I don't think I have ever been so nervous or anxious in my life - the day of surgery!
After saying a very emotional goodbye to my girls (and Mum who was taking care of them for us) we made our way to the hospital. We arrived at The Mount at 8.15am and was 'checked in'. We waited to be escorted up to my room (in an uncanny kind of way it reminded me of being at work!). Unfortunately there was some miscommunication between reception and the ward clerk and we waited in the foyer for a good 40 minutes. I then received a call on my mobile from Nuclear Medicine (next building) asking why I hadn't made my 9.00am appointment. I knew nothing of this appointment and became very upset. This wasn't how it was all to pan out - I thought someone at the hospital would be there holding my hand the whole time (so to speak!). Ryan was amazing and the situation was quickly rectified although I was on edge from that moment on.
We were quickly taken to Nuclear Medicine where they injected a die into my right breast to find which lymph nodes the cancers were draining to as my Dr advised he would be removing these lymph nodes (known as a Sentinel node biopsy) during surgery. Wasn't exactly comfortable but it had to be done.
We were then taken up to my room - big disappointment! The hospital was full on my day of arrival and had to share a room with the most inconsiderate woman I have ever met. She spoke loudly, complained often, had her TV up super loud, had her crap spread across the entire 'shared' bathroom and was the biggest pain in the you know where! I couldn't believe my luck. Thankfully the nurses were lovely and I quickly settled in - first job at hand, change into the gown, put on my attractive TED stockings and fill out my meal selections for later that day. To kill some time I flicked through some magazines although don't remember anything I read - my mind was elsewhere.
At approximately 11.00am they came and took me to theatre. My heart was racing! I can't describe how I felt - kind of like an out of body experience. Ryan was with me the entire time and was allowed into the pre-op area. It wasn't long before the tears started. I still couldn't believe this was all happening to me. The nurses were just wonderful and very caring. They made sure I was warm, had enough tissues, talked me through the process and we had the opportunity to ask any questions. I remember asking them something but I don't know what it was - all a blur now! Dr Willsher (my surgeon) came to see me and told me that all will be OK and he will look after me. I appreciated this but couldn't stop crying. As they wheeled me around to theatre, Ryan had to say goodbye - one of the hardest things I had to do. I knew now that I was on my own to fight this. To help take my mind off things the nurses were chatting to me and the next thing I knew I was talking about work and then I fell asleep.
I recall waking in post op some time later and distinctly remember asking if Dr Willsher had to take all of my lymph nodes or just the first level? It was such a relief to hear that he only took the 4 lymph that the cancer was draining to. I arrived back in my room at approximately 1.30pm (approx 2 hrs 30 mins later). Ryan and my sister Lizzy were waiting for me. I remember feeling very groggy and not quite 'with it' but relieved that the surgery was over. A short while after being in my room I asked for some strong pain relief and they gave me a shot of pethidine - this did the job :) Ryan was by my side all afternoon however left early evening to spend some time with the girls and to relieve our parents of babysitting. I had a horrendous nights sleep as my ob's (blood pressure, pulse and drain) had to be checked every 2 hours.
The following morning Mum and Dad came to visit which was nice. They were telling me about all of the support they had received from friends and our family back in the UK. I got teary again! Dr Willsher came to see me, checked my dressings and explained he was happy with the op :)
Not long after this, the Breast Care Nurse (McGrath Foundation) came to visit and spoke to me about all the things I would need to consider following my op. All very overwhelming and I think I cried for an hour following our chat.
On a brighter note, Ryan arrived around lunchtime and I was able to give him some good news - they were moving me to my own private room! Wah Hoo :) Was so happy! The nurses told me on the quiet that they felt sorry for me having to share with 'that woman'. I was glad it wasn't just me thinking how horrible she was. I settled in nicely to my own room and enjoyed having my own space. Had a much better sleep this night and woke up feeling pretty good on Friday. Dr Willsher came to see me and gave me the all clear to go home.
Hated having to take the drain with me but relieved to be going home and see my girls. Things would be back to normal for a few days at least. We didn't do much over the weekend as didn't want to leave the house with the drain :(