Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Is this normal?...

Pain, swelling, bruising,infection, inability to have a good nights sleep, I would even go as far as to say maybe a mild depression! Just a few of the things I have been experiencing during the last couple of weeks.  Today I am 5 weeks and 1 day post-op and can't quite believe the time I have had! I don't want this to be a "poor me" account, just an honest account!

It started with pain in my breasts, to be honest it felt like Mastitis which I suffered with after I gave birth to my son almost 14 years ago.  To relieve the pain then, I walked around with cabbage leaves inside my bra (Midwife's recommendation which worked!).  But for this, I couldn't even wear a bra and have to say I wasn't able to wear one for a whole 4 weeks!

So to give you an idea of the difficult time I've had I'll explain... on Sunday 25th November (20 days post-op) I ended up going to the emergency Drs.  When I called I explained that I had undergone breast surgery and thought that I may now have an infection as I was in so much pain, my Lefty was very swollen, hot to touch and red and that I thought I may need antibiotics.  I didn't feel I could even wait until the following day to go to my own GP as I had had such horrendous nights with it that I couldn't stand another night of no sleep and constant pain.  The Dr, although very pleasant, didn't really help much and sent me away with painkillers.  He took my temperature but because I didn't have a high reading, thought there wasn't any sign of infection. So I thought I would just dose myself up with the painkillers he prescribed, even if it meant me sleeping all day and night until the pain cleared up! However, they didn't just make me sleep, they made me zombified and sick! I felt even more rotten than I did suffering the pain. So after a couple of days I decided to ditch the stronger painkillers of the lot and just had paracetamol and the odd strong one, mainly at night so that I could at least try and get a half decent nights sleep!

The amount of times I have just burst into tears because I felt I couldn't cope any longer with the pain,discomfort and complete inability to do anything was just ridiculous! And because I felt like this I also had the "I wish I'd never had the f***ing op!!" (through tears). Thank God for my lovely boyfriend and my Mum. I simply could not have got through any of this if it wasn't for their support.xx

***Beware reading the next paragraph if you are tickle stomached!***

So the following Friday (25 days post-op) I woke up and thought, "Sod this! I've had enough...I'm just going to PRETEND I'm better, that might work!?!" So that was my plan...I even tweeted it! However, while I was still in my pyjamas, I couldn't help but notice a funny smell.  I looked down my top and there was obviously something leaking from under the steri-strips on Righty. Also I could see bits of black on the side of the strips, when I pulled them slightly to the side I could also see a bit of green gunk.  I was so worried of what was underneath the strips, my worst fear was Necrosis. I called my mum and asked her advice, she told me to call the Dr's straight away. So I did and made the appointment for later that day.  In the afternoon, my Breast Care nurse called me and I told her how I had been feeling in myself and about Lefty and Righty.  She was quite concerned to say the least and went off to speak to a consultant (my own wasn't in clinic on that day), she came back and said I need to get my GP to refer me to my local hospital as the team at Bart's believed I needed Intravenous antibiotics. She also told me I needed to get the steri-strips off so that the GP could have a good look, and I was to call after my appointment to let her know what the outcome was.  

My GP didn't want to refer me to the hospital for a number of reasons so gave me oral antibiotics. I called the BC nurse back and told her this.  She was still adamant that I needed to be admitted, and asked if I could send her photos of my boobs.  I did this and she called me straight back while she and 2 consultants were looking over them and said I definitely needed to be admitted for IV antis. So off to my local A&E Andy and I went! 

I really was not prepared for the reaction I received when telling the staff why I was there.  First of all my initial "I underwent Breast Surgery just over 3 weeks ago" had to be immediately followed by "It was risk reducing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction" as I'm sure they thought, "She's only had a boob job, no sympathy" (call me cynical and paranoid!)...Then I had the "Why travel all the way down to London? We have a team here who can perform that surgery...what a trek for you!"...erm...because it is my patient right to choose my own surgeon irrelevant of where they are based, and if there is a risk to my health as a result then I expect to be treated the same as any patient, thank you! So after speaking to the nurse, then a consultant, then a second consultant, who, thank God knew what I was talking about as he used to perform these operations himself, I was given one shot of IV antibiotics and sent home with oral ones.  Not the outcome I think that the Bart's team were looking for but I knew they would be in touch after the weekend anyway and I was preparing to travel back down there should they wish to see me. 

So on the Monday morning (28 days post-op) my BCN called again to ask how I had been over the weekend, I told her what had happened at the hospital on the Friday, and she said she would speak to my surgeon (affectionately known to his team as Prof) and would call me back at lunchtime.  When she called me back she said that Prof would like to see me the following day, and that he was also there and would like to speak to me on the phone. How re-assuring! So after speaking to him I arranged to go down the following day. My BCN said that I MUST wear a bra...This killed me as I was so so sore, but apparently I should have worn one from when I had the op! No-one had told me this so she said she would also arrange for me to see the Bra Nurse while I was down there so that I could get a proper supportive bra.  I was so grateful for this! 

So on the Tuesday I went down to see my surgeon who arranged an ultrasound scan for me on Lefty.  This proved that there was a build up of fluid, which was drained...a whole 200mls!!  I was also fitted with a bra, and had the wound on Righty looked at which he was happy was just superficial...PHEW! So my diagnosis for Lefty was Infected Seroma which was drained and I was put on IV antibiotics and kept in hospital for 2 nights.  I can't explain the relief I felt when I was in hospital being treated by my own surgeon! He also confirmed that all the tissue removed during the operation was clear of any pre-cancerous cells...DOUBLE PHEW!!

So, today is my last day of antibiotics, I feel better in myself but still have some pain and a lot of tightness.  The tightness I think is normal. And Lefty is till red, but I have an appointment on Thursday (5 weeks and 8 days post-op) back in London so we will see what happens when I go down then.

I was so relieved to find that there was actually something wrong as sometimes you start to think, "Is it just me? Am I being mard? Is it normal to still be feeling like this so long after the op? Why does everyone else seem to be doing ok, but I'm not?"  This is why this post is soooo long, which I apologise for. But I want anyone else reading who may be feeling like I have been that it is quite normal, especially if there is a problem with healing! This infection has put my recovery back a few weeks, I'm still not driving and can't imagine getting behind the wheel this side of Christmas to be honest! But I do seem to have been able to come out of the "low" that I found myself in. I am getting around a lot easier now, and even managing to do a bit around the house (not too much though!).  It really is a case of listening to your own body and knowing when to start and when to stop.

If I don't manage to update before Christmas I wish you all and your families a very merry Christmas and a healthy and Happy New Year! And would like to thank you all for your support, it really has been invaluable!

Thank you for reading, as always please feel free to comment and share.

Lots of Love