Monday, 9 June 2014
My working week was pretty straight forward, albeit busy. We have been working on a project to improve the efficiencies of the team and it is due to be rolled out soon, the week I am due to go to hospital for my operation, so the pressure is on to get all the work completed. On Tuesday evening Zoe came over again and she promised to come and visit me while I recover, I don’t doubt this as both Laura and Zoe have been visiting a lot while I have known about my cancer. Wednesday evening, after our Sunday afternoon in the garden, spurred me on to try and finish laying the four flags in front of the BBQ, unfortunately I only managed to get three laid, leaving one sole flag that I must get down, but the whole area is looking so much better than it was just a couple of months ago. When I look at the garden to how it was when we bought the house, it has changed dramatically, and I have a lot of people who have helped in the process, but I have more plans and it upsets me a little that I couldn’t get it all done so I can just sit back and enjoy it while I recover. It is, however, good to get the majority of it done. I know when I am sat in the garden over the summer that I will be planning what I can do next. While I was at work on Thursday I missed a call from Jeanette (Upper GI) and I tried calling back, they wanted me to go in on Friday morning to discuss the surgery with Chris Ball. It was Chris who had told me about the cancer way back in January (it seems so long ago now) and he was the surgeon who would carry out the operation to remove my stomach, and the cancer. When I got home I had a message on our land line, the appointment was for 9am the next day. After a few quick calls we had arranged to go and sorted the kids out as well as letting work know. Then we relaxed for the evening while it dawned on me that in 2 weeks time I would be waking up from surgery without a stomach. On Friday morning we made our way up to ward 11 at a little before 9.00 and were shown into the family room on the ward. Ward 11 is a specialist Upper GI ward at Royal Preston Hospital. Shortly after arriving, Jeanette came in to advise that Chris would be with us in about 15 minutes as he was just reading through my notes. Myself and Leonie were joking about and it felt like the time back in January when we were laughing and having fun while waiting to meet Chris for the first time, and then we found out I had cancer and my world changed. Chris walked in and asked how I was and then told me he was pleased with my progress and that the results from Monday (the breast scan) had come back fine. He was very informative and went into all the details of what would happen and when. He told us all about the surgery and the recovery and what to expect every day for the first couple of weeks. I wasn’t worried about the surgery, but more about the recovery, and Chris was able to answer all our questions and put my mind at ease. We were with him for about an hour while we discussed the next few weeks. I was told that the whole stomach would be removed and that all the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes would also be taken. This is to reduce the chance of the cancer returning. He also advised us of the risks associated with the surgery and went through the details and how I could help in reducing any problems after surgery, it was a lot of information to take in but I’m glad he went into so much detail. The statistics surrounding the surgery are a worry but he told me that he would normally be carrying out this operation on much older people and that he would not expect any problems with the surgery or recovery. I was previously told that I would be in hospital for 10-14 days, but he was optimistic this would be reduced to 7-9 days for my case. He also told me that on the day I am admitted (the day before surgery) I would meet him again and also see the anaesthetist, the same guy who had covered my earlier operation back in February. He was very re-assuring and was happy to tell me that he had carried out the operation many times before; it was a straight forward three and an half hour operation, although he did say it is major operation and that I should take my time to recover. After he left, Jeanette went through some further details about the Intensive Care Unit and the ward and all the pipes that I would see coming out of me and what they all did, no stone was left unturned and all aspects of what would happen were covered by either Chris or Jeanette. We were then given a tour of the ward and introduced to some of the nurses. I also got to meet the dietician, Richard, and he seemed like a really nice guy (as did all the nurses on the ward). I was given some booklets and leaflets to read along with a diary or what I was expected to do each day and also a blank diary to record everything for the first couple of weeks. I dropped Leonie off at work before going to work myself. I sat with Luke for a while discussing some work but also mainly my meeting at the hospital. In the afternoon I spoke with David O’Keeffe (Karyn’s manager, as Karyn is on holiday this week) and it was a relaxed day compared to the rest of the week at work. In the evening my mum and dad popped over and I told them all the meeting and Leonie went out with Zoe for some drinks so I spoke to both my sisters about all the information I had received and I couldn’t stop thinking that it’s now less than 2 weeks away. On Saturday I had planned to take the boys pond dipping, but it rained so hard so we had a lazy morning before going shopping with my mum in the afternoon. We went back to my mums for a brew before getting home and having a takeaway with Oscar and Sidney and watching the final of Britain’s Got Talent. The boys love the programme and it was good to have some family time. Sunday was brighter and Leonie was working so in the morning I laid the last flag and did some weeding in the garden while the boys played. In the afternoon my sister and her family came over and we built Sidney’s new bed while all the kids played together. In the evening we watched some TV and relaxed after a busy day, ready for work and school on Monday. I only have 6 days left at work and it is a little scary knowing it is now so close, but I remain positive that it will all be fine and I will be itching to get going afterwards and move on from this. Meeting the surgeon and discussing everything in so much detail, lets me know what I can and can’t do (or won’t be able to do). It makes me determined to come back from this stronger and fitter. It will be a massive change to deal with, a changed way I consume food and drink, but if I can get this right, then there should be nothing I can’t do. I will lead a normal life once I get over the surgery and I intend to do so. I was given some information by Jeanette about a support group if I needed it, but reading the documents shows that a normal life can be achieved after such a major change and I will hold onto this thought when its tough going in a couple of weeks. One aspect I am upset about is not being able to see Oscar and Sidney for a few days. I don’t want them to see me with pipes and tubes coming out of me everywhere (and I am glad that they won’t be coming to visit me in intensive care), but I want them to visit me on the ward, mainly to show them that I am ok. I have chatted with them both to let them know I won’t be here for a couple of weeks, and to help me afterwards. They have both been superstars and understand that I will be poorly for some time. I worry for Leonie too, she will have to run the house and sort the kids out by herself, as well as looking after me. I should be moving well once I leave hospital but it will be difficult and tiring, but she has been so strong throughout the whole thing since we found out. I can’t understand how she has kept it altogether, if the shoe was on the other foot, I’m not sure I would cope. With me, I know myself and can deal with it, but if it were Leonie, the person I love, who was in this situation I would be scared for her. That goes for the boys too, I don’t want to see them in the same situation as me, and it would break me! With this in mind, I think of my family, my mum and dad and sisters and although I know I can get through this and come out the other side, it makes me think of what they are going through as well. I just hope it all goes smoothly and next year we can look back at this and see how it has changed us all and made us all stronger.