The best way to make sure they don’t chop off the wrong tit is to use a magic marker.

Since I last blogged I have got used to not being chemically poisoned (at least directly) every 3 weeks and undergone major surgery. It became clear that whilst the chemo had done the trick in shrinking the tumour in my breast and lymph nodes a mastectomy was still going to be the wisest option. I wasn’t devastated by this. I hadn’t imagined that chemo would mean I could choose breast conserving surgery and none of the medical team had indicated at any point that this would be the case so I was ready for my mastectomy.

I went into hospital early morning of the 11th June, my wife’s birthday. I am a bit annoyed that my mastectomy was on my wife’s birthday. Not because it ruined her day; it’s just one birthday and it couldn’t be helped, but because it means that in the future I am unlikely to forget the date of the op. Normally I forget the details of such things almost instantly. There was a lot of waiting to do. I did an awful lot of sitting around talking too loudly and far too jollily and probably pissing off all the poorly people on the ward.

Boring things like blood pressure and temperature were taken. I was given one of those awful open backed gowns to eventually change into. Several hours after I arrived a doctor turned up. We had a chat about what was going to happen and then he got a Sharpie and drew a massive arrow on my chest pointing at my right breast and wrote Mx ANC 3 on it. Brilliant! I bloody loved that bit. All that medical prowess and technology and actually the best way to make sure they don’t chop off the wrong tit is to use a magic marker.

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Several hours passed until eventually, at around 5pm, Kenny came to take me down to theatre. I wasn’t allowed to walk which I wasn’t thrilled about. I like to be conspicuously healthy and independent wherever possible. As the anaesthetist struggled to get a cannula into my now shy and uncooperative veins Casper the friendly surgeon came to say hi, check I was still happy to go ahead and double check that they’d marked up which breast he was to take off. I checked that he was feeling ok and had had a fag. I didn’t want Casper the friendly surgeon getting nicotine withdrawal in the middle of my mastectomy.

The next thing I knew I was being wheeled back upstairs and being offered a cup of tea. My first words after coming round were “Have I got a drain in?” I was hoping I didn’t have to have a wound drain but it was not to be. I obviously make a lot of fluid so a wound drain there was. Thankfully I was prepared with a rather nifty Cath Kidston fabric drain bag to carry it around in. For the uninitiated a wound drain is a tube that is sewn into you, near your wound, that drains yellowy bloody fluid out of you and into a plastic bag. It is not pretty and is much improved if you keep it in a pretty cotton bag with flowers on it. The drain bag also sits over your shoulder which means that you don’t forget to drag it with you when you go to the loo which is apparently an excruciating mistake.

I had my cup of tea, got out of that horrid hospital gown ASAP and put on my own nightshirt and employed the drain bag. By 10:40pm I was having my second cup of tea and some toast. I’d been nil by mouth since midday and was ravenous.

I was amazed that I could use my arm. I’d expected to be severely incapacitated but far from it. I could drink my tea no problem and wasn’t in any pain. When the nurse asked if I needed pain relief I said I was thinking of pinching myself as I couldn’t feel a thing. After the tea and toast I got out my eye mask and ear plugs, shut out the rest of the ward and went back to sleep. If you ever have to stay in hospital take an eye mask and ear plugs. They will save your sanity.

Sitting here, 10 days after my op and thinking about waking up the next day, there are tears in my eyes. On the morning of 12th June 2014 I woke feeling utterly elated. For the first time in 6 months I was waking up without what I knew to be a massive great cancerous tumour in my breast. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and I had been given yet more tea and toast. I could have danced.

I still feel great about it. The dressings have come off, the drain has come out and things seem to be going well. I am a bit swollen and starting to hurt a bit but I have paracetamol and exercises to help me regain full mobility. Apart from heavy lifting and hoovering I can pretty much use my arm normally.

I don’t have a right breast anymore. This is true. It’s ok though. It’s not as weird as you might think. I was keen to have a look ASAP and it’s a very neat scar. My wife and my mum both had a look and we’ve all oohed and ahhed at it and given it a prod. It’s quite cool actually.

It’s amazing that you can cut off a breast and heal and be ok. My body is amazing.

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