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It all went really well at North Shore hospital yesterday and the surgery has set me free.

I was instructed to turn up at 8am. My sister got me there at 7am as there were no traffic problems, so we had plenty of time to sit around and prepare for what lay ahead. After half an hour or so we were taken into a room where I answered all the standard routine questions that I have answered so many times before, and where I was asked to get into my hospital gear. I learned that I was second on the list, but would have quite a wait as the first person on the list was scheduled for a 3-hour operation. I was then taken into the pre-op room. I used the time to complete the Sudoku puzzles in the Herald and to catch up on some much needed sleep. Unsurprisingly, I hadn’t actually managed to get much sleep the night before.

After signing the consent to surgery form around 11am, the anaesthetist turned up to go through the procedure with me. I asked him what drugs I would be given and he rattled off a list which included Dexamethasone, an anti-nausea drug, along with all the other drugs in the anaesthetic cocktail. At 11.45am I was wheeled into theatre. The operation took 20 minutes and the surgeon did what I hoped he would be able to do – excise the cyst and sew the wound up. So no need for a drain.

I woke in the recovery area around 12.45pm. I was given a very welcome cup of tea which was just wonderful after such a long period of not being able to eat or drink anything. I was also told I would able to go home shortly. That was music to my ears, as I was preparing for a bit of a battle over my desire to go home. The news that the dressing on the back of my neck would need to stay on for 7 days and then once it was removed there would be no need for any more dressings also had me close to tears. The end of this saga, one of the consequences of all the chemotherapy I had endured, was in sight and I would soon feel whole again.

The staff were all just fabulous. They were very caring, seemed to be aware of my situation, and were sensitive to my needs. For example, I had actually been losing sleep over the prospect of my not being able to keep my wig on during surgery! While my hair has started to grow back I was still not ready for anyone to see me without a wig. I eventually decided that I would not wear a wig to the hospital, but would bite the bullet and venture out of the house for the first time without it. The only covering for my head would be one of the many hats that one of my wonderful friends had knitted for me. So after I had put on the surgical head covering, I asked the nurses not to remove it after the operation as I wanted to keep it on until I could exchange it for my own hat.

Pathetic, I know. But the truth is I still have not accepted the body that I now inhabit. It continues to feel quite alien to me, and the loss of my hair has been a significant part of that feeling of alienation.

I arrived home around 3.30pm, lit the fire and settled in for the evening. A friend arrived soon after to look after me – her pre-planned visit turned out to be a necessary selling point in letting me go home straight after the operation – and my sons arrived later that evening with pizzas. Just what the patient had ordered!