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I guessed the slump was on its way…..a Monday morning and a grumpy cleaner, (Ajjima) set the tone for my day. Let me explain!

Yesterday evening, Dr Shim kindly changed my dressings for me as I smelt a little ‘odorous’ in them and he removed the drains and re bandaged my legs. We agreed that the stitching could wait until today and I really wasn’t looking forward to that bit AT all.

I was so comfortable, I had the best night’s sleep so far.

So, still a little sleepy, this morning, I rose, went to the bathroom and as I opened the door, to come out, Ajjima came in. I could hear that she was not happy, so I popped my head back around the door, to see the loo full of paper and something else large and bulky – and it was about to overflow!

What on earth had happened?!

She had already indicated last week to put all paper tissues down the loo, but Steve was here yesterday, and I forgot to relay the message to him, so she had just tipped these into the toilet basin and was flushing the handle.

But it also looked like one of my dressings had slipped off unnoticed into the loo! And I had missed it! So, I got a ‘telling off’ for  the tissues and near flooding! I left the room and she followed me out to get the biggest plunger you’d ever seen!

The nurses and I were having a little discreet chuckle- as the culture demands, we can’t really answer back, being younger. She came back out brandishing the plunger and we all scuttled out of the way. But to my horror- the offending dressing had been plunged down the pan instead of removed! Argh! I hope it doesn’t block the whole drainage system!

So, then came my breakfast. Tuya had arranged for me to have a bowl and fresh milk for my English cereal each morning, but the milk supplies were building up, so she arranged for it to be stopped over the weekend- only it still kept arriving and the fridge is full of milk!

So, when Tuya came in to check all was well with me and to see if I needed anything, I told her my funny stories and we both had a good laugh over these things!  I felt a little better then, she is an engaging, intelligent lady.

I was called to the physical therapy room next and enjoyed a lovely 20 minute session on the pneumatic pumps, but as the drain wounds in my legs weren’t stitched closed yet, they pushed the lymph fluid onto the blanket I was laying on. I felt so bad about that!

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Then it got a whole lot worse- it was ‘stitch time….’

Local anaesthetic was used to make it more bearable, but it was that injection that hurt, the actual stitching was fine.

After thrashing around on the table from being stabbed into my already bruised and tender flesh, my pain threshold was non existent and I rose from the table all wobbly and feeling sorry for myself. This has definitely been the most painful part of the whole experience to date.

Next stop was being measured for some made to fit compression tights, which looked great! Has anyone else got a pair with a zip in? What a clever idea, to help put them on and take them off! These are made here in Korea and will be ready for me tomorrow- less than 24 hours in the making. I can’t wait!

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Further along the corridor, Dr Shim was carrying out a cosmetic procedure on a lady with thread or spider veins and she was happy for me to look in to see how it worked. It took seconds, and they were gone! I asked her if the needle hurt and she nodded an affirmative, so, I showed her the video I’d just taken on my phone and she was so pleased with the instant result, I think she forgot about the needle.

Then it was time for my post op sonograph, but I had been standing for too long, I felt sick and dizzy so we abandoned it until tomorrow.

By the time I came back up to the ward, I was feeling quite miserable. I huddled under the bedcovers and put my headphones in and had a little weep.

Self pity is allowed for a little while, but that’s all….

I thought about where I was, in a strange country, in a hospital , not able to chat with other patients, far away from even my Ulsan home. I haven’t told my family and friends back in the UK ( only my daughter) where I was or what I was doing so they don’t panic, Steve can’t get back here until Saturday.

I’m missing my dogs and my daily river walks, my Ulsan friends and having got weighed, not even an ounce of weight loss to celebrate… The curtains are permanently closed as there is no view for me to look out on and of course, I’m getting less enthusiastic about hospital food.

My legs still looked lumpy and even more swollen due to what I’d just been doing to them. Even the nurses knew I was having a bad day. They are all so kind! They made my bed look all comfy for me to get into, they gave me some of their crackers as I really didn’t fancy my Korean hospital food and washed the strawberries Steve had bought for me.

So, as I let the self pity wash over me , I listened to the music on my phone and thought about what I actually want from this – why am I here, in this situation?

The lady having the vein treatment had beautiful, slender, firm legs. She wanted the veins removing because she was unhappy with them. She could wear mini skirts and shorts again. She is fit and healthy, with a lovely figure, but wants to look fabulous in her eyes. But she already did, in my eyes!

I was there, with a primary aim of getting rid of the Lymphoedema. I will never wear short shorts and mini skirts (I never have!) but I so want to wear dainty pretty girlie shoes again.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, would have I done the same if I had her legs?

Yes, I would.

We all want to halt the ageing/illness process and hang on to what we didn’t know we had till we see it slip away with gravity or eating too much of the wrong things. Even if it is things that only we see in the mirror, they are important to our self image, overall health and well being.

But now I know how frail and delicate the human body really is, I would think twice about jumping in for treatments that are cosmetic only…

Then, I remembered the other patient in here with primary Lymphoedema. He is a 26 year old boy – a year younger than my son….born with a leg that now looks like this….

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I am so lucky! This boy was born with AVM’s (arterial/venous malformations) and Lymphodema in his right leg.

The skin has gone into overdrive, overgrowing thickened scales of skin, a cross between the thick skin on his sole and the composition of toenails, known as hyperkeratosis. Hard, inflexible and prone to infection, with maybe an amputation as his destiny.

Now, he is lucky – he is having a second liposuction treatment tomorrow and the first one has already reduced the diameter of his leg by 50%. He couldn’t reach to cut his toenails when he came in 2 weeks ago, but today, he could…and that discoloured scaly skin is softer, more malleable.

I asked Dr Shim if the boy’s parents had paid for this or himself, or whether it was through some insurance. He told me that they were unable to pay, so Dr Shim is doing it for free, as he wanted to help the boy. If he needed to, they would raise the money through donations and appeals.

Well, my self pity left the building!

I felt so humble….and ashamed of myself.

Onwards and upwards!

So- I asked to be taken to the beauty treatment spa across the road for a facial…

One hour later, my batteries recharged- with no sign of today’s pain on my face – as massage helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which makes you look older. A  good enough reason for a treat, I think!

I enjoyed it, but not too sure about the application of placenta as my final cream… couldn’t it have been something like chocolate, instead!?

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