Tag Archives: surgery

A really long day!

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Monday 2nd December

Have just returned from a long day trip to Exeter.

I had an appointment at the dressings clinic, to see whether the drain in my leg was ready to be removed ~ no, not yet, as I’m still losing too much fluid. So plastic bag changed, and the site cleaned up.

Hmmm, another week of dangly bag between knees!

There was also a Macmillan nurse there who had a printout of my results, following the groin dissection three weeks ago: of the four further nodes removed, only one more contained melanoma, and that was ‘encapsulated’, no spread to the surrounding tissue which had also been removed. Three out of six, in total.

Does that sound good, or maybe OK?

She then spoke for a bit about the Combi-Ad drugs trial, I have been offered.

My wonderful plastic surgeon, who was conducting his own clinic, then popped his head round the corner, to say hello and check the wound, scar, red bruising, hot feeling, wooden thigh, that I now seem to possess! All seems normal, he’s happy with the progress being made, and will now refer me on to an oncologist, where I will find out more about the trial.

So, all in all, not a wonderful day, but not dreadful either.

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.

Post-op ~ Day five

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Sunday 17th November

Just woken from my morning sleep!! Zzzzzz.
Wash and teeth soon after six.
Brekkie at eight.
Snooze at ten.
Mmmmmm.
Dressing to be re-done tomorrow.
Doctor’s rounds.
Party bag of drugs.
Discharge letter.
Then escape.
Complete with dangly bag and drain.
Then back in a week to the plastics clinic to see my surgeon for a review, possible drain removal, and maybe results.
A lovely quiet afternoon, spent reading the Sunday papers, dozing and drinking tea, was then followed by a ward change.
We were hoping for a peaceful night’s sleep! Last night was very disturbed, with a very disoriented lady up and down, lights on and off, sleep-talking.
Myself and another patient have now been moved to a much noisier ward, right by the reception, phones going, buzzers beeping, conversations chatting, bright lights glaring.
Oh well, give me the drugs and I’ll be flying my kite, high, high above the clouds!

Post-op ~ Day four

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Saturday 16th November

Well, the doctor on rounds this morning looked like he was off to the car boot sale, not to review patients on the plastics ward! Jeans, sweatshirt and trainers; casual in the extreme!!

Anyway, it looks like Monday is the Discharge Day combined with a change of dressing. Yay!!

Not sure yet when the drain will be removed, we’ll have to wait for the fluid to amount to less than 30 mls in twenty-four hours.

I don’t mind waiting a couple more days, am in the best place, and still feeling quite painful ~ drugs administered every four hours dull the soreness.

Had my ‘plumbing’ sorted out this afternoon, with another 60mls drained away. Looks very ungainly when I visit the bathroom ~ there is this view of a bloody plastic bag, swinging between my thighs!!

Making a fabulous fashion statement ~ I don’t think so!!

Post-op ~ Day two

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Thursday 14th November

A much, much better night’s sleep! I think I’m now used to my calf wraps noisily contracting and releasing, plus I got the hang of the morphine pump button, and was better able to control the pain throughout the night.

First thing in the morning I am so happy to clean my teeth and have a wash ~ almost back to feeling normal ~ well, slightly refreshed then!

Doctor’s rounds this morning, and I see the registrar whom I had met on the morning of my surgery. He wants to take away the morphine pump at lunchtime, and have the pain controlled with less strong drugs ~ better for the body really. He also mentioned that my consultant plastic surgeon had suggested I could go home as early as Friday, but that would be dependent on the wound, swelling and drain. With an analogy to wine, he said the fluid collecting in my bottle started off as red wine, then rose and finally white wine. At the moment I’m producing a nice colour of claret! Ha ha.

The blood nurse was my next visitor for another sample ~ however, as I had just pressed the morphine button, she would have to wait five minutes!

Just prior to lunch, a melanoma specialist doctor came for a chat. We spoke about the trial, and ended up by telling me I had a really difficult decision to make. But, I had to be selfish, and make the decision for me, and me alone; not for the purposes of the trial, nor other patients. Just me, and the implications to my life and my family. She also told me not to let the hospital staff push me out early ~ tomorrow is probably too soon to go home!

At visiting time this afternoon, I meet with two lovely people that I ‘know’ from Facebook. A closed group, but within it, so much support, advice and friendliness. We chatted as if we’ve known each other for ages! A superb surprise, and as an added bonus, a box of Maltesers!

Next stop is a terrific Skype session with my husband, son, girlfriend and young puppy. This phone is an absolute godsend, keeping me in touch with so many people around the world.

As I’m finishing up my evening meal, my wonderful plastic surgeon pops in to see how I’m doing. His plan for tomorrow is to make the drain shorter, remove the bottle, and attach a smaller, more manageable plastic bag, that I can monitor myself ~ oh yippee!!

Post-op ~ 24 hours later

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Wednesday 13th November

Well, I didn’t really sleep much last night; what with the calf wraps contracting and buzzing almost every thirty seconds, observations and medication checks hourly, the gentle noise of five other patients on the ward, and the dull throb of pain down my left leg.
Having not been to the loo since 8am on Tuesday morning, I decided, before all the lights were dimmed, to give it a go at 11pm. So many tubes to undo, the drip following along on wheels with the morphine and the oxygen nasal spectacles, plus the drain bottle, filling up with blood. I slowly managed to manoeuvre myself from the bed to the chair. I was wheeled along to the bathroom and lifted onto the toilet by two nurses ~ one male, one female ~ one’s dignity is in very short supply!!
I wake from a doze feeling much better than yesterday, but still very, very sore and swollen ~ making good use of that morphine pump!!! I had two bits of cold, brown toast this morning ~ my first food since Monday afternoon!!! And it tasted surprisingly good!
The ward is lovely and sunny, nice and quiet, and all the staff are fabulous. I’m still wearing the very fetching hospital gown that I put on yesterday morning at 7am ~ all sorts of tubes and drains sticking out of me, means I cannot put on my own (brand, new/bought for the occasion) nightwear!!!! Ho hum.
Throughout the morning various medical teams visit my bedside. Firstly ‘Doctor’s Rounds’ at about nine, where a registrar wants me to give up the morphine pump and make do with paracetamol and ibruprofen ~ hmmmm, I don’t think so!!! Not yet a while anyway.
The next visit was from the blood nurse, who needed a sample to check my red and white cell count, renal function, and whether I have a tendency towards anaemia.
Following that, the Pain Management Nurse visits my bedside. I need to be weaned off the morphine eventually, taking a combination of paracetamol, ibuprofen and tramadol, but there is another syringe of the morphine waiting for me tomorrow!!
The lovely anaesthetist also pops his head around the curtain to see how I’m doing, wanting to know how I have recovered from the general anaesthetic, and how much pain I’m in right now. He is genuinely concerned and interested in my well-being.
Later in the afternoon the Macmillan nurse, whom I met after my SLNB procedure popped round to say hello. She also gave me some information on a drugs trial for Stage 3 melanoma patients. It would be a double blind trial ~ neither you, nor the doctor would know whether you were getting the drugs or the placebo. The drugs involved are Dabrafenib (a BRAF inhibitor) and Trametinib (a MEK inhibitor). Only 55 suitable people from the UK will be chosen to take part in the trial.
I have a couple of weeks to think about putting myself forward, for one year’s worth of COMBi-AD. Yes, no? Do something, do nothing? I need to talk to people, read a lot more about it, weigh up the options. And then there are the side effects ~ pretty serious side effects. I will need to think very carefully about this one.

The Operation

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Tuesday 12th November

I arrived at the hospital at 7am (a little early), but straightaway looked after by a nurse who took my blood pressure (whoa ~ far too high, but understandable!!!!), tested blood sugar, and an ECG.
I then met with the anaesthetist, my two surgeons, three nurses and two medical students ~ blimey what a team!!!! And the students only looked about fourteen.
The anaesthesia went in at 8:48am, and the next thing I knew I was waking in recovery at midday. No shakes or crying this time.
I am now in a ward, hooked up to a morphine pump, have been through three bags of intravenous saline, wearing nasal spectacles delivering oxygen, my legs constantly being moved and vibrated on an electrical pad (guarding against DVT), and have had various pain relief and anti-coagulants delivered. Oh, and the little drain bottle is tucked under the bed.
Haven’t really had a look at my leg closely; all I have is a white dressing over the scar, which can’t be more than 15cm or so, and then the drain poking out, a bit lower down.
Oh, and I’ve also been very sick!! Most unusual for me. But I’m now feeling so much better!! Haven’t eaten anything yet, nor been to the loo. Hmmmm. But my blood pressure has returned to normal. All of the doctors and nurses here are amazing ~ kind, caring and so attentive. The ward is such a calming and friendly environment. If you have to have 110% trust in the people who look after you, then this place ticks all the boxes. If all goes to plan, I should be out Friday/Saturday/Sunday.

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.