[CANCER] Time for another ‘big op’ – the oophorectomy #BusyLivingWithMets

So, it’s over a week since my operation, and mostly I have been sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, a bit of TV, quite a bit of reading, and a lot of sleeping, interspersed by short visits from a few friends, and Pokewalks around the block… Anyway … bit of a ramble coming up, may be TMI for some people (but might help others going through same procedure later), and warning, is a pic of what I think my op looked like….


My mum arrived Tuesday evening, whilst I was still racing to finish bits of work (carried over into Wednesday morning), we made sure I got plenty of fresh air, we did a little run to Morrisons, and then went for dinner at the lovely A Tavola:

That was an early meal, before heading home, parking my car up (as not allowed to drive for around 2 weeks, as surgery is across the stomach, but once I’m safe to do an emergency stop again, I’m good), had a shower with the anti-infection stuff (Hibiclens), and then realised I’d never read the leaflets I’d been given in the pre-op:

Early Start

Unlike for my mastectomy, when I was going entirely into the unknown, this time I had a much better idea of what to expect. I hadn’t just been given horrific news 2 weeks before, it was not my first general anaesthetic, I’ve had many other procedures since then, I was on the same ward, and this operation is designed to reduce the risk of the cancer spreading further/faster (my tumour is fed by oestrogen, and ovaries are the big producer of that, so let’s get rid)….

So 5am I had to ring the Jasmine Ward at Stepping Hill Hospital, that there’d been no ‘big rush’ on the ward, and my operation was still going ahead (more nervous about possibility of cancellation, than of the operation itself). By 5.30am we were in the car, and by 6am we’re all checked in, and my mum has already been sent home. I was told that I was the only one on the list, so would be down first thing, and my mum could check back around 12noon to see if I was back up again.


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Well here we are. #oopherectomy day. Only one on the list so about 8.30am, hopefully done by 12ish … def in overnight.

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I made sure I had taken with me my overnight bag, with flip-flops, dressing gown, long-lead chargers for my phone, iPad for reading (in expectation of a possible long wait), PJs, bedsocks, comfy homegoing clothes, some biscuits in case of nausea, some spare change, toothpaste/toothbrush, some tissues, some wash stuff/travel towel, and all my tablets, plus some ibuprofen (as the leaflet said to take your own).

The Operation

After all the normal checks for blood pressure, etc. and chats to check that I knew what operation I was in for (got to check they’ve got the right person), checking the forms (possible side effect, death, as ever), a chat with the anaesthetist as my last operation I threw up all night afterwards – so he promised to go and see if he could sort that, and putting on the lovely anti-DVT socks:

DVT Socks

Then it was time to walk across the hospital, flip-flops and dressing gown on, down to the theatre, where I was checked into the waiting area, and given a 4 day old Metro to read (to be honest, I didn’t really want to know that day’s election progress), with some more checks from the anaesthetist. The surgeon popped into see me as somewhere they seemed to think that I’d said that I had a tumour on my ovary, which might have messed a few things up – and they went off to decide if they were going to remove my ovaries through my belly button or vaginally…

After about half hour it was time to head into the anaesthetists room, with 3 of them all prepared with the UV to try and find my dodgy veins … we chatted about my books, and New Zealand, and well, I don’t know a great deal more after that point, but looking online (and at the scars I have), I reckon it looked something like this (no, this is not me)… and they sucked ovaries/fallopian tubes out via my belly button:

Image of robotic surgery

After the Op

My mum rang about 12.20pm, and apparently I wasn’t up, but by 1.20pm apparently I was on my way back up. I don’t even remember a great deal about being wheeled back up to the ward (to my little side room), but I would have been conscious by that point! Then I had to shuffle across to the bed, where I was left with an IV line in (not my foot this time, but 2 cannulas in my hand), and the oxygen mask on…. as my body now seems to be reacting to hospital dressings, everything was put together with glue (and possibly some dissolvable stitches), so, so long as I can keep any infections away, I don’t even need to go back for a check up?!

The afternoon was a bit of a blur – I could hear my phone buzzing away in the security box – and my mum turned up at some point whilst I drifted in and out of a doze, and various obs were done on me. Mid-afternoon they said if I was eating, walking and weeing, I’d be allowed to go home the same day if I wanted …

The toilet was in the 4-bed ward across the way, so learnt to shuffle my way across there … nurse wanted to weigh the first wee – that was a bit unexpected! And despite them saying no, there was some bleeding… Meantime, I’d ordered 4 different mealtimes, but only was in for one meal – and didn’t get what I ordered … but it was enough to get me home. So around 9pm the cannulas were removed, final obs were done, and I got given my drugs for the rest of the week and was allowed to go:


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Goodbye hospital #oophorectomy

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Very glad to get home, as, although I had a side-room – hospital was very hot, and would have got lots of obs done. My poor mum had come in for what she thought was a brief visit, and ended up waiting all afternoon for me (thankful that have a hospital parking permit at the moment)! I went home in my pyjamas, and with my anti-DVT socks on (they said to take them off after 24 hours, then can use again on my flight to New Zealand), and with a huge pile of syringes….


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Ah the sweet sight of home, many pillows – and 14 needles for the next week #oophorectomy

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The syringes were full of Clexane, to be injected into the stomach 9am and 10pm for 7 days, in order to reduce the chance of blood clots/DVT (my treatment, and weight, leave me at a higher risk of this) – she had warned me that the retraction on these wasn’t great, and I don’t think a single one did retract – was thankful once the last one was done as left extra bruises all over the stomach:

Clexane Injection

The other thing is that cavities have been filled with carbon dioxide leading to swelling of the stomach … I was recommended that peppermint tea, liquorice and Colpermin peppermint capsules would help with that… of course anaesthetic blocks you up, but by Sunday was into recovery mode. Was fascinated to look at how little damage had been done considering (5 holes across the stomach, to add to all the mastectomy scars):

Oophorectomy Marks

Post-Op Recovery

My Mum disappeared on the Monday, and I’ve had friends visiting me most days this week (I’m spending Christmas/boxing day on my own, let me know if you fancy popping in). I’ve been making sure that I get out for my Pokemon walk every day (always easier when someone to walk with) to get my anti-DVT leg stretching in, as well as some fresh air. Other than that I’m sleeping a huge amount (not having to worry about work helps), reading fiction, doing a bit of a jigsaw, and just exhausted… it’s been a very long 2.5 years… so am not returning to work til 10th Feb – trying to follow this:

I thought that I would spend the first half of my recovery in front of Netflix (whichI have done some of), in pain, clearing out files on my computer, etc., but surprisingly little pain, just no concentration, etc… anyway, will continue to get better, should be able to drive again by next weekend (honestly, feel like I could now, but anyway…), getting to have mini breaks in the Lake District (the marvellous Rosie’s Barn, courtesy of Suzanne), and to see my parents. I’m not planning on running all over the place – this is all about rest and recuperation, so fit for New Zealand, and hopefully back to some kind of ‘normality’ for work for next academic year – though I’m going down to 80%, at least for next year .. taking Fridays off… and we’ll see what that does to my energy levels, concentration, and just general wellbeing – physical and mental.

Other Treatment

The oophorectomy means that I no longer need to have Zoladex injections (which temporarily suppress ovaries) every 28 days. Everything else continues as before though … targeted treatments Herceptin and Perjeta via infusion every 3 weeks (including tomorrow) which takes about half-day to do (I normally take some form of work with me, but not tomorrow), Denosomab injections every 6 weeks (to strengthen my bones, had that last time), with Exemestane tablets every day (aromatase inhibitor), and calcium/vitamin D twice a day, plus citalopram 20mg (anti-depressent), and a range of anti-histamine/herbal type meds to manage side-effects…. with Doxycycline antibiotic seeming to keep all the horrific skin reactions under control at present… and lymphedema glove/sleeve to keep the skin swelling down.

So, there we are, hopefully not too much to report on this cancer category on the blog for a while, as I’ve got check-ups with oncologist (20 Jan), lymphedema specialist (early Feb), then should be having next scans in late May/June – if they continue being NEAD, every 6 months. Hoping to speak to managers and occupational health in February to sort out what ‘reasonable adjustments’ need to be made for work for next academic year, and how much research/teaching I end up with…


[CANCER] Appointment: Oophorectomy

So, yesterday, I had an appointment with the Gynae team at Stepping Hill, to talk about possibilities of an oophorectomy (ovary removal). I’d been told by the appointment booker that I was first on the list, and should be done by 2pm (I had meetings booked at work), so…


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It’s #waitingroomfeet again … consultant re oompherectomy

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… obviously I went in about 2pm. The letter from my oncologist was on the screen (I was supposed to getting all letters by default, but have slightly given up on the effort), basically saying that I have Stage IV cancer, and am on zoladex/exemastane to control hormones (as my cancer is 8/8 fueled by oestrogen), and wants to do a preventative oophorectomy (I keep calling it an oomphorectory and people keep asking me why I want to lose my oomph!) – reduces oestrogen flow, ensures I remain permanently in menopause, and means won’t need the massive zoladex injections every 28 days (hurrah, one less hospital appointment, as I’ll be in every 3 weeks for IV, every 3-6 months for scans, plus other consult chats, etc.)…

I was asked various questions about cancer, gynae history, etc by the Dr, one of the consultants, and he then went off to check with the lead surgeon (after he’d checked my BMI, sigh). The surgeon then came in and said that robotic surgery was safer option for women who are overweight, and given this leaflet to read:


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Leaflets leaflets #cancer

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I was slightly thrown by him then saying ‘just don’t eat carbs for a couple of months’ and we’ll see you in September to arrange surgery for October/November, and talk to the anesthetist. We did manage to establish that the surgery is still doable, but he’s keen for me to lose 9 points on the BMI scale. As I may have mentioned before, I have disordered eating, and have worked hard to get my mental health more balanced around food, and now eat food I enjoy, has good nutritional value, and when I’m not in chemo, am very active and fit … so quite frustrated. Because clearly, we have been surrounded by ‘the diet industry’ for 50+ years now, and all that seems to have happened is we then have an ‘obesity epidemic’ (contested term) … and a lot of bad things of being overweight – some research is demonstrating that this is down to diet-cycling (losing-gaining-losing-gaining, etc.). Not my specialist research area but ….

However, been talking to my Beyond Chocolate buddies, and can experiment with some new meals, including more protein and even more veg (already trying to eat the rainbow to give self vitamins, etc.) and ‘be curious’ without going on some crazy diet (last experience of Slimming World – lost about 3.5 stone, was already gaining back whilst going, and probably regained about 7) … don’t want to undo the good work already have, nor do I want gall stones from swift unhealthy weight loss, etc.. Starting to feel like a gym class may be possible tomorrow … long way from the total blackness of last week.

Anyway, I then went into town, had my PDR (all good), and onto a meal with teammates (SO nice after spending so much time at home):

Anyway, today I need to get on with some writing, so need to go quiet now, right!