t bargained for was just how exhausted I felt after any activity.

I had a number of visitors including my Principal on the day before the end of term – I was up dressed and we sat and chatted about holidays.  Other friends and my parents visited and it was good to see them all.  Another goal was to go to Stoke Village.  The first couple of visits were by car but soon enough I was walking further.  Some friends drove me to Devonport Park so we could walk round and have a coffee. One Sunday a friend called for me and we walked slowly all the way to the park and back.  I’m used to walking briskly it was a bit frustrating.  Other friends took me to the Hoe whilst Nick was sailing.  I was getting there and drinking a lot of coffee!

Every first Sunday of the month there is a farmers’ market at the Royal William Yard and usually we would walk from home but it was too far 4 weeks post op.  We drove halfway there and walked along Durnford Street, past all the Georgian terraced houses and Stonehouse Barracks which is where 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines are housed. The architecture is lovely and our eldest son and daughter were baptised at St Christopher’s church above the main gate of the Barracks.  The great thing about the market is the wide variety of stalls which sell everything from felt/woollen slippers, to honey to bread and…. goats cheese.  This is the only cheese I will eat on the rainbow diet so I bought a matchbox size piece of hard cheese for my consumption only!  A great coffee opportunity too at the HUTONG Cafe where it doesn’t matter if you are a hipster or a person needing a new hip.  Suitably refreshed Nick and I headed back towards the car and we met Mr X with his family who all stopped and chatted.  It appears that consultants are real people too (I wonder if my students think that if they see me out of school and in “mufti”).

The next night I treated myself to some of my cheese (nope, not sharing) and biscuits.  What a mistake to make as during the night and next day I was horribly sick.  How my stitches didn’t split I don’t know.  My husband, wondered if there was a party next door as he heard “someone being sick”, my daughter “thought it was a cat” – no it was me.  What a wash out – great for weight loss, terrible for feeling human.

Other activities during this period have included trips to the Primrose Breast Care Centre to have iodine dressings applied to my tummy wound – there are a couple of patches which aren’t healing up as fast as the rest.    One recent trip has been back to the Nuffield Hospital to see Mr A.  His secretary phoned me to say thank you for the card I’d sent – always a good idea to send a thank you card, just in case you are in need of the services of those involved again – and would I like to pop up for a “freebie” so he could see how it was going.

We trooped up to the Nuffield in the electro-jalopy.  Parking is not an issue, there is not an impossible car park but a very accessible one, no one smokes their fags outside and when you have booked in you are invited to help yourself to a hot drink and read the Times or Telegraph.

Mr A called us in and asked how it was.  The thank you card I sent saying “you were right – this surgery is an assault on the body” was on the desk.  Mr A asked me to jump up onto the bed and looked at my tummy.  With some sterile tweezers he ripped off a bit of the scab.. yes that was fine, just the dissolvable stitches and a few knots being rejected by my body.  Then he said “I have to say this….  show us your t*ts”.  Nick and I were crying with laughter and then it was off with sports bra and release the beast.  Mr A had a good look at the scar under my arm and the new belly nipple area.  It was looking good.  There is an old hematoma on the inside edge of the new toob.  I’ve to massage the scars with bio oil and Savlon and massage the hematoma.  It was agreed that the new toob was larger than the original and the remaining boob… it could settle down or when I went to see Mr X in a few weeks it might need to have a bit of liposuction.  Time would tell.

We then had a discussion about how Lynher Ward had improved and I will write to the CEO of Derriford to let her know.  There is some tension I think between patient expectations, the demands on the Plastics team and what the Breast Care Centre would like to offer.   Managing resources, people, patients – it must be like 3D chess or air traffic control.  Beyond me – but I’m grateful for the results!


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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