“You don’t have anything on tomorrow, do you?” my consultant asked, obviously expecting the answer to be no.
The answer probably usually would be no, given that I’d just been told that my first routine 3 month MRI scan had shown up a new, unidentified lump. It could be a haematoma caused by the surgery, he explained, but the only way to really tell was to do two further investigative procedures: another Examination Under Anaesthetic (EUA) and a PET scan. And they were in no mood to hang around.
Truth be told, I did have something on the next day. My brother’s wedding. Not the main event, but a small ceremony with close family only – to get the legal bits out of the way before the real big day in August.
“What time does it start and where is it?”
“3 pm in Marylebone…”
“Put her first on the list. Don’t worry, we’ll get you to the church on time!” (Well, registry office, but yes.)
I suppose this was all quite good in a way. It certainly took my mind off the bigger picture, as we plotted the best way to travel, what to take, etc, leaving me little time to dwell on what might be about to happen. Plus I had other worries, such as: I’d already done my nails, so now I was going to have to ruin them by removing one index finger’s polish for the monitors. Who knows, perhaps the look will catch on.
So we packed the most unusual hospital bag to date, topping up the normal stuff with our wedding outfits, as well as a change of clothes for the evening and overnight bits as well. Yes, this was not just an hour at a registry office in Central London. We were all due to jump on a minibus afterwards and head to Cambridge where a fabulous, many-coursed dinner awaited us. And I hoped it would take more than a general anaesthetic that morning to stop me from going.
Shortly after arriving at the Marsden at 7:30am, it became clear that I was going to be something of a VIP. Wandering around a hospital with a suit bag isn’t totally normal for a start. The mention of a wedding provoked an enthusiastic “Oh it’s YOU!!!” response from any member of staff. And, most excitingly, the anaesthetist promised me “the Rolls Royce of anaesthetics” in order to try and minimise side effects and get me back up and running asap.
Fast forward a few hours… after a bit of a wobble around 1:30pm where it looked unlikely that I’d make it, I had managed to get changed and redo my hair (it was a long shot that I’d be able to have surgery and keep my wedding hairstyle intact). All of a sudden, we noticed that I had a fairly angry-looking rash appearing on my chest and back. It wasn’t a complete surprise, as I’d been given the dreaded Fentanyl – but assured that in such small quantities, it shouldn’t make me itchy. The result of this was that while I was trying to order a taxi and escape, with the boyfriend suited, booted and armed with wheelie suitcase, one of the nurses was on the phone to the anaesthetist and poking around at my rash. Finally, I was given the all clear and we made a run (shuffle) for it.
While we didn’t quite make it to the registry office on time, they kindly held the service 15 minutes for us (see – VIP!), so we didn’t miss it. And yes, if you were wondering, we also made it to Cambridge – and through most of the courses of the dinner.
From biopsy to banqueting in under 12 hours, thanks to the incredible Royal Marsden staff.
Caroline Crimson x