I’m home. With one less boob, a few non-cancerous lymph nodes removed, a tube sticking out of me and a porta-cath imbedded in me. Oh yeah, and that damn 3.1 cm cancerous lump gone...the thing that started all this!
I had no internet access a the hospital, so the following is what I composed last night.
I started out Friday morning at the Breast Center at United Hospital hungry and in desperate need of coffee. Instead of food and drink, I got an injection straight into my nipple. That was quite painful. But the doctor said she liked my painted toenails, so despite the pain she inflicted, I liked her.
After awhile, I was then sent to a pre-op room. There I had to put on this odd soft paperish gown that actually was hooked up to some vacuum looking hose. Except instead of sucking out air, it pumped in either cold or warm air, depending on how I set the remote. It was actually kind of fun, and quite comfortable. I had a wonderful pre-op nurse…Debra or Brenda…can’t quite remember her name. But she was very kind, explained everything very clearly and just had a soothing tone of concern in her voice. In this room I received an IV, not a fun experience, but not as bad as the nipple needle.
Then all the doctors came in. First the anesthesiologist. He seemed nice enough. Told me they’d give me something to relax me first, then something that would knock me out. I didn’t really have any questions…just wanted to make sure I was put to sleep….”and that we wake you up!” he added. Oh yes, I guess that would be nice as well.
They told me that the vascular surgeon who was to insert the portal cathter (for easy chemo administration), was across the street at the day surgery center but would be over soon. When he finally did come over, my confidence in his abilities wained a bit…as he seemed a little shaky, and as he was explaining what he was going to he’d add, “Or I’ll just see what they have in there for me and decide.” When he left the room, I asked my husband if maybe he was actually across the street at the local bar before he came over. Melvin laughed and said he’s actually one of the best doctors and that was just the way that he always is. After all, his name was Dr. Hope, so I guess I couldn’t be too worried, right?
Finally Dr. Sanan came in and just went through it all again quickly, of what they were going to do. Nothing new. I had no questions. Just wanted this all done and over with.
And then we waited, and as I was listening to Hold Me Jesus, I broke down a little in tears. Just scared of the pain, the surgery, the strangers, etc. But I quickly got myself together, and before I knew it, my mom and my husband were saying good bye, the relaxing medicine was inserted in my IV, and I was in the operating room, looking up at these two huge round lights…and then blank…I was knocked out.
I woke up briefly in the recovery room, to Dr. Sanan telling me that they removed 3 lymph nodes and they did not contain cancer. So that was great. Next thing I knew, I was being wheeled to my regular room, where the clock had read 5:30! I couldn’t believe how late it was already. At this point, things were not starting out so well.
First of all, it felt like someone was crushing my chest and arm…that was just the pain from the surgery. Not a sharp pain, but a VERY uncomfortable one. I asked for some meds, and it took quite some time for them to finally administer me anything.
The first nurse I had was not pleasant at all….which was not the experience I needed at that moment. Melvin started asking her some questions about the meds ordered. She looked at him and said, “Are you a nurse?” To which he responded that he was a surgeon. She told him that he looked too young to be a surgeon, but did he do surgery at this hospital. He said he does some here, but mostly at St. John’s. She then proceeded to tell him that she just had some surgery at St. Johns and she was not pleased at all with the care she received over there. Kinda what I was thinking about her at this point.
Thankfully, that nurse was sent home sick, apparently. I had a nurse shuffle for a while, until the regular night nurse, Karna, came in. She was young and kind, and I felt much better with her. Then at some point I had another nice one named Michelle, Then in the morning I had Joanna, who constantly was checking on me and making sure I didn’t need anything. They were great.
Throughout the night, I was given different meds. The Dilauded was awesome. They injected it directly into my IV. Although I’m not sure if it took away the pain, or if I just didn’t feel any pain for a while because it immediately knocked me out. The downside was that every time I got up to use the bathroom or something I would become very nauseas and dizzy. But since fluids were constantly being pumped into me, I had to continually have bathroom breaks. I was literally awake all through the night…at least 4 times an hour I’d wake up…and then drift back….and wake up…and drift back. All the while having to assess my pain on some arbitrary scale of 1 – 10 to the nurses. I felt like some drug addict asking for more pain meds, but they gave them willingly, so I figured it was necessary.
Besides the pain and bathroom breaks that kept me up all night, my IV kept making a noise all night long. It was like those old laser jet printers, just printing one line across a piece of paper….every 17 seconds! It was ridiculous, but my husband said you couldn’t do anything about it.
By morning time, I was feeling only a little better with the pain. Overall, I just felt horrible. They brought my breakfast (I hadn’t had a thing to eat the entire day or night before), but I just couldn’t eat anything. I still felt dizzy and nauseous, and all I wanted to do was sleep.
My mom, husband and the kids came to visit me. That perked me up for a bit. Although, when Max walked in the room, he just had a look of fear on his face, and acted like he was afraid of me. The kids were there long enough for the nurses to oooh and aaah over them, but then the crying and screaming started, and they just had to go. When they left, my head was hurting, and a constant headache took over as the pain leader. My whole head felt like it was going to explode. Having lunch and drinking water didn’t help. I was given Vicatin, but that didn’t help. Motrin didn’t help either. Neither did the ice pack that the nurse gave me.
But then my husband showed up with the “wonder drug.” No, not a glass of wine! But a cup of coffee…caramel latte to be exact. And don’t you know I was enduring hours of a painful headache that was easily and quickly soothed with a cup of coffee. Oh man, I’m addicted. Once I had that coffee, everything felt better. No headache, no dizziness, no nausea. I even felt good enough to go home, but it was too late for that, and remembering how my kids left the hospital, I was glad to be lying in peace and quiet.
So hopefully, I’ll sleep better tonight, and after the doctor takes off this dressing and such, I’ll be ready to return home. After all, apparently when Max was saying prayers at dinner tonight, he asked God for me to come home tomorrow. I wouldn’t want to disappoint that little cutie pie.
And now I’m home. Not in much pain, just some discomfort. Able to walk around and such. Kinda bored, but not really wanting to do anything! After eating some lunch and admiring all the cards, flowers and cookies, I think I’ll take a bit of a break.
Thanks again everyone for all your prayers and well wishes!