FOLLOW UP WITH RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGEON
Today I followed up with Nicole, the PA in Dr. Spiegel’s office. First, let me say, she is a GEM of a person. Both Ken and I feel entirely impressed, once again. We all know the plethora of personalities in the medical community; doctors, PA’s and nurse practicioners, obviously, having the most impact on your interpretation of your own wellness. Nicole is the perfect combination of high intellect, positive, realistic, compassionate, curious, attentive and engaged. The patients of that practice get a lot more than average. It’s a pretty neat feeling. After reviewing the record Ken has been keeping of the drainage amounts, she removed two of the four drains. Hopefully, the other two will come out at my next appointment in ten days. I have about 250 stitches. It appears a small section on the left side is not healing exactly as they’d like. She removed something from that area and placed a thick layer of gauze. She will look at that again in ten days as well. Also, a strange rash popped up suddenly on my left arm while we there, as well as my shoulders. She marked this with a marker and if it gets bigger, we’ll need to call the office right away. That’s it for now. Mostly good stuff.
I just heard from Dr. Lim. Pathology on the lymph nodes came back – NO SPREAD!!! She got everything!!! It’s done! She said I will need to confirm any further treatment with the oncologist when I see her next week, but she believes this case may, indeed, be closed. I will need to see her regularly for several months and keep up on the cancer watch… BUT THIS IS GOOD NEWS!! She said the oncologist will confirm any further course of action.
This is hard. Not much more I can say. Ken has been tremendous and says he might consider changing careers. He has put together a medicine schedule, is an absolute pro at draining the tubes, measuring and recording, and helps me move around when I need to. He keeps everything going and I am grateful for his special brand of assistance which includes humor and compassion to ease things along. I’m concerned he is, actually, wearing himself out. I’ve done laps and tried to do many things on my own. The pain is probably some of the worst I’ve had. Anyway, enough about that.
The worst of it all, I think. You know, I’m not gonna go into details here. It was hard. The potholes in Houston roads made for a torturous ride home. The trip up the steps to my bedroom. Fiona, my faithful dog, jumping for joy. Getting comfortable and settling in for the long recovery. Feeling concerned that I left too early. Anyway, not a good evening that was.
It’s time to swing.
As is the case with surgery in general, I don’t remember much. I was nervous, absolutely. But, I did well with regard to not completely losing it in the pre-op room. One crying session and then it was done. Dr. Spiegel came in and made some marks on my skin. The anesthesiologist came in to introduce himself and let me know he would be with me throughout the entire procedure. Dr. Lim came in to tell me they were ready. I was given a shot to calm my nerves and immediately felt the brakes release on the gurney. Down the hall I went giving Ken the “thumbs up.” I remember getting to the operating room where there were people and things moving around like a fast game of chess. That was it.
I opened my eyes. The thing I kept saying I wanted was happening. I wanted to open my eyes. I was so worried because of the Lupus and AFib, I just wasn’t confident everything would be alright. The surgery was about 6 1/2 hours or so. There I was, opening my eyes. I heard my family’s voices, “Mama,” “Hi, Honey,” “We’re here,” “It’s over.” I think someone said, “You did it.” But, that could’ve been me in my head. It’s that profound moment before the fog just envelopes you. I don’t know how long I was in recovery. I know I threw up, I groaned in pain, I tried to talk, I tried to remember everything. I don’t remember any specifics, whatsoever. I remember each doctor coming into the room. I remember pushing the button to go to the bathroom. I remember answering the nurses. I remember drinking water and eating two bites of mashed potato. To tell you the truth, it sucked. Oh! The morphine button. I pushed the hell out of that thing. It made me itchy and I was scratching like crazy. My mouth was like sand. The nurse kept expressing my drainage tubes and I kept thinking I would never understand how to do this and that I’d hoped Ken was watching closely.
I went in for something called a Lymphoscintigraphy today. This has to be done prior to the mastectomy so the surgeon can identify the lymph node(s) that may be draining the cancer. The nurse gave me two numbing shots and then injected a radioactive isotope, followed by a scan of some sort. The lymph node will be blue so the surgeon can easily locate it tomorrow during the procedure. I’m a little sore from it, but it was a nothing burger, really. I did feel some strange little stings in my chest wall and left arm about 15 minutes later, but it’s gone now.
Ken and I went to mass today at Holy Rosary Church. I just needed to. I cried because I’m nervous. Plus, I always cry when I go to church. Back in my ’20’s, a religious friend told me it was because the holy spirit was getting into me. I happen to think it’s because I feel moved, maybe safe. Either way, I’m ok with it.
I’m washing everything on sanitize mode so there’ll be fewer chances of anything interrupting my recovery. Such a long process and lots of loads, just to be thorough. I have to shower with a medicated soap tonight and again tomorrow morning. Clean, clean and more clean.
A LITTLE HUMOR INBETWEEN
When Ken had his thyroid cancer, he used to whine when I’d play fight with him, “You’re hurting my cancer!” Back then we were both scared and, as is always the case with Ken, he knew how to put a laugh back in the mix. This morning we were competing to get through a tight space in the house and I complained, “You’re hurting my cancer!” He tried to tell me that’s his line, it’s copyright infringement. We finally agreed in the car that the line may be used by whoever cancer is affecting at the time. We’re assuming we’ll have to come up with a different line here soon, anyway. It’s fun getting him back, though.
ANXIETY SINKING IN
I’m going back and forth — fight or flight. This morning I woke up to a full on anxiety attack. This would be the last morning I would look like this, feel like that, be able to do this or be able to do that. I thought I’d lose it getting the shots and dye, considering the earlier meltdown, but nothing. I’m now writing and focusing, so all is aligned. Tonight, going to sleep, I imagine it will hit me again. Time to remember that one word I’ve been repeating for months. Trust.
Discontinued today. Will resume with doctor’s advice; hopefully, soon after the surgery.