A Vegan Experience of Surgery & Recovery: I had chest reconstruction surgery on August 22nd 2017. For Vegan Mofo 2017, I will be writing about my experience preparing for surgery and my ongoing recovery.
I was pretty lucky that I had my surgery in the Vegan Heaven that is Brighton. Back when I lived in Croydon 5 or so years ago I used to pop over to Brighton quite a lot, but these days it’s a bit too far for me to travel down regularly.
The process of having surgery requires quite a few trips to the hospital. I had an initial Consultation at the beginning of May, a Pre-Op at the beginning of August, the Surgery visit on August 22nd and then a Post-Op a week later. That’s a lot of trips to Brighton, so lucky me I had the opportunity to eat some really good food.
I thought I’d talk a little bit about my Pre-Op before discussing some tasty food. I’m a massive tease like that. I had a fair bit of anxiety about the appointment but it was pretty straightforward.
The assessment took place just 2 weeks before my surgery date. I had a very short appointment with my surgeon, followed by a longer one with a nurse. The meeting with my surgeon was very similar to my consultation but a lot quicker, I was probably only in the room for 10 minutes. All it involved was quickly going over what was discussed at the initial consultation. So, checking in that we were talking about the same procedure, confirming that I had signed all the consent forms that detail risks and potential complications and then the hard part, taking off my top and letting my surgeon take a photo of my chest.
It was a bit easier this time round as I had done it before at the consultation, but if you have a lot of dysphoria around that area then it will be difficult. I couldn’t bring myself to even let my partner see my chest, so having a complete stranger look at, touch and discuss this part of my body was a real challenge. It involved a lot of self care before and after.
The pre-op showing of chesticles was a lot quicker though. I went behind a curtain, removed my shirt and bra, my surgeon popped in, quickly looked and took a photo and it was over. I don’t think I even had my top off for 30 seconds. It is very fast and of course they are used to doing this and are very sensitive and professional.
After that I had an hour or so to wait before my appointment with the nurse. While I waited I filled in a health questionnaire. This just involved questions about my health obviously, a bit of family history, had I had surgery before, what medication do I take, do I have allergies etc. All straight forward, you’ll need to know your NHS number and to bring along your medication in the boxes they come in.
I then had a quick chat with the nurse about what I would expect to happen on the day, a bit about anaesthetic and the risks involved and then some information about post surgery care. I had to buy 2 post op binders for £14 and was given a special sponge to wash with on the day of surgery.
A nice creepy and clinical photo of an ECG for you here
Then came the tests. I had to get weighed, give a urine sample, a blood test and some MRSA swabs. I’m used to blood tests now even though I’m terrified of needles, so that was okay. The swabs were strange, I got to do my groin one myself to save on awkwardness but the ones up the nose are fricking weird. After these tests I had my blood pressure taken and then an Electrocardiogram (ECG). I had to take my shirt off but was able to keep my bra on. If you have a binder you might have to take it off for this, so if this feels uncomfortable for you, get hold of a cheap sports bra. This looks way scarier than it is, you have those sticky pads attacked to wires go on certain parts of your body, you imagine you’re going to get shocked or something…but it’s actually boring, you won’t feel a thing.
That was it. I was told that I was incredibly healthy, in a really good place to have surgery and that if anything came up in my blood tests or swabs I would be contacted in a few days and given a course of treatment before my surgery date. I was free to go!
Despite it running so smoothly, I’d had a lot of anxiety before so I was ready to eat ALL the foods after this. I caught a bus to the North Laines and went to one of my favourite chains of all time, Loving Hut
This Loving Hut has a selection of burgers, breakfasts and some really great Chinese dishes. You can also get milkshakes, cakes, brownies and other sweet treats. I decided to go for my favourite, an Ocean Burger with a side of Chicken Balls and Sweet & Sour Sauce.
Ocean Burger, Chicken Balls and Passionfruit Lemonaid
The Ocean Burger is battered vegan fish, with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and tartar sauce. The Balls are self explanatory. God I love them. This burger was just as good as I remembered and it was really nice to have a favourite dish of mine, nice and comforting after a stressful few days
The cakes on offer at the North Laines Loving Hut never seem as exciting as those at the St Peters Place location, they were all Chai and Matcha when I wanted something a bit more filthy. I headed over to the Loving Hut Cafe to pick up some cake before I got my train home, it’s handy as this one is on the way to the station. I got a slice of a Jam Sponge and a Chocolate Cake. Sadly I forgot to take photos but they were delicious!
I left Brighton with mixed feelings. Shitting myself that I’d be back in a few weeks to have the first operation I’ve ever had, but also excited that I’d be back to a place that offers so much tasty food!
Thanks for reading and for all the lovely kind and supportive comments so far. Feel free to share your own experiences below