Patricia Pollard

Hello, I'm Pat. I found this wonderful site a few days ago and I want to tell you my story. Here goes! In March 2005, about the 22nd or 23rd, I noticed a sweat rash under my left breast and I did the usual procedure of bathing it drying and applying Sudocream. All women get it at some time or another so I was not too worried. After a few days it had not cleared up and was very sore so on Sunday 27th March I went to the on-call Doctors. (It was Easter Sunday.) A nice lady doctor had a look and decided to have me admitted to hospital. She phoned the consultant on call and he agreed to admit me. I think because I had Breast Cancer in 2002/2003 they were being cautious. I'd had a Mastectomy, so only had my left breast. During Sunday they tried to get a line in for antibiotics and couldn't, which is not unusual for me, I have always had a problem with finding veins! On Easter Monday they said I could go home with loads of oral antibiotics. I didn't feel well but was glad to be home. I took the pills and that night I started vomiting, so the next morning my son took me to the surgery, I really wasn't feeling well. I saw one of the doctors in our practice and she was very concerned about the rash which had worsened considerably. I had not realized this, obviously because I wasn't quite with it! My son's partner told me the rash had opened up slightly. I was readmitted to hospital and from then on I don't remember an awful lot. I remember seeing my hands very swollen and thinking I had better take my rings off, especially since I'd had a new wedding ring the year before and didn't fancy having it cut off! I remember telling Reg ( my husband) that evening at visiting and he removed all my jewelry, just left me my watch. My next memory is sitting on commode to have a wee and nothing happening (Wednesday). The nurse asked me to try again and I did 1 drop! I can remember telling the consultant "I haven't had a wee since yesterday morning". He asked was I sure and I said yes because I'd told the nurse and she asked me to try again. There was nothing in my notes about this or the fact that had been vomiting 3 times a day which I don't remember doing. Reg knew because he was given the dirty night clothes to wash! I had developed a black spot under my breast and so the consultant asked for a 2nd opinion from a colleague. He saw me on Friday morning (1st April) and decided to move me to ICU and operate. Reg was called from work to say that I was extremely ill and could he come. He contacted the children and two of them came immediately and my oldest son arrived that evening (he had the longest journey). Lt Col.Edwards was the surgeon who had been called in. (I must explain that Army personnel work in our local hospital. There is a base a few miles away.) He explained to my family that I was very ill and after the operation I would be on full life support for a while. The operation would take about an hour and then half an hour to connect me up to all the machinery. Was he wrong! I apparently was talking to my family in ICU while I was waiting to go down. I knew I was having an op. I can't remember. my next memory is waking up on the way to theatre and asking what was happening. The Col. said I was going for an operation and I asked him if he could do a tummy tuck while he was at it!! He told Reg what I had said. The op took 4 3/4 hours which was very worrying for my family. When I came back Reg asked if I would be ok and would he be taking me home. The Col. told him the main job was to keep me alive. I was kept asleep for 12 days. I caused some concern during this time and kept them on their toes! They decided to try and wake me up after 9 days. I fought at first but then I started to come round slowly. During this 3 days I had some very strange dreams, in all of them I was ill but in varying places and countries. I can still remember them. One was during WW2 because I remember hearing Churchill giving one of his speeches on the radio! I was born in 1944 so I don't remember anything about the war. Strange, isn't it? During my waking up period they removed the tube down my throat and fitted a Tracheotomy. I woke up properly on 13th April and was so pleased to see Reg, I knew I was safe. He told me everything that happened over the next few weeks. I have a lot of friends who came to say goodbye to me, but prayers were being said daily and although I'm not active in the church, I do believe. Reg had also been to the hospital chapel and asked God for a sign. When he got back to ICU he noticed I'd had a wee! It meant my kidneys were starting to work again. I had a wound about 16ins long and 8ins wide which was left open to heal. I had 3 operations in 5 days to clear out the dead tissue and the Col. has since told me that he did not expect me to live on the Friday. He had such a shock when he opened me up, he thought he was dealing with a large cyst and instead there was infection from the middle of my breast, right round to my back. He told Reg it was as big as a coffee table! After over 5 weeks in hospital I came home on 5th May 2005. I couldn't believe how weak I was, I mistakenly thought that I would go from strength to strength in a short space of time, even thought they said It would take many months to heal. Reg has looked after me for the last 18 months and although the wound has now healed I still have no energy and have to pace myself. Reg is hoping to go back to work by the end of October, I will miss him but I realize that I can only do what I can do. I must praise Frimley Park Hospital for the excellent care they gave me. Even after the hiccups at the beginning, I can't fault them. I live in Hampshire, England. Well, that's my story, it has helped me by writing it down. NF is a terrible disease as you all know and there are varying degrees of damage to the body but I think we can all agree that it puts a new perspective on life. Life is so precious! Please get in touch if you want to. Pat & Reg