‘Hey, I know you! We were at school together,’ I said, looking up as the anaesthetist approached.
‘Sorry Sarah, I thought the name was familiar, but I didn’t recognise you with your hair like that,’ he replied. I touched my baldy head and felt the ugliness of cancer tug at me inside.
The anaesthetist spoke nicely to me, but of course I remembered that he’d been one of the decent lads at school, not part of the gang of boys who teased me for being flat chested. Bloody boobs blighting my life!
‘So, come with me and we’ll get you ready for surgery,’ he said as he stood up to lead the way.
It was comforting to know I was going to be looked after by someone familiar to me. A wee room adjoined to theatre where I lay myself on the trolley bed. ‘Is there any chance you can give me a couple minutes of morphine joy before you put me out cold?’ I asked cheekily as sticky circles and wires were attached to my skin.
‘Oh I think we can do better than that,’ my old school pal said. But I barely registered his words because as I’d said mine I realised that to be ‘put out cold’ I’d need to have a cannula inserted into a vein for the anaesthetic to be delivered into my bloodstream. Alarm caused an immediate unpleasant tickly sensation in every bit of my body.
‘My veins are all collapsed after the chemotherapy I’ve had, what if you can’t get the cannula in? What if the anaesthetic doesn’t work?’
I couldn’t look, but felt the familiar sting as the cannula was pushed into the back of my hand.
‘Ohhh dear, Sarah. Yes, I can see your veins have had enough,’ my friend said sympathetically. ‘It hasn’t worked. We’ll try your wrist.’
Tears welled and my heart raced. Another man present in the room stroked my upper arm, his hand felt warm on my skin so I tried hard to focus on that instead of crying because I was scared.
‘We’re in and I’m happy with it,’ the anaesthetist said to the sound of surgical tape ripping then pressing sorely across my wrist. ‘Now you just chill out there.’
‘Chill out? I’m freaking out!’
‘I’m gonna give you some of that nice stuff now so you lie back and enjoy. Pop this oxygen mask on.’
I thought he’d been kidding me earlier when he’d agreed to my morphine joy request. ‘Oh maaaaaaan, you are the beeeeeest anaesthetist in the hospitalllll…no, you’re the beeeeeeest anaesthetist in all of the whoooohle of the world…’ I drawled. My head felt giddy and the sensations so pleasant that any fears I’d had about the vein not working were entirely forgotten…
‘Ok Sarah, I’m going to send you to sleep now. This’ll feel cold, okay.’
Bright yellow lights…People moving…Noise…
I burst into tears. ‘Nobody loves Leon like I do. I worry for him,’ I wailed. Looking up I focused on the blurry figure standing over me and in the same moment I realised it wasn’t my friend the anaesthetist, and I understood where I was.
‘You’re all right. You’ve had your operation. Everything is fine,’ the man in green said gently. ‘We’ll get you back down to the ward now okay.’
As I was wheeled away I felt a right idiot for the involuntary outburst of tears in front of that stranger. I just wanted to see Paul.
He was waiting for me in the corridor and I was glad he was there.
I didn’t get home till after five o’clock that evening, not until the surgeon had come to see me. ‘There was no farting,’ he’d said as he stuck his head around the door, laughed and came in. ‘Everything went really well. Two of your lymph nodes showed up so we took them out. They’ll be sent off to pathology along with the tissue we took out from the site of the tumour in your breast. We’ll get the results back and see you in about two weeks.’
‘Didn’t you say you were going to take three nodes?’ I asked.
‘Yes, if three had shown up we’d have taken them, but two is fine.’
‘Cool. Thank you,’ I said.
‘Look after yourself, don’t be overdoing things…no mountains!’
‘You’re off your head!’ my friend at the accountants said when I finally turned up. ‘It’s a bloody fourteen mile round trip from Ardersier to Nairn, are you meant to be doing that?’
‘I was told no mountains; nobody said anything about not walking,’ I laughed…
But I was laughing on the other side of my face by the time I got home and I wasn’t feeling such the hero. My legs were in extreme agony. ‘I’ll be fine by morning,’ I told myself as I crawled into the living room and then lay absolutely fucked on the sofa.
Next: D-day: Results
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