Using Homer to mark recovery

March 10, 2012 § 5 Comments


Well, a month and a bit after the last post, here I am. The operation is all done. I have new boobs – or to be more precise, newly filled boobs – and a big scar across my stomach to mark where the new filling came from. (Too much detail? Apologies if so.) Towards the end of the day, I walk like Julie Walters’ Mrs Overall, but mostly I’m upright. It all feels a tad weird and not quite me yet but I can sleep on my side and load a dishwasher so we’re almost there.

Here are some things to note if you ever need to get your breasts replaced by your tummy.

1. Spend time finding a soft bra you can actually get yourself into post surgery. No one would let me sit up until I had one and by day three, sitting up is pretty much all you can think about. They talk of a soft, front fastening bra but it turns out this isn’t so easy to get hold of. In the end, I could raise my arms and get a Sloggi top over my head but if you can’t, the Cotton Comfy Bra (advertised in Sunday papers) might be a good place to start. I haven’t seen one of these but the picture in the advert looks appropriate. Or you could try here.

2. Don’t necessarily believe your surgeons when they tell you ten hours. My surgery took 17 hours – yes, people, really. Apparently, nothing went wrong, but they couldn’t all get round the table. Not so bad for me, but horrible for Russell and my mum who were at the end of the phone, wondering why it was all taking an extra seven hours.

3. Be ready for the hideous hot blanket. After four days wrapped an air-heated cover, with the noise of the pump and liberal quantities of morphine for the pain – well, let’s just say I wasn’t in my usual mind. The heated blanket is to keep the blood vessels as warm and wide as possible in order to give the blood supply to the transplanted tissue the best chance of working. It all makes sense now but at the time I wasn’t quite so rational.

4. You might swell up. I could only really see my arms and feet, which were enormous, like the limbs of the people in Wall-e. My head was huge too only my visitors were too kind to say so. I think this is to do with fluid retention but in my arm, it also felt like my veins were saying, “Enough, no more.” And fair enough.

5. Take something with you that smells nice. My friend brought me some Jo Malone perfume and lovely it was too.

6. NHS hospital food – ok, not so bad except you really have to get to grips with the ordering. Order every individual thing you want. Don’t assume anything comes with anything else. My example: I asked for a jacket potato, and that’s what I got. A single potato – no filling, no nothing, just a potato.

7. Take in audio books. You won’t have the energy to read or even watch anything, but listening is possible. They helped me to sleep too.

8. Coming home is good, but be prepared to feel awful. No one really warned me about post-operative depression, which I now realise is pretty common. And for me, this was on top of finishing chemo and trying to come to terms with “getting on with life.” So, fair to say that getting over the operation has been harder than I thought, which is one of the reasons I haven’t been writing.

Actually, it’s not so much been the surgery as the whole damn business. Being stuck in hospital and then largely stuck on the sofa gives a girl way too much time to brood on the “what ifs” – what if I’ve been through all this and still it isn’t enough? Of course, this way madness lies. Hopefully (how weak that word sounds), it is enough and, if it isn’t, well I don’t want to have spent the intervening time behaving like a crazy person. I know this in the sensible bit of me, but not so much in the other “bloody hell, what the hell!” bit of me.

However, today I have been building a motte and bailey castle with my son and haven’t been thinking about cancer every minute, so I’m seeing all that as progress. I’m looking to moving from this:

through a bit of this:

to end up like this:

§ 5 Responses to Using Homer to mark recovery

  • Laura Zeigen says:

    I am glad that audio books and nice smelling perfume help you get through. 17 hours?!?!?!? Oh my goodness. That cannot have been easy on your body. The post-op procedures sound interesting – I have never heard of the use of heated blankets, but the way you describe it makes sense. May you return to full and happy Homer-with-Marge feeling soon!

  • Rachel says:

    So good to read your blog again, I have been waiting for you to feel well enough again. I was excited to see my inbox and to read you are up, about and …..making things. WOW. Keep getting stronger.hugs.

  • neilchristie says:

    nice to get an update. Thinking of you.

  • jendate says:

    Anne – sending you lots of warm thoughts from the states.

    Two of my close ex-WK friends just went through the double mastectomy process last year and one did a week of convalescing at my house including draining boobs and a major drug regimen (although audio books was one piece of advice we could have used!) so this post is sounding familiar.


  • Jan Dilg says:

    So somehow I missed this one, and of course because you’re a Brit I assumed the title referred to the classical Homer. In the end, I liked the yellow Homer more and appreciate reading your thoughts from two weeks ago and seeing how you’ve progressed with today’s “knock on wood” posting. Onward and upward my friend!

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