This is by way of a post script really. From the end of my treatment and particularly after my first annual check up I have been increasingly frustrated by my inability to find comfortable underwear to accommodate my lone boob and the myriad of protheses I have tried. The pockets in the bra cups always seem to big for the insert which then moved into strange positions during the day and the ridging from the many aspirations I had, (to try and get rid of the dratted seroma which went on for months), was so uncomfortable that by lunchtime I just wanted to get rid of the whole bra! When it came to the summer months, the perspiration beneath the prosthesis did not bear thinking about. Now I was never over endowed but I hated not wearing any support at all and so resorted to wearing the wonderful very fitted M and S vests which I had discovered during the treatment. These were flattening enough that with the dexterous use of a scarf I managed to be relatively comfortable and appear not too bad a shape! But getting back to the summer months I positively boiled over. The vests are definitely winter apparel.
So earlier on this year I approached my GP about the possibility of having the remaining breast removed in lieu of reconstruction which I had already turned down. He thought it was a reasonable request and set up an appointment for me to see my consultant. There were a few raised eyebrows but I stated my case firmly.
“Well, I haven’t said no and I haven’t said yes” was the response! “But would you not prefer a a breast reduction? ”
“No thank you, it wouldn’t solve anything in the comfort department!”
“Could you not let it hang free?”
My “Certainly not!” Was accompanied by guffaws from the nurses!
“Well there are procedures……….”
“You will have to see the psychologist To see if you are in sound mind.” All said with a very straight face! Now, there are many who know me who would have a good laugh about this as I do have several quirks in regard to flowers and dogs and possibly food too!
The upshot of all this was that I had my ‘mad or not’ interview and was deemed rational and sane. The operation was given the green light and two and a bit weeks ago now I had my right breast removed. All completely painless and straightforward, down to theatre at around 3.15 and back into recovery about 6pm I think. I was a bit woozy to be able to be totally accurate on that score. Victoria, my daughter came to collect me from the hospital around 7pm. She had been to the funeral and memorial service for a dear man, Tony Crosse, my friend Dinah Shortt’s brother in law. I was so sad not to be able to attend myself but the timings were just not meant to be. He had been unwell for some time, slowly but surely regressing and retreating from all that was familiar, but wonderfully cared for at the Royal British Legion home near Taunton. Dementia is such a terrible thing. His family are scattered around the world and it was a real gathering of the clans.
I was treated to tea and toast and marmalade once on the ward and then allowed to get dressed about 8.30pm. I was determined to go home! I had been very proficient and left our supper all ready for cooking, but by the time I was released with my medication it was gone 9pm, so I suggested that we go to Carluccio’s for a quick bite as it would be quicker than cooking when we got home! So we did. As a regular there I qualified for a free bottle of wine, but as I had been dosed up with pain killers we took it home with us and supped on sparkling water instead! I was at home and tucked up I bed my 10.30pm. I hardly used any medication at all as there has been no real discomfort
I was up and about by about 8am the next morning and Tor and I walked the dogs, Nutty and Wally. Wally is Nutty’s first born which I delivered and who now is a cherished member of the Willis household……an adorable and very lively addition. We did not go far just to the May fields at Bere Regis and then came back to a welcome coffee before Tor sped off back to Kent and her family.
I must mention that I came home from the hospital with no dressings on my wound. It was all beautifully glued as last time. When I looked at myself in the mirror that morning, it was amazing how normal it seemed, so unlike seeing one breast which had always appeared so,unnatural. Having thought about it, as I was quite surprised at my reaction, I have come to the conclusion that as a child and young girl we see out chest as a flat area and seeing an adult chest minus boobs is not that different really and seems kind of familiar. Ok, no nipples, but it is a balanced body. Having one for the time I did was not a source of angst at all and my course of action was because of the discomfort I experienced, but I do feel far less ‘odd’ when unclothed.
I am progressing with the healing process, although I have once again a small seroma and some leakage! The mattress topper and the duvet have already visited the dry cleaners! The GP surgery nurses have been wonderful dressing and re dressing the problem area for me. It is nigh on impossible to hold a dressing and wield sticky stuff to hold it in position with one hand on a leg or arm but try under the arm with the left hand and blue language issues forth as the sticky stuff sticks to itself and not to you!
I have now been checked by Mr Graja at the Breast Clinic and all is well. All the histology was fine, as I knew it would be, and the wound although still leaking a bit is fine. I now have a stoma bag fitted to the leak which is far less cumbersome that the dressings and does not leak. I m to go to the surgery to have it emptied or changed as the need arises. As normal I find it hard to take it easy, especially as the garden needs its seasonal chop back but I am trying to behave. But I have made bramble jelly and today a spicy lentil soup with lots of wonderfully healthy items like turmeric in it.
I did not drive for a couple of weeks but had to go to see Toby, my son about a suspect tooth this week……an appointment which had been changed several times……so drove to Brighton to stay with him and Emma and the children and on to Eastbourne the next day for the appointment. Came home picking up wonderful squashes on the way which are now adorning my dining room table. Had to get someone else to get them in and out of the car though……too heavy….. So frustrating!
I am feeling fine and raring to go but I must take things steadily and try to get rid of all this extra fluid sloshing about! Nutty is not all all happy about curtailed walks but is as forgiving as ever. She has just been the best over these last three years. So that is me up to date and feeling very grateful for the wonderful doctors and nurses who have and are still,caring for me. In fact the Milton Abbas surgery has been awarded an Excellence category for its patient care in the recent inspection…….a sort of medical version of Ofsted! I cannot fault them.
My response to final questioning from my consultant was…..
“Yes, definitely I want to go ahead. It will be such bliss not to battle with my underwear and just think of the wonderful backless dresses I can wear!” All I have to do now is find one and also an occasion to wear it!