Sunday, 31 May 2015

Two weeks at home

Its been two weeks since I was discharged from hospital and three since my surgeries. Its been an interesting time at home and I'm looking forward to being able to get back out into the big, wide world, even if its only for short periods.

When you are discharged by Brighton and sent home you are told that you are housebound for two weeks. This is to give your new anatomy time to "stick down". Going off places and doing lots of walking isn't going to help with the healing process. After the first two weeks you are allowed to go for short walks or short trips in the car. On Tuesday I reach the point where I'm no longer housebound and will be taking my first trip out, nothing spectacular, just a short trip to pick up some bits and pieces that I need for dilating.

The last two weeks have been interesting. For the most part its been spent dilating or sitting down. Twice during the period I've managed to find the energy, and fight off the resulting aching in my groin area, that as allowed me to cook food.

The first time was preparing the base for a Cottage Pie, which my son and wife then finished off. It took me ages as I needed to sit down and rest after peeling and shopping the carrots and onions, and also while frying the mince, carrots and onions, and then bringing the whole thing to a boil and simmer.

The second time was cooking sausage and chips for my son and I.

As much as my strength is returning I'm still far from at the point where I'd be able to stand for long periods, in fact sitting down to dinner requires the use of a cushion to sit on at the moment (although not for long as my appetite seems to be such that I manage to eat my dinner in record time).

The first week back from Brighton was an experience. Within 24 hours of my return I was ringing them for advice.

A couple of days before I was discharged I had been given something to open my bowels. Being on a liquid only, then low residue diet meant that I didn't have much to pass. When I got home and reached the point where I did need to go I found I couldn't. Brighton told me what I needed to do and when that didn't work suggested I get the district nurses to come out and give me a mini-enema.

After being pushed between district nurses and GP I finally had it arranged for them to come out and see me. My original contact with the district nurses was 3pm, by the time they arrived to see a very anxious (and almost ready to go to A&E to get things sorted) me it was 8pm. The nurses that turned up were really friendly and very helpful. I explained the problem, we talked about the Fibrogel and Senna that I'd been prescribed by Brighton and also about some stuff that my son had been prescribed when he'd been having stomach pains, the nurses agreed that what my son had been prescribed would be better for me. After the nurses had given me the mini-enema and left there was blessed relief. The following day arranged for the doctor at my GPs, who had arranged for the nurses to call, to prescribe me Movacol so that I wouldn't have any further problems.

A couple of days later and I got to meet the doctor as I ended up having to arrange for a home visit because of an itchy rash that had come up on my stomach and buttocks. After examining me she decided it was a reaction to something but couldn't tell what, it didn't seem to be the Hibiscrub or Viadene that I was using as the rash was highly localised and not in the area that I use either. One prescription for an anti-histamine (Chlorphenamine) later and things were soon improving.

As I'd been discharged from hospital with a catheter still in place an appointment had been arranged for the district nurses to come and remove it. On a Bank Holiday Monday. Early on the Monday morning.

On the Saturday afternoon I switched on my mobile phone to discover a voice message from the district nurse, a delightfully rambling message asking me if it was OK for them to come slightly later, and if I could give them a call on various numbers which were changed as someone in the background pointed out that it was a Bank Holiday and there would be nobody answering the numbers. In the end I didn't bother ringing as I wasn't worried about when they would turn up, especially as they had said they were only going to be half an hour later than planned.

On the Monday morning I was up, had dilated early and was waiting for the nurses when the phone rang. It was one of the nurses. She apologised for the rambling message and said that she was waiting for her colleague and then they would be coming to see me. In the end they arrived an hour later than planned, just as my family were about to go out.

Both nurses were, again, really nice. The one that was removing the catheter applied something to numb the area slightly and then got on with the job. I felt the catheter coming out, and winced, but it wasn't painful, it was such a relief to be free of it. We arranged for one of the nurses to ring me later in the day to check that I'd been able to go to the toilet and they left.

Early in the the afternoon the phone rang and it was the district nurse. I explained to her that I'd tried to go to the toilet but hadn't been able to do anything. I'd done what they'd asked and drunk plenty, by then nearly a litre and a half of fluid, so wanted to go but couldn't. I explained that I thought I'd need to have the catheter back in.

The district nurse told me to stop thinking like that. I wasn't going to need it. She then told me to go and sit on the toilet, find something to put my feet on so that my legs were raised up and to stay on there for half an hour. Picking up my Samsung tablet I went to do as instructed. Within minutes of sitting down I'd done what needed to be done and was so relieved.

Half an hour later and the phone rang again, it was the nurse again. Before she could even ask I told her I wasn't sitting in the toilet because I'd managed to go. Both she and I were pleased and she reminded me of the number to ring if I had any further problems.

Its been an interesting two weeks. Issues have come up and had to be dealt with. I've spoken with Brighton several times to clarify things and to get a sick note sent out that I could hand in to work so that my time off is covered (something that should have been in my discharge pack but wasn't). There's still things that I need to check, for instance my discharge notes have yes written next to "Arrange for stitches to be removed". As the stitches used for my GRS are all dissolve its not these ones so it can only be referring to the ones for my breast reconstruction. If that's the case then I need to know for definite so that I can arrange to have them removed at the right time.

The last two weeks have also given me time to do things that I'd not have found time for otherwise.

I've managed to get all the materials delivered so that we can have  fence put up around the front of our property, something that a friend's partner is coming to do for us.

I've managed to finish reading the last of book I have in the Mortal Instruments series, will have to get the rest of the series now.

I've spent some time studying for the exam that I'm now sitting at the beginning of August (I had to re-arrange it again as it clashed with my post-op check-up).

I've started making up the Airfix model I bought with some of my birthday money, its a Type 45 Destroyer which I'll hopefully get built and painted in the next week or two.

I've booked an appointment with a place in Chichester, for the day after my check-up, to go and discuss what possibilities there are for getting my breasts to look a bit more even, something which might or might not happen naturally over the coming weeks.

And to correspond with my check-up and the appointment in Chichester, I've booked a couple of rooms at a hotel in Portsmouth for me and the family so that we can have a mini-break, something that we really deserve.

The last two weeks have also given me time to think.  Well when you are spending an hour a day with something twixt your nether regions while dilating there's not much else to do.

Having time to think has reinforced the fact that my family mean so much to me and that I want to keep my family together as long as possible. Its also helped me to have an idea of what the future could be if my wife and I don't stay together as a married couple, and its not a future that I would have considered previously but its one that I'm happy with.

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