that’s how healing goes. i’m always reminded of the double meaning of “patient.” i’m a patient, who must be patient. but there is really only so much patience a person can have.
the good news is in though: my pathology came back, and there is no invasive cancer. only the areas of pre-cancer that we already knew about. no cancer surprises, sneakiness, or jiu jitsu.
that’s the best news we could have hoped for.
however, after getting off the phone with my doctor that evening, i couldn’t take a deep breath. i felt like i might hyperventilate. the feeling persisted over the next several days. i medicated in various ways–ativan, narcotics, pot gummies, gabapentin (this new neurological – hot flash prevention med i’m on), even a sip of wine (AMA), straight from the bottle. i listened to guided meditations. i watched HGTV. i got click-happy on amazon.com. i stood in the shower and let hot water scorch my back (without getting my bandages and drain wet). i bossed my parents and mike around (aka hitler style).
but, on tuesday, late in the afternoon, the switch flipped. i could breathe. the sun was shining. i was mobile. oh happy day!
my surgeon and therapist explained that this happens for a few reasons. PTSD, obviously. then, all my energy going into the surgery, mentally preparing for it, where afterwards, all that anxiety has nowhere to go so it comes bubbling up, lodging firmly in my chest. and then all the anesthesia, pain meds and counter-effect adrenalin pumping through my body. my acupuncturist described my pulse this week as “surging…too much. like you just took speed…wait, did you just take speed?” nope.
my surgeon also said that she expects this to come in episodes for the next 4-6 months. i appreciate her straight talk.
to fill you in on the surgery itself and some of the absurdities of the whole enchilada…
because i can’t have IVs (or blood pressure for that matter) in my right arm, because of the removed lymph nodes and fear that sticks would cause lymphedema, my left arm is the game in town. but with the left side being the surgical side this time, and wanting to keep that as free as possible, the pre-op nurses said that my IV will definitely be going into my foot. ouch! to make me feel better, they said some babies get the IV in their temple. no, that did not make me feel better–poor babies! so leading up to surgery, that was what i was MOST stressed about. how would i get up to go to the bathroom without getting tangled? the nurse told me to bring pants to be comfortable for my stay. how would i get the pants over the IV though? my BAYS ladies came through and i had many offers of tear-away pants as a solution. how would the sensitive top of my foot handle a needle? i put lidocaine cream, leftover from chemo, on my feet en route to the hospital. i was working all of my phone-a-friend options.
that morning, while waiting nervously in pre-op, and after a lot of back and forth with the nurses, anesthesiologist, and surgeons, they decided that my left arm would be just fine. and if necessary, they’d change it to my foot during surgery.
ok, one problem solved.
coming out of surgery, still with my IV in my left hand (yay! small victory!), i was in recovery for a few hours longer than planned. they couldn’t get my pain under control. oddly enough, the oxy wasn’t doing shit. who knew a person could be resistant to oxy??? i described my pain as i got a line drive straight to my chest, i was at a 6 out of 10 on the pain scale. maybe a 7. not workable. they switched up my pain meds and i went down to a 1-2. much better. and with all those narcotics, too, came nausea. that has mostly subsided this week now, thankfully, as has my sore, scratchy throat from the intubation tube. the general anesthesia is perplexing too, as i seem like i’m totally with it, present, but then have zero memory of many conversations, hours and minutes. i imagine its cumulative, and this being my 6th (!) surgery makes me even foggier. thank god i’m off work, to spare all of my co-workers my 30-something senior moments.
the surgery lasted 5 hours, instead of the planned 3 hours. why? because, i had a “sneaky big breast.” wait what? my last day in the hospital, my surgeon visited. she asked, what size bra did you wear? i said, maybe 34B or C. she said, nah. nah. you’re a DD. oh man, i wish i had know that all along!
with the combo of tearaway pants and DDs, there has to be a stripper joke in there somewhere.
then, when being wheeled in my bed from recovery to my hospital room, we rolled by a “lactation room.” i later explained to my family how hilarious it was that i passed a lactation room. because i would NOT be needing that anymore! they chalked it up to pain meds and the deep recesses of my brain…but i’m going to find that damn lactation room and take a pic to prove it.
oh, the last thing i’ll share is the other wonderful thing about my surgeon: she sings a song of your choosing, when you come into the OR, kind of as a lullaby to relax as you drift off into unconsciousness. my song was the nina simone version of “ooh ooh child.”https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3aoCqU4QcZo. it resonates with me so much and what i hope for, for myself, you all, and of course the world.
things are gonna get easier. things’ll get brighter. we’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun, when the world is much lighter…
xo and thank you for all the messages, texts and emails and everything else too – m