The recuperation

I came home from hospital with four drains, and after a week two were removed. I expected to be more comfortable but I wasn’t, really. Every movement felt like trapped skin being tugged. Each morning, I measured the fluid that had been drained and called the hospital, hoping they’d ask me to come in to have the final two drains removed. Finally, after two weeks, they did. And as soon as the drains were gone, I felt like a different person. I’d walked into the hospital hunched over and wincing and I walked out like myself.

In those first two weeks of recovery, Paul and his mum and my parents had handled the childcare and looked after me. From then on, I was able to help a bit. Making dinner, feeding Elodie, that sort of thing. I still spent quite a bit of time resting, but frustratingly didn’t get through as many books as I’d imagined. Gradually, I got better.

Elodie didn’t, though. She’d been coughing and sleeping terribly for weeks on end. The night before my appointment for the first injection of saline to inflate my new breasts, Paul ended up taking her into hospital in the early hours, and was told she had bronchiolitis. She was still being monitored when it was time to leave for my appointment, so Mum drove me. I hadn’t given this process much thought. As the surgeon approached me with the needle, I asked whether it would hurt. He assured me that it wouldn’t. But it did. He couldn’t find the port which sits beneath my skin, so he ended up digging around a lot with the needle, and it was horrible.

After a few tries, he arranged for me to have an ultrasound and asked the sonographer to mark an ‘x’ on my skin to show him where the port was situated. For some reason, the sonographer marked a circle instead, which didn’t give a precise location. There were a few more painful jabs, and, seeing that I was crying with pain, the surgeon gave up. He said I should come back in three weeks and he’d try again. And he left the room.

A couple of breast care nurses stayed with me while I got dressed. I couldn’t stop crying, and one of them put her arm around me. She said she understood that I’d wanted to get the inflation process underway so that I could start feeling normal again. But it wasn’t about that. I’m really not too concerned about the size of my breasts. I was just in pain and feeling sorry for myself, and worried about my daughter, and so, so tired. The nurse said that if they couldn’t find the port next time, they’d offer to replace the implants. I thought, but didn’t say, that I wouldn’t go through another surgery. That, if it came to it, I’d stick with what I’ve got.

As always, friends and family rallied round during this time of recovery. Some distant friends visited and local friends brought brownies and flowers and cards and took Joseph for playdates. Every day, parcels arrived in the post. Chocolate, tea, biscuits, books. I felt spoiled, and lucky.

Throughout this entire period, we’ve all been taking it in turns to be ill (other than Joseph, who probably brought all the bugs home from nursery). Even now, six weeks after the operation, Paul, Elodie, both my parents and I have coughs and colds. I’m hoping for more sunshine, now it’s March, so that we can get outside more and breathe some clean air and finally ditch these persistent germs. I’m looking forward to park trips without hats and gloves, to walks in the woods, to playing in the garden. I’m looking forward.

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