Monday, 30 July 2012

Drain-free and Home

Sitting in my own bed, with my new pyjamas on, drinking tea out of my own cup. Exhausted.

Coming home has brought with it  a whole lot of conflicting emotions. As my friend J put it so well - I have come home to the same old same old yet I am not the same. In Hospital you are removed from reality and what has happened to you fits in that space - but once out, you start to process what has happened and it doesn't seem to fit quite the same.

The day started very early as usual and my anticipation anxiety around the drain removal was high. The Registrar and student Dr's came in for their last check. I appreciated her honesty when I questioned her about the drain removal (I had conducted quite a large survey about this - not always the best thing to do). She admitted that she had no personal experience but that she had had many reports to say that it was tolerable.
I gladly took the offer of the the two heavy duty pain killers and then laid back with earphones  in to try and  relax.

It was at this point I really regretted not being more diligent in my meditation practise but grateful for the power of analgesics.

So the moment arrived. In came the nurse educator with another nurse, Marcel, who I assumed was fairly new on the job. She asked if it was OK if she took out one drain and he took out the other. With no concerns for anyone's feelings but mine I refused and requested that she did both. A small exercise of power.

Now I don't know if the drugs masked the pain but it was far less traumatic than I anticipated.
First they take out the little stitch and then 5 deep breaths and on the fifth out it came. Now I will never know if Marcel would have done a good job but he certainly got full marks  in the hand holding test.

 I am not sure where this anxiety comes from because nearly everything that has been done to me has hurt less than expected - with the exception of the needles under the nipples  and at least  I will never ever have  to experience that again.

So with drains out I felt released. Everything felt better.  The shower was the next stop. An untethered wash is truly a glorious thing. With nothing to distract me, I did spend some time looking at my new chest. It is getting easier each time. There are bits of my upper body that I haven't really seen for a very long time  - they were covered by 2 saggy boobs. Or maybe it is just that I can see them from a new perspective - looking down.

It doesn't scare me as much and Dr Dave is right - he has done a good job.

No such thing as a late checkout with hospital beds. Once I was marked "for discharge" my bed was quickly reallocated and I was moved - with all the stuff I had accumulated into a quiet room to await my ride home. As I zipped up my suitcase, I realised just what I state I must have been in the night before my surgery. I have no idea when I thought I would wear the 4 different outfits, the 8 pairs of undies and the 4 singlet tops that I packed. Denial - I was packing for a weekend away.

My gorgeous friend E and her mum arrived to take me home.

So after 5 days, one hell of a life altering experience and the very best the public health system has to offer ( with the exception of the boiled brussel sprouts) I was ready to leave the cocoon of my hospital ward and head home.
Getting into the car I had my first sense of being different. It was a weird feeling as I experienced my new body interact with the familiar.
E checked if the seat belt was OK and I replied we were fine as long as she didn't stop suddenly.

As we drove along I had a sense that something was missing and then of course I remembered - I had left my boobs at the hospital.

 I can't explain it but I was really aware of the vulnerability of my body.

I arrived home to be greeted by N and a clean house. I think he was glad to have me home. I sense that he is unsure of how he should treat me and that he is concerned about any pain I may be in.  ( he has just bought me in a cup of tea and my hot water bottle)

The whole transition to home was exhausting and E and her mum tucked me into bed and  I slept.

I am glad to be home even if the emotions have been a surprise.

My challenge as always will be take my own advice and remember that even though there are only 2 very neat and clean wounds on my chest, the trauma to the area underneath has been enormous. My body is working continuously to heal itself.

Sleep and rest will be my best friends - along with  all the amazing people who are rostered on to look after me this week.

The cup of tea is finished so I guess that means it is time for my first nights sleep with my new body in my old bed.

As always...

P xx


  1. P,
    You take 8 pairs of undies on a weekend away? I think your holidays might be different to mine!

  2. Wish I could have been there for you. Hope you are coping with the post discharge blues xoxoGab

  3. The trauma is huge and it will hurt - don't be a hero and take those pain meds, OK?
    Sending you love, Amelia.