What a week it has been!
Let’s approach this is a chronological manner, and I will try and fill you in on as much as possible…!
So on Sunday 15th March, I was lucky enough to be invited by Caterpillar (proud sponsors of Leicester Tigers) to watch the LV semi final match at Welford Road against Exeter, within the luxury of corporate hospitality! I felt very very very spoilt and loved every second of it (despite the result!). I took my gorgeous Mother along; it was Mother’s Day after all! (Sorry Dad :P). The week leading up to this game, one of my all time favourite Tigers, England and Lions player, Lewis Moody, had been kind enough to take the time to tweet me and retweet the link to my blog. It just so happened that he was one of the presenters of the SKY Sports TV coverage for this match. After he had finished his duties, I went over to thank him in person for his support on Twitter. What a lovely guy! He asked all about my journey and gave me a big hug and wished me luck for the op on the following Tuesday! Even more exciting….he is keen to get involved in some fundraising events with me in the future….TIGERS LEGEND! He kindly sported a BTRC charity wristband too!
So it was then, from Leicester to London! Getting ever nearer……
Monday Morning, we headed to Charing Cross hospital. As I have “difficult veins”, they wanted to ensure they could get a line in. Come the afternoon, I was scheduled to return to Hammersmith Hospital to have another go at taking part in their research trial scan. Due to my veins behaving themselves this time around, I was delighted to be able to take part in this scan. These research trials, can only happen, and therefore things can only be learnt and developed if people volunteer. I will provide all the links to the detail of this particular trial, so if relevant, please do take a moment to consider taking part.
The research team there were SO lovely, empathetic and genuinely grateful that I took the time to take part! To me, it is not even questionable….anything I can do to help with new methods, I will! If I am being totally honest, unlike MRI scans, this scan was almost completely silent – I used the 45 minutes in the scanning machine to have a nice nap and chill out away from the nervous thoughts of what was happening the next day! To top it all off….I was given Oreo biscuits when it was all finished! (cushtyyyy!!)
Then it all began to sink in….back to Charing Cross we went! However, as my bed still wasn’t ready. I saw this as an opportunity to escape and eat! (I had been ‘nil by mouth’ for the day because of the trial scan). Conveniently, there is a Pizza Express across the road from Charing Cross hospital….using my puppy dog eyes, I managed to persuade the parentals that this was perfect timing to go and eat dinner (“the last supper” as I was inappropriately calling it!!!). Chicken pizza it was! I must have looked like a right numpty! 2 canulars in, sticky tracing pads for the op stuck all over my head and scalp….GIVE ME FOOD!!! It was a delightful dinner, and it was very nice to escape from the hospital for half an hour or so. And on our return, my bed was ready! 11 South, K Bay, bed 4. My stomach started to sink a little bit….I knew the time was nearing for my parents to leave so they were ready for the long day tomorrow. It had been suggested several times that I would either be first or second on the list for my operation, so it would be an early start. All my comfy clothes unpacked, that time did come, and emotion hit me quite hard. ONE MORE SLEEP!!!! I said goodnight to them both and got settled in my bed (after playing with the remote for quite a while – hospital perks!) I was so fortunate that K Bay was filled with 2 absolute lovely ladies opposite my bed, who certainly helped take my mind off the nerves that evening. Nikki and Jade, a special thank you to you both. I hope you are continuing to recover well!! Although a late arrival to our bay made me struggle to get to sleep early, all things considered, I did sleep quite well, when I managed to put my phone down and stop reading everyone’s wonderful messages of support!
Tuesday 17th March, I was woken at about 6am! IT’S OPERATION DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy mac n’ cheese!
I was given my meds and a sexy lil gown and seductive knee high socks. I made my way to the bathroom and the transformation was complete! (*insert sexy hospital selfies*)
I was told to expect to be seen by one of the anaesthetists soon and that I should expect to be taken to theatre about 8.30/9ish as I was numero uno on the theatre list!
Fortunately my parents arrived about 7.30 ish and were allowed by my bedside (calming my nerves???/I reckon more nervous than me!!!!). 8.30am arrived, and the hard part began…the saying goodbye (although I knew it was not a “goodbye” – it was still awful) I could feel the tears brewing and I could see my parents getting upset too! Nikki and Jade wished me all the best and I tried all the deep breathing techniques I have ever heard of to try and stop myself from becoming a hysterical mess! I kept blowing kisses to my mum and dad and telling them I love them through the glass window. I have never felt so guilty as I did at that moment in time. I knew how helpless they would feel – it was alright for me! – I was heading off for a cushty 4 hour sleep! They would have 6 hours or so of desperate worrying, overthinking and fear.
Theatre number 7! That was my destination. Although I am not a particularly superstitious person….and apart from my date of birth, I have never really had a lucky number….all of a sudden I remember thinking to myself: lucky number 7!!!!!
I was taken into the anaesthetic room within the theatre awaiting the arrival of the second anaesthetist to put me to sleep. This felt like the longest wait EVER! I was lying there, without my glasses on (so blind as a BAT) but could kind of see movement in the theatre ahead through the glass windows in the door. The huge significance of what was about to happen all of a sudden hit me! I started crying my eyes out and if I am honest, I felt like a real idiot! I even found myself apologising to the anaesthetist who was trying to get everything ready as I did not want to be that person! I asked for a tissue and had a word with myself! “Trust your gut, Anna! Everything is going to be fine!!!” The second anaesthetist then arrived and he very quickly said, right, time to get you off to sleep! The last thing I remember was this guy telling me a story about how the tissue I had clenched in my hand from blowing my nose and wiping away my tears would fall out of my hand and that he knew lots of old ladies who always used to have tissues clenched in their hands….I think this happened at least!
That’s me done…..over to my surgical team!
The next thing I remember was feeling very sick when I was coming around….I think I was still in the theatre at this point and was advised to try and hold it down if I could. I then remember being in recovery. Constant observations being taken to ensure I was okay after surgery. What’s my name, What’s my DOB, Where am I? What date is it? Etc. A young guy who was looking after me in recovery was an absolute babe – and I have a serious feeling I absolutely chatted his ear off! I remember asking several times what his name was, because he was so nice and I wanted to make sure his amazing care was acknowledged; he was only learning the ropes on recovery as well! Unfortunately, despite my many attempts…..I cannot remember his name for the life of me! If by any remarkable chance it was you, I thank you so much! You made me feel so comfortable, reassured, calm and like you were my mate! Kevin also popped in to see how I was getting on, he asked me how I felt; I said ROUGH!; He said it would feel like I have a horrific hangover!; I remember saying to him, “What?! That is not fair though….I have had no fun!” I would happily take a horrific hangover if the party has been a top one! I was so worried that my parents would think I was still in theatre as well, and not just chilling in recovery, so I called in a favour! I asked Kevin if he would let my parents know I was okay….not like he is a busy neuro surgeon or anything, is it Anna!?! He said of course, and asked where he would find them; I had no clue and then went on to recite my dad’s mobile number! Kev being the legend he is, of course rang and filled them in! It was nice to know that they would be relieved to hear that I was okay!
Me being my witty self as well :/, I was getting quite bored of the nurses constatntly asking me the orientation questions detailed above, so I decided to mix things up a little bit! When asked what date it was, I decided to respond, saying “Its St. Patrick’s Day, that’s why I am still alive and the operation went so well; I had the luck of the Irish!!!”. They looked at me as if to say “WTF?!” I then felt the need to explain that I was just as weird before the op!!!
To add even more hilarity to this situation….I will fill you in on a little secret: I genuinely had a little Irish leprechaun in my handbag to give me good luck. Anna Doherty I blame you!!! My best friend/twin Anna had visited Dublin a few weeks beforehand and bought me home a little souvenir! As soon as I saw it, I swore I would take him with me into hospital. He bloody worked!!!
Unfortunately, it took a few hours to be moved from recovery back up to the ward, but I can remember seeing my parents and saying I am fine and I cannot even begin to think about tricking you that anything is wrong with me post op….I LOVE YOU!!! Seeing their faces again was so amazing! I was on the same ward, just a post op bay, where you get more regular observations etc. It was all done! I survived! And by the looks of things so far, no problems! My parents said that Kevin had told them he could not have wished for the operation to have gone as well as it did! Roughly 3cm X 4cm of Trev has done one! WOOOOOOOOP! TAKE THAT TREV!!!
I had a card left on my bed side – Nikki one of the lovely ladies I left on K bay that morning, had been discharged and had left me a lovely, thoughtful note wishing me a speedy recovery! The tears started again, and then all of the overwhelming feelings of joy, luck etc. came over me! And I felt so normal! It was bizarre! I just had major brain surgery and yet, i felt, all things considered, fine! I remember my mouth and lips were soooo dry and throat was sore, from having tubes in during the operation. I was desperately searching for my Vaseline pot!!!!
I had to have observations every 30mins for the next 6 hours, so although very very tired, my sleep unfortunately had to keep being disturbed. Wednesday was the worst day to date. I never knew it was possible to feel so ill as I did! I had nausea from the moment i woke up and unfortunately was violently sick the majority of the day. I felt so weak, my head (no surprise) was banging, but being sick had put even more strain on my headache. I had a fever in the night, my chest was tight, and I was seen by a doctor. She decided to run some xrays on my chest and abdomen, to rule out any infection/collapsed lung. Fortunately, my fever calmed down and no problems were highlighted through these XRays.
I was so blessed, my best friend, Anna, and one of my best friends from university, Olivia (an air hostess now living in Abu Dhabi, conveniently had a rescheduled flight landing in London on Thursday Morning) and two of my cousins, Ian and Holly were able to come and visit me in hospital – so this certainly brightened up my days!!!
Once I had got through Wednesday, everything else seemed like a walk in the park! I was seen by the physio on Thursday, and I was able to get out of bed, get the drain out of my head wound, catheter out, I COULD WALK!!! Hallelujah!! This was a massive step forward for me (no pun intended)…being able to sit up and get out of bed made me feel so much better. Lying flat in bed all the time, had made my chest feel really tight and breathing was becoming slightly difficult. It was also not helping the swelling on my face or on my right eye. The more I am upright, the quicker this will fade.
I took about half an hour sat there on my bed observing everyone else on my ward. I actually got quite emotional, one lady was severely struggling with her speech and could not tell the nurses what she wanted etc. She was having to point to letters on a laminated card to spell out what she was trying to say. I sat there feeling so (I know I say this all the time), but genuinely BLESSED! I could not imagine losing the ability to talk and express myself; what a brave lady. I wish her all the best and hope that it may have only been a short term side effect of her operation.
However “well” I was feeling, I knew how important it was to get my rest. I was sleeping the majority of the days away and always felt better after this invaluable rest. The doctors came around again on Friday morning and asked if I felt ready to go home. I just wanted to ensure that I had another day of no sickness. (I could not imagine feeling how I did on Wednesday and not being in hospital). I was visited by the physios again and tackled a flight of stairs – felt like I was bossing this recovery malarkey! Friday evening, albeit quite late on (about 10ish) I was discharged!!!!!
This part of my brain tumour journey was over!
I have an outpatients appointment booked for Thursday 26th March in the morning, to find out exactly how the operation went, what they have found out (histology report). I will also hear about what they plan to do to Trev next! Boom, let’s keep going!!!
I thought it was a bit stupid travelling all the way back up to County Durham to come back down again on Wednesday night, ready for Thursday morning. So although desperately missing my mad clan back up in the North East, I am chilling out in Hertfordshire this week and by chilling, I mean constantly napping!
So I am getting a few funny looks off people…fortunately, not much of my hair has been shaved off at all (Kevin was true to his word) but I do have a lot of staples in my head, my face is slightly swollen still and I wake up with a bruised eye. But do you know what….I could not care LESS! I am so lucky to have been able to have this operation in the first place, for it to have gone so smoothly, and to have the unconditional support of all my loved ones.
As I was getting slightly more with it, I ventured back on to the Inside My Head Facebook page…..this made me feel even more blessed than I felt post op! The amount of messages I had received over those few days- WOW! I can only apologise that I obviously will not be able to reply to everything all you wonderful people have sent! That Facebook page has now got waaayyy over 2k likes! Furthermore, my JustGiving page target of £1000 had been smashed….I have decided to up this target to £5000 now, I hope I am not being to unrealistic, and I see this as a more long term goal. I cannot thank all of you enough who have already been beyond kind and donated to BTRC! IF you haven’t already….let’s put it this way…It’s amazing to actually type this out, but nearly 30k people have taken time out of their days to read my blog now (WOW WOW WOW), if one sixth of you donated just £1, thats £5000 raised, right there, and that is a hell of a lot of research that can be funded to save lives, just like mine!