Last Thursday I finally had my surgery. I had been anticipating this day since I was diagnosed in February and the time for surgery had arrived. The night before, my mom cooked some of my favorite dinner items and we had a “good riddance” send off dinner. It was not a fond farewell to my breasts, but rather, a “don’t let the door hit you in the backside” event. They served me well, but it was time for at least one of them to go!
Finn slept at my parents’ house Wednesday night, so we didn’t have to wake him really early in the morning to take him there before heading to the hospital. The morning of, I woke way earlier than I needed to, but I wanted to have my one glass of water and I needed it to be drunk 2 hours before my arrival time so 5:15 AM it was! Jim and I headed there are we early as usual. Mom came in her own vehicle and was a bit flustered so she got slightly lost and was later than expected. I still got to see her before I was taken back to get prepped for surgery though.
About an hour before surgery was scheduled to start, I got called back to the pre-op area and had to change, get IV access, EKG, vital signs, etc. After that was all taken care of, Jim and mom came back to keep me company. I just needed to wait for my surgeon to come and mark me with basic notes and lines of where she wanted to make my incisions. Once that was done, anesthesia came in and suggested we say “good night” as they were going to put in my nerve block and then off I go to surgery and general anesthesia.
The nerve block took way longer than expected, apparently. I have absolutely no sense of time once this started. They needed to use an ultrasound to find my vertebrae and that seemed to take quite a while. Then they gave me several injections of numbing medications in my upper back/shoulder area to help decrease pain during and after surgery. I know they put me on oxygen during this time and they also gave me some fentanyl and versed to relax me and take away some pain. I just kept deep breathing the whole time. At the end, the anesthesiologist told me that I was a champ. There really wasn’t too much to do… it didn’t hurt too badly.
At that point, they wheeled me back to the OR. I tried to pray but I think the fentanyl/versed had messed with my head a bit and I couldn’t focus, so I sang a couple lines of a song over and over again because it’s all I could think of. Apparently, when Jim and mom were given the update that I was taken to the OR, it was the time that I was supposed to be coming out of the OR, so it ended up being a very long day.
I woke up in the recovery room around 4 (I think? – mom and Jim, feel free to correct me about the timing). Definitely in pain at this point. I had been intubated and catheterized and felt unlike I had ever felt before. We worked on getting the pain controlled before they took me up to my room for the overnight stay.
The elevator ride really threw me for a loop and I felt like I was going to vomit. Fortunately, that did not happen, because I can’t imagine that would feel good with about an 8-inch incision on my chest wall as well as two drains in my side. As much as I wanted to see Finn, I decided to not have him come back to the room, because not only did I have an IV in my arm, but I had oxygen, EKG leads, catheter in my bladder, and I was afraid vomiting into an expanding blue bag would really throw him over the edge of accepting this version of Mommy.
I got to see my family for a while and then everyone left except Jim. There was only room for one person to stay overnight, or else I think I would have had either my mom or sister spend the night too.
Around midnight, they took out the catheter and then I had to be able to pee certain amounts within certain time frames in order to be able to leave. I met those goals and my incision looked good so I was discharged from the hospital mid morning on Friday, my 40th birthday!
Since then, I have been recuperating. I definitely had pain, more in my armpit from the removal of 1.5 times the size of a baseball amount of lymph nodes, but it gets better each day. I do take my pain meds, but I’m trying to limit the amount of oxycodone because I only get so much and I don’t want to miss it when it’s gone. So, during the day I stick with Tylenol and Motrin. As much as I didn’t want to move my arm, because that hurt, I’ve been forcing myself to use it as normally as possible (within the limits of what I’m allowed to do) and it is getting a lot better and is really just sore now and not painful.
I go back to the doctor next Tuesday, August 1, to get the pathology results from the breast tissue and lymph nodes that were removed. I’m hopeful that there was no cancer identifiable in the tissue and that I can continue moving on to radiation therapy in a month or so.
I’ll be sure to update everyone after I go to the doctor next week. Hope everyone is doing well!