I’m not even sure how to begin this post. This is one day that I really don’t want to relive.
I had to be at the hospital by 6:30 a.m. for surgery at 11:00 a.m. My friend Kaylene picked up my Mom and I. When I got there, I had to go to admissions, sign all the papers, get my ID bracelet and sit back down and wait for the nurse to call me back to pre-op. Other than my Mom and Kaylene, my friend Barbara came and later my friend Pam and her husband Pastor Jim were there.
The nurse called me back to pre-op and I changed into those lovely surgical gowns. I put on the socks they gave me and then the nurse put on these things that massage the lower leg to keep the circulation going, to keep a clot from forming. She asked me about medications I was taking and any allergies. She also got the IV started. Once I was all settled and she was done asking questions my Mom and friends were able to come back and be with me.
I talked with my surgeon, Dr. Clark, talked with the anesthesiologist, who remembered me from a previous surgery, talked with the nurses who were going to be assisting and then talked with my plastic surgeon, Dr. Schnur. Both surgeons talked to me about what they would be doing and how everything would go.
I had to go to radiology by 8 a.m. so they could check my right lymph nodes to see if any of the cancer had spread. They injected something, I believe radioactive isotopes into my lymph nodes, then moved me into another room where I was for about an hour….at least it seemed that long if not longer. I had to massage my right breast to get the dye moving around to make sure all the lymph nodes in the breast got the dye in them. After doing that, they took a lot of x-rays. That was VERY uncomfortable. I had to lay still on the table and the x-ray machine seemed like it was an inch from my face. After the x-rays were taken they moved me back to the pre-op room I was in.
While waiting for 11:00 a.m. to come, I was kind of in a dream state. No, they hadn’t given me any drugs yet, other than saline and an antibiotic. My Mom and friends were in there talking to each other and me, taking turns sitting next to me, holding my hands. The nurses and surgeons came in and out of the room. I remember one nurse came in with a pink scrub hat on and she said she was wearing that just for me…I’m sure she says that to all mastectomy patients. I don’t remember any of the conversations that were going on around me or what I said. I remember laughing some but I was really in my own world. I can’t really explain what I was thinking about. I think I was in shock, really. I remember talking to my brother and Dad (in my mind) asking them to watch over me while I was in surgery to make sure everything was OK. The time seemed to drag on and on! The nurses finally came to get me to wheel me into surgery. I was able to hug everyone before they took me back. I was fine and smiling until I hugged my Mom. She started crying and I said “don’t start”, then I started crying when she hugged me. When the nurse started wheeling me out of that room, I looked back over my shoulder and saw my friends Kaylene and Barbara so I waved and blew them a kiss, turned back around and started crying even harder. I was still crying when I was wheeled into the operating room.
They wheeled me right up to the operating table and I moved over and got situated. The anesthesiologist gave me a shot of Versed, it puts you in a twilight kind of feeling. They put the mask over my face and had me take some deep breaths. The next thing I remember I was in the recovery room. The nurse must have called my name about 3 times before I woke up. I was in and out of it for quite a while. I was in a little pain so they gave me some pain medication and some antinausea medications. I’m not sure how long the surgery went or how long I was in recovery. I think the surgery was about 2 1/2 hours and I think I was in recovery for about an hour and a half. When they felt I was stable enough they moved me to my room. I was on the Oncology floor. What a scary thought.
I don’t remember a whole lot about my recovery or my stay at the hospital. Those medications sure do make you forget a lot! I remember a lot of my friends came to visit me during my stay and I had to have someone stay with my Mom while I was in the hospital. I had to worry about my Mom and who was going to take care of her and be with her while I was in the hospital recovering from surgery.
I’m not sure when I got the news about the x-rays from the lymph nodes but it was good news. No cancer had spread to any lymph nodes.
I was wrapped up like a mummy around my chest during my recovery. During the surgery, after my breast surgeon had removed both my breasts, the plastic surgeon had put in tissue expanders so I wouldn’t wake up flat chested. I couldn’t really tell what it looked like because of the wrap they had around me. I was finally able to see what I looked like the day I left to go home. I was afraid to look. It took me about 5-10 minutes to finally get the courage to look at my chest and see what they had done to me. It wasn’t too bad. I had my Mom look at it and said to her, “it doesn’t look to bad, does it?” She said no, it looked really good. I still think I was in shock about the whole thing.
I was discharged on Monday, April 25th, 2011. Four days after my breasts were cut off. I was 38 years old and had just had a double mastectomy. I had to recover from surgery and also figure out a way to take care of my Mom. WHAT THE FUCK WAS I GOING TO DO?????????????????????????????????????