ONCE MORE WITH FEELING

Picking up sort of where I left off with the Breast Case Scenario post.  

I recovered over the weekend from the lumpectomy surgery and by Thursday of the following week, I had the results. There was one little troublesome spot on the edge of the tissue margin – like so close to the edge it could easily have been missed altogether – and it was going to have to come out. While in there, we would need to take some more tissue from several sides to make sure this spot was a loner. I scheduled the second surgery for the next week, and threw myself a couple of pity parties. Or maybe three. The thought of going in for yet another surgery (my third in a couple of months if you count the cardiac ablation), was daunting to say the least. Plus, the underarm incision for the lymph node removal was still so sore I was pretty miserable. Meh.

So, we once again made our way to the surgical center last week. Luckily, this version didn’t require a divining rod in my chest so the whole process was much easier. I was greeted by a couple of familiar faces.  The anesthesiologist paused as he reviewed my paperwork, “Wait. You we here a week and a half ago?” 

  
 
“Yes. I had so much fun I thought we’d do it again! YOLO.” 

They labeled me to make sure they operated on the correct side, and I was totally out cold by the time they wheeled me in around 2:45 and was glued together again and in recovery within the hour. Everything went “splendidly” in doctor-speak. I was once again given a lovely tube top, pink this time, and sent home with an ice pack and a nice hydrocodone prescription. 

  
(A bit droopy from surgery and a lovely pain pill ingested upon awakening. These people don’t fool around.)

I have been taking it pretty easy since. I decided after the recent emotional trauma to listen to the instructions in my cancer binder that says, “pamper yourself.” This is not a terribly familiar concept to me, so I’m trying it on for size. I’m pleased to say I did manage to sleep until 11:30 AM one of those post surgery days. 

I returned to work for a half day today which turned into more of a 7/8 day. 

Pamper. Fail. 

But I did receive good news this afternoon. The tissue removed last week has been decreed ALL CLEAR. We are now ready to talk radiation. That conversation happens Monday. I guess the speed at which all this is moving is good, because there’s less time to focus on it and fret. 

That’s all I know now, so be on the look out for pampering attempts and whatever comes next. 

*  Special thanks to my mother and Aunt Jan who have attempted to corner the market in comfortable, button up blouses. And to my mother-in-law for homemade pimento cheese. 

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TEXT EXCHANGE WITH BESTIES

This is the conversation that took place on the day of the procedure, from the time I left the room where the wire was inserted into the lump, through the surgery prep and into the evening. I hope it is worth a chuckle or two for others.        

   

   

  

  

Somehow I left out the screen shot where I say something about not thinking that was a compliment. 

  

  

  

  

  

At this point I was wheeled away for surgery. The conversation picked up again after.   

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  
I edited out a screenshot where I referenced someone possibly kicking someone else.   

  
And much later that evening after some more sleep…  

  

  

  

  

  
That’s how I spent the day of surgery. I have the best friends. And the silliest.  Thanks, guys and gals. I couldn’t have done it without you. And special thanks to my husband who had to listen as I read these aloud all day. XO

   

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

THE SURGICAL STORY – OR BREAST CASE SCENARIO

I can’t help myself. Dad would have liked that title.

Update: Thursday, in preparation for the lumpectomy on Friday, I returned to the nuclear medicine lab where I’d had the MRI and all that jazz done. They needed to give me some sort of injection. Unfortunately, I Googled what sort of injection I needed before this procedure and as you may have experienced at one time or another, Google scared me silly. There were descriptions of injections (multiple) directly into the “bull’s eye” so to speak, and the declaration that it feels like someone is putting out a cigarette on you. For ten minutes.  By the time I arrived at the lab, I was surprised they couldn’t see my heart beating through my shirt. It was giving my recent cardio ablation a run for its money. I told the nice technician that people were saying terrible things about her on the Internet and she said it was totally untrue. I would get to judge for myself. 

In my case, it was one shot, not four, and while it DID sting quite a bit, it certainly wasn’t torture. Thank goodness. The purpose behind this was to inject another dye that would show the doctor which lymph nodes are the first in the transportation of cells. That way she could remove those for testing while she was doing the lumpectomy. 

The next day we drove through a deluge to the surgical center, where they ushered me into the room where I would receive a wire. This wire would be inserted into the lump with guidance from an ultrasound, then I would be given a mammogram to make certain it was in place. The wire would guide the surgeon to the lump. For some crazy reason I thought the wire would be a tiny, skinny-type wire. Imagine my surprise when I sat up after this procedure and had a TV antennae sticking out of my chest by about 6 inches. It was crazy! They quickly taped it down so I could put on a shirt and make my way to the mammogram machine.  At some point as I stood there with the antenna sticking out again, getting smashed in the mammo contraption I realized it had happened. That moment had come when you are either so sick or so overwhelmed and out of your element that you don’t care if you are shirtless in front of a stranger and have a metal thing sticking out of your chest.  I was a walking dowsing rod. Only instead of water, I would lead you to Chardonnay. 

Everything looked correct on the mammogram, so I was taped down again and walked across the hall to where the actual procedure would take place. I got to change into one of those gorgeous hospital gowns/tarps and prepare to meet the anesthesiologist, surgeon, etc. in the meantime, while Robert sat beside me behaving quite properly, I decided I needed to start a texting group and let my besties know what was happening moment by moment. I will plug that text message in on another post. It’s probably not as enjoyable to you as it was for me, but I want it on the record anyway. 

To cut to the chase, the surgery went great. Lymph nodes look totally normal but she’s sending them in anyway for testing. I should hear about that this week. I was wrapped in yet another fashion forward item – a tube top – and told to wear it for 2 days, if possible. Which I did. Then I gladly removed it.  I slept most of the evening after surgery and then was strangely awake all day Saturday and Sunday. No naps. Monday, I couldn’t get enough sleep. Go figure. 

Okay, ending it here for this report. More to come.

MY POST CARDIAC ABLATION POST

Friday the 10th, we arrived at the medical center around 6:00 AM to prep for my cardiac ablation procedure. They ask you to come at that ungodly hour to save on anesthesia –

Anyway – by the time I was poked, prodded and bored out of my skull, they wheeled me down the hall to surgery. Once perched on the operating table, they began apologizing. Why? Because the gel pads that were to be placed up and down my bare back and used to visualize my heart in 3D had not made their way under the warming pad, and thus were like little gel covered ice cubes.

The anesthesiologist arrived, said something witty, and before I knew it I was waking up in recovery. More than 3.5 hours had passed. Nice nap. My only clue that something had happened was the pain in my chest. I still had not seen my doctor and don’t even know for sure if he was there, although he apparently spent a good deal of time with Robert and my mother.

As expected when one spends the night in the hospital, I had a terrible night’s sleep punctuated by visits from nurses taking my blood pressure, temperature and poking at me. Around 9:00, I was visited by three wise men. No, wait, that’s a different story. I was visited by two different doctors. One from the cardiac practice and one that was the on call internist. Both of these doctors proceeded to give contradictory advice and opinions. The only thing they had in common was puzzlement over why the cardiologist gave me anything for pain. You see, weeks ago, my doctor wrote 2 prescriptions and told me to get them filled because I would need cream and/or patches for post surgical discomfort. (Apparently, one doesn’t want to take pain medication that could cause stomach bleeding when on blood thinners and such.) When I asked the doctors about the patches and cream, they looked at me like I had 12 heads and said, “Why would you need that?”

“Because I’m in pain?”

Shrug, they replied.

So now I have something like 44 patches and a jar full of pain cream that has never been used. Oh, but I got a call from my insurance yesterday saying they had automatically refilled these items and were shipping them to me overnight. Why on earth would the doctor have okayed MORE pain management supplies 2 weeks after surgery and WHY in the name of God won’t they ever do that with Valium??

But aside from that, my heart is still going into Afib on occasion, which is supposed to be normal for the next few months. Hopefully, soon, I will be back on an aspirin a day and off all the weird medications with side effects like blood shooting out of your eyeballs.

Seriously, the list includes:

  • blood in the eyes
  • bruising or purple areas on the skin
  • confusion – What?
  • coughing up blood
  • decreased alertness – What?
  • difficulty swallowing
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • fast heartbeat
  • headache
  • hives, itching, skin rash
  • joint pain or swelling
  • nausea and vomiting
  • nosebleeds
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • redness of the eye – not to be confused with blood in the eye. Or mud in the eye for that matter.
  • severe stomach pain
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest
  • unusual tiredness or weakness – how would I notice? I’m always tired.
  • vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds

I guess the bottom line is, if there is blood involved, it’s usually a pretty good indication that something has gone awry. Let’s all try to avoid that, shall we?

Now, here’s an image of my heart – before and after. The before is purple – which is good – and the after has all those dots where he “burned” it so the electrical current doesn’t shoot from one side to the other.

Ouch. Pretty cool.

heart - after