05/10/15- 16:30ish: I leave the ward behind me. I leave the hospital behind me. I leave one breast behind me and ahead of me I see the beginning of the road to recovery.
Collected by my carers, I’m carried the short distance home by ‘Kev’ Miss Macey’s marvellous Mini and it’s clear to me that while I was under, Team Nurse have been totally on top of things, shopping, preparing and cooking up a storm…of a Shepherd’s Pie.
Sleepy but happy I am surrounded by love. Messages of support flood in from family and friends, neighbours, colleagues and peers. I’m in no pain and I feel so very well.
The morning after the night before and I awake to find an anxious little face hovering over my bed. Fearful that in the cold light of day without the comforting dreamlike quality of the anaesthetic, reality might be nipping at my heels ready to trip and tumble me into a downward spiral.
But I’m feeling so very well. I feel no pain. I feel bruised and a slight discomfort but I feel great. No depression dogs at my back. And I feel great!
Nurse Luce begins to juice whilst reminding me it’s time for my physio. Nurse Macey captures my healing breast on camera whilst Nurse Luce reminds me it’s time for my physio. Team Nurse prepare a meal while Nurse Luce reminds me it’s time for my physio. We three friends take turns to pick a movie and ‘Nurse Ratched’ reminds me it is time to do my physio!!!
Late in the afternoon on day two of operation recuperation a knock at my door signals the arrival of my District Nurse.
Greeted by we three grinning faces my District Nurse utters the most unusual of openers “I’ve just realised, I’m a man” and as he is clearly in his mid to late forties this is a disturbing revelation indeed!
He attempts to clarify his position “I mean I’ve just realised that you’re a mastectomy and I’m a man” I usher him into my kitchen before he has an opportunity to further revoke any trust his uniform affords me.
With reassurance that I understand my body for now is like a national trust building-open to all, he gently removes my dressing checking the wound that marks the place my breast once sat.
Fear makes me look away.
Before he redresses my personal ground zero I ask him to describe what he sees. He paints me a picture as I gather up my courage in both eyes and allow my gaze to drift down towards my bare flattened chest…
It’s still me!
I’m not horrified or appalled.
It’s just me.
I’m not shocked or repulsed.
it’s still just me.
There is a fine neat row of white paper Steri-Strips running across from the centre of my breast bone to a point about 5cm below the centre of my armpit.
I am relieved.
And it is still just me.
And so our days fall into a routine of juicing, feeding, physio and films. My friends feed my body with their fresh nutritious home cooked food and immune boosting juices, they feed my mind with the humorous minutia that has built our friendship over so many years and they feed my heart with their love manifested.
We find our recovery tempo we three friends and I’m comforted by their presence and I’m grounded by their rhythm and I’m strengthened by their kindness and the days become a week and then it’s time for them to leave.
So on the eve of their departure as Nurse Luce rubs away the knots from my shoulders the shoulders that will carry me forward and keep my head above water after they go, Nurse Macey shouts out clues from the crossword we think we can beat. Of course we have absolutely no chance given that our beautiful Miss Macey keeps calling out the wrong clues for the wrong squares!
And I understand just how fortunate I am. How many of us gets to experience this much kindness, this much generosity, this much love in a whole lifetime-let alone in a single week?