Friday, September 6, 2019

What Day is it?

48 hours post op.
It's a bit of a blurrrr

Thoughts and thanks...

Thanks, first.

1. I didn't need a drainage tube. NO DRAIN. No tube sticking out from my armpit. No dripping. No measuring. No icky stuff. You have no idea how relieved and happy I was when Dr. Cader told me. A gazillion pound weight was lifted. So very, very thankful for this. Grateful that Dr. Cader did the surgery in such a way that it wasn't necessary. Grateful for her bedside manner. Grateful for her gentle touch and her wink as she left my side to scrub up. So so so very happy there isn't a drain and a bulb filling with bodily fluids attached to my armpit right now.

Full disclosure. I'm on narcotics while typing this. But thinking and typing v e r y slowly so I don't say anything stupid. Or post any pics that'll make you bark. I mean barf.

2. Everything else that I'm thankful for falls in second place. The no-tube was the biggest thing. So the rest of these aren't in order. They're all equally.

2. Pain killers. They kill pain. Like magic. And they make me very nappy. I feel all floaty and fine. And nothing hurts, not even a little bit. Mind you, I'm not really doing anything. Just alot of naps. And a couple walks. But my armpit doesn't walk, my legs do. So we're good.

2. Sunny days. Oh so nice. If you're gonna be all floaty and fine, the best place to do it is on a deck in the sunshine where a soft breeze caresses you while the sun loves on you. I had a dead robin suntanning his belly beside me this afternoon. That was weird.

2. Armpit pillows. Those ladies at the Delta something something society knew what they were doing when they sewed these for us boobers. Comfortable and practical and a good buffer between my arm and the incision. They sop up the sweat while I'm walking. Which is nice. I should get one for the other armpit too. I'll send them a thank you note. Maybe tomorrow. (The velcro tube top is lovely too. Keeps the girls in place. Nothing is jiggly or wiggly. And its a practical design. No sequins.)

2. Max has taken two days off work to keep an eye on me. < This is an answer to prayer. Not sure which prayer, but I'm sure I probably prayed about it. And it's been so good having him around. To walk with. And eat with. And have someone who can open things. And tell me about narcotics and the dangers. Tonight's walk was beautiful. Quiet. Warm. And no shootings.

2. God did me a kindness when He allowed this to happen to my left side. I CANNOT IMAGINE how handicapped I'd be if this had been my right side.

2. My hair is braided. It's not the best look for my face, (SO MUCH FACE), but it sure makes this so easy. Like, I can't shower/wash my hair til Sunday. So I don't care. Thankful for a dil who did it the night BEFORE surgery then came back and did it again the night AFTER surgery. I feel spoiled. I am spoiled. Not spoiled as in 'gone bad' like food that's spoiled. But spoiled as in people being really nice to me.  Super nice.

2. Have I mentioned the NO DRAIN thing? Because I must say thank you to God about that about a million times a day.

2. My sister. OH MY GOODNESS. While I was out every evening last week with friends doing fun things she was at home making meals. For me and my mom. Soups, stews, lasagna, bran-muffins-to-offset-the-impact-of-opiates. I love you, Julie. Thank you for being awesome and practical and good and kind and such a great cook and that stew had a kick to it which was surprising but fun for my mouth.

2. Nurses who check in with me everyday to see how I'm doing. Thank you nurses; Renee', Richelle and Trish. Lots of R's and SH sounds in those names. So glad I don't have a drain that you need to help me with. Nurses are the best people. I hope one of my boys marries one. Our family could use a nurse. Or a doctor. My mom should marry a doctor.

2. I am normally not a breakfast person but I've been having a bran muffin and grapes on the deck first thing when I wake up and I could get used to this. Keep in mind this is happening at noon. I like the slow pace of this week. I might be ready to retire. Based on two days of being lazy, drugged and catered to.

2. And thank you to the friends and family who are praying, texting, messaging, loving me and my family from the comfort of your homes. You say the nicest things.

2. And thank you Julie for being there when I woke up. You are my sister. You are my person. I love you. If you ever have surgery I will let Daryl be the person you see first when you wake up. Thanks to you and Sandra for hanging out with mom and getting dinner ready for us while I was being sliced and diced.

End of thank yous.

New section.

Thoughts/Memories about Surgery Day.
Just in case someone else has to go through this; here is what you can expect. Or not. Your experience might not be like mine. But it might be. You never know. So this might not be helpful. Or it could. Shrugs shoulders.

The Night Before

According to the information given to me at Cancer Class, I was supposed to have a good, healthy dinner between 5 - 7 pm. So my mom ordered pizza; Max, Drew, and Dani joined us,

At 8 pm I was to drink 3 cups of apple juice and then no food til after surgery. The kids left at 9 and I finished up doing my laundry.

I had spent a good portion of the day making sure all my bedding, pajamas, and throw blankets as well as outer clothes were 'freshly cleaned'. (As per the instructions). Then I showered with their special surgical soap, dried off with a straight-from-the-dryer towel and into straight-from-the-dryer pajamas then into my bed with freshly washed linens. I fell asleep around 1.

The Day Of

Got up at 6 and had another shower with the surgical soap, dried off with another perfectly clean germ-free towel, then got into freshly washed clothes.

I met Max in the driveway at 6:30.
At 6:31 I realized my driver's license (with my care card number on the back) was no longer in my hand. It HAD been in hand when I left the house. But it wasn't in my hand when I was sitting in the passenger seat. Some where between the back door and front seat I'd lost it.

We searched everywhere.
And my perfectly sanitized body was covered in sweat.
By 6:45 I knew I needed a Plan B. Which was another form of photo ID and another document with my care card number on it.

Back down to my clean basement where I dumped out All The Papers and found a bill. Then grabbed my passport and we were off. My Nuclear Medicine appointment was at 6:45 am. I was late. And didn't have the right documentation.

This is not the best way to start the day. Any day. But for sure not the best way to start a surgery day.

And that?
That what I just described?
Was the ONLY tense moment in the entire day. For serious reals. After that? EVERYTHING was a piece of brownie.

My first waiting room was for Nuclear Medicine. The wait was 5 minutes.
The sweetest nurse took me to her 'nicest' room (the one with large windows) and invited me sit in a recliner. She explained, in much detail, exactly what she was going to do.
She wondered if I had any questions.
I didn't.
She took a look at my healing incision (from the tumor removal surgery in July) and showed me where she'd be injecting the fluid and why there. She told me she'd be using the smallest needle ever, so I probably wouldn't even feel it go in. (I didn't.) And she said there would be a bit of burning as the fluid followed the path from my surgical site to the lymph node it drained into. (There was.) And she said, "I promise you, that sting will only last 5 minutes at the most. I'm not saying this to make you feel better, it's the truth." (It was.)

While she was prepping me for the injection, she reclined my seat, put a pillow behind my head, and made sure I was very comfortable. (I was.)

"You don't seem scared or worried or nervous. Are you relaxed?"
"Yeah, I am."
"Oh, that's good."
"I'm know I'm in good hands. You're the expert here, so I trust you know what you're doing."

A few minutes later I was sent to another waiting room, where I was to drink two more cups of apple juice (to stabilize my blood sugars which should make coming out of anesthesia easier.) The waiting room was crowded. I was the only white girl. Everyone else had black hair and at least one family member with them.

I was totes fine being by myself; free to think, feel, pray, wonder, wish, observe. No need to talk to anyone. I have no words to say at 7:30 am anyway.

At 8 am, I was invited to a scan room where I lay on a gurney under a big piece of equipment that took a time lapsed photo (one minute) of my chest region, tracking where that Nuclear fluid was going.

"Here. Can I make you more comfortable? Would you like a pillow under your knees? How about behind your head? Another pillow? I'm going to lower this camera. It will be quite close to your body. If you think you might feel claustrophobic, feel free to close your eyes."

I closed my eyes.
And then I opened them.
It wasn't scary.
And I wasn't claustrophobic.

When I was done, she told me to head up to the forth floor where all the operating rooms are. (Five of them.)

I was an hour early, but they took me in anyway.
First things first.
Off with the clothes, on with the surgical garb.
Gown. Robe. Socks. Booties. And head covering.
Another waiting room.
Again, I was the only white skinned/blond haired person. And the only one without a crew sitting beside her. SO thankful I was alone. Some paths are just meant to be walked by yourself.

Barb came and got me. She brought me to 'her favorite chair', right beside a big window. She was my pre-op nurse and she was a gift. She reclined the chair, brought me a warm blanket and a pillow roll for behind my neck. She confirmed all my information on previously filled out forms. And talked to me like she was my friend. She took my vitals, gave me some pills, commented on my tan, chatted about her kids (we both have three, the exact same ages. Her oldest two aren't married, but her youngest is...) gave me some advice on Vit C & D and Apple Cider Vinegar and then it was time to put in my IV. She admitted she doesn't do it often, but she was going to try and get it the first time.

She explained what she was doing, what size needle she'd be using, the type of tubing she'd be inserting, the fluids that would be going through...

She promised me it would only sting for a few minutes and then she was done. She was thrilled.

"I did it! First attempt!"
"I knew you'd get it; you're a pro. Didn't even feel a thing."
"Well can I tell you something? I was praying before I started. I didn't want to hurt you."
"You weren't the only one praying..."

With that all done, she suggested I have a nap. She was moving on to her next patient.
I was so comfy, I did close my eyes and napped, waking myself up every few minutes because I didn't want to snore. I should get a recliner. They really are lovely pieces of furniture.

Shortly after 11, Dr. Cader came by to say hi. And after that, the anesthetist. I was given something to calm the acids in my stomach, some mouthwash to help with acids in my saliva, antibiotics were added to my iv and I was asked to walk to the operating room with my OR nurse. I hopped onto the gurney, (well, hopping might be an exaggeration), but I got onto the gurney, had my arms strapped to side boards, was given another warm blanket, and an oxygen mask was placed over my mouth/nose. I was counting the lights in the ceiling when the doc behind my head said, "I'm gonna give you some happy juice now..."

... and then next thing I remember was waking up in the recovery room. A nurse was beside me, encouraging me to breathe deeply. I had a frozen throat and a frozen boob and a frozen armpit. I felt absolutely fine. Not a drop of pain.

The women on either side of me were struggling with nausea and owies. I just felt so very very lucky. No drain. No pain. I was comfortable; I had an attentive nurse who made me feel beautiful and healthy and strong. For two hours I concentrated on breathing deeply in order to get my oxygen levels up to the mid-90's while dozing and watching and praying.

So much praying throughout the day. So many thank yous for our medical system, the equipment, the care teams, the doctors, the nurses, the reclining chairs, all the heated blankets, the pillow rolls, the gentleness, the professionalism, the kind eyes, the capable hands, the warm greetings, the efficient systems, the knowledge, the care.

By 3 pm, I was ready to be moved back to the day surgery unit. Julie was waiting for me there. She brought me water, a turkey sandwich, some Purdy's and a hug. Both her and the discharge nurse made me feel like I'd just won something... a lottery? a surgical contest? Having a tan helps. And I guess I was one of the lucky ones who didn't turn blue (from the neon bright blue dye they use to track the lymph nodes). And my blood pressure numbers were talked about. Apparently they're excellent. (The anesthetist  mentioned it as well.) YAY me.

Within half an hour, I was discharged and on my way back to my mom's.


THAT took forever to write. It's now 60 hours post-surgery.
I am going to stop with the heavy duty life-is-beautiful-what-pain pills; switching over to extra-strength Tylenol. Hoping my armpit doesn't catch on fire.


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