Sunday, November 17, 2019

There's been a reason...

... for my absence on Blogger. Once again, I haven't blogged since the first week in August but this time I have a good excuse. Meanwhile I apologize. I have missed you all and missed blogging and sincerely hope to be back now on a regular basis. 

Here's what happened:

I went to the local doctor for the normal woman's check up. I [thought] I had a small, very small issue - a lump. He referred me to a gynecologist in the city. 

This young man did a biopsy in his surgery and not realizing I'm a woman alone, sent me home. I drove home, put myself to bed and slept until the next morning. I went over to my friend next door, where I work in the farm office and told her what had happened. She was aghast and said I must never again struggle on my own like that. 

Two days later the gynae phoned me and said come back quickly; the lump he'd removed is cancerous and he needs to send me to an oncologist gynecologist. 

I was shattered.. I sat up all night with this terrible news going through my head. Next morning early, once again, I walked over to Ronnie, who was still in bed. This time I told her I wouldn't be coming into the office that day as I need to arrange an appointment with the oncologist in Durban.  Ronnie was so sorry that I'd spent the night worrying about this all alone and insisted that from then on they would help me in any way possible.  

Long story short; a very good friend from Probus asked how I was; I told him I was referred to and oncologist. He asked how I was getting there, and when I said I was driving  myself, he said, no way: he would take me. I know both him and his wife; very close friends of mine. She doesn't travel well, so she didn't accompany us. He had had prostate cancer four years ago; had treatment and with regular check ups is now doing fine. This is why he offered to take me. To support me and encourage me. 

The specialist examined me and then told me he'd have to operate. I'd be in high-care for two days, general care for two and then he'd decide when I could be discharged. The date of my surgery was set for 3rd September. He said the prognosis was good because I'd come early; I was in very good health and I was thin! 

I came home, prepared for my visit to hospital three weeks hence.  Although I had a lot to arrange and organize with the three projects I run, I tried not to think about what was going on in my body. It worked until two days before I was due to be admitted to hospital. That morning I had a melt-down after receiving a beautiful video on my Whatsapp from my dear friend, Penny (Snap That blog).  Then I shook myself mentally and said I'm in this thing; I need to work through it and get out on the other side with my mind intact. 

On Tuesday 3 September,  John and Ronnie took me down to the hospital in the city and waited while I was admitted. They then walked to my private ward with me and the admittance nurse and took their leave. Ronnie promised to keep all my friends and Weigh-Less members informed of when I went into surgery. 

The staff then examined me and asked all the relevant questions about my health. Hearing that I'm not on any type of medication (heart, cholesterol, blood pressure) they marveled that this old gogo (Zulu for grandmother) was so healthy. I was asked to get into bed wearing a surgical gown, and a drip was attached to my left arm.

I then began to wait.

And wait. 

The anesthetist arrived and prepped me about the operation and said I was scheduled to go in at 1pm.

Midday and 1pm arrived and still no-one came to fetch me for surgery. 

I waited...

And waited! 

At 5.30pm the theater staff arrived and pushed me out in my bed.  Across the 6th floor on which my ward was situated; into a lift; up to the surgical floor - I think it was the 8th floor! I was placed in a little ante-room and told I'd be fetched in a while. 

Fifteen minutes later the recovery nurse ( I asked her who she was! ) came with an assistant and pushed me across the corridor into a cavernous room which I realized was the theater. 
The anesthetist arrived and asked me to climb across onto the slab which is operating table. I looked at a wall clock behind him; it said 5.45. He took my arm and the next thing I heard was "Johanna, wake up!" 

I was back in my ward with several nurses and the sister working on me. It  was dark beyond the window and I saw the city lights twinkling below. Someone brought me dinner: a bowl of custard and a cup of chipped ice. 

Ronnie phoned me just then to ask how I was. Shortly afterwards Grant's aunt, Carole, phoned to ask after my health!

The specialist who operated on me came in and said he was very happy with the whole procedure. He had removed all the bad stuff. It was sent off to the lab for testing and I'd only hear three weeks later what the results where. However, I took the Doctor's explanation as a sign that all will be well. 

Then I slept! 

The next two days in hi-care I was inundated with flowers which weren't permitted in the ward. John, my son, who is a captain at sea off the Durban coast was the first to visit me. He came at  12 noon although visiting hours were from 2 to 4pm.  He'd come straight off the ship -perhaps he convinced the sister on duty that he really had to see his mom!  He said he, Debbie  and the family would be back the next day. 

My friend Cheryl arrived at 2pm. Half an hour later, Carole (the aunt) arrived. At 3pm a strange lady walked in and greeted me. As we chatted and she asked how my operation had gone, I racked my brain to try and think who she was. Then she said, "I haven't seen you for about 17 years. " And it struck me, she was at my mom's funeral in 2002. This was my maternal cousin, Maryanne! 

All these ladies brought me gift bags laden with energy bars, wet wipes, tetras packs of fruit juice and chocolate. 

That night Julie-Ann and Gary from the motorcycle association Grant and I rode with, arrived. Julie with a bunch of flowers and Gary with a slab of chocolates. Julie showed me the flowers and was instructed by the sister to leave them in the passage. 

The next day at 2pm my favorite sister -in - law, Shelley arrived with a gift bag of goodies. She was appalled at the flowers in buckets of water outside my ward. I asked her to take them home - which she kindly did. While she was there, Tony, another motorcycle friend, arrived. He was carrying a bunch of flowers! 

Tony left and the next minute John, Eryn and Joshua walked into the ward. Shelley was about to leave and enlisted the help of my two oldest grandchildren to help take the flowers to her car in the underground parking. 

The sister brought a wheel chair and when Eryn returned to the ward, she pushed me to the waiting room - Joshua walking along with us. John, Debbie and the four younger children were there. 

While sitting there chatting to John and Debbie, she said, apart from the fact that I was dressed in a green surgical gown, (they gave me a fresh one each morning!) and that I was in a wheelchair, I looked as healthy as anything. I said I felt healthy. I hadn't experienced any pain or discomfort from the  surgery and all my vital signs were apparently very good. 

After 45 minutes of chatting to the family, the visiting hours were up. I said goodbye and Eryn and Joshua took me back to my ward. When the children left, I lay back on my pillow and sighed. I was exhausted!  

I haven't been in a hospital since my mid-thirties and now I realized why there were rules about visitors.

Two days later, the doctor examined me and pronounced me fit enough to be discharged. He booked me off all activities, such as driving and doing manual work and exerting myself.

My SIL, Shelley fetched me and took me to their home 45minutes outside Durban city. Once again there, John and the children visited me. 

The next day, other Probus friends of mine, Stella and Rob had arranged with Shelley to meet them at a shopping center and they brought me home to the farm. 

Immediately we arrived, Ronnie arrived from next door to greet us. Stella and Rob left while Ronnie stayed on and chatted. As she left, Steve and Estelle (whose art shop I'd managed for two years) arrived with a takeaway meal. They sat for a few minutes and chatted. 

After they'd left, I got into bed, and slept. Being of a vintage age and undergoing surgery major surgery, was tiring! 

It's now two months plus and I've been given a clean bill of health from the oncologist. 

It was a frightening thing at first but apparently I had sought medical attention in time. 

Praise God.