Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I'm back

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!

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At 3:00 PM, Blogger Caro said...

I'm glad you're home and that the lymph nodes didn't contain cancer.

I'm sorry about Nurse Ratchett. If she can't be pleasant, she needs to be in a different line of work. Yeesh.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Ann said...

Now I am in tears. So glad it went well - your posts are so happy & funny, despite it all.

Hope you can have a few cups of coffee and planning a glass of wine tonight.

Take care of yourself.

At 3:59 PM, Blogger KC said...

you look so cute in your pre-op photo! i'm so glad you're home and doing okay. i'm pretty sure i went to h.s. with

At 4:00 PM, Blogger KC said...

dr. sanan's daughter. he was already v. well-known back then.

At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm glad you're back home and cancer free! It is wonderful to see how you've kept up your spirit. Praying for you and the family, as always!

Love you much,
Auntie Nita

At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Kate said...

Your narrative was great, and I am glad to hear everything went well.

I had constant urges to pray for you on Friday. God just kept nudging me all day long, especially right around noon so whenever you popped into my head, I just kept saying 'God, watch over Cari please and keep her safe.'

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so strong,Cari. I admire how great you are doing. You do look adorable in your pre-op pic. It's too funny how you still blog in your spare time during all you are going through. Get some rest and know we are all praying for you, especially Jeffrey! :)

At 7:49 PM, Blogger IrishMommy said...

Welcome back home! Thanks so much for the details. I love reading your blog and missed you the past couple of days. You make me laugh and cry at the same time. Praise God for the great outcome in surgery!

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Fantastic Four said...

You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. We were so happy to hear that things went well! Please let us know if you need anything!

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray about the lymph nodes!! Please tell your mom thank you so much for posting on your blog on Saturday- it meant a lot to us as we were anxious to hear how things went. Lots of prayers continuing to go up for you (Z is just beginning to consistently put his hands together when we pray) from us, and I hope you don't mind but I shared with Lee, Cheryl, Ann S, and a few other MN friends what is going on and they are all praying too. Cheryl's mom began treatment for breast cancer last year- not sure if you knew that. B and I laughed about the coffee and I have a funny, old Garrison article that has been on our fridge the last few years that I will copy and send to you this week- all about the wonderfulness of coffee drinkers. Rest much and take care. Love, L

At 6:38 AM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Horray!! So glad to see you're home and in good spirits. God is good ALL the time, isn't he? Even in the midst of a struggle with cancer, he's given you the ability to smile and laugh and make those around you do the same. :) Rest well, my dear.

At 6:48 AM, Anonymous Jaye said...

I'm so thankful to God for your life and the fact that now you are cancer free! It's amazing how coffee takes such a hold on a person - when my gastro dr. told me I couldn't have any caffeine anymore (I was a latte-a-day, then green tea person), the withdrawal was horrible! I'm glad you were able to enjoy a cup in the hospital and so glad you're out of there and with your family again (I know they're glad to have you back, too). Your attitude and faith in God continues to inspire! You are the best, and we continue to pray for you over here in NJ & PA! Love and hugs!

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Shannon said...

So glad you are home, and that everything went well overall.

Rest and take care of yourself!!

At 7:25 AM, Anonymous dana said...

We love you Cari....Dana and Chelsea

We will be calling you

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous dana said...

Don't EVER under estimate the power of coffee.


At 10:24 AM, Anonymous NancyS said...

The lymph node news is fabulous. I'm glad you are home and resting. Let me know if you have any other questions for me.

You're a trooper Girlie! Rock on wit ya bad self!


At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


We are all thinking of you and wishing you the best. Take care of yourself, and holler if you need anything.

-gwen (scott and august)

At 4:19 PM, Blogger mi said...

I'm so glad the surgury was successful, lymph nodes are clear, and that you are home. Yea Melvin with the coffee!!! Take it easy as you recover. It is really great of you to keep us all updated like this. Your positive attitude will go a long way as you heal.

At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


We have been praying for you throughout the past weeks and are giving God praise for answering prayers! You have an amazing spirit and you touch more lives than you know....

We will keep the prayers coming for a speedy recovery. Peace to you and your beautiful family!

Carla and Steve Smock and family
(Dana's friends)

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Angi Cullinan said...

Blessings to you and your family on this tough journey that has started. I am so glad your surgery went well. I love your spirit through it all too.


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