Saturday, March 17, 2012

Surgery: Before and After

Along with all of the hugs and support I received before coming to the hospital, many people had small tidbits of advice, all appreciated. At the moment, the most relevant is from Ms. Karen at the Manlius Library. Based on an experience she had, she warned me that feeling depressed after anesthesia is completely normal. I wouldn't say I'm exactly depressed, but my "Best Breast Cancer Ever" is now looking like an average, run-of-the-mill breast cancer.

Arriving here was better than expected because instead of waiting rooms and check-in forms, I was shown right to my hospital room. Yeah, I had a roommate, but it was nice to have a drawer for my stuff and an outlet for the phone charger. The whole morning went smoothly, and with the exception of a little blip when Dr. Cooper showed up wearing a Red Sox head covering with his scrubs, there weren't any surprises. Paul was the one finding rays of sunshine, pointing out that it doesn't matter what team it is, as long as it's *his* lucky team. Also, upon hearing that I was Dr. Cooper's third surgery of the day, Paul explained that he'd be warmed up for me.

They started the anesthesia IV when I was on my stretcher just before wheeling me to the operating room. I tried my best to stay awake long enough to see the inside of the room where they'd be cutting me, but I didn't make it.

Waking up was uncomfortable, but surprisingly, not because of the pain. I felt nauseous and actually puked a few times from the anesthesia drugs. I do remember everything, though, and found out that those darn lymph nodes had cancer in them, so off they came.

By evening, Paul went to get the kids and I was bold enough to ask the nurses to take me on the walk they'd challenged me to try. I made it as far as the door to my room before getting dizzy and puking again. But by this morning, I walked a full lap of the fifth floor at Crouse Hospital. Yes, I'd easily sauntered down the same hallways twenty-four hours earlier, but situations change quickly, I've learned.

After a morning visit from the girls, who grew bored of Mommy in a hospital bed in about 90 seconds, I started catching the vibe that the nurses were planning to send me home today. What? A double mastectomy gets you one night in a hospital these days? But after taking to the surgeon on call when he came to check on me and then Dr. Baum, who had to check out his reconstructive work, it seems that doctors are more reasonable about longer recoveries. I think the main thing is that I was on a hallway with rooms meant for surgery recoveries, and since these surgeries are only scheduled for weekdays, the nurses wanted to empty their rooms to get themselves home for St. Patty's Day.

So, with the doctors' approvals, here I am on a longer-term recovery hallway and I'll go home tomorrow. I'll skip the details of how I've learned to empty the drains of fluid that are sticking out of the sides of my chest, or the Frankenstein stitches horizontally across both boobs, and just enjoy dinner being served to me in bed.

But back to the darn lymph nodes. Rationally, I know that finding cancer cells outside of the breast is just one more thing to treat. I'll still get the chemo I've been prepared for, and may get radiation as well, in order to specifically target the places where those cells were found. But somehow I'm not feeling that the full pathology report that Dr. Cooper will provide for us next week will inspire me to draw any smiley faces. And for the rest of my life, I have to worry about lymphodema.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so impressed that you're blogging from the surgical ward! Glad to see the "no cell phones" rule doesn't apply to patients. Waiting for you to post a picture of your boobless chest with frankenstitches...should be PG sans boobies, right?