As you all know by now, I have visited a LOT of hospitals (NHS and private) but King Edward VII in Marylebone is definitely a cut above: it’s certainly the only one where a doorman in a top hat has greeted me like I was arriving at The Ritz.
It was clear to see why it’s the hospital of choice for the Royal Family. The staff are incredibly courteous and attentive and the food … my God, it’s like eating in a restaurant.
The operation itself (because sadly I hadn’t just visited on a mid-week City break) also went very well and the external scarring is amazingly minimal considering the extent of the surgery.
They just made tiny little cuts across my pelvis and in my navel and pulled everything out from below. I actually thought I’d be quite sore ‘downstairs’ but not in the slightest. I clearly have the most expert of surgeons. He must have whisked it all out through my lady-parts like a magician removing a table-cloth.
In the end, I only stayed in hospital the one night. I could’ve stayed two but I was making such good progress – standing up, walking OK (albeit very gingerly) – that I decided to come home. However, I did make sure I had my 3-course dinner first …
The real discomfort of the first few days was from (i) bruising and cuts to the abdominal muscle – a bit like I’d done too many sit ups – and (ii) the effect of the CO2 they pump in to inflate your abdomen during laparoscopic surgery and the anaesthetic/painkillers.
The CO2 irritates your diaphragm which then, weirdly, causes horrible shoulder pain. The more you move, the worse it gets and you just have to wait for it to leave your system – which can take a couple of days. The painkillers and anaesthetic also slow your digestion to a grinding halt, which is bloody uncomfortable as well as anti-social: I felt like a bruised and bloated balloon slowly deflating and leaking gas …
I was also bored. Really bored. I was uncomfortable, incredibly tired and couldn’t settle to anything – so reading or watching television was only in short bursts. I’d wake up early, potter about and then need a nap … like a small child or a pensioner.
Thankfully, that has now passed and I was looking forward to enjoying some alfresco catch-ups with friends in the garden under the gazebo. Except … I wasn’t the only victim of wind last weekend.
Sadly, the inclement weather saw the ‘Winey House’ break free of its moorings and take off like a big sail across the garden; its mangled frame, snapped.
Fortunately, help was at hand. My friend JR came round with a couple of assistants. JR might only be (almost) five but he was very quick to cast his critical eye over the situation and direct his father in the deployment of power tools.
I was very grateful for his expertise and for the cold instruction to purchase “better” garden games … although the Space Hopper that lives in the shed did meet with approval.
Which brings me to yesterday. I’d received a call on Monday from my consultant’s secretary to say that my biopsy results were in and that he had a cancellation if I’d like to come to the consulting rooms and see him in person. Obviously, I said yes.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t good news. But it wasn’t the worst news either.
The biopsy results confirmed that the atypical complex hyperplasia was not limited to the earlier polyp and was extensive inside my womb lining. In short, the diagnosis was Stage 1 endometrial cancer.
Fortunately, this early diagnosis – based on there being no indication that the cells had yet invaded other parts of the reproductive or lymphatic system – means that I don’t need to have any further immediate treatment, like radiotherapy. I’ve already had everything removed.
However, just to be on the safe side I will have a CT scan of my complete torso in a few weeks’ time and will be monitored closely with regular check-ups.
There are some other genetic and hormone test results pending too. There is an outside chance that I might have a rare genetic abnormality called Lynch Syndrome, which is evidenced in a strong familial tendency towards certain cancers - including womb cancer and bowel cancer (from which my Dad died).
It’s possible, I suppose. However, I suspect it’s more likely to be that bitch Oestrogen again. I’m finding her ominous presence quite wearing now: like a ninja assassin constantly lurking in the shadows.
Nonetheless, while I’m very upset to receive my second cancer diagnosis in nine years (and still under the age of 50), I still feel incredibly fortunate. Fortunate that I got referred quickly at new year and fortunate that I had the private medical cover in place to expedite surgery.
If I’d waited those extra two months to get surgery on the NHS (as I was no longer priority, as they didn’t think additional abnormalities would be found beyond the polyp), who knows what the outcome might have been? It’s a sobering thought.