Strangely enough in some ways it was almost a relief to have the surgery done.
A Wide Local Excision – strange terminology that, the verb ‘to excise’ meaning to charge a toll or tax but the noun ‘excision’ seems to be exclusively applied to cutting out a carcinoma, Latin derivations, the Oxford dictionary tells me. I suppose the demon cancer had not only been excised from my boob but exorcised from my mind as well.
I returned home from the hospital the next day with a little package of painkillers to help me through the succeeding few days and several pages full of exercises from the physio to be working on so that my shoulder would regain normal function, after the Sentinel Node Biospy.
The relief was something I didn’t expect to feel, given the disfigurement I know is sure to follow. I came home with the hospital dressings on the wounds. They look absolutely ghastly, having been applied immediately after the surgery. Fortunately they are showerproof so I can shower normally but each time I undress, that mess under the dressings is all to evident, as is the different shape of the post surgery Sylvia.
Whether it was the effect of the anaesthetic wearing off, the painkillers or the massive sleep deprivation during the past few weeks, I have actually managed to sleep again without my brain running off on journeys I would rather not travel, despite the fact that there is an element of uncertainty this week as I await the result of the Node Biopsy. Despite Carl Dowle’s reassuring words after surgery that he thought everything had gone very well, there is still an element of doubt which haunts me.
My days at home have passed quietly but punctuated with calls and messages from friends and family – and the arrival of two bouquets of flowers, always a guaranteed pick-me-up. I have followed orders and taken the painkillers as required, not done anything too strenuous apart from the prescribed exercises.
On Sunday, I finally felt able, emotionally, to reveal the mess of dressings and the new shape that was beginning to become evident underneath, to Peter. Because the whole nipple area has had to be removed I know there will have been no nice place to hide a scar, although the dressings still hide whatever the extent of that might be. I have been more than slightly aware of it ever since I came home and have to come to terms with the inevitable, either a prosthesis or reconstruction at some point – both probably. So as I dressed on Sunday morning I showed Peter the post surgery Sylvia. I expected the man I married, who has an almost pathological dislike of hospitals, to have been more drawn by the bloody mess under the dressings, but being a man, the first (and only) thing that came out of his mouth was, “God, they’ve mutilated you”.