Patricia Brown Clinic

'LIFE' Blog

'LIFE' Blog

The 'Happy' Biopsy

Posted on May 19, 2016 at 11:50 AM

Friday 7th August was the day of the biopsy, where I was to have a small operation to remove a lymph node or two in my neck to confirm which cancer we were dealing with. I even got the choice of which side I wanted it taking from, left or right. Like a lucky dip really, eeeny-miney-mo, I mean really how do you decide? But I went for the left, this side was particularly lumpy and I hated the feel of this one lump that seemed to stick out of another, so I didn't mind that been whipped out, it had well overstayed its welcome in my opinion so the left side it was.

I had to be at the day ward for about 10.30, I couldn't eat a few hours before but could of ate a light continental breakfast at 7, which I did, some cold cooked meats, croissants, some fruit. Now in hospital terms when they say 'continental breakfast' they mean light breakfast. Most probably have a slice of toast, a light spread of Utterly Butterly and job done, unlike me who did continental properly, I might as well of been sitting in a little French town sipping my café au lait, reading the papers with while eating my croissant. If they said continental why not do it? The nurse found this hilarious that I did go all out continental style when asked what I had eaten that morning. My mum and partner came the hospital with me, dad was picking us up later. I could have my last drink around 10 so we went Costa Coffee in the hospital and I had my final cup of tea. As we were sitting in Costa, we saw two of mine and my partner's good friends. Again that little piece of normality during the crazy cancer train ride does a lot for you, a friendly chat, a joke and a hug off those close to you really helps. So after that was over it was off to the ward. Cue another diva moment. I had been told over the phone when been booked in for my operation, that someone could come with you on the ward, wait with you, even go down to theatre with you, they made it sound like they would just stop short at handing the surgeon the scalpel! Now when you suffer from a medical phobia, this does put your mind at rest, that a friendly face can be with you throughout. So when I got to the check in desk and told nobody could be with you, this was my stress trigger, and a small diva like tantrum may of followed. As it turned out the nurse who this was aimed at, we soon bonded, I may of told her I loved her at one point, I did demand she came down theatre with me and she even left me a little note as she had gone off shift when I came round. Just shows, you may hear bad stories, but there truly are some remarkable NHS staff out there.

So once this was over my mum and partner were directed to a waiting room. I to the ward and to make myself comfortable in the chair next to the bed. The ward was a ladies ward with women of all ages, I remember a girl in the corner of the room who looked a similar age to me, we constantly would look nervously across at each other. It was a shame really that we weren't in the next bed as I could tell we were both feeling the same, but we would of had to shout across the room so instead it was the odd anxious look at each other or reassuring smile. It was at this time that 'medical phobia' was officially put on my records. I have learnt I am, well a little bit odd in the medical sense. I have hot ears, one is 1 degree hotter than the other, not reliable when doing my temperature, when I am nervous my blood pressure goes sky high, my temperature goes up, my pulse rate races. Basically I was a tricky customer, with those facts I wasn't likely to be able have surgery, my temperature made it look like I had infection, my blood pressure was just too high. The nurse knew this was all nerves so she was determined to get me calm, she hauled over a large fan to blast on me, she resorted to putting the blood pressure machine on and walking away from me, as she was convinced just the sight of her uniform was sending it up. It worked it slowly started to come down and I was calming and then... the ladies who'd had their operations were wheeled in, semi unconscious from the anaesthetic. Not good, yes maybe not bad seeing people like this when you've had your operation done but not before while your waiting! So over the nurse came to check me and again and what do you know ears were smouldering, blood pressure going up and up, understandably she was shocked, she had been making progress with me and so asked why I had got all panicked again. As I pointed out when you are waiting to go in for your operation and you keep wheeling people past who have come out of surgery looking like the living dead what do you expect! Knowing that's going be me in a couple of hours time. There was now nothing calm about me. So the head anaesthetist had to come down check me out and they decided I was fit for surgery, probably far better knocked out. I also relaxed when I jokingly asked if I could have gas and was quite shocked when they told me yes, it was usually for kids, but yes. I even had a choice of flavours. My surgeon came in telling me 'there's far too much hilarity in this cubicle miss brown' he was one cool man, he checked which side I wanted the node taking from and he marked me up, as he was about to leave I said "doctor one thing about this tubing business" (sometimes you need a drain attached to the wound, I don't know the ins and outs of it, prefer not to know. But I knew this wasn't for me, I didn't want to wake up with some contraption stuck to my neck) "Tubing business Miss Brown?" me "yes tubing, that drain I don't want it, not for me that" "I'll have you out of here today with no tubing business" my thankful reply "thank you doctor, I'll see you in a min, well I wont see you, I'll be out of it, but you'll see me, sorry if I look weird asleep, see you in a min, well sort of..." see the nervous constant talk had started "see you Miss Brown" he replied while quickly walking away from me, probably thinking thank god we cant do her operation while she's awake.

Then I was handed the theatre gown and surgery stockings, these were a task in themselves to get on and the lovely nurse tucked me into bed and gave me a 'calming pill'. I was told just relax this will make you feel all relaxed and sleepy, that I'd probably be out of it anyway by the time I got to theatre. Perfect, just what I wanted, to have no idea what was going on and wake up with it all done. There was 30 minutes until theatre time, so I closed my eyes, and unbelievably felt quite chilled out....

It could of only been a minute if that and the curtain was whipped open and a phillapino nurse said 'we ready for you now" I shouted back "No! No! I'm not chilled yet! I'm not relaxed!" she was that taken aback and shocked by my reaction that she asked if she wanted me to come back later. "Yes please, in about half an hour". Well sorry to say hospitals don't work like this and before I know it in come a team getting the bed ready to wheel me off, I'm shouting out to my favourite nurse saying "I don't like it now" she's racing after me as I'm been wheeled down saying "don't worry I'm coming with you". Not as though you ever want to be in that situation, but I assume some people are wheeled to theatre and out of it, no awareness of what is going on, I on the other hand was fully aware, the chill pill hadn't worked and I was completely aware I was been wheeled through corridors as people passed by. Now had I wanted to do the doom and gloom I could tell you how I spent these minutes terrified, praying in my head, wondering over what I would do if it was cancer. But this is me. Instead I felt conscious of what to do when people passed, should I wave like the Queen on a procession through the streets of London? Should I pretend to be ill, but cartoon like, think when the Old King Toad died in the Shrek film, his eyes bulging now and then and his tongue sticking out. Should I pretend to be asleep? Should I just simply say hi? As if on a dog walk and just doing the polite hello to passers by? I said "how embarrassing, cant I just walk to theatre?" but as the nurse pointed out that hospital gown had a split right down the back, so flaunting my bum and knickers through the hospital corridors might not be a good look either. Fair point. As we got to the last corridor I was handed a hair net to cover my hair, this made me think of a comment my dad made (we all like to attach humour to anything, even the bad times) he had said "they'll be wheeling you back like Anne Boleyn" have to say as I tucked my long dark hair into the hair cap, to get it out of the way of my neck, ready for the surgeon to make his cut, well I guess there was the odd similarity. You are wheeled into a small room, where another nurse waits for you, I was here for a few minutes with this nurse, and she tries to put you at ease with pleasant conversation, she even offered me to see the operating theatre, good god no! I wanted to be out of it before I went in there, I think I may of passed out had I seen it. It sort of reminded me of the show 'Stars in Your Eyes' you are lying in your bed facing some white double doors, I had visions of as they wheel people in, they go through in a cloud of smoke, and a booming voice shouts "Tonight Matthew its..." maybe I have a vivid imagination. Soon enough my nurse from the ward was by my side too and the anaesthetist had come in, another great character. As I said I had chose the gas mask as my method of knock out procedure, so they gave me the mask and told me to inhale gently and off I'd go. Most people probably but again, this is me. First I had to quiz the anaesthetist on a very important thing, waking up on the operating theatre. "I've heard about it on tv where people wake up during operations, I don't want wake up in there, or they wake up to the point of been able sense what is happening but can't talk. That isn't happening, how sure are you that it wont happen? I want to be completely out of it, snoring in fact by the time you wheel me in there" I liked this anaesthetist, he joked that he wouldn't get paid if I woke up, so I had no worries as he wanted the money. I tried to breathe into the mask but apparently I did it wrong, I ended up with a nurse holding each hand the anaesthetist telling me "Just relax, you will be so happy" then I had to question if id feel dizzy before I was asleep, as I didn't like feeling dizzy "no you will just be happy, so happy! You will love it, you will want one for home if you could" then I had to question just how happy id be and if he was sure I really wouldn't feel dizzy. "Nurse pass me a mask" he said to the theatre nurse and she passed him a mask, not connected of course and he pretended he was breathing in, the final scene, me breathing in the mask, the anaesthetist breathing in his mask and both nurses mimicking they were breathing in a mask! But it worked, I remember a gentle push of the mask a little bit more firm on my face and I was gone, fast asleep and quite happy...

I came round from anaesthetic well, no tubing business either. I just remember been very, very thirsty. The nurse in recovery didn't really want me to drink so quick as I might feel sick, but I had no sickly feelings, I didn't feel groggy, just like I'd woke up from a good sleep, I hadn't had one of them for ages, so I actually felt quite refreshed. But I felt a desperation for water and I got through about 3 glasses, I had to have oxygen as my levels had got quite low, I was told, so probably that had made me feel thirsty. Had I wanted a good story to tell, to add some drama, I could of asked why, was it touch and go for awhile? But what is the point? The only thing that mattered was that I was awake and the task had been done. It really is so important during the cancer experience to not dwell on the what could of happened, all that matters is what has happened, don't worry about what could of been, this does not matter! Before I knew it I was back up on the day ward and after a round of toast and some sandwiches I was told I could go home and the best part seeing your family come to take you back home. Also realising that you have done it, another chapter in your cancer story done, another thing your were fearing, worrying over has been accomplished, another step to getting better done and just starting to realise what a tough cookie you are :)

Categories: Cancer and Me

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