So disappointed to be going back in for more surgery, especially as I felt I’d started to recover really well from the first lot. However, at least this time it was just going back in through the incision that had been made across the breast, rather than the one higher into my arm pit (that’s the one that restricts your movement). The main issue for me was knowing there was a high chance I would be sick again. It’s not much fun doing something you’re reasonably sure will make you ill.
The routine was, unsurprisingly, very similar to before. Same place, different single room. Lots of paperwork to sign and constant confirming of name and date of birth. I had another long chat with a different anaesthetist, who was going to try a very different approach this time, and I had very high hopes.
Again, that odd walk to the operating theatre in your gown, clambering onto the bed (not easy, or dignified when you’re quite short!) They tried to fit the cannula into the back of my hand again, but it turns out my veins really aren’t very good and it had collapsed, so the hunt was on for another usable one. In the end one was found inside my elbow, and I was good to go again.
Next I knew I was waking up back in the room again. I felt different this time – before I had huge trouble keeping my eyes open for hours after, but not this time. I felt much less fuzzy and a little more alert – all good so far. This time instead of the unwanted sandwich, I was offered toast, which was much more like it. I managed half a slice, but then again, relatively suddenly felt sick & that was that. Really does look as if that will be my failing each time! This time however, the nauseous feeling didn’t want to go away, and in the end I was given an injection in my thigh to help. This one hurt, I can’t deny it, and continued to hurt for a few days afterwards, but it did stop the sickness.
This op was quicker to recover from as it involved just the one cut in a place that’s relatively easy to isolate. I was relieved because I had regained almost full movement of my arm by this time and this didn’t set me back. I waited a couple of days again before starting to exercise my arm, but it felt fine. As with last time, almost no pain to speak of – just a bit uncomfortable, again, especially lying down in bed. So, back to recovering again, and more time not able to drive.
I had to wait almost 2 weeks before returning to the hospital this time. I had removed the dressing myself, which was a little easier this time as I was almost totally numb. The surgeon, I knew, was on holiday, so we saw a different doctor, again along with the BCN. We went straight to her comfy room & that should have been a clue. Again, it was not positive news that we needed to hear. I was told that the affected tissue seemed to spread much wider than previously thought. With the new tissue taken in the second op, they could see more cells beyond the margin again. They had come to the conclusion that I would now need a mastectomy to be sure that all affected tissue had gone. We discussed briefly whether to do chemo before the mastectomy, and as they felt that was the better option, I agreed. It’s really tricky to be given options in these circumstances – let’s face it, I’m no expert & I haven’t ever done this before, so realistically I just don’t know. If they suggest they think chemo would be better done first, then I am going to agree every time.
I cannot deny that, when I got home, this was easily my lowest moment. More bad news to take in, life-changing in a way that it wasn’t before (if that doesn’t sound too odd), and more news to break to family & friends. This was going to be a permanent and very visible affect. I haven’t shed tears very much in this (I am easily moved to tears, and those who know me will find it surprising that I hadn’t been reduced to a sobbing wreck every moment of the day) but I cried when I was alone. It felt the goal post/finishing line had been moved away yet again, with more piled upon an already tricky situation. I did think at that point that I just wasn’t able to take any more bad news.
But, after a day or two, it’s funny how we do adapt. It was devastating news – but if I’m honest, for me at that point it was more to do with the need for even more surgery, rather than the implications for my body. I have done a little online research – sticking to well-known sites that I trust. I have searched for bras and swimsuits to see what’s out there, and have been in to M&S today to look at their surprisingly wide range of underwear (that in itself is pretty telling as to how many women are affected). I’d read women bemoaning that fact that it all looks like stuff your gran would wear, but I don’t feel that way myself. There are big decisions to be made later on. I’m mulling them over in my mind, but need to focus on the chemo first. Step at a time.