In her weekly diary piece, Michelle Heaton, 33, gives us an insight into her world as she recovers from her life-changing surgery to beat cancer
Closer’s Michelle Heaton had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction last Tuesday. We’ve been following her emotional journey in the month running up to the operation and, following the procedure, she tells us she feels a “weight has been lifted,” although she hasn’t felt able to look at her new breasts in the mirror yet.
If all has gone to plan, when you read this, I’ll be recuperating at home. I went in for the double mastectomy and breast reconstruction last Tuesday. Going into theatre was daunting, given how worried I was in the run-up to the operation, but it happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think. I walked in, they laid me on the bed and put the needle in and started chatting to me about Liberty X! The next thing I knew, I was waking up.
'Going into theatre was daunting, given how worried I was in the run-up to the operation'
I had no concept of time because I felt totally out of it afterwards. I took longer to come round from the anaesthetic than anticipated, so I was really groggy.
I went under at 8.20am, then woke about 3.30pm. I was so disorientated and sick that I had to stay on the recovery ward for a couple of hours, then Hugh was waiting for me in my room. It was amazing to see him, but I can’t really remember that day at all now – it’s a complete blur! I was given morphine for the pain, but it made me sick, so I was put on a high dose of milder painkillers instead.
Other than that, my plastic surgeon Mr Mosahebi and breast surgeon Miss Lee Min Lai, at Spire Bushey Hospital, are thrilled with how the operation went.
Two days after, though, I went to the toilet for the first time, as I’d had a catheter in, and I nearly fainted.
'It's the hardest thing in the world not being able to hold your child'
I felt the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. It’s such a simple thing going to the loo, but surgery just takes everything out of you. Lorraine has been following my journey for ITV and they filmed a segment with me quite soon after the operation. To be totally honest, I have no idea what I said! Probably just: “Thank God it’s over!”
Hugh brought Faith in to see me the morning after the op, but only for 20 minutes as she’s so active and I couldn’t do anything, not even hug her. It’s the hardest thing in the world not being able to hold your child and it was awful because she could obviously sense something was wrong.
She waves now and to see her waving as she left was heartbreaking. When she’d gone, I mainly slept and watched lots of daytime TV because I couldn’t focus on reading or anything as I felt so out of it.
I walked around a little, but was told to take everything very slowly. I feel completely numb on my chest. When I touch my boobs, it doesn’t feel like my skin. I’ll gradually get a little feeling back, but nothing in the nipples, which I was told to expect, as this is standard after a mastectomy.
The pain comes and goes and I can only describe it as though someone has wrapped something round me that they’re pulling tighter and tighter. There are actually no bandages at all, just stitches and a drain on each side for the fluid build up, which were taken out before I left hospital.
'From what I've seen, they're a little different, but I can't face looking at them properly'
As I write, I’ve had a couple of peeks down my nightie but, I’ll be honest, I’m scared to look at them properly in the mirror. I’ve felt too dizzy to even stand up really and it will be a while before I can tell what they really look like, as the fluid drains and they’ll settle down.
From what I’ve seen, they’re a little different, but I can’t face looking at them properly in case it freaks me out – the main thing is that there are boobies there!
My mum is around and Hugh took time off work, but I underestimated the recovery and we’ll need more help than I first thought – I assumed I’d be able to hold Faith and be up and about by week two, but that’s unlikely. We’re going to call our friends and rally the troops!
It feels like a weight has been lifted. I’m still shaky and emotional and I keep crying all the time.
It’s the feeling of the unknown – while I’m so relieved the operation is over, I have to take each day as it comes as there are still so many side effects – for instance, it will be a while before we know whether the blood supply to the nipples is good enough to keep them and there are risks like my boobs hardening, if I by chance happen to react to the implants.
'I have to take each day as it comes'
Michelle's husband Hugh with baby Faith
It’s so hard and frustrating when you’ve got a little baby, but it’s a case of resting up and not overexerting myself. The support I’ve had has been amazing – especially from my bestie Vivianna, who’s been looking after Faith all week – you’ve been amazing! Katie Price says she’ll try to pop round, and I’ve had some lovely emails from Closer readers.
I also can’t thank everyone at Spire Bushey Hospital enough. It’s going to be a long, painful and emotional road ahead, but I know my little girl will get me through this and at least this part is over.