Reflections on motherhood...


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Going under the knife

I realise that this blog is starting to stray from "motherhood and apple pie" territory into "medical misadventure" territory.  But bear with me.  I'm hoping that this interruption in service will be over soon, and I can return to ranting about baby poop, sleep deprivation, and square carrots.

So there I am, back in hospital.  I've been given the medical third degree and my boob has been prodded and drawn on, and the Doctor says the large lump inside it is "indurated".  I think he says "injurated".  'What's that?' I ask, feeling a bit stupid.  He explains that it means that the tissue is inflamed and hard.  "Why use a fancy word when you can use a simple one?", I want to ask.  But then he's still prodding my breast so I keep my thoughts to myself.

I tell him I've already had some fluid extracted from it and that it should have been sent to the lab.  He goes out.  Then he comes back and excitedly delivers the news that the bug causing my mastitis is 'atypical' and that I've been on the wrong antibiotics.  I allow him just a moment of glory, thinking that he must feel like House.  "I thought so", I said.  I was conscious at this point of sounding a bit jaded, but jebus I'd been telling everyone who listened since I walked through the doors that morning to find those bloody lab results.  As the surgeon said to me as I was lying on the operating table (after another sensible suggestion), "you should work here".

He sends me for another ultrasound.  And lo and behold, there's another collection of fluid in there.  An abscess.  Before I know it, there's a surgeon standing over my bed, explaining that they're going to have to do surgery to drain the abscess, probably that night.  I sign the consent forms.  "Nice pen", I comment blithely, as if I sign consents to have my boobs cut open every day.

I get sent to a ward this time, a private room, complete with cage for Milkbaby and Lazy Boy lounger in the corner for the DH, who is being allowed to stay over to look after Milkbaby while I'm in surgery.  Milkbaby goes straight off to sleep, the DH curls up on the lounger in a romantic embrace with his iphone, and I try not to think about food.

Toast: not to be eaten quietly.
At about 12.30am a nurse comes in and tells me I'm not going for surgery that night and I can eat now.  "Awesome", I whisper, thinking that even a hospital meal would go down a treat.  "I'm afraid all I can offer you is some toast" she says.  She brings in three bits of dry toast, along with a knife and a selection of spreads.  I make a hash of spreading the toast in the dark, and then proceed to try and eat it as quietly as possible, so as not to wake Milkbaby.

"Honey, you won't feel like lunch once
we're finished with you."
I am finally wheeled off for surgery at 1pm the next day.  I have eaten three pieces of toast in the previous 36 hours.  Three.  "Save me lunch?" I say hopefully to the nurse as she hands me over to the theatre team.  The operating theatre looks just like the ones on TV: lots of people all wearing masks and scrubs, and bright overhead lights.  Last thing I remember is the anaesthetist saying she's going to give me something that's going to make me feel drunk.  I come round in the PACU (the Post Anaesthetic Care Unit).  Two nurses are hovering over me, one of them with short hair and tattoos, the other a trainee.
"Sure, why not?"

They ask if I'd like some pain relief, and when I say yes, proceed to give me three doses of morphine.  Three hours and three types of anti-nausea medication later, I'm seriously regretting the morphine, not to mention the surgery.  Lunch has long been taken away, and dinner is rapidly cooling on my side-table.  An officious nurse comes in and opens the curtains, and makes me get out of bed to pee, saying I'll feel better if I get up.  I don't want to admit it, but she was right.  She brings me dry toast, which I eat slowly and carefully, followed by dinner.

I bring myself to look down my gown.  The boob's still there.  Only there's a massive bandage covering it.  I'm wondering how I'm going to breastfeed with that thing there.  Then I realise the giant bandage is probably the least of my worries...

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