..or, learning to live with a new reality after a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Friday, 3 June 2011
First update post-op - apologies to those who have already read it!
I am delighted to say that I am back home and no longer in hospital. I begged the consultant to let me come home yesterday and he agreed that my second drain could come out and as long as I rested for three hours afterwards and my neck didn't swell up, then I could come home. I was overjoyed, but then we ran into problems trying to take the drain out! After three nurses and a doctor had had a go, they had to give me liquid morphine before I would let them near me. Still no joy and it was excruciatingly painful but when they said that they might have to hold me down and let the doctor just tug at it, I burst into tears and asked them just to knock me out and take it out in theatre - this little outburst coincided with the psychotherapist turning up to see if I needed some psychological support (think she got her answer pretty quickly there!). Anyway, she told me I had control over my pain and if I wanted them to stop, I could just tell them to. Another doctor came along and while my favourite nurse let me squeeze her hand really tightly, he managed to twist the drain and pull it out, to the accompaniment of much "ouching" from me and some considerable messy collateral damage! Anyway, after a bit of a weep, I managed to get myself discharged four hours later and was so relieved to be back home.
Neil helped me bath and wash my hair this morning, which felt wonderful after four days of only being able to wash at a basin with no plug! I am discovering all the ways in which my life is changing - I can't spit, so cleaning my teeth is tricky and I have to use a child's toothbrush until my facial swelling goes down as I can't open my mouth very wide. Feeding myself is challenging, as I eat left-handed but the left hand side of my mouth lacks some control. I have to use a straw to drink most of the time but I am getting better at sipping without spilling too much, so that's just a bit of practice needed there. I can't kiss properly either :-(
Still, I have to see the speech therapist on Tuesday and she will give me lots of help, I know. I am still in the oncology stage so once my radiotherapy is complete, then we can look at the aesthetic aspects, with further operations to my face to help reduce the droopiness. My surgeon and his team are delighted with the fact that I can close my left eye (the one they have stitched to make it smaller) because otherwise I might have needed weights sewn to it to help me close it. However,I can blink and that could mean that in the future (and I think we're talking about a year or so from now) they might re-open the eye to normal size. It's terribly early days and I am still very sore and prone to weepiness but it's all perfectly normal. My speech is much better than either Neil or I thought it would be but I have trouble with letters like b, p and v.
It could all have been much worse. That being said, it is a bloody tough time for us all. I managed to speak to Amy yesterday on the phone so she could hear my voice and realise that I sound pretty much like Mum always did. Adam has been great and keeps telling me I look good, bless him.
I couldn't have got this far or have kept this positive without the support of my lovely husband, daughter and son and, of course, all my wonderful friends. Thank you so, so much for all you've done this far and please stay with me on this journey, which is going to last for an awful long time yet. Please feel free to share this with others who you think would be interested - I am too tired to put more contacts into the address line!!