My nurse. Napping on the job...
Spot the Fishwives
To be frank, this wasn't my first cancer scare. In fact, it was my fourth and I honestly thought that it had snared me at last. Out of 10 risk factors, I managed 9, or an A in old school exam scoring. On the surface I was calm but deep down, I was frantic. Frantic enough to check out the mortgage cover on the house to see if we'd be covered and to have a succession of nightmares, each more grim than the previous one. My biopsy was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and I ended up going into the office for a few hours as I needed familiar faces to keep me calm. It worked for me, although the smells from our canteen nearly finished me off as I was fasting! Two hours later, I got the all clear through a fog of anaesthetic and painkillers, but didn't quite believe it until Dr. K came around again and told me. "Feck, we still have to pay the mortgage" was my first thought, swiftly followed by "phew, dodged a bullet there again". I promptly went on the rip in Kilkenny to celebrate the launch of Fishwives and had the worst hangover in decades the next morning.
Three weeks of frantically batch cooking, trying to find a cleaner, doing work handover and replacing the kaput heating system followed so I could get a head start on having the surgery and spending 6 weeks recovering at home. I managed to make a month's worth of dinners which were stashed in the chest freezer. I can hear some of you asking why Ru didn't take over the cooking. Quick answer : Ru can't cook, and after 19 years of trying to teach him, I've given up! Night after night, I cooked Cottage Pie, Chicken Casserole and a cornucopia of curries - just add mash, rice or naan bread and dinner would be sorted. The weekend before my surgery, we headed up to Belfast for the night to spoil ourselves. I managed to get all of my Christmas shopping sorted and we had a very fancy dinner as a special treat.
Tuesday came around all too soon and we headed off to the hospital once again with my trolley bag packed with all my worldly goods (trash mags, an assortment of M&S nightwear and the trusty iPad). I sent Ru off to work once I had been checked in, as there was no point in both of us sitting there chewing our nails. Also, I'm very grumpy when I'm fasting! By 12.00, I was sporting the latest SS17 fashions - sexy long white socks, standard issue hospital gown and the beautiful disposable hat and I was wheeled into surgery. Four hours later, I woke up, feeling like I had been run over by a truck and howling for painkillers. You've got to love private hospitals*, no shortage of nice nurses ready to give you all the drugs necessary to keep you comfortable. The food was also really good too, really healthy with plenty of choice, but as always, served at a ridiculously early time. Tea at 5.30pm? Ah here. Dr. K came around that night to tell me that it was more complicated than expected but all went well. By the following afternoon, the physio had dragged me out of bed and was marching me up and down the corridors in my beautiful white socks and the visitors started to venture in. "State of your face" was one memorable comment and I threatened to clatter that person with my drip stand for their cheek! By Saturday, it was time to go home to my own bed and rid myself of the smell of hospital. Ru collected me and I hobbled out of the hospital as fast as I could, stopping at my sister's on the way to kidnap the dog. We were chauffeured home, with me shrieking every time he went over a speed bump, and the dog wondering why she wasn't sitting on my lap.
Since then, I've been taking two steps forward, one step back as I consistently try to do far too much (emptying the dishwasher and trying to chop a butternut squash was not clever) and end up shattered afterwards. I'll freely agree that I am a terrible patient and hate being housebound - in fact, the week after I got home, I talked my sis into getting the bus with me and walking down the town, just so I could get out and feel normal. It was great but daft at the same time! Three weeks after surgery and I'm very slowly starting to return to normal. I'm starting to go for very short walks, drag Ru around the supermarket (under protest) and do little things again like make the bed. Driving, sadly is at least another fortnight away, but once I get behind the wheel again, I'll relish my independence. And start to write again. I promise!
* I have private health insurance which I made full use of this year. Every single element of my treatment took place at a private hospital so I was able to schedule my tests and surgery at times that worked best for me, and also ensured that I didn't take up a public bed at a time when the health system is under huge pressure.