The strangest thing I found over the next few days was listening to my body. I have always been the person who, if I have a cold or any illness I ignore it and keep going until it goes away. This was different, this was something I couldn’t control. I was getting up and walking up and down the corridor as much as I could, I heard my body telling me to sit down, I felt my muscles giving up and getting tired. In my mind, I’d say just a few more steps, but before I could attempt it I was sitting back in bed. This was my first lesson, listen to my body because right now it knows better than my mind does.
Every day I got stronger and felt a tiny bit like myself again, I was stiff and sore and tired a lot but I was in a better position than I was 4 days before. When my dressings came off it was the first time I had seen my scar. This was something that didn’t bother me, for many people it will bother them and it can be scary to see it at first. I was excited to see it. You might assume that being into beauty, being a young woman this would be my biggest problem but it wasn’t. When the nurse removed the bandages my first thought was, ‘oh there it is, not so bad’, then I took a picture of it!!! Now another thing to understand about me is that I’m not a soppy type of person. I don’t get upset or cry for nothing……. And either does my mam. When she first saw my scar, she told me I look like Frankenstein, sensitive I know but it made us laugh.
I was told before my operation that I would be in hospital for about 6-8 days, so I averaged it about seven days! On the Saturday morning, my consultant came to see me. We chatted about everything, he checked out the wound and told me I would be going home the next day. 5 days after my operation I was being let home. I was excited, I was scared too, but anxious to get out. This won’t happen to everyone, I had made good progress in hospital, I had youth and fitness on my side, I was lucky. I told mam and Martin and they were delighted. Saturday went by in my usual routine of walking the corridors, taking naps, watching tv and reading. Then came Sunday. I was awake every morning at 6am when the nurses came in to do their usual blood pressure and weight check. I sat waiting for the surgical registrar to come in and discharge me. Mam came in and had my room packed up in about 5minutes flat, pretty sure that was record time! The registrar came in and I was waiting for a list of instructions of do’s and don’ts but he was ready to walk out the door until I asked what I should and shouldn’t do. Reluctantly it seemed he gave me the bare minimum. No lifting anything, no excessive walking, lots of rest, no swimming and we’ll see you in 4 weeks. That was it I was on my own to figure this out.
Mam brought me down to the car in a wheelchair……I’m fairly sure this isn’t the way things should work, but we had no other option!! We got into the car and left the safety of the hospital. Leaving the carparks there were ramps……ramps plus car, plus human just after open heart surgery didn’t go very well!!!! Even going over bumps in the road on the way home hurt, another lesson for me to learn. Up until this point I had kept my spirits up. As we were driving home past the hospital they faltered. I was looking at the hospital and I was scared, what was going to happen, how hard was this going to be, once again it was the unknown that got to me. I knew I’d have to work it out I just wasn’t sure how. I got home and the first thing I did…… after getting back into my pyjamas of course! Was to go for a little walk. Yes, I walked up and down my estate in my pyjamas, if this was all I had to worry about I was dong ok. That evening I went to bed for a while. I got back up, watched TV, then went back to bed expecting to sleep my brains out in my own bed. No such luck. I went to bed at 8pm, nothing I did made me comfortable, I couldn’t sleep and my brain felt like it was in overdrive. Eventually at about 12am I must have drifted off. If I got 5 hours sleep that night I was lucky.
I was home and this was the start, the start of the only part of this journey that bothered me. How do I recover and what will happen to my body as I do? I had to remember my first lesson, listen to my body and let it take over. The photo I’ve put in is me, it’s my scar and its now part of my story. Like a tattoo I have on my wrist it’s there forever. A conversation starter in future maybe, who knows, but its mine and it’s a reminder of what I can do, where I’ve been and the start of something new.