The next morning, as with all wards, the day started early. I was in a bit of pain, but nothing like I had expected. The PIKO Dressing was a marvel. I didn’t realise this until it was removed a week later. Pain killers were available to me at all times, but I was able to manage fine on just paracetamol which I was delighted about.
I’ve just remembered I forgot to tell you about my fancy sporty pants! I guess they weren’t that well received in theatre as they had been removed and popped into a plastic bag with my cat slippers, the ones with pink sparkly ears of course. I was now commando.
Very early on Prof Redmond came to see me on his own, no entourage, just the lovely man himself. He was so kind and explained that the op had gone well. He would be back later with his team to give a full run down but wanted to check on me before he went to his other meetings. The man is a legend.
Once breakfast was done I attempted to make myself look a bit more presentable but frankly how good can any one look in a mickey mouse shirt, no makeup and hair that’s been stuffed under a hair net for several hours?? A liberal spray of perfume was the best I could do.
Prof Redmond returned with his team and explained they were delighted with the op. They had made a 7 inch (that’s 18 cms to the rest of us) incision. They removed 18 lymph nodes but were very pleased that nothing needed to be removed above the inguinal node (I know you were all wondering exactly that). Those nodes would now be sent off to check for melanoma which would decide on the next course of action.
They still had concerns about my ankle. This had been mentioned before and they decided to get an MRI done whilst I was in the hospital just to be on the safe side.
Later that morning, Katrina (guardian angel nurse) arrived. She explained that the wound was in the shape of a lazy S and went from my tummy down onto my left thigh. She told me there was 18 staples in the wound as well as internal stitches. She gave me a spare PIKO Dressing to take home in case my GP wanted to replace it next week, but a normal dressing would be acceptable as well.
Katrina also explained that I would be offered radiotherapy but that this was completely my choice. There are side effects to everything of course, but the biggest one for me at that point was a possibility of lymphoedema in my leg. I really didn’t want that if I could possibly avoid it. Radiotherapy also meant that I would have to be in Cork every day for six weeks. If that had been my only choice, of course I would have taken it. But radiotherapy would have only targeted the area that had just been operated on, it wouldn’t address any other areas in my body.
That afternoon the nurse removed the catheter and I was able to get out of bed. The physio came and showed me some exercises to avoid lymphoedema which I have followed religiously.
The most important part of the day is what’s for lunch/tea in hospital (well it is for me). So for tea that night I had ordered scrambled egg. Those of you that know me will know I am a connoisseur of both poached and scrambled eggs – I know all the best places to go for such delights. Keep this in mind.
A porter came to collect me for the MRI on my ankle. Good news was that the canula was still in my hand so they could just pop the dye in through that, no messing with other veins. They removed the box for the PIKO Drain for safety in the MRI machine. I queried was it ok for me to be in the machine with 18 staples in my wound. The MRI lady nearly had a heart attack! She rang the team and waited for an answer. In the meantime, two other ladies needed MRIs, one from a road traffic accident that morning still looking very shaken up and the other for a back injury so I was asked to wait. No problem, I was in no rush. Eventually the team rang back to say no, no staples in the wound quite safe to do the MRI. Once the other ladies were finished, my MRI was done and a porter took me back to my room. Ladies & gents – I had MISSED my scrambled egg! Tea had been delivered and cleared away again. This was a travesty. I was massively tempted to lie on the floor and have a tantrum, but apparently that’s not acceptable as an adult and I couldn’t have got down to the floor anyway, damnit.
Thankfully, a nurse took pity on me and more hospital toast was administered. The sheet had been left for my choices the next day – I choose vegetarian pasta for lunch – keep that in mind.
That night a friend who lives in Cork visited me. We hadn’t seen each other in a few years but from the moment she arrived it was as if we had seen each other yesterday. We sat in my private room catching up on everything for hours – it was a joy. She stayed well past visiting hours but nobody seemed to mind. How often do we have the very best of times at what could be the very worst of times?