Today was my first day out of the house since Friday. I’ve been camped out in my bedroom since arriving home after surgery. Today, I had an appointment at the V.O.N. clinic to have my dressings changed and my sutures examined. Apparently if you can get to the clinic, then that’s where they want you to go; so my one in-home visit from a nurse is the only one I will get. Saddled with all my spreadsheets that monitored my medications, drainage outputs, temperature and swelling I shuffled to the top of the stairs to start my descent.
Fifteen very steep stairs separated me from the main floor of my house. “One step at a time Patti. Slow and steady.” I chanted to myself. It took several minutes to get down, although it felt more like an hour. I kept hearing the famous Neil Armstrong quote in my head. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Only a few days post-op, traveling downstairs for me was just as daunting and almost as thrilling.
Stepping out of the house and into the bright sunshine was incredible. Fresh air, birds chirping, green grass, brightly coloured flowers….it was like landing in OZ. If only I had those ruby red slippers!
Gingerly I made my way to the car clutching what has now become an extra appendage…my giant, soft , flannel, breast pillow. Safely against my chest the pillow kept my seat belt from pressing against me and provided that extra support for the car ride to the clinic.
It takes less than 15 minutes to drive to the clinic from my house. Its a very straightforward route all on city streets. Unfortunately city streets also present the problem of city potholes. Let’s face it, most streets have potholes and unless they are really big, we don’t usually notice them that much. However, when recovering from a mastectomy, where every jolt to the chest feels like a steel toed boot kicking you, I NOTICED! I’m surprised we didn’t get pulled over. We were traveling a good 20km under the speed limit and swerving every few metres to try our best to avoid jostling me too much.
“Look out, giant pot hole coming up to the right. Slow down, speed bump approaching straight ahead.”
The V.O.N clinic is set up for patients needing care pre and post surgery as well as ongoing chronic care. It is open seven days a week and runs efficiently and effectively.
I had a scheduled appointment and did not have to wait long at all. The nurse, a tall, jolly and gregarious man, went through more paperwork with me and explained that I would now be having regular appointments with them instead of in home care. He removed the bandages around the drains, cleaned them, examined them, gave me more tips on caring for them and then re-applied new dressings. He told me what to look for as signs of infection, especially on my left side where the drain site is leaking. “That could be a sign that there is a clot inside and the tubes are blocked. If you spike a fever, have an increase in pain or you notice the seepage turns green and smells, call us right away!” Good grief.
I was in and out in 20 minutes tops. The ride home wasn’t any easier but we made it. I had to rest on the first floor before tackling the stairs again. The 15 steep stairs might as well be Mount Everest as far as my body was concerned. I made the ascent and climbed in to bed right away. It still floors me how incredibly tired I am. It is hard for me being a patient as I am anything but “patient”! I am used to going full throttle, and now I feel like I am barely coasting.
“I need a little rest” I said. Next thing I knew, four hours had passed!
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.