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  • Writer's pictureAja McDonald

The Pre-Admission

I had a call from my breast nurse yesterday evening. Up until then, I only had bits and pieces of information I had collected from my seven appointments (but who’s counting!) I’ve had so far. From ultrasound – biopsy – mammograms to MRIs, CT and Nuclear Bone scans… I can see how this all can be so overwhelming for most people. But compared to dealing with a head/neck injury for over two years, I am so pleased with how swift and strategic my surgeon has been.

I constantly remind myself of the first 30 years of my life in the US and how I never once had confidence in the whole US hospital experience or even a simple doctor’s visit. Insurance was something I could never imagine accessing since I could barely afford everyday costs as it was. So, all being said, I will happily take what I can get here in NZ because for the first time in my life I feel safe.

During my chat with my Registered Breast Care Nurse, we went over my details I had been asked to register an account online for the private hospital I would be going to. The details were very thorough and organised all details from listing any medications I am currently taking to getting prepared for your surgery. My RBCN also prepared a tote bag for me to pick up at the hospital reception after I met my surgeon. This tote bag was full of information, support contacts, funding, a personal diary and journal, and even a special pillow to help while in the healing process.

Tulips on the hospital grounds.

The Paperwork

My husband and I met with my surgeon this morning and went over everything so he can prepare ahead of time. This will help secure a more successful procedure, smoother recovery and faster healing.

As with tattoos, people who maintain a reasonable level of health before surgery have better results. Staying hydrated, eating healthy and just making sure your body is in a calm and relaxed state is something I have encouraged over the years to all my clients that come to me to get tattooed. I have been also avoiding increasing any risk of getting sick by keeping things as minimal and simple as possible. Honestly, the only real stress I have is just that. It’s only been three weeks since I had my triple test and so much has already been done, the last thing I want is to have to wait any longer. I just want to move forward and tackle this situation as swiftly as possible.

After completing the pre-admission routine today with my surgeon, I asked roughly how long the mastectomy, treatment and process of eliminating the second breast (followed with reconstruction) will take. I was told it could be up to 12 months. So when I had been hopeful that maybe I could have it all said and done by my birthday in March next year, I had to accept that the reality to do it right would take a bit longer than that. Since I am not the one responsible for removing the threat, getting my health where it needs to be through it and then rebuilding my structure to a desirable shape, I won’t argue with that.

In reflection of this experience so far, I highly recommend to anyone that may be going through or may one day go through this, reach out to people and have positive connections. If someone offers to help, don’t turn it down or avoid it… give those that want to help the opportunity to do so. Make sure you are realistic with the outcomes and options that lie ahead. Ask your surgeon as many questions you may have to help ease your mind. If you catch it early like I have, know that it won’t be easy but you have the upper hand on this and nothing can take that from you. You are stopping something you could not avoid and starting a better future without it.

The Preparation

As I also shared in my previous post, I have already begun preparing for what will be needed to help ensure as much ease in the day to day healing once I return home.

On top of already ordering some front zip sports bras, I have also purchased some fun button up t-shirts for working around the drains that will be attached post surgery. I cannot imagine my t-shirt collection will be as fun to put on/wear when I am juggling around added extras for several days.

4-6 weeks after surgery I am told that chemo will follow. Chances are I may or may not lose my hair. Either way, I treated myself to a shorter haircut that will be less maintenance while I am limited movement and less shocking if I do end up shedding my hairs away in the process. Because I also have lots of life experience at preparing myself for circumstances, I made sure I got some yummy Sol de Janeiro dry shampoo so I get to enjoy my favourite smells of that glorious Sol de Janeiro’s addictive Cheirosa ’62 Fragrance in my hair. This is what I call survival 😉

And relax…

I am focused on continuing my normal daily routine until I receive a phone call from my anaesthesiologist Sunday afternoon to go over the night before surgery details. With all this information in mind, I felt I had a clear enough idea of what’s to come and reached out to my registered nurse/homeopath. Between her and my therapist, I feel I have become stronger and more centred thanks to the hard work I’ve done alongside her remedies. I am also grateful that I can have the access to combining natural medicine and modern medicine in order to continue strengthening my mind and body fully.

Now that I have these things in place, I am going to focus on relaxing and going to work over the next two days before I start my unknown amount of time off.

Some of the treats I got to enjoy (and remind myself of those contributing to my strength) while I’m in recovery at the hospital.

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