Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday 20 May

I had intended to post an update sooner than this, but the last three or four days have been such a whirlwind of emotions, that I have just been too tired. Things are slowly returning to normal now, thank goodness.

Mum had her operation on Tuesday. It was a very odd day. We had to be at the main hospital early in the morning where they did a series of 'gamma scans'. All together those took about 2.5 hours and unusually I was allowed to stay with her. She doesn't like scans very much, specially being enclosed in tunnels, and with this one the camera which was hidden in a sort of plate, came down really low - there can't have been more than half an inch between the end of her nose and the camera. The scans lasted 5 minutes each and she had to lie perfectly still, I could see the timer counting down but didn't dare tell her how much time was left in case I made her jump or more nervous. I felt so nervous on her behalf - I noticed after a while that my whole body was tensed up.
By 11.30 am we were finished and had to go on to the next hospital where they'd do the operation. Very old hospital which is due for demolition in the next couple of years, much smaller than the main hospital which is very modern and patient-friendly, this one's from the sixties and a bit the worse for wear. When we got to reception her surgeon was already there but totally got my back up by not introducing himself to me. We'd seen so many medical staff that day and everybody introduced themselves to both mum and me, and he just ignored me. I realised I was not in the right frame of mind to say anything so I swallowed what I wanted to say - after all, I did want him to do a good job on mum! but it didn't make for a very good first impression.
We had another ultrasound which was fascinating to see, then some Xrays and then finally she was taken to theatre. That was the hardest bit, specially as by then she'd been given a strong painkiller and she'd become a bit confused and suddenly looked really old and even ill.
The odd thing as well was that because breast cancer is so common, it's almost like people don't take it as 'seriously' as you feel it is. It is still cancer, it is still frightening, but for the hospital it's such a routine operation that for them it's quite a common situation. Also all the emotions from last time surfaced - the insecurity, the worry - and not everybody knew we'd been in a similar situation before.
A very long 2 hour wait and she was back on the ward, looking very grey and tired and in pain, but awake enough to realise she'd had the operation. By 7 she claimed she was ready to come home. I wish I'd put my foot down and said no, but she was quite adamant and we walked outside half an hour later - mum very wobbly on her feet and green around the gills with nausea from the anaesthetic. We had an hour in the car to get home - I've never driven so carefully!
Since then, she has recovered very well. She's up and about, she has an afternoon sleep still and she gets tired a bit more easily, but every day you can see her being able to do more and more. I'm probably returning to Britain on the overnight ferry on Sunday night. It's going to be odd to be going back, we've spent quite a lot of time together and the future is far from clear still. Lots of people say to her 'right, that's it, you've had your operation, now you're fine aren't you?' but we don't really know. They took out three lymph nodes and it depends on what they find in those what the treatment plan is. I wish I could go back home and feel that it was all dealt with and sorted, but once again I don't know when I'll have to go back next. I'm keeping my fingers very firmly crossed that the next time I go over, it'll be for fun and not for a hospital visit...

Sorry for another photo-less post, I took lots of photos of mum's home town when we went for a long walk with the dogs the other day, but haven't had the time (or the energy) to upload them just yet. Hopefully in the next post!