I mentioned before that over the months since the September scan which showed such an improvement, for some reason I felt I was going backwards. Was it too much chemo I wondered? Something I may ask about when I re-visit the hospital, though I expect they will discount it.
I had felt an immediate improvement with ten days or less of my first chemo, which lasted past the third session, then gradually I seemed to drop back. By the time my operation was due I was really getting into trouble, and had it not been scheduled for that very day I think I would have had to attend hospital in any case.
As I said the pain had been getting worse, and was back to the pre-chemo levels, plus once again it was getting more and more difficult to pass water. I supposed something was pressing on something else somewhere inside me. Anyway on the day Mike took me to Cheltenham we arrived before 7am – they having asked me to arrive by 7.30 (though in fact they then decided to put me to the end of the operating list for the day) No matter.
The first thing I said to the nurse who welcomed us to the ward was ‘Could I have a catheter fitted now please – I haven’t been able to pee since yesterday, and I am really in trouble’ – Sorry to be a bit graphic, but that’s how it was.
She said that was fine as one would need to be fitted before the operation anyway and another nurse was duly sent for. But it wasn’t to prove that easy, and in the end my surgeon’s assistant arrived and even she had quite a lot of difficulty. I prayed that they wouldn’t now cancel the operation, and thankfully they didn’t – but later she came back to ask me to sign an amendment to the operating permissions stating, that should it be necessary, they would perform a colostomy as well.
Taken by surprise like that one tends to acquiesce, and in my pre-op gown and with my pre-op nerves that is exactly what I did. But then of course, as my operation was not to be until later in the day I had time to sit and think. Plus I had my iPhone with me, which gave me the opportunity to google for more information.
Apparently when something like this is planned one generally sees a specialist colostomy nurse who explains everything and various decisions are made and agreed. Of course non of this had happened and so I asked if I could speak with someone. Eventually the surgeon must have been told I was unhappy and her assistant returned and somewhat peremptorily struck though my previous extended permission and asked me to initial it – saying that should it turn out to be imperative it would involve me undergoing another serious operation. I explained that though I fully understood I felt I couldn’t go under the anaesthetic without knowing what to expect when I came round.
I think what really decided me against just signing was remembering my mother’s experiences of many years before. Having visited her doctor’s for a routine smear test the doctor said – ‘ I see you have a little problem with your waterworks – we can fix that for you – it’s a very simple operation ‘ So Mum of course said yes.
She along with many other women in their sixties felt that this was just one of the problems experienced by those who had given birth during the middle of the last century, but to be told that nowadays there was a simple fix made her happily agree.
Once at the hospital and having previously signed the permission papers they called in at the eleventh hour to ask her to give her permission to perform a hysterectomy should it seem necessary once the operation was underway. She was nervous and flustered as anyone is facing an operation, and of course signed. And when she regained consciousness was told that they had removed her womb, but she would be pleased to know it was totally healthy. Perhaps it was for the best – but following the operation she got a severe infection, resulting in weeks at the hospital in pain, and when everything finally healed up her ‘little water problem’ was slightly worse than at the beginning.
All of this also had its impact on me at the time. I had expected her out after a minor operation, instead she was now told not to do anything for several months, and I ended up visiting her daily to help with chores and see she was alright. At the time she lived a distance of 32 miles from me door to door, and over the next year I got the travelling time down to 32 minutes along country roads and through the suburbs of Hereford. It was a wonder I did not end up in hospital myself! After a whole year of this to the day I felt she was now safe to resume normal life. So to celebrate she polished her wooden stairs and fell top to bottom breaking several bones in her back, resulting, as you might imagine in more travelling for me to the extent I decided to move house to be nearer.
No wonder I was worried about last minute hospital decisions.