Day 3 they said I could go home the next day – happy!
That evening my breath felt short. I told the nurse and she said perhaps I was anxious. I wasn’t anxious, I just couldn’t breathe. At 8pm the nurses swop after a long day. At 9.30pm they give you your last set of pills and the last injection of the day in your arm. Not a nice night cap! The needles sent me over the edge.
I sat upright all night. I couldn’t sleep, so much morphine and SO tired. Late night ECG. Watched closely all night.
Early morning scan and left lung full of fluid and right lung half. More doctors. Pain in my stomach and pain in my lung. No breath.
So weak. Wheeled in my bed around the hospital . No breath.
Waiting in corridors. The doc came and spoke to me of the next procedure, of needles and drains. I was sick, so so sick. Into the theatre I went. This time a local anesthetic so he chatted to me. Sheer excitement when he found out I was a photographer “Nikon or canon”? (please!!)
The anesthetic, the needle. The totally alien sensation of something going into your back. Fluid pouring out but at least I can breathe.
I have a 3 litre drain coming out of my back from my lung. Wheeled back to the ward. The pain begins. The best head and neck surgeon worldwide has never seen this. My chyle duct has burst. He has no explanation. They chat about what to do. Move me to St. Thomas’s to operate again.
At least I can breathe.
Mary is in the bed next to me. She is old, has cancer, a voice box and can’t speak. The nurses are kind to her and shout so that she can hear. Mary can’t look after herself anymore. Mary’s mouth was always open, her legs were so skinny. We never spoke, we never even acknowledged each other. Not for any particular reason – manners go out of the window in hospital. The lady to the left was ill. She had had surgery twice and chemo was about to begin again. She slept lots.
Then there was the crazy Persian lady opposite who drove the doctors and nurses mad. She shouted lots and complained all the time. She wanted to get back to her husband who she cared for.
So reality hit, after an amazing few weeks traveling around Asia reality hit. Nil by mouth. 7.30am rise at the Royal Marsden. I would be third in line they said. I should go in a 11am. My Mum, my best friend and my boyfriend all there. They drank tea while I salivated. We played shit head; so much shit head. 1pm came, more shit head. 3pm came more shit head. Finally at 4pm, they called me.
Anyone that’s had an op knows that that bit is grim, waiting outside theatre to go in knowing that you will be out of control and cut.
I got back to the ward at midnight, a long old day for my loved ones. The op had taken longer due to scar tissue. By all accounts went well. Renata the lovely kind nurse called came in through the night. I was in and out of it and pretty sore.
The bed was too short , my feet poked out of the end. I had a sheet and what felt like a towel for a blanket. The drip, the cannula, the smell.
the ocean is good for processing