As I'm sure you have gathered... I'm still alive!!
...and better yet you ask?
THIS BISH DONE SLAYED THE CANCER BEAST.
Say what?! I know, I know... but stay with me readers! I have a lot of backstory to get through before we arrive to that. I just had to get you all hooked first!
Like a time machine, let's travel backwards a week-ish ago...
[[ NIGHT BEFORE SURGERY ]] --
Feeling petrified but ready, we left to go see my Dr. Mowlavi to get my official incision markings. Maybe 2 or 3 miles from home and I received a call from his office explaining he needed to do an emergency procedure and asked if we could come at 6am in the morning instead.
Even if I were self-absorbed, I don't think I could deny someone requiring the need for emergency plastic surgery. Poor soul.
So we returned home. Packed. My parents visited us. Took me out to dinner, which for me consisted of a cup of french onion soup, some french fries and a tiny dessert. It was pleasant and as relaxing as it could have been.
I didn't sleep well that night.
[[ S-DAY || 10.10.2012 ]] --
My alarm was set up for 4:15AM. I woke up at 3:45 wide awake, and after rolling over a few times, gave in and got up. I took my FINAL head-to-toe shower (for who knows how long).
I was in the zone by the time we left. We arrived early. Before 6, and my doctor's car was the only one in the parking lot. We could see him pouring over his computer and cranking reggae music from his office as we parked.
Once we were inside, he was all business. Started in on getting my marks on straight away. Drawing it on with a plain ol' Sharpie marker, he'd silently take a step back to look over his markings and then use a tape measure to finalize symmetry. And if anything looked erroneous? Use an alcohol pad to erase it! Very fancy medical science at work there! Haha.
We were finished a tiny bit after 6AM there, and seeing as we were both a bundle of nerves, we went back home. I actually crashed for an hour or so before we really had to leave for the hospital.
Amazing how little time it takes for me to get myself in order when there's nothing (makeup to apply, hair to fix, pretty smellies like lotion or perfume or deodorant to put on, etc.) to get in order, might I add! Lol.
First thing on the agenda for my pre-op duties was to check in. It's staggering to me to think there are enough surgeries every single day at this hospital alone, that you have to check yourself in. I thought I would show up, tell them my name, and they magically say - "OHH, right this WAY Mrs. Donahue! Poor thing! You must be so frightened!".
Yeah, it wasn't really like that. At. All. Hahaha. I don't blame them for that though, that's just my weirdo imagination at play.
Reality was feeling lost as we entered the lobby. Asking info where we'd go to check me in, and then having a lady at admin for surgery check ins lead us to a touchscreen where I check myself in. Cool. Handy and all, but kind of lacking the touchy feely warmth of a compassionate human being I was so hoping for in that moment.
Surely they will take my co-pay and then escort us up to where I will be admitted afterwards though, I thought. More disillusion as I handed over the payment and the woman stuck a gray wristband on me. I can only assume that wristband meant I had checked in and paid for my "services".
We then walked ourselves up to where we needed to be after consulting the lobby info people whereabouts again. A small window with an elderly women who was working there as a volunteer was trying to help a woman find her father who had been operated on a few hours prior.
I'm a pretty accommodating and understanding individual. I know ALL about how shit happens in life. I was annoyed. I didn't want this put off any longer. She finally found the info she needed and began signing me in.
No gurney beds were available for me, so hubby and I were ushered into the pre-op waiting room. Thankfully I didn't wait there long until she took me back. However, this meant parting from Jason until they would allow him to see me again after I was prepped.
I never would have been aware lest I'd just done it myself, but you're disallowed from eating/drinking anything at least 12 hours before your surgery. First thing I'm asked to do? Pee in a cup. My response to my nurse fellow at this request, "Whoa. All I can do is try".
They gave me ultra sexy antimicrobial socks to put on with my stylin' hospital gown. Commando they requested! I suppose I knew this somewhere in my bank of useless-until-needed knowledge which I likely learned from television or movies.
There were SO many patients who needed tending to before me, so I observed everything there was to look at inside my curtained-off room as I waited. Prayed silently the whole while. Tried to keep my breathing in check so I wouldn't have a panic attack.
Before my pre-op nurse could even get to me, I was met with the radiologist who gave me my radioactive injection for my sentinel node biopsy. Wanna know a secret that absolutely NO other survivor/patient/doctor/nurse warned me of?
That injection for that greatly improved method of determining whether your axillary sentinel lymph nodes nearest your cancerous breast has any cancer in it? Really, really impressive and impressive feat of improvements in medicine. Seriously. I do mean that. Used to be much more brutal.
However, that is not the secret bit... Oh no.
The secret is, they must inject this fluid into the breast nearest the armpit they're going to be checking the nodes in. Not so bad. I'm a pro, I can handle injections in my chest like nobody's business!
Yeah, yeah but they are not simple injections. No. They create 4 small, individual blisters to do so. IN YOUR AREOLA!
Oh yeah, and guess what ladies? They don't numb that shit. Lol! It might interfere with the fluid so the best they can offer is that areosol freeze spray stuff you use to get warts off.
It did nothing to help. ;) Plus, the radiologist gives me a heads up AS he's doing the first one that it should sting. A lot. Rofl!
Ahh well though! It did give me renewed courage that if I could handle that while fully awake and awaiting having my breast tissue scooped out, I was pretty certain I could do the rest of that day while knocked out! Haha.
Still waiting for more check in and prepping (with my nipple area-age still a burnin'), they did allow Jason to come keep me company. Waiting in a hospital or any medical setting has become increasingly tricky for me to figure out exactly how much time I spent waiting. It seemed like an excrutiatingly long time though before he was sent back to be with me.
When I finally had the nurse who was to get me prepped reach me, I was holding my breath hoping she'd get that IV in me on the first attempt. PTL, she did. She also turned out to be a very nice lady named Jeanette. Had that saline and antibiotics coursing through my veins lickety split too. She ran off to ready more patients.
My cheering section was arriving about then and were all hoping to catch a glimpse of me before I was put under. The volunteer lady brought them back one at a time. All my loving family who was able and willing to wait it out was there. My mom and dad. Mom-in-law and sis-in-laws Bre and Erin. Our dear friend Samara. Our nieces Britney and Carly even wanted to see me beforehand.
Although he was having a hard enough time simply being present in a hospital setting, my pops-in-law Andrew was there in the waiting room the entire time. A couple other friends, Billy and Andrew, stopped by that waiting room later to support Jason/us too.
I saw all who were there and wanted to see me. I'm happy they were too. While I trusted Jesus, there are no guarantees. I wanted to tell everyone I loved, who could be there, that I loved them... just in case.
One thing that didn't help that? Each time the volunteer woman led someone in/out to see me, she'd ask if there was anyone else I wanted to say GOODBYE to. Thanks lady! I don't care that you're not paid to be doing what you're doing, it doesn't take much sense to understand that that might be a weeee bit insensitive! Sheesh.
Truthfully, I toyed with the idea of sharing my fear at the possibility of dying in my pre-surgery post. I was optimistic because I didn't want the fear to get a hold of me. Truly it didn't fully materialize. Any prayers that were said for me to give me peace certainly worked.
Naturally, I became increasingly nervous as time marched on and the big moment was nearing, but Jason sat there very sweetly holding my clammy hand the entire time. He talked me down and kept me from tears more than a few times. Love that fella of mine more than ever, but I will save that for the continuation of this saga!
During the time my visitors were brought in and out to, ahem, WISH ME LUCK... I have no inkling how much time passed. I also don't know how long the hubby and I were alone for. All I know is we waited. And waited. And waited. And when we thought we were done waiting? Oh, we waited some more.
At one point, Jeanette wandered in to put those uncomfortable legwarmer things that squeeze your legs so as to prevent blood clots. I thought this to be a good sign that it was nearly go-time. I asked if it was. Dr. Kushner was still in his procedure before me. Sigh! Nothing can be done about that. You kind of need your surgeon before you can have your surgery afterall.
We didn't wait much longer after though, and once she was aware I was meant to be in surgery an hour ago, she gave us updates.
I met my official nurse who would be there in the operating room. She told me many times they'd take good care of me. Met the anethesiologist who also happened to be a really nice guy who told me the exact same thing. Lastly, saw Dr. Kushner, and he was sweet and wonderful as usual. Told me they were setting up the room for me and as soon as they were ready, it was time.
Ironically I remember the anticipating and anxious waiting more than the last few minutes before my surgery. Once they all came back to gather me and I said my temporary farewell to Jason, they gave me some sedative stuff and wheeled me off.
I don't remember the room or if I was asked to move or anything. I only remember that mask going over my mouth and nose, and being told to breathe deeply.
And, approximately 6 1/2 hours later (as far as I could tell, it was a few seconds later) I woke up in recovery! ^_^
I was the only one in there when I came to. A nurse were taking vitals and all kinds of stuff around me. I was impressed that I didn't feel much. I felt pretty good! My biggest gripe, as with my port-a-cath placement procedure was waking up with the sorest, driest throat imaginable.
I nodded in and out of consciousness and after having some ice chips, Jason was allowed in. I was SO relieved to see my babeh! Barely aware of my surroundings, but I knew I was safe then! They took me up to my hospital room not long after. Or um, maybe it was? Haha.
It was a huge private room. There was a nice little daybed/couch thing for Jason to set up camp on. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had a gorgeous view. Once we were set up in my room, they let all the other wonderful people waiting for me in to see me.
I gave every effort I had to try to stay awake and once again let them know I appreciated and loved them. I still feel guilty if that didn't translate correctly in my groggy stupor. They each gave me kisses and said they'd see me soon.
More in and out of awakeness. The PCA system was explained to me, and we were on that button before I felt a whole lot of pain usually. Of course my heart raced almost ALL night, so as soon as my pulse picked up to 130, the monitor would boop and frighten me. I'd panic, which would cause my heart to race more, etc. etc. Unending cycle.
My nurses that night were fabulous. They stood by me for much of the time and tried to do everything to could to get me to relax. I think I had 2 EKGs and my other vitals checked dozens of times. At one point, I remember admitting to them that I suffer from panic disorder.
They got the doctor on the floor to come by and give his 2 cents. He ordered them to double my fluid intake and give me an Ambien. God bless that man for that.
It took time for my heartbeat to calm down... but it did return to a more normal range eventually. Until my body did give in, 4aAs soon as I'd begin to doze, my pulse would start up again. Poor hubby would get up, press the button off and lie back down. Literally every 5 minutes or so.
That wonderful Ambien did calm me and I did get some rest. We both did. Although not as much as we would have liked. It was much, much needed. Another thing I was happy to have? A catheter. Lol. So gross and yet, so so true.
I had no worry as to what my chest situation was. All that mattered was sleep.
Thus concludes our opening act of Bai bai bewbiez! Please return after a short intermission for the continuation within the next few days! ;)
For now, God bless you all and thank you for following!