On the morning of the 15th January, only a week later we made our way to the Royal Marsden Children’s unit to prepare for the operation to fit Eleanor’s portacath, and to meet the team at our lead hospital.
After a little wait, we had a meeting with Eleanor’s oncologist. We asked some questions now that we’d had some more time to digest everything and we were given the chance to see the pictures of the MRI scan. This was the first time we had seen the size and location of the tumour. When I saw the first scan I was amazed at how huge the tumour looked. I stared at it trying to imagine it inside my daughter’s head. 3.4cm. There is a 3.4cm tumour inside my daughter’s head. It is impossible to imagine. I don’t think it will ever seem real.
Due to the fight Eleanor put up with the ‘smelly mask’ the last time she had an anaesthetic we were given a pre-med to sedate her slightly. It took Tim much longer to convince her to take it than it did for it to take effect. Within minutes she was starting to get wobbly legs, insisting she wanted to walk when she clearly couldn’t, waving around a bald Barbie Doll one of the play specialists had given her as a gift (Ella, Barbies chemo counterpart complete with wigs and a headscarf – thanks Mattel!) and babbling like a drunk!
Before we knew it we were whisked off to theatre to put our baby girl in the hands of her surgeon. Despite the pre-med, Eleanor still put up a fight when the mask was put on her face and managed to give the anaesthetist a nice sharp kick between the legs before she went off to sleep! Don’t mess with a hungry child!
While the operation was underway we were shown to the ward where we would be spending the night and waited anxiously for someone to tell us that we could go and see her.
When Eleanor came around she was not the happy little girl she had been after her MRI the week before. She was distressed, sobbing and trying to sit up so I was told to climb on the bed to try and settle her while we were wheeled down to the ward. It took a while for her to wake properly and she spent the remainder of the day either sleeping or crying. It was heartbreaking to see her so upset and in pain knowing all I could do was just be there and keep reassuring her. I was also caught between the curiosity of wanting to see where her portacath had been placed and not wanting to believe someone had just cut her open, but because my curiosity always wins out I looked, and then wished I hadn’t!
That night the nurses came by regularly to check her and once again I lay in the bed next to her watching her sleep, wondering if this would ever become ‘normal’ life or if I would always feel this scared.