Get well cards read, I was happy to wash Brenda’s hair for her this morning. The showering process leaves her sitting in a freezing bathroom, getting progressively more and more cold, so breaking the process into parts seemed a good idea. No sooner had we finished then Brendan (our surgeon) appeared at the door. Into the bathroom he came and he was stated that he was very pleased with Brenda’s progress. Even talking about potential days for her going home (next week hopefully). We see Brendan as our saviour and we are always delighted to see him. His parting shot, “Remember Brenda, we’re only separated by an ‘n’..”
There followed a little bit of maintenance, including the removal, for good, of Brenda’s main incision dressing and then off down the corridor for a spot of physio. Bridget and Mary Lou arrived their visit proving to be a great distraction with lots of laughs (our nurse for the day asked later if they were our daughters..we are all the same age!?)
Late afternoon Brenda and I did a circuit of the corridor and some moves on the parallel bars. Lots of positives today with breakfast, lunch and dinner taken, all of which will help to get Brenda’s digestion going and hopefully lead to her putting some weight on. I left her with the prospect of a bit of telly watching her fingers firmly crossed that she will have a better night.
A slightly broken night’s sleep but after a wash and brush up and super duper new pants (Bid that is for you) it is time for her first ‘real food’ breakfast
Today has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Brenda had an issue with her pain relief running out this morning. The term ‘patient’ has an implied direction in it, but this shall we say, casual approach to her care, necessitated the ‘squeaky wheel’ option to be taken and by the time I arrived, some oil had been applied.
A whole slew of good things then happened. A shower sponsored by Jo Malone, whose shares must be going through the roof. Then the news that Brenda’s catheter and last drain would be removed, which would make her more mobile. A certain amount of trepidation greeted this news, but both procedures, I’m happy to report, passed without incident. This was followed by a spot of physio, a brief performance on the parallel bars and some step climbing. Adele, soup maker extraordinaire, paid a visit and by the time she left, the stuffing had been well and truly knocked out of Brenda.
This afternoon she had a procedure to move her central line from above her clavicle to her jugular. The operating theatres are cold, and by the time she returned, she was freezing, feeling a bit knocked about and on top of that, everything clouded by anaesthetic. She will be fed through the central line for the next few days. She is desperately thin and there is no need or any great incentive to rush headlong into a menu of jelly and ice cream.
Here’s hoping for a good night and a day where she can enjoy being able to race about the corridors.
Okay, so I’m pushing my luck with the song titles but, the tea is a good sign. Walkies, blood pressure down to normal, epidural out and main incision dressed. You name it we did it, baby, that gal was cooking with gas today. Hair-wash, a walk down the corridor, and the green light to move out of intensive care tomorrow. She even voted. Lots of snoozing too, I hasten to add but lots of positives today. The Wonder Woman dressing gown ( a gift from the Queen’s ladies) will be revealed in all its glory when Brenda next goes walkabout.
A plan to get Brenda out of Intensive Care today didn’t come to fruition. Her blood pressure is still low and the nurses are trying to coax it upwards. Lots of good things though. She now looks more herself and was able to Facetime her Mom to sing her Happy Birthday. The physios managed to ease her into a chair for two half-hour stints and she also made two exploratory circuits of the ICU unit supported by a gaggle of acolytes. Very importantly, she was able to give her son a kiss in the flesh. I left her this evening freshly plumbed into a unit of the red stuff in the company of Madelaine.
Wonder Woman has hers and here are our own Superhero’s red booties. Brenda’s second physio session of the day saw her sit in a chair for ten minutes. Earlier in the day she had been coaxed into a sitting position on the edge of the bed so something of a quantum leap. She also enjoyed a bit of a wash and brush up but, clearly tired out by all this activity conked out.
The trajectory of the route to recovery isn’t always upward. Such early days but, nevertheless, today was a little bit of a reality check. She is looking more like her old self but was happy to zone out in her own world for protracted periods.
Great for Brenda to see Bridget Jacob (who stayed overnight nearby and did a double shift) and Madelaine Verchere who will stay into the evening. I’m now home with India and will be having a home-made soup courtesy of Adele Cleaver. So many people to thank Sam and David on Bonzo watch, Louise, Greg and Kirsteen with India. For the moment it suits India and me to have as few moving parts as possible. We are happy to be home together and I will catch up with Teddy tomorrow who will take the train into Basingstoke from Bristol.
Extubation can take from between 15 minutes (best case) to 2 hours (worst case). Brenda was off her ventilator in record time breathing on her own after 10 minutes this morning.
‘At least it is done’ is the main thing we took out of yesterday. Team Trenowden has had less bumpy days, it is safe to say.
I spoke to Brendan (surgeon) midway through the operation. He found the tumour to be worse than he thought. A real tangle and he was very despondent. He and his team worked very hard to untangle things and in the end things worked out better than he anticipated.
Surgery complete Brens is in ICU. Our friend Phillippa (ICU nurse from last time) has been in attendance and I can’t emphasise what a fantastic thing this has been for me. A calm, steady and reassuring hand. The toll on Brenda cannot be understated. Her muscle wastage was plain to see for everyone and that basketball on her tummy didn’t just get there of it’s own accord. I think we all knew things were pretty serious.
As I write to the rhythm of her ventilator we wait for her to be bought round. She has been fighting the sedative so she is ready to rejoin us all at about 9am.
ABBA on the radio, she’ll be dancing before we know it.
I’ve had such a phenomenal past couple of weeks, I haven’t had time to think about what I have ahead of me a week from Monday.
First of all, we launched the latest 30% Club campaign ‘The Missing Millions’ at the London Stock Exchange last Friday morning. Although it was my third time opening the market, it was still very exciting. In fact, I was told that it was one of the biggest and best market opens at the stock exchange. We had a fantastic group of global CEOs as well as the Chair of the Stock Exchange for our opening panel followed by a brilliant panel moderated by my dear friend Christiane and a standing room only theatre of wonderful supporters. It was the culmination of a year’s work from our very dynamic workgroup and the start of what we hope will be a movement of companies coming forward with examples putting a gender lens across everything they do – from product and service design to marketing and advertising, supply chain and strategy. It was magical.
On top of that, I’ve had many lovely dinners and drinks evenings arranged by various groups of friends – all of which were great fun and have forced me to spend time catching up with people and counting my blessings for so many wonderful friendships.
And then last Sunday evening India and I joined my friend Emma and her daughter Alice to see Hillary and Chelsea in conversation with Mary Beard about their new book, ‘Gutsy Women’. It was a super evening and all three were inspiring. I was then pleased to be invited to see Hillary in conversation with my friend Julia Gillard on Wednesday at King’s College. I told Julia about Hillary’s presence in hospital with me almost 3 years ago (in the form of a life-sized cutout, courtesy of Gabrielle), and I asked if she could introduce me to her – and she did. I have to say that it was a real highlight for me. Hillary was warm and engaging and she had incredible presence. I had to stop myself crying (which I find myself having to do a lot lately).
Roll forward to yesterday (Friday) when Trend and I found ourselves back in Basingstoke for my pre-op stuff – blood tests, heart rate, meet the anaesthestist, etc. The nurse who took my blood, Naomi, remembered me from the first time around and asked if I would be bringing Hillary back this time which helped lighten the mood. Otherwise, it was all a bit real. A week from tomorrow we check-in and then on Monday morning I’m off to be sedated at about 7:30am. I was reminded that even though there are fewer organs to come out this time, the fact that it’s my second op means that it will be more complicated and it will be very similar to the first in terms of recovery. I’m hopeful that they’ll open me up and find it isn’t quite as bad as they expect.
Trend will pick up the blog post for a while and will report on things when I’m out of surgery on Monday evening. I expect to be in Intensive Care for at least 4 nights, and then back on the Lyde Ward as before for another two weeks. But we won’t really know much until after the op. I’m getting to the point now where I just want to get it over with and get started on the recovery.