There are few things I have experienced over the last short while that can possibly have felt as lovely as walking in through my front door. Thanks to everyone for their comments and kind thoughts, and of course to Mike for setting this up and running it so splendidly - I'm really glad it's been so popular. I had the awful feeling it could be seen as being like those dreadful round robin letters you sometimes get at Christmas telling you about the dog's operation back in March to remove bad breath, but obviously people haven't seen it that way, and Gill being able to follow it whilst in Hong Kong seeing her new grandson was a clear bonus!
It wasn't just the fact that I can now watch my own telly and drink decent cups of tea that was such a delight, it was also the fact that my wonderful neighbours Karen and Nigel (and possibly Sandy too?) had shampooed my carpet while I was in hospital (how lovely a thing to do was that?!). If you're following this at all K and N thank you soo much, it's about the nicest gesture anyone could have made.
So here's the boring bit before the football under my left arm tells me it's time to stop. (I have been told this is a very 1950's image by both Mike and Mel but I really do feel like one of those football refs, pointing with the right arm, whistle in the mouth and football under the left). Am spending about half the time asleep at the mo so if you feel like visiting I would LOVE to see you but please could you send me a text first so that I can let you know if I'm up to it? I suspect it's as much recovery from the general anaesthetic as bad decisions on the pitch, but I am getting enormously and suddenly tired and unfortunately am not able to sleep comfortably enough just yet to benefit much from the sleep I am managing.
I have to say that the operation experience has been a very mixed bag for me (sorry if there is anyone out there who is looking for reassurance but it's how it is). St George's is obviously doing some incredible things with its plastic surgery and the two main (breast) surgeons' names go before them even as far as Peter Jones bra-fitting department, but there is a depressing communication and training shortfall on the care side. I think if anyone can learn anything from my experience it would be the same as we are told (and certainly are hugely aware of second time around) when having babies, which is that you really have to be assertive about what you know about yourself and your own needs. The trouble I had on the recovery ward was in large part due to the fact that I was not doing things "inside the box" because I had this particular handicap of previous damage to my ulnar nerve. Despite the fact that I had mentioned this in advance more than once, the attitude seemed to be "oh well, it shouldn't present a problem" and when after the event it did, the nursing staff on the recovery ward seemed to find it annoying that I was in absolute agony rather than it increasing their level of care and (frankly) nursing skills. One nurse sat there with her face in her hands looking rather boredly at my notes while I was screaming in pain. They are reluctant to give you too much to drink when you first come round so I had these "swabs" to suck on (little pink sponges on lollipop sticks) but when I was begging for someone to wet them again for me because my tongue was quite literally stuck to the top of my mouth it was so dry, the nurse replied that she would do it as soon as she had finished writing up my care notes. So although it would have taken about ten seconds to stick them under the tap which was about 5 feet away from me, it was more important to make a record of the care I was finding so lacking than to leave it to attend briefly to me and return to it seconds later. (This feature was observed generally by other patients throughout my stay - glasses of water on the patient's table would be knocked over and would be soaking into their books, phones, etc while the nurse who knocked it over would say "yes I'll mop that up after I've finished doing this"). The very worst thing was that I had to beg them through pain and tears, for about half an hour, to phone Mike and let him know what was going on. This was at about a quarter to midnight, I had explained to them that Mike was the person relaying information back to people including the kids, and they just kept repeating that it wasn't routine for them to do this. When they finally caved in because I ranted at them so hard, it took them all of 20 seconds. After which they reminded me that they don't normally do that. Appalling.
The contrast with the wonderful staff on the ward when I got there could not have been greater. They were caring, listened and even seemed to be making an effort not to wake up the other patients in the ward. The next day my two fellow travellers in the beds either side of me (aged 76 and 78 and absolutely brilliant company) took the p**s out of me for saying "oh thank you" after everything the nurses did. I suspect it was just relief at the change of attitude.
Ok rant over. There are lots of other things I want to post tomorrow that I hope will be useful for anyone else about the hospital experience and I promise a lot of them are good so it isn't all doom and gloom. Just felt I needed to get that off me chest.