Day Surgery

My day surgery was for a lumpectomy (Wide Local Excision) and a Sentinal Node Biopsy.

I found this to be a very chicken factory production type experience.  I don't mean to criticise the nurses and doctors in any way, as the process works, but it was all a little bewildering and I would have preferred to have been a little more prepared for what I was about to experience.  This was my experience in my hospital and yours may differ.

Firstly let me say that I was delighted it was Day Surgery, being able to come home and sleep in my own bed was amazing.  If you have ever had a hospital stay you know how hard it is to sleep and how "ill" hospital makes you feel!

This is how my day went:-

I was given a time to be there by, together with instructions on when to stop eating and drinking.  The night before I made sure I had a huge meal at the stop eating time, as from previous surgery experience I know what its like to be starved in the morning.  I also drank as much as possible with a good pint of water on the stop drinking time.

My husband came with me to "check in" at 7.15am.  We joined a queue of people all doing the same and were told to take a seat.  This was a waiting room that was obviously not just for breast surgery, as all types of people were already sitting waiting.  It was very busy. The atmosphere was quite tense, people were sitting waiting for something very unnerving about to happen and we were all just sat waiting for our inevitable turn. After about 30 minutes, some names got called and people stood up and joined the nurse that called their names, we couldn't tell if their companions were allowed to go with them.  I didn't want Lee to leave my side, I needed him with me.  I was scared.  We waited again.  Eventually my name was called after about an hour, it was a very long hour.  We stood up and joined our nurse.  She told us to say our goodbyes to our companions.  I found that so hard, Lee had tears in his eyes, so did I, I was choking up.  I wanted him by my side, I wasn't sure that I could cope with this on my own.  I headed through the door and turned to look at him, he had such a sad look on his face, I welled up.  We are very lucky in that we hate to be separated (unless we've argued of course, then he could go take a running jump!!).  But this was being enforced and didn't feel right.  I followed the nurse along with the other day case patients.  We went into a ward that had only chairs, no beds.  It looked like a typical Chemotherapy type ward.  Very weird feeling. I was led to chair number One.  Good sign I thought.  I sat down and looked around, I spotted my name on a board, together with other names, it looked like we were grouped by surgeon.  I was top of the list, thank goodness, less waiting around was what I was hoping for.  A very proficient nurse appeared with my file and did all the check list questions, took my BP and blood sugar test.  Then disappeared.  She reappeared to do the lady in the chair next to me.  Other nurses attended to the other patients.  Then people started being taken off.  I just sat there.  Eventually a nurse appeared and said my Surgeon would be down soon to have a pre-surgery chat and check with me.  Then I would go for the Radioactive injection needed to trace the way to my Sentinol nodes in my armpit.  I waited about 45 mins more and was then ushered into the ward that had beds.  The curtains were drawn around and my surgeon came in.  He asked to examine me and to mark up my surgery points with a pen.  He started to mark the wrong boob!  "Good start!" said I and giggled, he apologised profusely.  It didn't bother me but I did double check the correct one was drawn on!!  He told me surgery time would be around 1.30pm.  That seemed like a very long wait. I was then moved back to my chair in the other room.  I started chatting to the lady in the chair next to me, she was in for a lumpectomy too and she had been told her time was 3pm.  So she was after me and I was first!  I was relieved about that.  But then at about 8.45am a nurse came and took her down to nuclear meds for her Radioactive injection before me!  I found this hard to cope with, I could not imagine sitting in this chair for hours and hours and hours filled with nothing but waiting.  I did have my Kindle with me, but I couldn't really concentrate on reading. Time ticked slowly by.  I felt very lonely and somewhat abandoned.  There was now only me and one other guy in the Chair ward.  I felt desolate.  Eventually at 9.45am a porter came to fetch me and take me to Nuclear Meds, there I met the lady that had been in the chair next to me, she had had a wire inserted as well as the injection, which was the reason she went down before me.  I sat next to her and we chatted, then we heard music coming from the scanning room, it was Queen, we looked at each other with disbelief and said at the same time "Who wants to live forever"??? Surely not!!  We laughed out loud, realising that it was actually a different Queen song, thank goodness!  After about 30 mins I got called in for my injection.  As it was Radioactive the dye was handed over through double lock windows, all very highly precise.  Then the Radiographer, just stuck the needle in my boob, which did not hurt, just the usual "sharp scratch", she told me that it now had to work its way towards my nodes and to help this I needed to massage my boob every 5 minutes for the next 30 mins.  I duly nodded and trotted off back to the waiting room and sat next to my friend.  The waiting room was now very full of people, both men and women and a man had been positioned in a wheel chair, facing me.  The horrid realisation hit me that I now had to stick my hand down my front and massage my boob in front of everyone.  I sighed deeply.  How could I do that?!!  What the hell would these men be thinking?  Then I just thought, to hell with it, I have to do it!  So every 5 minutes I stuck my hand down my top and gave my boob a good old fertle!!!  It was very indignant.   After 45 mins a porter came for me and my friend and took us back up to the Chair ward.  We were then moved through to the Bed ward and allocated a bed.  We were also told that our times had been moved back, mine was now 2.30pm.  It was about 11.45 now.  2.30pm seemed a lifetime away.  To add insult to injury the staff started talking about lunch.  Then to our total dismay, lunch started arriving for them, including trays of chips, which smelled like the most amazing chips that had ever been cooked ever!! We were seriously considering mugging them.  Time moved slowly along, we read and chatted and watched people come back from their surgery and go for their surgery.  About 1.30pm the Anesthetist came to chat with me, went through all the check list and explained what would happen.  My time of 2.30pm was still on, thank goodness. It was a very very long wait from 7.15am.    Finally they came to get me, about 2.25pm.  I lay now on the table ready to go under the anesthetic, nice guy put the plastic thing over my nose and mouth and said it would smell a bit plasticy and new.  I found it gross!! It made my nose itch and tingle like mad.  It was like sticking your head right inside a brand new beach ball.  I needed to take it off, my body was saying no!  The guy noticed and pulled it off asking if I was OK, I told him that if my kids ever put something like that over their mouths I would have told them off!  Then they added something to my cannula and I drifted into that wonderful deep sleep that anesthesia brings!  But I did note they did not ask me to count backwards, I feel they just wanted to shut me up!!!

What on earth are you doing woman?  There is a woman wiping my lips with water and asking me to wake up!  Why are you doing that? Go away!  This sleep is lovely, be off with you! Reluctantly I rouse a little more and my brain recognises that they need to see me awake. God damn it!  I open an eye and the nurse says "that's better".  They leave me to come round for a while, not sure how long, then they are ready to move me back to the ward.  This was the part I was not looking forward to, coming round and getting home.

I lay on my bed for as long as I can without moving or waking too much.  Just lying here is nice and pain free as the anesthetic is still in my body.  After a while a nurse comes over and asks me if I would like a cup of tea and a piece of toast.  Jolly civilised I feel, so I accept. Rather lovely of her she brings me two cups because they are only small.  Best tasting tea and toast ever!   They sit me up a bit and I am surprised that I can move fairly easily, I am not wrapped up in a million bandages and best, best, best of all I have no drains! Hurrah, having had a drain after one of my caesareans I am not a great fan!  I shift in my bed and can see the clock, it seems to be about 5.45pm.  I wonder if they have called Hubby yet? I wonder what time I can go home?  I know I need to go whilst I am still drugged up as I won't feel the effects of the car journey so badly.  I relax for a little longer.  Around 6.30pm the nurse asks me if I would like to get up and sit in the chair and then maybe try getting dressed, but very gently.  I agree, I just want to go home now and get into my own bed.  Getting up goes very well, nothing is hurting but I am aware that is because of the drugs in my system, so I go very carefully.  I get dressed too.  In my carefully chosen soft front fastening crop bra, button fronted PJ top that could pass for a blouse and a pair of jogging bottoms.  I thought I had still had my paper surgery knickers on, but couldn't find them, but when I got home I realised I had put my own knickers on over the top of them!  My arm was fairly mobile which surprised me as I had a Sentinel Node Biopsy done and I had thought it would be more restricted.  I only had those cling film type dressings on, so there was nothing bulky, which was good.  I heard one of the nurses phone my husband.  It was looking good, I would be home soon.  I think he arrived about 8.30pm, not long after my Surgeon also appeared to give a quick run down of the surgery, he said it all went well and it looked to him like I wouldn't need any further surgery, and that he just removed two nodes for inspection, so he was very pleased.  That was a relief, but we wouldn't know for sure until the results are back.  I was then free to go, Hubby got me in a wheelchair and off we went.  The wonderful feel of fresh air on my face outside was a joy.  Journey home was not too bad, for anyone that has travelled home after surgery you know how enormous a 2cm pothole is, let alone a drain cover!!  By 9.15pm I was back home and in my own freshly made bed.  That is a joyous feeling that cannot be overrated!  Recovery time now ahead.

Quick Timetable Day Surgery  
7.15 -  check-in
8.00 -  move to Chair Ward
9.00 -  Surgeon chat and mark up
9.45 -  Move to Nuclear Meds for injection
11.30 - Allocated a bed
13.30 - Chat with Anesthetist
14.30 - Surgery
17.30 - Back on Bed ward
20.45 - Discharged

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