Tag Archives: positive thoughts

Dressing. Drain. Disappointment.

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Monday 25th November

Spent a lovely weekend with my family; lots of visitors, bringing more flowers, cards, chocolate, and much love!

My wonderful next door neighbour also presented me with a huge bunch of flowers ~ she had seen me returning last Monday, noting the struggle I had getting out of the car. She saw the pain I was in, and told my husband that her heart bled for me, and that I would be in her prayers.

Today we set off early on a trip to Exeter to the plastics clinic.

I had a left groin dissection fourteen days ago, was discharged a week ago.

Firstly I had the white dressing removed from a quite long scar: no visible stitches, just a very long, tidy line. The nurse cleaned it up a bit using sterile water, but did not then put anything back on it. Time to let it heal in the fresh air, so to speak!

I really, really was hoping for the drain to be removed, but no such luck!

As I’m draining 120 + mls per 24 hours, the drainpipe cannot be removed. That is way too much apparently!

I saw a nurse practitioner, who checked this out with the doctor.

The amount needs to be less than 30mls.

Plus, the drain fluid is still dark ~ a nice shade of merlot; it needs to go from red, through rose, and on to white wine!! (Well that was the analogy the consultant used!)

So, it’s back again in a week.

Must try harder!!!!!

So I’m stuck for yet another seven days with the dangly, plastic, collecting bag!!

I still feel rather uncomfortable, and the tube is leaving the top part of my leg bruised and puffy.

Probably, deep down, I knew the plumbing pipe wasn’t going to be removed today ~ I am an impatient patient! It’s just that two weeks with a foreign body stuck up the inside of one’s leg is not the happiest of thoughts! Still, if it is to be, I shall not argue with the professionals! Perhaps in another week’s time it will be gone.

Post-op ~ Day six

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Monday 18th November

Today’s the day ~ Discharge-Day!!

Up bright and early for a wash and to drain the drain, (a total of 115mls in the last twenty four hours).

I see one of the consultants who operated on me. All looks well, if a little swollen and numb. He removes the top, waterproof dressing, swiftly and without fuss ~ ooooh! Underneath there is a long line of steri-strips, but no blood, redness or bruising, just tightness and a real sensation of pulling. A little uncomfortable, but understandable.

I now have to wait to be shown how to change the plastic drain bag, to record the amounts, and then to be given my party bag of drugs and the signed discharge letter. Yay, the seventh day of hospitalization, and it should soon come to an end.

Have just been visited by the Macmillan nurse, talking about recovery, relaxing, swellings, expectations, and what happens next. I will need to wait at least a week to have the results from what was removed. Originally, during the Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy, three nodes were identified, and two removed. The nurse told me that both had melanoma in them ~ one, quite a lot. Hoping and praying the rest that have been cut away are clear. If not, I have the option of the double blind trial, or radiotherapy. But she told me not to dwell on the “What ifs” too much, but to wait until I see my consultant in a week’s time. Think positive. Never, ever give up.

The dressings nurse has now put a new, white, waterproof covering over the wound. She told me that when the consultant had come along on his rounds, with about six others, male and female, they all visibly cringed and screwed up their faces when he pulled the dressing from my skin. Being in  a rather ‘delicate’ place, it’s not surprising!! I wish I had seen their faces ~ all I remember is holding onto the consultant’s arm, and looking at the top of my leg. Oooh, ouchey ouch.

Slowly but surely all the things I need are gathered together. I receive a large bag of medication, along with the discharge letter signed by the consultant, a few spare ‘drain bags’, and lots of instructions for the next few days.

By two o’clock everything is in place, my husband has arrived, and the nurse finds me a wheelchair in which to escape!!

Just over two hours later I’m in my own bed, sipping a lovely hot cup of tea, and so looking forward to a quiet, dark bedroom tonight. I’m sure I’ll sleep well and easily find the land of Nod.

Waiting, wondering, worrying

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Tuesday 5th November

One week today, and it’ll be all over: the grisly named operation called Groin Dissection.

Right now, the thoughts going round and round in my head are driving me crazy. My imagination knows no bounds, and is my own worst enemy.

“What ifs”, maybes, outcomes, doom and gloom feelings, worrying wobbles.

Not sure what they will find.
Not sure about my recovery, potential infections and swellings.
Not sure how long I’ll be in hospital.
Not sure about the drain in my leg.
Not sure whether that will be the end of all of this.

Hmmmm, all sounds a bit negative.
Time to get my positive head well and truly screwed on tight.
Time for some deep breathing exercises, smiles, happy dreams, relaxed shoulders, sharing of fears ~ realising others have been through this, and come out on the other side, ready to tackle whatever life has to throw at them next.
Life goes on, I will enjoy everything it has to offer!

Counselling session #2

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Monday 28th October

Well, here we are again, one week on, is there anything else to talk about?

Actually, yes. Having been given the date for my upcoming surgery, I am both relieved and yet apprehensive. Scared stiff more like. Two weeks today we shall be staying overnight in an hotel, ready to go to the hospital at 7:30am the next morning.

Two weeks of waiting, and then the operation. My head is filled with all sorts of “What ifs?” Hard to explain, but the dark thoughts are there, nonetheless.

So, what am I doing about this state of mind? Trying to stay positive as much as possible; getting lots of fresh air; eating fruit and vegetables; working through some breathing and meditation exercises; taking cinnamon, turmeric, resveratrol and lycopene supplements;  cooking with organic, virgin coconut oil; and a teaspoon of Manuka honey every morning.

I’m hoping all these little things add up to a lot; enough to make a significant difference. I don’t want to be classed as having mild to moderate depression and anxiety. I have to do something about it. I’m not going to get on that downward spiral. I want to live my life.

Counselling Session #1

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Monday 21st October

Speaking to a stranger, sharing private thoughts, unloading fears, describing crazy feelings. All this and more. I thought I wouldn’t be able to say too much, but I talked, and talked, and talked!

Today was the first in a series of counselling sessions.

It was strangely therapeutic to be in the company of someone I had never met, and yet be able to comfortably explain what I am thinking, feeling; what is scaring me; my doubts, fears and expectations. For almost an hour, I talked about me!

Going through a check-list of statements, I learn I am showing signs of depression and anxiety ~ ha! And my coping mechanism is to hide it from people. I think I do this very well.

Fat toes and gashed elbows

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Monday 8th June

My weekly visit to the practice nurse saw us discussing swollen, fat toes and over-granulation of the skin. Hmmm, doesn’t sound too pretty! My fourth and fifth toe remain puffy and podgy, and are hypersensitive to touch. In between the toes, where it is warm, moist, and constantly under pressure, the friction of rubbing together, and the graft not taking, the skin remains red raw, and the scar tissue keeps on growing (the over-granulation). Bleurrgghh. The nurse says if it wasn’t for the skin graft, she would probably use silver nitrate to get rid of the excessive scar tissue. But, we’ll wait and see what the consultant says on Monday.

I now seem to have two differently sized feet; my left foot appears to be two sizes bigger than my right! Ha ha, not! When can I wear dainty, summer sandals? High heels?

Anyway, about an hour after returning from the surgery, my mum pops round on her way to the beach. She remembers that she came to see me to ask for a plaster for her elbow, as she had fallen up her steps, coming back from the town. It’s only a graze, she says. Upon closer inspection, I realise it is a rather nasty, deep looking gash. Off we go, back down to the surgery for my second visit of the day, to see the same nurse. Lots of local anaesthetic, three stitches, a SteriStrip, gauze dressing, padding, bandage and an arm stocking, and mum is ready to be driven back to our house, by my husband, for a therapeutic cup of tea. No beach today!

Letter from my consultant

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Friday 28th June

Fantastic news!

This morning I received a letter from my consultant dermatologist, (the one I saw right back at the beginning), who has carried out the two excisions on my lower back. The first time round the results came back inconclusive, so a Wider Local Excision was done, twelve days ago.

“I am writing to confirm that the re-excision of the scar site on your right lower back did not show any residual pigment cells, only scar tissue was identified. Please be reassured by this.”

Yay!! A great relief! An unbelievable weight has been lifted. The dark clouds have dissipated somewhat.

The next step will be the lymph node procedure, to be carried out at Exeter ~ still haven’t heard any news of an appointment, yet.

Thinking lots of positive thoughts, as always.

Follow up appointment

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Friday 14th June

It is now exactly four weeks since I traveled to Plymouth for the second operation on my foot. Painkillers, dressings, infections, antibiotics, appointments, a scan, compression stockings, crutches, silly foam and Velcro shoe/boot have all been a part of my daily life!

Today I went to see my awesome plastic surgeon consultant at Treliske (he was running over an hour late!), but he still took a considerable amount of time talking to me.

He is really pleased with the way the skin graft is taking on the top of my foot. We discussed all the procedures he had undertaken, and being an 8mm tumour, that means I have Stage 2B melanoma, with a five year survival rate of 70% (good odds, or not?)

For now, I must focus on being as healthy and sunsafe as I can. The recouperation process from two lots of major surgery is still ongoing, taking in physical, mental and emotional recovery.

He is referring me on to his friend/colleague at Exeter for Sentinel lymph node biopsy. (“He’s a good bloke!”) and we talked about what might happen. I’ve a feeling the letter may come through pretty soon, as he dictated the request there and then. He really wants to push me to the front of the queue, bypassing time consuming paper-work.

Also during the consultation he spoke of my talking with an oncologist, but was wary of too many specialists each having their own take on the situation, and advising one course of action without communication with the rest of the team! He told me quite vehemently that I am his patient, and he makes the decisions! (I believe he was making reference to the original Macmillan nurse who gave me conflicting, confusing and wrong information: he seems very possessive about his patients.)

We also talked about our proposed summer holiday, and whether it was likely that we could actually go, bearing in mind his request for SLNB for me. He said if the appointment came through for late July/August then I would be a fool not to accept it. I can always book another holiday, but my health and enjoyment of my life comes first.

I left the hospital feeling quite upbeat; lots of information to take in and process, but I know I am being given the best possible care, and that I am truly being so well looked after.

The Results

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Monday 10th June

The CT Scan results have come back clear. The melanoma has not spread to other body organs.

The big black cloud that has been hanging over me for months has now turned into a fluffy little white cloud.

Not totally out of the woods, as it looks likely I will have the Sentinel lymph node biopsy at Exeter at some stage ~ will know more on Friday when I see the consultant who will refer me. I’ll also have check ups every 3 months. BUT this episode has now passed, and I am so relieved.

Husband and I went to the appointment with hearts beating overtime, pulses racing, and tummy doing flip-flops. We also cried when we went in. Scared, not knowing what to expect, I somehow assumed the worst. All I could think of was the accepted thickness indicator, the fact that my melanoma measured 6mm, and a prognosis of survival being 37 – 50% for staying alive for the next 3 – 5 years. Not good odds at all. Having been told that the scan came back clear was the greatest feeling in the world. The massively heavy weight bearing down on my shoulders had been lifted. I was being given a second chance. Having arrived crying, we also left the appointment in tears; but these were tears of relief, of happiness, of joy.

Son was so happy and elated, too: the best news ever. His partner texted the following:

We are both so relieved. Just get the biopsy done and dusted, for peace of mind, then you can totally move on feeling blessed. Make sure you do learn from this awful experience though. It was a gift so you could fully realise you need to actually start enjoying your lives together now. We’re here for a good time, not a long time. Love you very muchly xxxx

Such lovely, tender, thoughtful words.

I still keep my leg elevated, and have it dressed twice a week. I have further appointments coming up. I will not be going back to work soon, and certainly will not be spending a week on the beach with a group of students, learning to surf.

I need to fully recover, to get back to feeling ‘normal’, before going back in the classroom. The nurse told me today that there is no point returning too soon, and undoing all of the healing process.

I feel so amazingly well looked after. Today’s consultant has rearranged her theatre list, and will do the wider excision on my back on Monday, 9am, just because I said I would prefer her to carry out the procedure and no-one else

Positive, positive, positive all the way.

A truly amazing end to the day.

Blessed.

Friday at the Surgery

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Friday 7th June

Just returned from the surgery for my twice weekly dressing. Another infection. More antibiotics. Yah boo sucks.

On Monday I have been called to the hospital to see the original consultant who ‘did’ my back, and referred me on, for my foot.

I believe she is going to talk me through the CT scan results. It’s make or break time.

Positive, positive, positive thoughts. Crossing everything.