Monday, July 15, 2013


So right, last week ... everything after Tuesday. And go:

It wasn't very eventful, let me tell you. In fact my only outing till Saturday morning was back to the hospital. I took my twice daily anti-inflammatories. And I took the pain killers 3 times (in anticipation, not because of any real pain). And I'm happy to say I still haven't had any really serious pain. Definite discomfort. Some tingling. A LOT of itchiness (still). But no pain. I was nervous of this as I do vaguely remember the low-grade constant pain that accompanied the day after my wisdom tooth removal. The highlight was spotting a new bird at my feeder, a red-headed finch. It lost it's novelty tho because they seem to have taken over the feeder since. Haha.

Still, it wasn't all sunshine and roses. I wasn't allowed to shower, I wasn't allowed to lift my arms above my shoulders. Getting in and out of TShirts and the surgical bra required assistance. Bathing required assistance (someone had to hold the P-VAC with I attempted to wash with a face cloth & wet-wipes).

Honestly the entirely worst part of this experience, and the only serious pain I've felt, was during the night. I struggled to sleep thru. I would wake 5 or 6 times a night. With the P-VAC in I had to sleep on my back (we strapped it to my stomach using a scarf so it wouldn't wobble around). I NEVER sleep on my back. It is the least comfortable position for me because my lower back arches.

I'd wake with serious pain and stiffness in my lower back. I'd change positions, configure 3 pillows and try sleeping in a sitting position. I'd get a little more sleep and then it was a case of wash-rinse-repeat in the previous position again, always alternating. I don't think we went to bed later than 9pm any night last week (or weekend for that matter). The poor Trucker also woke regularly with my shuffling and popping to the loo and re-designing the bedding umpteen times a night.

It got a little better after my trip to the hospital on Thursday when they took the drains out. Sheesh. See, surgery is definitely a team sport. The Trucker had to pop out from work, come fetch me, head all the way back to Milpark, wait around in the waiting room and then drive me all the way home again. I definitely couldn't have managed the week without him & my Mom <3

Anyhoo, the drain removal. So that was a little nerve-wracking. We'd been told by the doc to not touch the P-VAC (I gather with the other drains you take home ... those one's in the brown suitcases, you have to measure the drained fluid and report back to them). We'd done none of that and this causes a bit of a flurry (I don't see why, the thing was only half full and they could quite easily measure it all themselves, but I guess they want to see it was slowing down or something?)

They left me in the dressing-clinic and went off to check with one of the docs (or so they said, I never really heard back what happened, but they came and removed the drains and changed my dressings after that). That's an interesting process. They have this little kit that has everything they need packed in order. First layer: the big piece of clean paper they lay out on the trolley. Second layer: a red bag they clip to the side of the trolley. Then they open all the dressings up onto the paper, without touching anything but the outer wrapping. Then they wash their hands and Layer three and four are towels for drying each hand. Layer five and six are the gloves. And the last layer is some kind of gauze, I assume they use for cleaning the wound.

I was freaking out, all this preparation while I'm lying on the table. And after all the staring at the wounds previously and discussion around whether or not the drains could come out or not o_O. I held my hands in a fist and closed my eyes. Anticipation really is the worst bit. It turned out to be easy peasy with no real pain ... except the very minor pulling of the dressing off your skin (like and extra sticky plaster). The drains were attached thru their own holes with a single stitch. And I was warned the worst was likely to be stinging as they pulled the drains out (what with it being a fresh wound and all), but it was fine and I had none of that.

I was surprised they made a second incision for the drains tho and asked about that. Apparently they used to just put the drains in the incision they'd already made but apparently having the drain and I presume therefor keeping the wound open, has a higher risk of infection, so they make a smaller incision for the drain and let your original incision heal nicely on it's own. Well that's my understanding of it.

They applied new dressings and gave me some awful news. Probably no showering till the following week. No driving at least till next Tuesday. I'd have to wear the surgical bra for 4-6 weeks and I'd probably be back on Saturday after my post-op for another dressing change. #sigh

They don't warn you about the inconvenience to your life after surgery. I came home feeling quite blue after that (aside from the great relief of no longer carrying around the P-VAC!!). You spend all your time preparing for the surgery, I didn't spend that much time thinking about the recovery. This has definitely changed any thoughts I had about a possible boob-job after I have my kids ... the effort and schlep!

Anyway, bathing went smoother without the P-VAC. Mom made us macaroni & cheese for dinner and shortbread and all sorts of yummy things. On Friday she even drove in Joburg for the first time to go do some shopping.

But the week with her, sitting around, not really doing anything, flew past! And soon we were getting up early again on Saturday morning to take her back to Lanseria and then we raced back to Milpark for my appointment with the doc.

Oh it was a wait, but so so worth it :) My doc gave me a histopathology report which showed actual pictures of the removed fibroadenoma. She was thrilled we got them out! The one turned out to actually be two, with a combined weight of 22g. That was the one we thought was about 3.5cm .... turns out it was 42x32x22mm and the second one was 20x15x5mm.

The biggie was actually a whopping 5cm (50x30x20mm with a mass of 16g). Apparently the one was also showing signs of accelerated growth and that it wasn't going to be stopping anytime soon.

Yay. So glad they're gone :) Also, yes, they make sure they're benign and they were (not that I was at all worried about that). And the really best news was that the doc took off the dressings and told me I could shower that evening! And lift my arms above my shoulders :) And the other good news was that even after removing such big masses from my boobs, they are no misshapen at all. I was nervous about this, although the doc had told me when I first booked the surgery that there shouldn't be any issues because the fibroadenoma were just displacing the normal tissue.

So yeah, to celebrate, The Trucker took me to Salvation Cafe for a much needed (I was starving by this point) breakfast. Yummy :) Oh, and there was that little surprise when I left the doc of hand-over-your-credit-card because in spite of the Authorisation number, apparently I have to claim back my doc's fees for the surgery from Discovery myself. Am still nervous / curious how this whole medical aid thing is going to pan-out and what they end up covering ... since my MSA is long since finished.

I was pretty finished after all this activity so we came home and had a relaxing rest of the day. I realised this weekend that although you lie around and don't do very much, you feel fine. So you think you're fine. Then you try to do just a splash of regular day-to-day life and you're exhausted. It took me till Sunday to learn this lesson properly, on Saturday I just put it down to the unusually early morning.

Anyway, we watched Olympus Has Fallen on Saturday night. Quite good, but *very* American o_O. Hahaha. And star-studded, jees!

On Sunday we had a lazyish morning and went for breakfast at Doppio. An unusually not-great experience. And then we went grocery shopping. And here is when I really learnt the hard way that I just don't have my usual energy levels. I was finished.

Later in the day I had real-life plans tho, thinking that Sunday was far enough away from my surgery (see, no thought to what recovery *actually* involved), I had booked a spot at the first Jozilicious Reader Mixer with @bronwyngale. Luckily she came to pick me up. I haven't driven myself yet since the surgery. And I haven't worn a seat-belt properly yet either ... But showering, showering again is awesome :D

That was fun. But again, I was quite finished by the time I got home. We went to Belle's Patisserie for a High Tea, which I'd never been to before. Okay, so it was fab to catch up with @bronwyngale but the event wasn't quite what I was expecting. There was no one else I knew there, which was a pity. But people also didn't mingled or chat the way I was expecting. Which is fair enough, it was awkward. We did attempt a seating reshuffle, but with our handbags, goodie bags, plates and drinks it was just too much of a mission. Sadly I did not win any of the spot prizes ... had my heart set on the Cube vouchers - haha. Am still dying to go!

What was lovely was meeting Hasmita. She is just as lovely in real life :) And she read my blog post about The Union Bar.

On Sunday afternoon, when I got home, The Trucker & I did our first at-home dressing change. Well, We removed the existing surgical tape and replaced it with new ones. I was nervous. Had asked the doc about how pulling the tape off would affect the stitches, but apparently they're internal. This would be the first time I'd see my actual wounds. Okay so I'm a total wuss at pulling off surgical tape, too nervous it'd hurt. Eventually I let The Trucker do it while I clung to him with my eyes closed. It was fine. A little sore in the moment. But otherwise all fine. And the cuts & drain holes don't look too bad either.

Anyway, I have taken an extra 2 days off work ... well, I figured I'd work half-days from home on Monday & Tuesday, ease myself back into things. Apparently I could be off for up to 2 weeks after my surgery. Work. Would. Kill. Me. Haha.

I'm oddly nervous about going back to work. Definitely about the early (5:30am wake-ups) mornings. A little about the driving (I'll be attempting that later today I think). A little about making it thru the day with the bustle of the office. But as The Trucker said, if I can't manage on my first day, I'll just come home early. No pressure.

I know, I know, another marathon blog post, I'm sorry ...

1 comment:

Louisa said...

I'm glad it went well!
Give yourself some time to recover properly. I have no doubt you'll be back in the swing of things soon.

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