I think it is time to introduce you all to my surgeons. These guys honestly became my life line, they felt like my best friends – visiting me each day, telling me things were going well… I knew they were looking out for me. They didn’t all visit me every time, sometimes a lot of them would come, sometimes just one. Sometimes they would have a few other people with them who I didn’t know, I could only guess they were either training or maybe the ward doctors. Sarcomas are usually dealt with in teams, I’m told. Well, here are the main players in mine.
Mr K(alavrezos) – The head of my surgical team. Smiley, clever, somewhat foreboding (I suppose you could say realistic, but he does tend to focus on extreme scenarios), to the point. I like him. He has a certain way about him and I think sometimes we annoy each other, but really he’s amazing. And I really appreciate how direct he is about things. That’s what I want from my surgeon. I also very much respect that he cares about how the surgery will affect the patient aesthetically. He places cuts in areas where the patient would usually have lines in order to disguise them as well as possible. He really does care about his patients. People speak so highly of him and his team, and for good reason. I didn’t see a lot of him when I was in hospital as he went on holiday after my surgery, I think he visited me twice, once before he went away and once when he got back. I do know, however, that he was still in contact with the team about me while he was on holiday.
He was still away when I was rushed back into surgery, so for the second round, the onus was put on…
Mr Liew – He was also a part of my first surgery I believe. There were a lot of surgeons involved so I honestly don’t know how it all worked logistically, makes sense to have a different surgeon for the shoulder/leg and the face I guess… I really wish I knew more about the details. Either way, Mr K. and Mr Liew are the two consultant Maxillofacial Head and Neck surgeons. Mr Liew is such a genuinely lovely guy. Fairly quietly spoken, he’s happy to stand at the back and let other people do their thing, but he says all the right things when he needs to. I enjoyed his visits, he came by quite often. I remember one night another member of the team came in on his own and called Mr Liew about something (they were worried about me that day), and he asked if we wouldn’t mind waiting a few moments – he was in clinic or something and dropped what he was doing to come and look at me. I appreciated that.
Deepti – My absolute hero. Whenever I saw her, whenever I heard her voice, I felt happy. She gave me energy, when I woke up each morning I was motivated by the thought of seeing her and wanted to look my best for her. When I had those days at my absolute worst when I wasn’t really able to look after myself and I was covered in blood in the morning when she came in, she rallied the nurses to clean me up; once she saw me clean, she said she wanted to see me like that every day. By this point I was more capable of sorting myself out and had my own room. I got together my 2 hour morning routine, and got into the habit of asking for a clean gown the night before so I was ready (once I got the last of my drains out I switched to wearing my own clothes – another suggestion from Deepti). These little suggestions from her really helped me to feel a bit more human. I have so much respect for her. She is the most perfect mix of professionalism and compassion. She was the one who called my parents after the surgery, she visited me the most, she was usually the one who decided when drains or stitches would come out, she told the nurses what needed to happen, she usually did the Doppler checks, she was even the one (fast forwarding a bit, we’ll get to it soon) who told me I could go home and took out my feeding tube. She was the one I looked to for reassurance that things were ok. I remember seeing her just before I went into surgery the first time and she squeezed my leg in a reassuring way that made me relax. I honestly can’t even express how much I appreciated her all the way through – from before the surgery when she made time to talk me through everything, to every visit when I was in hospital when she gave me reason to smile no matter how bad I was feeling (maybe with the exception of one day – the morning after the first night in the ward, second time around), to seeing her when I went back to clinic after I had left hospital.
Claire – I met Claire just before my surgery, she ‘consented’ me, meaning she talked me through all the aspects of the surgery (and possibilities) and I gave them consent to do what they needed to. She was so lovely, so personable, after my previous appointment had been a bit of a full-on one with Mr K, it was so nice to have Claire talk me through everything in a more… human way, rather than complex surgical details. Seeing her visit when I was in hospital made me smile (I’ll be sounding like a broken record here because seeing any of these guys made me smile), and I remember seeing her right before the first surgery too, and she gave me a big smile and I really felt I was amongst friends who would protect me, who were there for me to make sure I got through ok.
Payam – I didn’t meet him until after surgery but he very quickly became one of my best friends too. His smile, sense of humour and positive attitude made him a lot of fun to be around. He was very nice, we had some good chats. When I saw him in clinic when I went in for a check-up, 4 days after I left hospital, he came and got me from then waiting room and I said ‘I’ve missed you!’, and it was true!
These guys made me feel like the most important person in the world, they were my team, I was their priority, they were there to make sure I was ok. If they can make every person feel like that, that is amazing. No matter how bad I was feeling, seeing any one of these people brightened me up. They prescribed things to make me better as required, they gave me the good news each day that my flap was doing well (except for the day it was worse of course and I had to go back into surgery, but then I knew they were there, which reassured me), they were the people who knew what was going on.
I trusted them. With my life. And they treated it well.