Honey honey

I have a carrier bag full of tablets. Pain killers, anti-sickness, anti-this, anti-that. My medicine for the side effects of the cancer treatment is all pretty potent. Some of it is so strong that I have capsules which I have to take first to prepare my stomach for the toxic onslaught. Thankfully most of the stuff now stays in the bag.

This week I’m celebrating a medical breakthrough but it’s not thanks to a pill or a chemical potion – something much more natural – honey. It’s helped with a problem that’s been bothering me for a while. For many months actually.

Medical honey – not to be put on toast!

Before I go on, I have to warn you that there are a few euwghhh medical details so if you’re a bit squeamish, you might want to give this a miss. Otherwise let’s get on with the gore…

So, the operation to get rid of the stupid cancer was way back in March. The wound was held together with what looked like metal staples. I was left with a massive scar. I don’t mind its size as it reflects just what a big battle I fought and won.

A couple of weeks after the surgery they were pulled out (even more painful than it sounds) the skin should have all joined up. That’s not quite what happened.

Once the staples were out, I laid back on my hospital bed and stared at the scar. It looked as if it had healed lovely. But over the next half an hour I watched as part of the wound opened up. It was like a real life horror movie. It seemed like my stomach was being ripped apart. I was totally freaked out.

If you imagine two decks of cards on top of each other, that’s how long, wide and deep the wound was. Just gruesome.

I had a mixture of sickness and panic but the faces of the medical staff didn’t reflect the fear that I felt. They told me that it would improve. I wasn’t convinced. I couldn’t bear to look at it for weeks.

The area needed to be treated every day and then every other day. There was a lovely team of district nurses who came to see me at my parent’s house. Sasha the dog enjoyed having the regular visitors but it meant my life was planned around my wound. Gradually it shrank but the chemo ensured that it never healed.

You might think that compared to dealing with cancer this isn’t really a big deal and you’re right, in the scheme of things it’s not, but it just dragged on. Once the chemo was over it seemed to get worse. When I came back to London it was the wonderful nurses at my GP’s surgery who gave it the attention that it constantly demanded.

My life seemed to revolve around the wound. It was a lingering link to my traumatic time in hospital. Until it was sorted out, I knew that I wouldn’t feel like I was really getting better.

I went back to hospital where a tissue specialist suggested we try putting honey on the affected area. She told me how honey has antibacterial properties and has been used to help with healing for centuries. I was willing to try anything. Medical grade honey that had been sterilised was smeared on my wound. This wasn’t quite the gloopy stuff that you get in a jar but very similar.

I had the sweet, sticky treatment for about a month. It made such a difference.

After 37 frustrating weeks, the wound has now finally healed and it’s a huge relief. This is another step towards getting my life back. It’s amazing that in the end, it was an ancient remedy that came to my rescue.

9 thoughts on “Honey honey

  1. It can go on and on sometimes as I’m sure your Nurses told you, the chemo would have slowed down the healing rate, was it Manuka honey? It’s been used in Australia for years, we’ve only caught on in the last decade really. I’m so glad it’s finally behaved itself, it’s such a psychological thing, that one last tangible thing connecting you to all the trauma you’ve experienced. The only way is onwards and upwards!

  2. Yes it is such a psychological thing as much as a medical issue. It wasn’t Manuka but something pretty similar. Hooray – onwards!

  3. So glad the honey has done the trick. What I have found about the whole chemo thing are the unexpected annoyances. My chemo is for lung cancer, and I understand that not all chemotherapies have the same effect, but the most irritating thing I have been left with is tingling and numbess in my fingertips. I was warned that it might happen but I have been really surprised to find what a nuiscance it is. Not something tangible that friends and family can easily sympathise with. Maybe I could try sticking my hand in a jar of honey!

    • Hahaha yes you should try that ;) What a nightmare. I get some of that in my feet but I only notice it at night when I can’t sleep. I can imagine that it’s much worse having it in your hands. I have a couple of finger nails threatening to fall off but I keep them manicured and the nail varnish helps me forget the problem. Good excuse, too!

  4. What you have BEEN through! I can’t say I’ve experienced anything like the horror of seeing your wound open up. But I did get a long stapled scar after a kidney op (I called it my shark bite as that’s what it looked like). I was very bothered by the constant painful tugging as it healed, and acupuncture helped a lot.

    Look forward to seeing you again in NBH! X

    • Yes it was pretty horrific! I love that you called yours a shark bite. Despite the size it hasnt actually hurt since the staples came out.

      Looking forward to seeing you soon too. I’m back at TVC next week!! x

  5. Very timely post. A close friend just had abdominal cancer surgery and a subsequent hernia operation. I wonder where I can find this in the USA? Turning to Google, now. Thanks for sharing! I always learn from you!

  6. Wow, that’s really something. I knew honey has antiseptic properties, but didn’t realize it was used in hospitals. Very, very neat. And I’m so glad it’s helped with the wond. ~ Catherine

  7. Seriously Helen, for any future fancy dress parties, you can’t go as Wonderwoman ‘cos you ARE Wonderwoman! They’re a bugger, wounds. None of my op wounds healed properly, they all got infected & I had to have highly unpleasant rummaging around with no anaesthetic! Now my tum looks like a pre-Beeching railway map, but hey I like steam trains. So good you’re back at work, don’t let anyone rush you.

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