Friday 13th turned out OK. I duly turned up late morning at the treatment centre, was admitted and eventually got to talk to the surgeon. She explained what she was going to do, that I wasn't going to lose sensation, that to all intents and purposes my nipple would look exactly the same afterwards. In fact, talking to her I felt much less worried than I had been for the weeks leading up to this. Why on earth don't they give you the information to start with?
Coming round after the general anaesthetic I felt fine, no in pain at all, just a little discomfort. I was transferred back to the ward: then obs, cup of tea and a rather insipid cheese and tomato sandwich. Having been there a couple of hours or so I got fed up with being on a bed and not being able to bend my legs. I was wearing those tight socks they give you to mitigate the chances of deep vein thrombosis but quite obviously to me, as I was on the verge of cramp, I needed to get my legs moving. So I got out and sat on the chair. After all, one of the leaflets I'd been given said that I'd have to do things for myself when on the ward, like going to the loo, etc.
"You can get dressed now," said the nurse when she eventually got back to me.
"Don't you need to do obs first?" I asked.
"No, you had those done when you went to the toilet."
"I haven't been to the toilet," said I.
"But you're sitting in the chair."
"Yes, I got very uncomfortable and was about to get cramp on that bed."
"You shouldn't have got out without asking, that's what the bell's for."
It was only then, as she picked up my notes from the table, that I noticed concealed beneath them a large yellow notice telling me not to get out of bed until I'd been given permission!
Performing the discharge procedure and handing me a leaflet, the nurse then proceeded to give me a list of instructions while I tried desperately to make notes with pen and paper.
"Don't worry, it's all in the leaflet," she said.
It not all of it was. No surprises there of course. In fact the leaflet, nearly a year out-of-date, was the one that I should have been given right at the start as it referred to the sequence of events starting with the initial consultation.
You have to love the NHS because it manages to do the job - just. What it seems to be hopeless at is effective communication. Time and time again I've uncover inadequacies, inaccuracies, inconsistencies and muddled information in NHS leaflets.
So what now? - I expect you're asking. Well, I have to wait about four weeks for the lab results of the tissue removed, that's according to the surgeon, or two weeks according to the leaflet!