The week following my lymph node removal has gone extremely quickly, and yet I don’t seem to have done a lot other than lazing around the house. The anaesthetic appeared to stay in my system for quite a while as I still had nausea on and off, as well as a lack of pain in the site of the wound. The plus side of this was that I did not feel my flu jab which I had on Monday (the third day after surgery) at all. Must make mental note to have painful injections very soon after anaesthesia only! My appetite is still very limited but I am hoping this will return in time for Christmas dinner next Tuesday!
For anyone having to go through this operation, I would advise that you take things steady at first. As the nurses at the hospital told me, “Be kind to yourself.” This means accepting offers of help. I have taken full advantage of the fact that my daughter is home from uni for a few weeks, meaning that she has taken on a fair amount of cooking and washing. My son has been very good at serving me regular cups of tea and my husband is taking on more than his fair share of housework. He was also employed as chief present wrapper – I had to look away as his technique leaves a lot to be desired! He just didn’t understand what my problem was since the paper just gets ripped off in any case. Having my Mum nearby is also massively helpful as she has been roped into washing my hair (that arm of mine simply hasn’t got the range of movement yet) and doing a pile of ironing for us.
In addition to the invaluable practical support, I have continued to be supported with messages, cards, flowers and gifts from family and friends. People are so very kind and I cannot thank them enough. The children in my class wrote the most lovely messages on a giant Christmas card for me – tissues please!
It is tempting to run before you can walk during this recovery stage and I would say I am guilty of that. I just didn’t want to miss out on watching the Nativity in my old school, or on watching the ice hockey (one missed game was enough!) I also braved an evening into London to watch Aladdin at the theatre which was booked prior to us knowing about the operation. The trouble with carrying on as normal is, you end up worn out and sitting around in bed for days. So I have learnt my lesson and I am now trying to pace myself during this busy time of Christmas festivities.
You may be wondering whether any of the dreaded side effects have put in an appearance yet. So far, I have been quite lucky as they haven’t been so bad. I have experienced some pins and needles in my hand at times. My shoulder can get extremely cold (snuggly blankets work a treat for this). Sleeping is not easy as I have to consciously avoid turning onto my left side and any stretches of the arm are a bit painful. The trouble is, I often forget my limited range of movement and then get a nasty shock when I over stretch my arm. I also have very tender skin on the inside of my upper arm which I can only liken to the sensation of when you accidentally burn yourself on the oven (yes, I have done that before!) The back of my arm and my armpit are numb, similar to when you get an injection in your mouth prior to having dental work. It is seriously weird washing your arm and not feeling anything! Still, given the lengthy list of likely side effects they showed me in the hospital, I do feel I have got off lightly so far.
It will be at least a week before I am called back into the breast clinic to discuss the results. So that just leaves me to pretend everything is normal for the time being, and tuck into one of the many tins of chocolates sitting on the table.
Merry Christmas, everyone!