Monday, 22 March 2021

See you later, ovulater ...

Tomorrow I’ll say goodbye to my entire reproductive system.

It’s a been a busy and unsettling few weeks but I now have a much better understanding of what needs to happen and the impact it might have.

My thoughts and feelings on having a total hysterectomy continue to fluctuate. For the most part, I think I’m quite dispassionate … I don’t really know how to feel. In other moments, though – less frequent, thankfully – I do allow myself a little cry. All perfectly normal and understandable, I know.

The isolating nature of our current Covid situation has obviously not helped. There is a real lack of direct access to advice, materials etc. and so I’ve had to hunt it down for myself. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have some useful resources, as do the Cancer Research and Macmillan websites.

However, by far the best site I’ve found is a US website and forum called ‘The Hyster Sisters’. It’s great. You register and put in your operation date and that puts you in a cohort of other ladies facing similar treatment and gives a ready support network. There are practical tips and videos too on how to prepare for the operation and what to expect post-surgery.

Forewarned is forearmed

Acting on the insights I have gained, I have:
  • Cleaned the whole flat. That won’t happen again for quite some weeks … operation or no operation.
  • Done a Tesco “big shop”. In particular, I’ve bought peppermint tea, chewing gum and dried figs … those painkillers can be ‘binding’.
  • Stocked up the freezer with home-made meals.
  • Moved everything I might need to access (clothes, toiletries, kitchen utensils etc) to within easy reach – i.e. no stretching or bending.
  • Bought a step to help me get in and out the bath/shower.
  • Bought a ‘litter-picker’ (extendable grabber) to pick up things I might drop and a long-handled dust-pan and brush. [Still not sure what I’m going to do about cat sick :-/ ]
  • Prepared my ‘recovery spaces’ – i.e. my lounge and bedroom – with plenty of cushions and pillows.
  • Made sure a few friends have keys to the flat, in case of emergency.
  • Cut the grass. This clearly wasn’t essential but, if I hadn’t, by the time I’d managed to get out there again Chris Packham would have been out there with a pair of binoculars.
  • Put up the ‘pop up’* gazebo. This definitely was essential. From 29 March, we (hopefully) will be able to meet groups of up to six people outside in the garden. We don’t want rain in our wine.
*The term ‘pop-up’ is clearly misleading. It did not ‘pop up’. It took a lot of WD-40, swearing and kicking. And now it is up, with the sides on – like a big white Wendy House – it looks like a crime scene tent from Silent Witness.

What happens next?

Obviously, a lot still needs to happen. Not least the operation itself but also some serious conversations about how my hormones should be managed to negate any future cancer-related issues.

So I’ve been in touch with The Royal Marsden’s breast cancer team and told them about my situation and given them the details of my gynaecology team at Queen Charlotte’s so that they can assess (based on upcoming histology/biopsy results) what drugs, if any, I should be on moving forward.

This might seem strange to people – especially those living outside a metropolitan area - that I’ve had to personally tell each respective hospital about my previous relevant treatment at the other. But the National Health Service, while a fantastic institution, is not actually ‘national’. In West London, for example, within just a few miles there are at least four different NHS Trusts – all with their own databases, patient records/numbers. It's certainly not joined up.

Nonetheless, I can’t fault the responsiveness and skill of the teams by which I’ve been treated. While I’ve opted to go private for this particular operation (to shorten my wait time), my surgeon is the same as for my polypectomy in February on the NHS.

What will be different will be the glamour of the surroundings. I’m going to be treated at King Edward VII Hospital in Marylebone, 'London's foremost private hospital' according to its website claim, which has only just said goodbye to Prince Phillip after his recent ill-health. So if it’s good enough for royalty then it’s good enough for me … and I’ve already been online to check out the sample room service menu!

I will keep you all informed on my progress and I continue to be truly overwhelmed by all your support. I've been incredibly touched by all the lovely messages (and gifts!) that I have received. Your good wishes really do mean a lot to me.

Kate x

No comments:

Post a comment