Who would have thought that on the night before my double mastectomy I’d be waiting for blood test results and a phone call from my surgeon to determine whether I’ll be going under the knife tomorrow or not? Certainly not me.
I should be relaxed and ready; showered with the special surgical soap, hospital bag packed, beanie on, tucked up in bed. But no, instead I’m waiting for my phone to ring praying for my platelets levels to be where they need to be so I can undergo the double mastectomy that I’ve been amping myself up for for so long.
Platelets are a component of the blood in the bone marrow whose function is to stop bleeding by forming clots. And as of Friday, mine were half the amount they need to be. Certainly not ideal for a major surgery with the removal of large tissue like a double mastectomy.
Last Wednesday I went to the pre-admission clinic at the hospital to meet with the nurse, doctor, anesthetist and do pre-surgery tests which is common procedure for any major surgery. There I had a blood test which is what steam rolled my past few anxious days of waiting.
When the nurse called me on Friday advising that my platelets were super low, I was simply shattered. I was an emotional cot-case. It was an absolute head fuck. I was in shock finding this out two days before I’m due to have my breasts removed. I genuinely thought that someone must be having a laugh. It this for real? The platelet levels need to be around 100, but mine were only at 50. I raced to the hospital for another urgent blood test in hope that they had miraculously increased since 2 days ago.
The pathologist kindly fast tracked the results on the spot as she could see how anxious and upset I was. My platelets had increased, but only to 56. The chance of them increasing to 100 by Monday was extremely slim, she said. I was gutted and could not believe it.
There’s been months of psychological preparation for Monday May 22, with so much anticipation and emotional build up, so the idea that it might be jeopardized at the last minute because of low platelet levels, has been frustrating and upsetting. For the past few weeks I have done everything I can to try and support recovery from chemo as best as possible by eating clean, staying positive and ‘healthy’. Hearing of my low platelet levels was a complete left fielder. It was a shock especially when I’ve noticed a real shift in energy this week. However In hindsight the aching bones and muscles were perhaps tell tale signs of the struggle that’s currently happening within my poor bone marrow.
My first question to my surgeon was why don’t I just have a platelet transfusion? Surely I could have one on Saturday and Sunday to boost my levels right? Double dose me up for Monday? I’d had 2 blood transfusion during chemo treatment so instantly thought it would be an easy solution.
However my surgeon and oncologist soon burst that hopeful bubble explaining that a platelet transfusion isn’t really a good option in this scenario in that they are risky, can cause reactions and that platelets deplete too quickly so I’d need to have one on the day of surgery which is not ideal as they won’t last long.
My surgeon said it simply: “We’ve spent 6 months trying to save your life, so will not risk you bleeding out now.” With the potential for massive blood loss due to the large raw area in which the breast tissue will leave, It’s a no brainer. She will not operate unless levels are above 100.
As soon as I hung up I called my incredible acupuncturist and she slotted me in for an urgent session. Feeling like I could possibly make a difference and have a bit of control rather than waiting and wondering, I had an hour session where she focused on balancing my blood and stimulating regeneration.
I left with some not so delicious Chinese herbs that taste less like tea and more like a warm forest floor, so I’m clearly trying to do whatever I can to get these little platelets of mine up to scratch. After months of chemo mouth, this foul tea could be worse.
On the flip side of this situation, I guess having low platelets is a good thing to some degree as it indicates just how effective the chemo has been. Let’s hope the cancer has been hit just as hard as the platelets.
And there I was with my girlfriends today lunching and celebrating the “boob voyage” that very well might not happen. I received the most beautiful hamper full of thoughtful items that will help with recovery post op. Today was a reminder of just how lucky I am.
I had another blood test this morning and it’s these results that I’m now waiting on as I type this blog post up. My surgeon is due to call this evening to inform me as to whether i’ll be operated on tomorrow. Its 730pm.
But my guts leaning one way and regretfully I feel quite confident that I won’t be caught out for having not packed my bags for the scheduled 630am departure to the hospital tomorrow.
As expected, my surgeon has just called confirming that my levels are too low, just 64. Its 10pm on the Sunday night before my scheduled surgery and I’m not surprised but I still feel disappointed and quite deflated after a draining weekend.
Time to rewire my mind to redirect energy from loss of boobs towards platelet recovery. A flick of a switch would be handy right now.
I’m so grateful that my surgeon is an empathetic woman who understands the emotional roller coaster that this weekend had been for me. She has shifted some patients and has advised that the earliest available surgery slot is Tuesday June 6th, which is 2 weeks away and should be enough time for my body to be fully recovered.
Looks like I’ve got a shitload of Chinese forest floor tea to drink between now and then. But it beats my boobs bleeding out on the operating table any day. Bung that kettle on & prayer for the platelets!