Three Weeks in Hospital

I was in an observation room for two days. I don’t think I have ever felt so bad. It was such a relief to see my girlfriend, often twice a day.

Over the next couple of days, they gave me three blood transfusions. Simple things were tricky -- I had to use a bed pan -- very pleasant! Psychologically, I seemed to find it difficult peeing into a bottle whilst lying in bed. The only way I ever managed it was to stand on my good foot, leaving my bad foot in bed. Washing myself in bed was also not very satisfactory.

After three weeks
Figure 1: After three weeks

After a week, I was feeling somewhat better, and had at least enough concentration to be able to read. The foot looked really big under all the bandages, and was a bit of a mess when they changed the dressing. But it didn’t really ever hurt and nor did the wound on my back and shoulder, the source of the flap. A wheelchair was found whereby there was a built-in support to hold the leg up. At least now I could go to the toilet and wash myself! Equipment was also found with which my girlfriend could wash my hair in bed, which was wonderful.

She was great in lots of other ways too. I got my daily dose of vitamins and minerals in the salads and fruit she brought every day -- it definitely beat hospital food hands down. And she wiled away the hours with me playing board games and cards. The support I got from her and others was wonderful. At at time like that, you really find out who your friends are.

Ten days after the operation, the swelling had reduced enough for the plastic surgeon to be able to finally close the last area of the foot. I was also given the excellent news that no trace of tumour was found either in the material taken from the foot, or the lymph nodes they removed. This also raised the question of why they hadn’t found the other two pieces of tumour that the PET scan had found, that the previous analysis said were still there. The doctors then explained that PET scans not only show up tumours, but also healing and infected tissue. The tumour was also now reclassified as a soft tissue melanoma or a clear cell sarcoma. This changed the staging and now, as the tumour was less than 5cm (2in) and superficial, the new stage was therefore pT1a, with a much better prognosis. (The “p” stands for “primary”, i.e. it wasn’t a metastasis).

Two weeks after the operation, the stitches were removed, and I had most of the movement in my right arm back. They also stitched an area the size of my palm, on the left side of my waist, where the skin had been rubbed off during the operation (I had been lying on my left hand side, giving the surgeons access to the underside of my foot and to my right shoulder/back). It is a little annoying that no one had spotted this sore from the operating table sooner. It took absolutely ages to heal, despite being stitched.

I was also allowed for the first time to let the foot down. The physiotherapist used a compression bandage to prevent blood rushing to the foot and staying there. The bandaging went up above the knee. This first day, I walked around three times on crutches. Each time was for 5 minutes with the leg bandaged as described. I was at no time allowed to put any weight on the foot.

By this time, I was feeling much better, but very bored (I like to read -- but after two weeks pretty much solid, I wanted to do something else), and itching to get out of hospital.

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