Recently I had surgery – 12 hours – as a result of a cancer diagnosis. I researched my options*, read endlessly and participated in forums. There was advice, gory pictures and what they can do would have been FASCINATING if it wasn’t being done to me!
Once I made my decision I researched what to take into hospital etc. There was lots of great advice but no-one mentioned earrings. Can you believe this? No-one! I’d been told that my hospital stay would be 7-10 days so I packed the 9 pairs of earrings pictured. As it turned out I should have packed 3 more pairs but we aren’t to know these things. You will notice that these aren’t all made by me. My selection included my beloved Heidi Helyard and Genevieve Williamson earrings and some I made using turquoise from Nepal. I didn’t worry about matching those appalling hospital gowns of baby blue or white but chose what felt fun.
On the first day post surgery even I was not thinking about earrings but I began wearing my earrings on day 2. Wearing some pairs required more chutzpah than I could muster in hospital so, when you are wondering about which earrings to take into hospital after huge surgery my advice would be to remember that you may not feel oomphy enough to wear the big face ones.
What are the advantages of post operative earrings?
- Nursing/ medical staff have something to talk with you about apart from your bodily functions. They are reminded that beneath this sutured, anxious, shuffling exterior is a woman who loves her earrings and doesn’t really feel awake until she is earringed up!
- Physiotherapists can distract you from the discomfort of movement by asking you how you made your earrings;
- You can distract your self from the discomfort of movement by telling them;
- Your family, who know that if you’re not wearing lipstick or earrings they should be worried, don’t have to worry;
- Hospital staff can be astonished that one woman owns so many pairs of earrings (if only they knew);
- Prolonged hospital stays can make you a bit blasé about hiding parts of your body that are normally hidden. Earrings provide somewhere for people to look if you’ve forgotten to pop the cotton gown over the normally hidden bit. And finally
- Wearing earrings reminded ME that I was not just the mightily sutured, anxious, shuffling, barely competent woman I felt like for a while there. I may not have been able to get out of bed independently but by golly I once made nice earrings and would again! I may not have been able to make a heap of decisions or choices but I could choose my earrings for the day!
My thank you present to the staff many weeks later was a big box of Wendy-made earrings and I hope they each found a pair they loved.
I’ve been surrounded by the love of so many throughout this whole thing. I visualised myself floating on a cloud of this love even as I was being wheeled into theatre. The love took so many forms: special cushions, flowers, nighties, books and puzzles, lucky undies, messages, phone calls, snacks, essential oils, visits, games, jigsaws, regular check-ins, patience with my appalling communication…the list goes on. My friend Libby, seeing the damage that a month of wearing TED stocking (anti embolism compression stockings) might do to me, came around and dyed one pair a deep magenta and one pair a practical but less institutionalised black! I am deeply grateful to be at this side of my experience and profoundly aware of how different my experience has been to that of women in Nepal for whom diagnosis is made much later and treatment options often very limited. This has made me more determined that ever to do whatever I can to make some sort of difference over there.
*and clearly my first response was not calmly researching options. I began with a somewhat head-in-the-sand approach which I think is pretty common. Everyone will make different decisions and mine won’t be right for everyone but was right for me. I just needed to take time to make a decision based on what was best for me in the long term instead of what meant I could get back to doing everything I always did ASAP.