So I went in for my biopsy. I had to get in for the 7am admission, though I knew my surgery wouldn’t be happening until around midday. The nurses tried to tell me I was up first so had to get ready, but I said I didn’t think that was likely. I got moved around three times to different bays. In the end, my surgical team were all running around trying to find me. The ever elusive Jen.
UCLH felt different. Everyone there for surgery had to sit in the foyer and wait until they were called. There were pathways. The green pathway was for those who had had a covid test and had been screened. There were other pathways too but I was green. Then we had to be escorted up in the lift. The special ‘green pathway’ lifts. Only people who were proven covid safe could ride in these lifts. And they had to be called via walkie talkie.
So I went up to the pre-surgery area. Everyone used to just be shoved in a room together on level 1 to wait. But this time it was level 3 and we were all in separate bays, cordoned off by the usual purple curtains like everywhere else in the hospital.
My dear friend Emilie the anaesthetist dropped in to say hi. She was working in another area and saw on the board where I was waiting. She knew I was in that day. Recognising people behind their masks takes a minute when you’re not expecting them but after a moment, a huge smile spread across my face. It was an absolute DREAM to see her. We had a bit of a catch up, which was so nice, and she filled me in on who my anaesthetist was going to be.
Not long after she left, my anaesthetist Kirstie popped in to say hi. I had met her before in fact, though I’d never had her as an anaesthetist. We had a chat about my difficult veins and if there’s anything anaesthetics-wise that doesn’t agree with me. I said ketamine, but of course I knew they wouldn’t give me that for such a short surgery. Anyway, more about her later.
Next I saw Mr K, who consented me for surgery. He showed me my MRI. There is a mass on my… um… lower orbital? Basically on the bottom of my eye socket, the top of my cheekbone. So this surgery is to biopsy that mass. They will try to go through my nose, but as it’s all blocked off, it’s unlikely to work. Failing that, they will cut through the bottom of my eyelid and tunnel down from there. That sounds terrifying. But… I guess I’ve had worse. He said it would be weird for it to be cancer, over 2 years later, but stranger things have happened.
Then he lays it all out there. Half an hour before I go into surgery, he breaks it to me. The reality of the situation. This is a diagnostic surgery (we know this bit). It is to understand what next course of action we take.
There are two possible things causing this and two possible courses of actions from here.
- It’s an infection around my middle implant (you remember I’ve got three – those three metal rods drilled into my cheekbones that hold my teeth). If this is the case, I will have to have surgery to remove the implant. No more implant. Bye bye implant.
- It’s cancer. And from there… well… who knows. Treatment if there is some… more surgery… Lose more of my face… my eye… my head… die… Your imagination is probably as good as mine.
That’s it. There’s no happy ‘just take some antibiotics and be on your way…’
If my implant is infected, it must go. If it’s not an infection, it’s cancer. Either way, there’s more serious surgery to come.
As I left Mr K he chanted at me ‘Hope for infection! Hope for infection!’ Which makes me smile in hindsight because… you know… I am hoping for that. Though I think at the time I grumbled something about that still meaning I’d have to lose an implant.
That’s not great either, is it. Still better than cancer though…