It was Spring 2004, and the day after my breast augmentation operation I developed a really weird sloshy ring, like a spare tyre, around my waist. I asked one of the nurses what it was and she dismissively replied, “oh that’s normal dear.”
I’ll never forget those stupid, wrong words. It wasn’t normal. I never had a spare tyre of sloshy liquid around my waist before in my life. I was a skinny minny, 5’9″ and only 9 stone. There wasn’t an inch of fat on my body – except now there was a completely liquid ring around my waist. I guess the nurse must have thought that I was being vain and complaining about a bit of fat on my body, but she didn’t stop to discuss it further, she was already walking away in irritation.
I didn’t know it at the time but it was blood from internal bleeding (because I didn’t have drains put in post op). The next day I fainted when I tried to walk to the toilets. In total, I was in hospital for five days. All the other girls had recovered and been sent home, yet I was struggling and exhausted and still utterly feeble. No-one thought to question this. It was decided that I’d been occupying the bed for too long so was sent home without any checks on my health. I must be fine – it had been five days since the operation – I was a lazy slacker (or at least that’s how I was made to feel, as if I was taking a long time to recover on purpose).
I continued to feel unwell for a couple of months (weakness, feebleness, headaches every day, fatigue, tiny appetite) and eventually, after really insisting, pressurising various GPs and getting nowhere, I went to A&E. They said, “you have a tension headache.”
I knew in my heart they were wrong so I insisted that it wasn’t. Thank God I had the strength to battle. A young doctor reluctantly ordered a few blood tests and not long after that I was hastily admitted. The next day I had to have a blood transfusion I’d lost so much blood – leaking out of my breasts into my abdominal cavity and settling around my waist…. It was my first ever blood transfusion, and I haven’t needed one since. I will forever feel annoyed that I was forced to have one because of the surgeon’s error.
“Have you been bleeding?” he demanded to know when he came to see me. “You weren’t a bleeder during the operation. The blood must have disappeared somehow!” I didn’t say anything because I didn’t know what to say. The only thing that had happened to me was the operation he performed. I was fine beforehand, unwell afterwards. I didn’t realise that his failure to fit me with drains caused the problem and risked my life. But he must have known as he interrogated me with his ridiculous question.
I was lucky the situation wasn’t any worse.