The 24th March was a date I was looking forward to with excitement, dread and apprehension. Knowing I had been cancelled three times previously I optimistically hoped that they wouldn’t cancel again. Arriving on the ward at 7 am I was concerned there was nobody else there, no staff or new admissions. The nerves were kicking in around 7:30 as more people arrived and were ticked off the list of admissions by the receptionist. We were called up one by one and asked to follow a nurse into a room containing six beds. We sat on the bed and began the admissions process, signing the consent form (my operation had changed from myomectomy to hysterectomy) and getting changed into some weird pair of what looked like crocheted pants and a gown. I was first on the list (something tells me they wanted me done and over with) , it was around 9 am when a nurse walked me down into the anaesthetic room, in there I asked the anaesthetic nurse how many times they had cancelled an operation at this point, “never” she replied. It was actually happening.
The next thing I remember is waking up in recovery with a nurse who was telling me her name, which actually annoyed me as I believed she’d already told me that, and thinking I didn’t want to be laid down, I’ve since found out I actually tried to get up while in recovery. I wasn’t really in much pain but I could feel something different in my lower abdomen. The next few hours are a blur, my next memory is being with Becky in the same room we were taken too, I was feeling sick and felt like I was watching everything happen around me without really being there (does that make any sense?). I was on a patient controlled morphine pump and although I don’t remember ever pressing it I certainly didn’t feel with it. As I came round more I asked the nurse to take it away, it wasn’t a feeling I appreciated and the pain wasn’t that bad. As the day progressed we were moved to a different part of the ward to wait for a bed to be free on a different ward for the rest of my stay.
The wait to be moved seemed to take forever, it wasn’t until 12:30 the porters arrived to take me down to ward 24. The journey down was surreal turning corners, feeling every bump and watching/listening to the porters talk about random things all whilst trying to figure out what is going on. I was placed into a side room, met the nurse on duty, given some painkillers and finally I could settle. Waking the next morning was strange, I hadn’t realised how much the fibroid had been taking out of me but waking up I felt so good, yes there was some pain and yes I was tired but everything felt so different from just 24 hours before. As the day progressed drips and catheters were taken out , it finally felt like I was on the road to recovery. Although I had been told there was a good chance that I could go home on the Saturday the nurse stressed that I’d been through major surgery, she wanted to keep me in and to be fair I was in no position to argue. The pain was up and down but other than the feeling of trapped wind it was nowhere near as bed as I’d feared. I even ventured for a walk to the day room and back (literally about 50m in total), it was good to be up and about but the walk reminded me just how much my body has been through and how far I’ve got to go to be back to the activities I love.
I’ve been honest about my experiences with the NHS recently and it’s important that people are aware that our “free” health service is facing these issues but at the same time it’s also important that people are aware of the fantastic work the health professionals do. My stay in St James’ was virtually problem free (the only issue being having to wait until gone midnight to be transferred after the op), the nurses were lovely giving space to rest and recover whilst getting on with their jobs, even chasing the doctors to do the discharge notes so I could leave. They genuinely seem to care about each and everyone of their patients whether it’s 1am or 1pm. They really are a credit to St James’, the NHS and themselves.
Ward rounds on Sunday a lovey Irish doctor told me I could go home and after a wait for the paperwork I was sat in the mother in laws car on my way home. On more than one occasion I felt like my insides were going to fall out of my incision site – damn you pot holes. Being home is a huge morale boost, basic tasks such as sitting down and standing up are still tough and take twice as long as they should. Coughing is a challenge, you try as you might to hold something against your stomach to ease it just a little yet each pathetic sounding cough feels like the stitches could split. It’s all worth it though knowing I am now fibroid free and can look to the future.
So the surgery I’ve actually had was an abdominal hysterectomy with vertical incision. They’ve removed my uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes plus the fibroid through a 5-6 inch cut from my belly button down. The reason for cutting down instead of the traditional bikini line cut was the size and position of the fibroid (approximately 15cm). It’s early days (3 days post op) but I am so pleased I opted for the hysterectomy. Everyone is different but the effects of the fibroid and the knowledge that there’s always a chance the problem will return helped me make the decision. Keeping my ovaries means I’m not facing early menopause and I look to the future without worry of fibroids, cervical cancer or other “women’s problems”.
I’ve got to say how lucky I feel to have the support I do at home. The mother-in-law has been amazing baby-sitting the animals and the wife. Becky has been by my side through everything, no matter how moody, angry or annoying I’ve been she has taken everything I’ve thrown at her. The past few days she has been by my side at all times, sitting with me whether I’m awake or sleeping, getting up at 3 am to help me downstairs when I couldn’t get comfortable and helping me with everything and anything. I really wouldn’t have wanted anyone else there, and the words in our vows and wedding song really do hold true.