Thursday, 24 March 2011

C - Word

With christmas looming I was aware that there was a lot of people in my local area who were looking to try and make a few extra pennies to make paying for Christmas more bearable. I love Facebook, I use it ALOT, and there was a local page where people where buying and selling things to help make ends meet. I'd bought and sold a few things and built up a rapport with a few users on the site. With that in mind the cogs started whirring and as a result a little acorn of an idea was born.... I spoke to the community centre where my son goes to preschool and asked if they had ever thought of holding an indoor boot sale. Initially they were apprehensive about the idea, worried about mess and how to go about making sure traffic for the stallholders was correct. I persisted and to cut a long story short I ended up with a 21 stall table top sale to organize! As I don't drive and had my 3 yr old in preschool I didn't actually have a stall of my own, I didn't make a penny from organizing and running the event - but it was good to have something to sink my teeth into.

The pre op appointment at the hospital was the night bfor the table top sale. My partner was off work sick with flu and wasn't well enough to drive me to the hospital, so his dad took me and dropped me off. It was the 18th Nov 2010, and boy was it cold. I walked down to the clinic where the large waiting room was full of people. I sat down and started flicking through a magazine grateful for a bit of me time without having to worry about speaking to anyone or worrying about little man running off. Time sat on my behind with nothing to do is boring to some but I quite enjoy it as its pretty rare for me :) Good job really as I sat in that waiting room for almost 2 hours. After about an hour I began to get a bit restless, wondering why I hadn't been called yet... the waiting room emptied, until there was only me left. When they called my name I whooped and said hurray - finally it was my turn.

I entered the room with a nurse and there was a female doctor with black curly hair tied back and a smart suit on, she looked behind me and asked me with a puzzled look 'Oh are you on your own....' to which I said 'Yeah my other half is poorly so its just me....'. This seemed to fluster her a little, which was odd to me. I sat down in the chair with a smile on my face, she said 'Right ok so I have some results from your op for you.' I said 'Erm..... results - sorry I didn't know there was any results to be had, I mean Ive already been told that its nothing from all the tests you have done so far so...'. My face dropped, I could feel my heart starting to pound, you know that feeling that you get when you have been caught doing something you shouldn't do, a bit of a nervous sick feeling - yep well that crept in pretty quickly. I looked at the doctor, she seemed now even more uncomfortable, more nervous than me in fact. 'Well those tests arent always conclusive, so we cant just rely on them.' I'm thinking WHAT! 'Well we looked at the tissue we removed during the op and we have found some cancerous cells....' I said 'erm....ok' and waited for more information. The doctor was trying to hold her composure but I could see her squirming I guess giving me this information was hard I wasnt impressed. I said 'But Ive already been told twice now that It not cancer, you have done all those tests, I wasn't expecting any results and now your telling me what exactly?' I paused...'Are you telling me I have cancer?'.... 'Yes I am very sorry.' She looked away - I probably wasn't giving her the nicest of looks at this point LOL. She then went off into some sort of rant about multidisciplinary meetings, how all these doctors had sat down and discussed me and what would happen next..... Im thinking multidisciplinary - am I a naughty girl LOL.... I said 'Hang on a minute. What sort of cancer do I have?' The reply I got was 'Thyroid - but dont worry its 95% treatable - you will be fine'.

The tears were starting to come now, I could feel them, but I was there on my own - I needed to hold my composure, I couldn't crumble in front of this doctor who in my opinion wasn't a very good one, I needed to show her who was stronger, I needed to be quietly indignant. So I took a deep breath and carried on. She then started asking about my voice - I explained I had a cold but that my hoarseness had been a permanent fixture since the first operation. She explained that the next step would be a Completion Thyroidectomy - the remaining half of my thyroid would be removed in another operation similar to the first, she explained that Dr M would do the op. But she was concerned about my voice, she checked the notes. Dr M had noted no laryngeal nerve damage and then she said she wanted to take a look at what was causing the hoarseness. Out came a black shiny snake like thingy with a light on the end, she wanted to put it down my nose.... OUCH. She did it twice, it bloody stung. My eyes started watering and I expressed discomfort - as I had a cold, all of the passage in which the tubes were going were blocked and inflamed - not fun. She didnt like the way my voice was reacting to the tests so she said we would need to wait until my voice was better bfor the operation could be done. I was told to wait for a further appointment, and to get some sort of solution to help clear my airways just in case I needed another snake test at the next appointment. With that she sent me on my way.

I walked out of the room, a middle aged nurse said 'Are you ok love?' - I turned around and said quite rudely - 'Well no not really they just told me Ive got cancer soo....' and with that the tears came, there was no controlling them. I strode down the corridor towards the exit to get picked up, crying like a baby, huge heaving sobs almost stopping me from catching my breath. I knew that soon id have to walk through the A+E dept so I tried to compose myself, which I could only do by holding my breath, I walked across the car park in the cold dark night. I called my partner and told him, he was shocked and didn't quite understand what I was saying - he called his dad and his parents came and got me. All the way home I explained what had happened, explaining that in hindsight I felt like they had left me waiting 2 hours on purpose, not wanting to have to tell me, wanting to leave it as long as they could.

When I walked out of the back gate my partner was waiting for me, he passed me a ciggarette, I took it - god I needed it! He said -' What type of thyroid cancer is it? Theres 4 types you know?' 'Is there - she didnt say only that I have thyroid cancer'. My other half isnt a cryer - he gets silent when he is upset and takes himself off to deal with it on his own, he fights tears, his bottom lip wobbled and we both started crying. I didnt know what to say, I just went off into a rant explaining what had been said my thoughts all jumbled, mixed with anger and frustration. I was mad at the doctor, mad that the hospital hadn't insisted I bring someone, mad that they had given me NOTHING to take away to explain what they had just told me.

I needed this to be ok for little man, so I said right we don't mention this word in front of him ok, we act like nothing has happened as much as we can. I was in mummy mode desperate to shield him from the hurt and destruction that had unfolded. The next bit is a bit of a blur of tears and googling and various phone calls being made to family, and my partners boss.

I went and got in the bath, Bubble soothing me, on my own in the bath I tried to compose my thoughts. I realised that no matter what happened from now on I had cancer, and I needed to deal with it. Wallowing over it was not going to get rid of it, I clung to the doctor saying it was treatable, I wasnt dying. This could be a lot worse. I could hear my partner on the phone saying no we didnt want any visitors tonight, it was too soon.

The next thing I know there was a knock on the door, it was my others halfs boss's partner. She also happens to be the mum of my partners oldest friend and little mans Godmum. She was heartbroken, and almost didnt know what to say, she assured us that if we needed anything to just let her know, Id stopped crying by this point which I think she was a bit taken a back by. I explained that I needed to just keep calm and carry on with it all. That I had questions that needed to be answered. That id do my best to get to the bottom of them all. She told us that my partner had been given a week off work, and that we shouldnt worry about time off etc. We were extremely grateful of that week off. She hugged us both and left.

I dont remember much more of that evening, other than calling the lady I was organising the Table Top Sale with to explain what had happened just in case I had a melt down during it. We decided we didnt want too many people knowing about my cancer, so asked that nothing was said on facebook etc and told those we had told to keep it to themselves. I didnt want people worrying about me. I didnt ever want to be 'that lady with cancer'.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Bubble and Squeak

Following my arrival home I was very lucky to have my partner and family around to help me to recover. I have never been too good at asking people for help, always preferring to try to muddle through as independent as possible. Even I couldn't argue that I needed help after the operation, mainly in looking after my son. Being a full time mum has had its perks around all of the operations etc I have needed. God knows what it would have been like trying to get time off work etc, but as my three yr old doesn't have an HR dept and there's no such thing as having time off being a mummy I relied heavily on those around me to take on my daily tasks and help in taking care of little man. Luckily they were great and took time of work where needed so that I could get some much needed rest and recuperation. Little man was well versed on what he could and couldnt do around mummy, big sweeping neck hugs being out of the question!

Unfortunately the length of time needed was longer than expected as my hoarse voice was particularly persistent, and my scar got a little infected so I ended up on antibiotics.

I can tell you for nothing that a voice barely louder than a whisper with no range is no fun around a 3 year old. As Ive said before little man is a proper boy, he loves to run at high speed and get into mischief wherever he can, not being able to raise my voice to get him out of sticky situations was definitely a challenge. The only loud noise I could muster was a whistle, so I ended up having to whistle at him whenever I needed him to pay attention. I found speaking tiring, trying to be heard above any crowd noise was a nightmare and it was very frustrating. The period between being well enough to leave the house and my voice coming back was not much fun, being out in public with my gorgeous boy was stressful as I was frightened that something sticky would happen and my voice would let me down. Speaking to strangers in shops etc meant I had to explain my op by pointing at my scar so that I could explain my tiny voice. My hoarse voice lasted at least 6 weeks... I thought it would never be back to normal. My voice was also affected in terms of vocal range in my singing voice - dont get me wrong im not a singer :) But as most people do I love to sing along to music - I was unable to do so without sounding like those tragically bad people in the rejects section of the xfactor :) This was where my love affair with Michael Buble started :) or Bubble as I affectionately came to know him as I found I could sing along to Bubble bcos his voice was low enough for me to sing without a massive amount of strain on my voice... he became my music of choice. Bubble at bathtime, Bubble when cleaning the house. Gotta love some Bubble :)

It was during this period that a letter arrived from the hospital inviting me to a post op appointment. Great I thought they can have a good nosey and make sure my scar is healing up nice and Il get some feedback on my voice. I wasnt ever told to expect results of any kind afterall id now been told twice that it wasnt cancer. The fine needle aspiration had confirmed that hadnt it :)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Little old lady speed bumps

I remember sleeping pretty well that night, propped up on the electric bed surrounded by many pillows, I woke up every now and then to drink some water which was slightly awkward. I had a scar across the nape of my neck about 8cms long which was glued so had a shiny appearance. Moving around was interesting, I think it was mainly a psychological thing but it felt like I needed to keep my head and neck as still as possible so as not to burst my scar. I don't remember being in a huge amount of pain but sudden movements were certainly uncomfortable. Speaking... now that was a different matter, I was hoarse. I hadn't been told nor had I worried about a loss of voice as a result of the operation. As I had had a cold I assumed that maybe the tubing etc had scratched my throat a little so I wasn't too concerned about my hoarseness at this point. Dr M had brushed it off saying 'oh we will just keep an eye on that', I was happy, Id survived the op, the lump was gone and more important than ever I was waiting to be picked up by my partner and little man :)

Posh breakfast arrived, I kicked myself that I hadn't ordered a fry up! But it was yummy non the less, porridge and fruit salad with toast and posh jam and more importantly Coffee mmmmm. My partner arrived and I went off in search of a nurse to be discharged. When you leave an NHS hospital they are in my experience a little funny about letting you leave, these private nurses seemed more than happy to give me my papers and send me on my way. I was simply told to keep my scar dry for 7 days and asked if I had paracetamol at home which of course I did.

So of we went to get in the car, my voice hoarse and walking like I was very interested in the floor in a little old lady hobble because I was scared of popping my scar LMAO. The car ride home was fulled with speedbumps :(

OUCH - there was a lot of sharp intakes of breath on the way home! Getting home after an operation I am never very good at putting my feet up especially with my three year old running around and my dog, but after this operation I went back to bed after trying my best to keep my eyes propped open on the sofa. Theres nothing soo good as your own bed for a post op daytime nap :)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

2 beers and a Nipple

I was just about ready when the porters came to take me down to the surgery. After a quick joke about my cow print slipper boots and a trip to the lady's room, I slipped out of my undies and into some particularly sexy paper pants!

The porters at the posh hospital were funny and kept me smiling on the way down to the theatre, I love a camp porter :) As usual the conversation mainly consisted of how hungry I was etc LOL.

When I got down to the room, the person prepping me for the surgery was chatting away to me, he was I think Puerto Rican, and had a gazillion children one of which was a similar age to little man. He showed me pictures of his children on his phone as h attached wires all over me. It was a nice experience, I felt involved in the preparation altho it was a little embarrassing having my nipple on show in front of 3 blokes LOL. The only weird thing was having a conversation while being flat on my back - but we chatted away for a good 15 mins or so lol. Then the anaesthetist came, I told him I enjoyed anaesthetics - but that they always made my nose itch when I came around. He said that was one of the side effects of an important component, I said thats cool just been intrigued as to why :) He popped the line in and said right here we go.... I remember saying ooooh 2 beers :) and I was gone...

When I came around from the surgery in recovery I had an itchy nose :) I remember putting my hand straight to my neck and being told off :)
In recovery the nurses are always concerned that you will be sick if you drink too quickly afterwards, but im always gasping. Touchwood ive never been sick yet! So I asked for water and was given a sip arrrgh :) LOL.

I was taken back up to my room by the porter, I spoke to my partner and went back to sleep. The benefit of a private room in a posh hospital is gorgeous peace and quiet :) For some reason the nurses also dont feel the need to take your blood pressure every two minutes :) YAY

When I woke up I was told I could have anything to eat that I wanted - ANYTHING - they gave me a posh menu.... I was like erm.... so I asked for a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich and COFFEE - and I got it, along with Butternut Squash soup which was delicious!

I am not joking this food was like hotel room service and was awesome! Having thoroughly enjoyed that I settled in for the night. I was feeling stiff and a bit sore but nothing I couldnt deal with. Xfactor was on and me and my partner watched it while texting our opinions on it back and forth :)