About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer and an artist who was made in Soho and thereafter born in the heart of London. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children and grandchildren whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life, has a degree in Film and Television, and has exhibited her artwork in several exhibition.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Ippa-dippa-dation My Operation - By Holly Searle

For Nicole and Luke.

First of all, I am glad that I am writing this blog, as at one point after my op, I honestly thought I was going to die.

However, I didn't, so let me tell you what happened.

Monday 2 July we arrive my first born and I at the designated hospital at the time requested (7.30am). We see a succession of people, all of whom will play a part in my 8 hour op.

Lara, the aesthetician was first up. She tells me that according to my body and bone scan, the cancer in localized to my breast. I cry. It's the news I had wanted to hear, especially before this op.

I feel more positive about it all, even though this 8 hour op is not something I am looking forward to. My greatest fear, is of course that I will die on the table and never wake up. I have made my will and sorted out my life insurance so that my children will find this all easier to negotiate
if I do.

My breast surgeon is next. He and I do not think the same and this often means that he says things in a a way which annoy me. His heart is in the right place, but he is a classic example of one of those highly intelligent individuals who have no people skills at all.

So when he tells me that my scans are Unremarkable and I say `Well that’s good isn’t it?` He says `It just means that there is no great mass of cancer anywhere else.` I say `You’re not filling me with positivity, I feel like going home.`To which he replys `Please don’t do that.`

I decide to flag his poor pre op exchange with the head theatre nurse as she is next. My daughter confirms our bizarre exchange and she says that she is sorry and that she will mention it and that just so I know, these surgeons ARE really the very best.

I say, please don’t mention before the op.

My daughter and I hug each other. We both cry. I am fecking terrified. We walk to the Terry Gilliam styled lift. The nurse tells my daughter she can’t come with us any further. I say `What!` I tell my daughter I love her. The lift door closes and we head inch by inch closer to my op.

In the anti chamber I again meet Lara and her colleague. They say Holly we are glad when we start the day with people like you. They place needles in veins and a mask over my face and tell me not to worry if I feel drowsy. I think this is it and then I am out and everyone else is worrying instead.

8 hours later I wake up in recovery.

The taste in my mouth is vile and I am hot. Profusely so.

I am covered in a huge bubble wrap blanket that is heating my body. To ensure the living tissue that has been taken from my tummy and used to reconstruct my new breast is kept alive. It needs to be kept warm and the blanket is there for this purpose.

I am so thirsty and the nurse says yes please try and sip and small amount of water. I try but I am sick and throw it up. I try again. It happens again. This goes on for a worrying amount of time, so much so that my transfer is delayed to ward especially after it is discovered that one of my three drains has fallen out.

I have 3 drains. One each from the post operable sites: tummy, breast, lymph nodes. The drains drain excess fluids off of wounds after the op until the dip eases up.

I have one from my lymph nodes, because the histology was borderline with regards to prognosis of further cancer in those that remind. So I took the decision to have them all taken out just in case.

The doctor checks the drain site of the one that has fallen out. She says it’s fine. However, this has delayed me by an hour. I finally transfer to the ward at 8pm.

My children are there. I am glad to see them, but still aware of the taste and my inability to drink and keep any water down.

I know that you can go for some time without food, but fluid, well that’s a different story all together. I am starting to worry.

Hospital wards run on a 24 hour rota with shift changes divided into two 12 hour shifts. These begin and run from 8am – 8pm and 8pm - 8am.

I have arrived as handover is taking place. This is where my care began to go down hill a bit.

My nurse is stressed and she has obviously NOT understood my issues. She needs to do my observations ever hour; temperature, heart rate, and the application of the ultrasound to ensure that the blood flow is strong and healthy in my new breast.

But I also have leg pumps on which mimic walking whilst I am laying down. These are to prevent a blood clot. Mine will not work. I keep telling her and they try three machines none of which work. It isn’t until the following day that this is sorted out.

I am still throwing up water literally my the bucket loads of which, at one point I have several balanced on my body whilst I wait for the nurse to return. I start to panic and at one point she says `Look I have other patients to see.` I don’t ask her for anything else after that, but I stay awake for most of the night wondering if this awful experience has been in vain. I worry that my phone will pack up as it is my only link to people who will believe me. I text two friends as I need help.

I start to cry and the nurse tells me to stop crying as I will just cause myself more issues. I don’t like her at all.

The next day the new shift begins. I am so thankful.

I am still having issues with fluids. Various doctors and people visit. At some point the nursing team try and get me out of bed and I tell them I am only to faint. I do and am put back to bed.

My friend visits with my brother. My head feels like it is full of cotton wool. I am finding it hard to focus. I explain about the previous night. I know I look terrible as I know my friend as well as I know myself. So when she says `...You’re looking...a bit, ...oh no, I think it’s the blue curtain.` She can’t fool me.

Dread increases as I head towards the 8pm shift change as I feel absolutely shit. But then she came and saved me.

Nicole is an angel. She appears and says to me `I am here to take care of you tonight. I am going to do just that.` and she does. And it’s good that she does because I slowly go downhill and the night becomes the early hours. Lack of fluid, sleep and food have all taken their toll on my body as I start to shake as much so that they worry about my heart and take all sorts of readings and blood tests.

I am in so much pain. Imagine the worst period pain ever and times it by a million, it’s that bad. I worry that I will die. I say to Nicole and Luke the night doctor `Please don’t let me die.` The pain is so bad I actually think death might be a better option as this isn’t right.

Nicole and Luke do EVERYTHING for me, and give EVERYTHING to me. They eventually give me Morphine and I sleep.

When I wake up the pain has gone and I feel human again. I have also had a drip so my fluids are better. It’s a beautiful morning and I start to feel more like myself.

That’s all the bad bits.

My blood results indicated that my heart was okay.

After five days I really wanted to come home and so I did with one drain in situ.

That’s now gone.

My pain is okay now. I can now walk, but cannot stand up straight yet. My wounds are all healing and this week I will find out what next.

The cosmetic bit has been done and the cancer removed and sent to histology. This week I will be told what grade the cancer they took away was and how they will further eradicate it.

I will keep you posted.

This is what I have learnt.

I will never take anything for granted again. I will never moan about my body. And I will ALWAYS trust my instincts.

I have also learnt how loved I am and how every text, voice mail, email, card and calls you have all sent or taken the time to make, have carried me through this.

I am so, so grateful.

Thank you all so very very much.

In order to climb a wall you need support to get over it.

Thank you, literally, forever.

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