Tuesday, August 25, 2009
.... surgical visit 2
..... on our way to St. Joseph's and feeling like a deja vous - same weather, same time of day, same day of the week and not surprisingly - the same road construction even after 5 weeks!! We chat quietly and note all the similarities and I realize that my stomach is feeling the anxiety as I watch the clock.... 2 hours to surgery and counting. I had to take my wedding rings off this morning, the day of my wedding anniversary and leave them behind.....
We are met by nurse Sandra who completes paperwork and gives us all the items we will need for the home care nurse when she arrives tomorrow to decant and measure the fluid captured by the simple spring loaded drain that will hang suspended by the tubing installed through the skin and under my arm after the lymph nodes are removed. This will prevent a build-up of serum and blood in the chest cavity. In the last surgery, the fluid filled the gap left behind by the removal of the lump and sounded like a filled water balloon when I moved my breast. Still makes me smirk when I remember Max's reaction to that incident. There is a cloth bag in amongst the paperwork and it will house the drain it its huge folds when I am ready to leave the hospital... not exactly discrete. Sandra finishes up and indicates that a nurse will contact us this evening to make arrangements for a home visit. She wishes me luck and with a smile she is off down the corridor.
We are waiting for our pre-op nurse while I change into a hospital gown and cover my feet with the oven warm blanket left for me at the end of the bed. I have Sue's OR bear with me and in a matter of minutes, Max has turned on his iPhone and is taking pictures of the bear and myself and because it is our anniversary, I suggest we take a few of ourselves. He leans in to kiss me and clicks the button on the camera..... when I look at the picture he has taken, the tears well up immediately and Max begins the process of putting the smile back on my face.... we laugh like idiots at our private jokes and now he is walking around like Mr. Bean looking around the curtain to see if anyone has noticed. He sits down when he hears footsteps heading our way and we both beam when we realize that the face that has popped around the partially drawn curtain is Nurse Susan!!! She laughs when she recognizes us and then apologizes for my repeat visit.... we chat like old friends and her warm sunny smile helps to dissipate the knots that have formed in my belly. She finishes up the paperwork and we look up to see the porter waiting to take me to surgery. She assures me that she will come and see me after I return to post-op.
The doors open and I am the only gurney in the hallway.... I secretly wish that my Urologist is on, I want to ask him how his wife is doing. I am approached by a nurse who quietly wheels me to lucky OR number 7 - must let Max know that this is just another deja vous, one of many today. She asks me a few questions and then leaves me to help prepare the surgical suite. I am met a few minutes later by the anesthesiologist's intern. He is satisfied that the paperwork is up to speed and assures me that I will be fine and that they will make sure they minimize the dizziness after surgery. I then meet with the Anesthesiologist who immediately recognizes me and assures me as well that I am in good hands. He smiles and says that he will see me in the suite when the clean-up is completed. A patient in a gurney across from me is waiting for the kidney stone blaster which we can clearly hear pounding away on another patient behind the double doors... this is his second visit in the past month. This is also my second visit but not for kidney stones... I do not answer his next question as the nurse comes to roll me into the surgical suite. Best of luck I call to him... he wishes me the same.
Maria is the scrub nurse and she is getting all the instruments ready. She is jovial as she questions me as to what we are doing .... she is prepping the tray and needs to know if she has missed anything? I laugh and indicate to her that I am just there to hang out and possibly pick up a few tips.... she mentions the air conditioning must be very cold and we all start laughing about the menopausal woman in the add that rips off the air-conditioning cover after plowing her way through a snow bank. She has a few funny stories about being completely covered by special laser glasses, gowns and masks when having a menopause moment. I swear I can see my breath. They are now transferring me to the operating table and on go the seat belts to secure me into position - hard to operate on a patient that falls off the 2 foot wide table. Here we go.......
I am waking up in recovery and I can feel the slightest hint of nausea coming on and let the nurse know to start with just half a bag of gravol.... cannot turn my head without wanting to throw up. I am in recovery for a few minutes when I see my Urologist coming up to me. "I couldn't believe that your name was up on the roster today so I thought I would check in with you", he says with a concerned look on his face. I fill him in on what is going on and he lets me know that his wife is back in tomorrow for another breast surgery... this is her second in 7 weeks. I ask him to give her my very best and let him know that I am sending good vibes her way. He is off and running and I am grateful that he thought of me. The weight of the world is heavy on his shoulders and I watch him disappear through fuzzy eyes. Please let her be OK. A nurse approaches me and says that she will be taking care of me until my nurse comes back.... she says that she is recovering from cancer herself and that she knows that my positive attitude will carry me far. We have a chance to talk for a few minutes until the porter comes to take me. She waves to me as I head past her 'good luck' she says and I smile back when I wish her well.
I have been in recovery for about 2 hours and I am now being rolled into post-op where I will be evaluated further, given fluids by mouth and released with paperwork and prescriptions. My post op nurse gives me more information and heads off to find my husband. Max comes around the corner and gives me a kiss - he stands back and looks at my face. When he is satisfied that the color has come back to my cheeks, he heads over to the chair to sit with me. Nurse Susan pops her head in and smiles from ear to ear and comes over to take my hand. She cradles it in hers and gently speaks to me, letting me know that my positive attitude, sense of humor and infectious grin will heal me and that she knows I will do well. I smile up at her and thank her for being so lovely to us through both our visits. She sees the nurse approach that has been assigned to me and squeezes my hand and when I thank her again she replies 'Ok blah blah blah'.... I have made her blush and she smiles as she strolls off waving to us both. The IV is removed and now Max has been given instructions to go and get the vehicle while I get dressed.
The task of getting dressed is a challenge and Max stays long enough to help me get my shirt on. I joke that my nipple is now showcased behind 'glass' as we look at the transparent bandage covering it. Yes, I have definitely had more of my breast removed and it looks deflated next to its twin. Not worried about that right now.. more important things to do and my surgeon is letting me know that he will see me in two weeks with hopefully the pathology report ready to go. I will be heading to Oncology after that and yes Chemo and radiation seem the obvious choice. I take my journey one day at a time, do not read anything of note online and keep my sense of humor with me at all times. Ready to go, Luke takes me in a wheelchair to our waiting van. He was our porter weeks ago and smiles as the two of us shake his hand and thank him.
More traffic and road construction but we make our way to McDonalds on our way home at about 3 in the afternoon. We make it home and the kids are excited to see us. Thanks Paul for taking them to the park today. In an hour I have my first guest - Brenda M. climbs into bed beside me and the two of us chat about my day and catch up with hers. Max has brought me chocolates and gummy bears for my post op sweet tooth and my children now join us on the bed. It is relaxed and fun. The phone rings and its the nurse looking to make an appointment for the morning to empty my drain. Brenda leans over and kisses my cheek and is off - be back soon she whispers as I finish up the call and hang up. She arrives back a few minutes later with a stash of early halloween chocolate bars - Oh Henry and Reeces!! Thanks Brenda - hugs and she is off to make dinner. What a wonderful visit.
The evening was filled with a phone call from my soul friend Jilly whom I love to pieces... we get to chat about her new job!! Sue who has learned to text on her cell phone and we send funny messages..... I miss you!! Eileen instant messages me on the CrackBerry and it is a good night..... only the kids are still up and the pain killer is just taking the edge off. I have bile in my mouth and I cannot lie down anymore. It has only been a few hours and I get up to get a glass of water and tums. I am going to take a Melatonin pill now and pray for sleep.