I think I'm being a bit matter of fact because I've got kind of two brains acting on this - my patient brain which is like fog, and my nurse brain which is talking sense and logic in the background.
Here's a few things I've felt over the past 8 weeks, so you don't feel alone.
People talk about being brave, doing well, etc.... I don't think anyone's being brave, its more that we don't have a choice, so we're all finding different ways to muddle through. Personally I'd love a really good cry but I don't seem to be capable of a single tear so far.
When I had the first ultrasound I think I'd already started to process the probability because of the speed at which she spotted the abnormal thickness.
At the hysteroscopy (because of my job), I was focused on not making a wally of myself during the rather eye watering procedure - I also knew what I saw on screen from what I'd researched. I kept it to myself for a week, until I had confirmation. My grown up kids had no idea I was having tests and my husband hadn't grasped what I was trying to say so I gave up trying!
I got the call confirming the cancer five minutes before I ran a really serious meeting so I had to say "oh I kind of knew this was coming - oh well I don't really need a womb any more do I" and keep composed for the rest of the day, which was pretty manic.
To be honest, my first thoughts were NO I don't have TIME for this now! We're in the middle of some massive changes and challenges - much of which I've instigated. We've been working on these for a long while, rudely interrupted by Covid, and this crucial three months is where we line everything up in collaboration with our local NHS. I've spent the last eight weeks frantically trying to leave things as tidily as possible for others to continue.
I sat on the cancer news overnight trying to make sense of it myself, imagining all sorts of scenarios, then I told my husband. He fell apart and pretty much wrote me off for dead from then on. He's dealt with it since by declining to drive me to MRI scan, consultant appointment, promising vehemently to take me up to hospital for swabs and bloods yesterday and 'forgetting' in preference for popping to play a few holes of golf - even though we're both supposed to be isolating pre-op. Followed by gettiing nicely and habitually incoherenly drunk by 7:30pm. Hey-ho....
Sometimes I'm furious with him, sometimes I'm disgusted, disappointed, ambivalent. But there's also a part of me that knows he's extremely squeamish and hospital phobic - anything medical strikes fear into him and he reacts accordingly. As a nurse I'm so comfortable in that world I have to remember how the words like cancer are interpreted and what they implies to so many people.Combine that with hysterectomy, anaesthetic, weeks off sick and embedded fears and there;s a recipe for a difficult time. So, I think some of my resentments are justified (I know the full story), but I can also sympathise and appreciate his struggle.
I told my head of department and our key leadership and was humbled and choked by the responses. I work in an amazing place where I have felt a massive amount of love, warmth and support. People in this tea have been absolute rocks and I can express the gratitude towards them and the NHS nurses I've been in contact with. They have all reminded me why we do this job, what really matters to patients (well form my experience and perspective) and how important it is for ALL patients to receive this level of genuine care and support , not just cancer patients. I think I might have ot do something about this when I'm back at work.
I do feel guilty for adding to people's workloads; I am worried about some young students I have left, whom I know are vulnerable (though they are in safe and capable hands), after working hard to establish trust with them.
I've also been feeling like a fraud - like I don't have 'real' cancer - because I've been assured it's going to be treated with surgery ... although that slightly changed at the consent meeting with the surgeon - see a later blog.
I've gained weight - partly from lack of exercise and overeating, but also from comfort eating since diagnosis, so I feel guilty for that because it can impact ease of surgery and recovery
I've done a whole tick list of reasons to feel guilty and why I've got this - overeating, lack of exercise since winter, not enough sleep, too much caffeine, smoking 20 years ago, past sins and indiscretions...... you name it, all the reasons I might deserve it.
My logical brain knows this is all rubbish of course: a single bad cell didn't get destroyed, possibly years ago and has quietly divided and multiplied over time until its made its presence known - no amount of rationalising will ever identify when and why, but it certainly wasn't down to something I said to someone or the extra biscuits I've eaten since November! But this is a process, a way to help us cope.
I think that's enough for now, I'm sure I'm not an easy read, waffling on
I'm working through in preparation for surgery so there will be more ....
It's clear you have a lot going on and you are so positive, which is really good to see. The support from your work team I am sure reflects how you are valued as a colleague, don't be humble, take it and be proud, you deserve it. I must admit I might be less forgiving of my husband, but we do all cope differently for sure. Best of luck with the next stage of your treatment
Thank you very much for taking time to comment.
When it comes to marital forgiveness I'm not finding it easy, I think I'm trying to keep it his responsibility and not take it on - my adult kids and others have compensated so I try to cancel him out hah!
Hope you're doing OK too
Hello Tcn1, thanks for writing this. I'm a nurse too and really relate to your thoughts, feelings and the experience of being a patient as well as the huge feeling of loss and detachment with having to leave work behind for now. I think your surgery is tomorrow so I hope that goes smoothly and that you are really well looked after, not just by the hospital but by your family too. Sending lots of love and a good nurses' hand squeeze! xx
thank you Dokur Kingfisher - I can actually feel that if I close my eyes!
This is all very weird isn't it. I hope you're doing as OK as you can be
Sending a good squeeze back to you xx
I know it's October now but I just wanted to wish you well and hope the operation went well. The "being a nurse" thing resonates with me even though I decided not to renew my NMC reg this year. As a nurse it's so hard to switch off behaving well! X
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