Okay, this is going to be a long one. I am also on a lot of pain meds so hopefully this will make some sense.
Thursday morning I woke up before the alarm went off at 4:30. I went in and took a long hot shower with my body wash to sterilize me and reduce the risk of infection. It was nice to have a little extra time to relax in the shower and I was amazingly calm. I did not have a going away party. Eric drove me to the hospital and we met my folks here at 5:30. Mom decided not to sleep the night before so I imagine that was not a great night for her. It took about 45 minutes to get checked in and back to the room. I got undressed, answered a bunch of questions and had my port accessed. We sent blood to the lab and I started getting fluids. I did take a Valium on the way in and another one at about 7:15 to take the edge off. I didn’t really feel different, but I think it helped me not be all scared and stressed because I didn’t have that at all.
I was wheeled down to the breast care center at 7:30 and they weren’t quite ready for me so I was parked in the hallway of their office (not in the mail hallway). This was the hardest part of the morning for me. I was sitting right outside of the mammography waiting room where this all started. I remembered sitting in that chair wondering what my life would be like if I had cancer. Trying to convince myself that I didn’t. That everything was going to be okay. My favorite nurse was down there and she has a special talent for distracting me so I let her work her magic. Once we were in the procedure room, I told her that I understood that this was not going to be fun. She told me that it’s different for everyone so we’re jus going to see how it is for me. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. Not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. The lidocaine was the worst part. After the dye was injected, I had to massage for 20 minutes – a couple swirls over the top and then press as much as I could into my armpit.
We all went back to the pre-op room and I got popular really quickly. My nurse, the study nurse, anesthesiologist, both surgeons and oncologist all came to see me. I had sent a Christmas card to all of my doctors and to the breast center so everywhere we went people were talking about the card and how cute the kiddos are. I figured it was nice to remind them how important it is that I make it through surgery 🙂
My surgeon realized we had accessed the port and that needed to be changed so that my chest stayed sterile so we moved it to an IV in my hand.
My plastic surgeon marked me and he nurse stuck a pad on my tailbone so that it wouldn’t get bruised on the table. I was surprised at the markings from the plastic surgeon – I had expected a lot of markings but all it was only two lines on each side that went around the nipples so it looked like eyes with the nipple for a pupil. Several people had initialed my left shoulder for the lymph nodes. The anesthesiologist gave me some Verset and something else and that was all she wrote for me. Eric posted a picture of me giving the thumbs up with what looks like a jiffy pop bag on my head which I have zero recollection of. When I told my mom that, she said that they had already left the room and I yelled at Eric to come back to take pictures of it. I vaguely remember moving from my bed onto the table in the OR and putting my right arm out on a support. Then I was waking up. It was over and I was in the recovery room. With Jeremy.
Jeremy was a couple curtains down from me and was not having as good of an experience as I did coming out of anesthesia. I know his name because in between his yelling, the nurses were constantly saying things like “Jeremy! You’re in the recovery room, surgery is over!” “Jeremy, I can’t understand what you want when you are yelling!” “Jeremy! You have to calm down! Breathe Jeremy!” But Jeremy really didn’t calm down and I was thankful to get out of recovery. While I was down there, I asked them what my situation under the gown was – did I have on a surgical bra? Wrapped in gauze? Nope, turns out nothing. Just me and the gown. The nurse pulled the gown down for me to see but I can’t get a great idea from just the overhead view. There are obviously lots of internal stitches, but the outermost stitching just weaves back and forth between the skin on each side so you can’t see any stitches. Then the whole thing is covered in Super Glue so it will be watertight and I can shower. They did tell me right away that they took five nodes and that the preliminary testing showed they were all negative. I expected it to take a week for the final pathology, so I was cautiously happy about that.
I was brought up to the 6th floor in my bed and wheeled into the room. It is a nice room with plenty of room for Eric to sleep here too so he’s been doing that. I have been feeling pretty good all things considered. I slept pretty well up until last night. I woke up at about 4am in a tremendous amount of pain. Of course it was in my chest so they brought up an EKG to test me as well as drawing some blood to see if I was having a heart attack. They can only take blood from my right arm now that I’ve had lymph nodes removed (same with blood pressure) and they have to draw blood before the IV that I currently had in so they didn’t get saline. So that meant I got two vials of blood drawn from my knuckle. Fun times. But no heart attack which I didn’t think I was having anyway. He changed around some of my meds we will see when I get to go home. I am about to get a muscle relaxer and pain meds so I will most likely be asleep for several hours. Good night!