Monday, May 3, 2010

Half-boob job

I remember lying awake for hours in that first week trying to wrap my head around the enormity of the situation. I remember feeling reassured that there was a plan to be executed, and that the surgeon didn't tell me to go home and make myself comfortable. I decided it was easier to break the process down into stages - operation, egg harvesting, portacath implant, chemotherapy and radiation - too easy! My operation was scheduled for a week after my initial diagnosis. It was fantastic to have things move so quickly, but gave me no time to reflect of process anything. Sitting here, a few months after the operation, the speed of everything didn't leave me any time to freak out or get scared. The night before my operation we had a quiet night at home with visits from my two brothers and the local priest. My eldest brother flew up from Canberra to spend a few hours with me. He had faced a similar life changing situation and he gave me strength to face to the next day. My other brother had also beaten cancer, so he was also full of supportive and good advice. I tried to be positive and think that what I was about to face wasn't scary - really it was half a boob job. The scary part was the week before when I didn't know that I had something so toxic in my body causing havoc. The night before the operation I slept sporadically, which surprised me that I slept at all. Driving to the hospital early Wednesday morning, armed with my parents and all my test results, I felt physically sick. I wanted to shake myself up from the deep sleep I was in and escape this nightmare. However, on the outside, I was of course, the definition of cool, calm and collected! Being checked into the hospital, being processed, getting labelled and changed - it all felt surreal. Like I had walked into someone elses life. Lying and waiting to be wheeled into the operation theatre, I thought I still have the veneer of calm until every one that walked past me told me not to look so worried. Easy for them to say - they are not the one wearing a backless dress with paper undies.

I have an enormous aversion to needles, they completely freak me out, but I do love the feeling of being put under general anaesthetic. One second you are awake and the next you wake up and it's all over. I remember the surgeon being very kind and holding one hand whilst the sadistic anaesthetist with the world's biggest needled stabbed my other hand. I have no recollection of being in recovery, but I remember being wheeled into my room and being in pain. My parents welcomed me with anxious faces. The news was positive, the tumour had clear margins, but there were a lot of lymph nodes involved. The news was about to get better - morphine was on its way. There is something magical about being in so much pain and then having it dissolve away in an instant - my world was a happy place again. I found myself watching Pride and Prejudice (the BBC version of course!) and making a few phone calls. I thought I was handling myself very well. The last call I made was to my sister, who advised that I was high as a kite and I should put down the phone and sleep it off. I told her I was fine, but I would attempt to have a sleep. After a three hour sleep and 75 text message replies to a message I can't remember sending, I felt that morphine maybe somewhat strong - think drunking dialling on steroids! Even now, a few months on, I find out that I called a few more people than I realised at the time. To all those people, I apologise and promise to never called when hopped up on morphine again!

Stage one was over, now the wait was for the pathology results.

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