Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBT+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: Surgery

Salpingo-Oophorectomy

This entry is part 42 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

That. That title right there is the official name of the type of surgery I had last Tuesday. I had a double-case of it—both my fallopian tubes and ovaries were removed. I’d like to say I have exceedingly clear memories of events leading up to the surgery and following, but the truth is, I don’t.

I do recall arriving at the hospital at about 6:45 AM for my 7 o’clock surgery prep time, and was taken back to my little prep “room” early. Here, I do recall some things. Mom was with me, for one; they allowed her to come back with me. The little prep “rooms” are rooms only in name. In the ward, they line up against an outer wall of the hospital, so they all have windows. I’m not sure what the view is, but Mom noticed a tall building and made a jokey comment about people spying people undressing for surgical prep, and I told her all the hospital’s windows are reflective on the outside; she didn’t close the blinds, so I guess she believed me.

I got dressed in the hospital gown and the funky socks with grip treads on top and bottom they provide for keeping feet warm. I don’t know about anyone else who goes into surgery at the VA, but I’m always very glad for those socks, ’cause my feet get cold easily. Nurses hooked me up to an IV, checked my vitals, went over my allergies (none). I was starving by this time, but I couldn’t eat because they didn’t want me choking in case stuff came up, and the last time I’d had anything to drink was a small sip of water around 5:30 or so, to take the morning meds that had been approved by Dr. Rose. I should mention here that I hadn’t been taking my multivitamin for about a week because it has a high dose of Vitamin E and that’s a blood thinner, but I did take my Calcium and D3 as well as my morning antacid, bladder pill, and levothyroxine. I didn’t take my morning Ziprasidone because I need to take it with food, or it won’t work like it should; it’s a booster dose, anyway, so missing it one morning wasn’t so bad.

After they finished prepping me for surgery, they wheeled me into the surgical room. I didn’t get much chance to notice things, so I don’t want to say too much about it. I wiggled onto the surgical bed and was out before they even got the things they put on my lower legs to keep circulation going on me. They were not messing around.

I came to in recovery a few hours later. My lower abdomen hurt, an internal kind of pain that felt like an incredible stitch in my side that would not go away. Once they saw I was awake, they discussed with me the possibility of sending me home, and I explained (again) that Mom couldn’t stay with me because she had to go home to her dog, and I couldn’t stay at her place because she has nowhere to put me. No way in hell was I going to try to wrangle myself into and out of a low bed consisting primarily of an inflatable double-high mattress. They said they’d have to keep me overnight, to monitor my condition because of my CPAP machine, and asked if I’d brought it, and I explained Mom had it. Then they had to see if they could find me a room to stay the night in, and I suspect they were extremely relieved when they could.

They wheeled me down a hall, and we picked Mom up on the way. She explained to the nurses about everything again, because they asked her as well, and they got me into the room I would spend the night in. Mom half-folded her little aluminum-and-fabric grocery cart, taking my CPAP (in its carry case) out to set in the bottom front of the narrow locker where the nurses told her to put it, then hung out a bit to make sure I was comfortable. When lunch came, Mom took her leave so I could concentrate on eating and resting.

Now, getting up and laying down were challenges, but I had to shuffle my butt to the little bathroom (not shared with any other rooms, yay!) to try to void my bladder, which was another thing they were monitoring, to make sure the anesthesia didn’t have any severe side effects. Getting up (still) includes rolling onto one side or the other so I can dangle my legs over the edge of the bed. Then I push myself up with my arm, until I’m seated upright. Next is actually rising and that was actually about the most pleasant part of the entire experience, even though I felt (and still feel) a bit of a burn in the right side of my abdomen. Laying down, I sit within two feet of my pillow and tip to the side where the pillow is while swinging my legs onto the bed. All this effort really does help avoid a lot more pain.

Dr. Rose came in to see me after I’d eaten lunch and checked up on me, then explained she’d be in the next day to discharge me. After that, I was left mostly to myself. On a number of different excursions to the little bathroom, I fetched first my mp3 player, then books and the sandwich I’d brought out of the closet. At bedtime, I got my CPAP out, but couldn’t find the Smart Water bottle I’d filled with distilled water. I ate supper, and the nurses brought me snacks to have with my medications.

One thing I’ll say here: Dr. Rose listened. I explained that I likely wouldn’t take any narcotics prescribed, and she asked what I would take, then prescribed me ibuprofen from that list.

They had someone from Pulmonary come up to set up my CPAP, and he brought sterile water for my machine, which was good. I’ve still got the bottle of sterile water; they let me bring the remainder home. I actually slept better than I thought I would. I was the only one in the room, and I shut off the other side’s light, but left mine on (but turned up to face the ceiling), and a nurse apparently came in at some point because when I woke up at 5:00AM the next day, my bed’s light was off, and the one for the vacant space on the other side of the room was on. I had breakfast (it had been so long since I last had bacon, it actually tasted good), then while I waited for Mom to arrive, I put my CPAP back in its case and took everything I pulled from the little closet (I’d eaten the sandwich sometime around midnight because I woke up with an empty stomach—I can’t get to sleep deeply if I don’t have something in my tummy) into Mom’s folding cart (it’s very lightweight).

The nurses were pretty pleased I was moving around so much. Dr. Rose came to discharge me, then Mom arrived and I got dressed. Apparently, Dr. Rose doesn’t do a lot of discharges, because there was some difficulty with the paperwork, but the nurses let us go with the promise they’d get her to finish it up; they said they had her verbal go-ahead for me to depart, so I was free to go. I suspect Mom would have tried to march me right out of the hospital whether or not I had permission to leave, though. LOL

Now, as for my wounds. I have three small incisions. One on each side, on the lower curve of my belly (I’m rather fat), and one in my belly button. The wounds themselves don’t hurt that much (unless I lean against the edge of my kitchen counter too hard on my belly-button one), but what really hurts me is the right interior. Dr. Rose said she had no complications from the surgery, so I doubt the pain comes from any difficulties she had removing my right ovary and fallopian tube; it just hurts more because it just does. It’s a kind of burning sensation, and if I”m not careful, it’ll flare up. It doesn’t like me using the toilet, or getting into bed, or out of bed. Coughs for the first couple days after the surgery were hell, but now sneezes are killer if I don’t have a chance to curl up around my abdomen so the muscles aren’t strained. No, I don’t have a cold; my throat was phlegmmy after the surgery because of the breathing tube they put to my lungs, and I have pollen allergies and my windows here at home open, so I’m sneezing when the wind kicks up. All in all, though, the pain isn’t so bad; it’s only intermittent, and it decreases a little more each day.

Wow, I guess I remembered more than I thought I did. LOL

Surgery Today

I’m going in for my surgery today. I’m not sure if I’ll be coming home afterward, or, if I do, whether I’ll be capable of doing anything more than laying in bed.

Before the Surgery

This entry is part 41 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I keep forgetting I had surgery for my breast cancer just a couple years ago in 2013 and thinking back to when I had my gall bladder out some few years more ago. The preliminary procedure was pretty much the same as those other two times this time around. I was much less anxious about getting around the hospital to the various places, primarily because I didn’t have to have any sort of heart testing done, so I didn’t have to hunt out the place where they do the EKG or whatever. Apparently, the test had been done recently enough that my doc didn’t feel it was necessary.

First, I saw Dr. Rose again. We discussed the surgery, and I asked a few questions. I’m not actually having a hysterectomy of any sort—that refers only to the removal of the uterus, from what I now understand, though I’ll probably continue calling it a partial hysterectomy. What I’m actually having done is the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Dr. Rose gave these ectomies names particular to each of them, but—and I’m kicking myself now—I didn’t think to write them down. I’ll see if I can get the info from someone later on. I spent about half an hour or so with Dr. Rose, signed a permission form for the surgery to take place, and received an Advance Directive form to bring home and fill out. I’ll be taking that in tomorrow, to sign in front of the Women’s Clinic’s LCSW and another, non-medical witness.

After my visit with Dr. Rose, she sent me on my way to the lab to have blood drawn. It was around lunch time, so I expected it to be a little busy, but it wasn’t at all. I pulled a number, sat waiting for less than five minutes, and went in to have my blood taken. According to what the lab person who saw me said, Dr. Rose had ordered a CBC (Complete Blood Count), and she loaded two vials with my blood and sent me on my way.

Next stop was a chat with a nurse in the Same-Day Surgery ward. For this, I had about a 20-30 min wait, and I ended up going to the restroom while doing so, and came out to the announcement the nurse was ready to see me. When I got in, the Nurse went over a form with me—and discovered Dr. Rose hadn’t ordered a Chem test, which was apparently also required prior to surgery. I asked the nurse if I’d be kept overnight to be monitored, and that got us on a discussion about the likelihood of Mom staying with me. In the end, the nurse made a note that it might be a good idea to keep me overnight. That completed my interview with her, and I went back to the lab.

When I entered, the phlebotomist who’d drawn my blood before was at the computer checking people in, and she looked at me and said, “Weren’t you just here?” I joked that I liked the lab so much I had to stop by to give more blood then explained that the doctor had neglected to order Chem labs. Someone else drew blood this time, a lab guy who I’ve gotten familiar enough with that I didn’t bother asking if he’d use a butterfly needle like I usually do; if his hands weren’t so steady and he wasn’t so good at preventing the standard needle from moving in my arm, I’d demand a butterfly needle, but he’s very good, so I kept my mouth shut and let him get to work. As he bandaged me up, he asked if this was my last stop, and I said it was, so he wished me a good afternoon.

Having had two surgeries the past ten years has definitely helped me this time around. I’m not as nervous or scared as I was even for the lumpectomy back in 2013. LOL—I feel like I’m actually getting to know the staff in the Same-Day Surgery ward, too. LOL

Hysterectomy Consult

This entry is part 40 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

On the 2nd of March I had my appointment with Dr. Rose. From what I understand—I could be wrong about this—she’s the one who performs hysterectomy surgeries for the VA Women’s Clinic. That’s why I saw her yesterday; this was my initial consult regarding me getting a hysterectomy of some sort as part of my ongoing cancer care.

The Women’s Clinic was redesigned a few years ago. Now when a patient arrives, there’s a little organized children’s play area to the right, surrounded in part by waiting chairs. We’re to check in at an electronic kiosk, and I was invited to do so upon my arrival about an hour before my appointment yesterday. I did explain I was so early because I was on transit and like to start early in case there’s some sort of delay, but the receptionist insisted I check in with a promise to explain things to Dr. Rose. So I checked in and sat down next to a table covered in women’s health care information; most of it seemed to regard heart disease.

For most of the next forty-five minutes, I read a book I checked out from the library. Just before a nurse came to call me back, I put the book away and tried to start up my Nook, but discovered it wouldn’t operate because power was too low, so I put it back. LOL Right after I got done putting my Nook back in my satchel, the nurse came out to fetch me.

We went to the far end of the main hall of the women’s clinic section and into a room there. Vitals were taken, and the nurse left me with assurances Dr. Rose would join me as soon as she was finished with her other patient. My mind suitably encouraged by the book I’d been reading, I thought on one of my own stories for the duration so I wouldn’t be too distracted when the doctor arrived.

I hadn’t long to wait. Maybe fifteen minutes later, Dr. Rose showed up. We shook hands, and she sat at the computer to access my files. For the next twenty mintues, we went over my medical history—the cancer, the medications I’m on and why, everything. Including my gender dysphoria. I was completely honest with her, explaining that though I’d probably not have any chance at all of getting the surgeries I need for my transition any other way, I was far more concerned with my cancer coming back.

She seemed to agree with my concerns about the cancer, and didn’t try to contradict me. We went over my current medication regimen for cancer care, and she agreed with my oncologist’s assessment that my lack of dramatic emotional reaction to being on the hormone suppressants was a good indication I’d deal with having a hysterectomy well.

Then she said I’d get a partial hysterectomy—my ovaries and fallopian tubes would be removed. I asked why, when I certainly wouldn’t be using my uterus after that—and wasn’t it another cancer risk to leave my uterus behind? Dr. Rose patiently explained to me that since I hadn’t shown to have either of the known breast cancer genes, taking out my ovaries would most likely prevent any sort of uterine cancer. She went on to tell me that the partial hysterectomy surgery was much less invasive; it’ll be done through small incisions on either side of my abdomen and in my navel. According to her, to take out my uterus as well would likely require at least one large incision that would require more recovery time and be much more uncomfortable for me when taking out my ovaries would do the job just as well.

Dr. Rose went over a general itinerary for my surgery as well, explaining that they have one day of surgeries for hysterectomies a month, but that April’s was canceled. Basically, I’m to fast the morning of the surgery like I did for my lumpectomy, I expect to have to shower with specially-provided soap, and I’ll likely be going into surgery sometime in the morning. I’ll also have to stay overnight for observation due to my CPAP machine, so they can ensure I don’t suffocate to death due to the surgical sedatives; I can’t say I’m disappointed about this and will make sure I have plenty of material to read while I’m stuck in a bed at the hospital until checkout.

My partial hysterectomy is scheduled for May 5th. I’m to go in on April 27th for another consult and to have blood tests and everything done. Dr. Rose told me if I had any questions about things to go ahead and give her a call. On the way out of the clinic, Dr. Rose led me to a wall of pamphlets and passed me ones on Preparing for Surgery and Laparoscopy. I grabbed an additional one, about Hysterectomy. Still haven’t read them, will probably get to them later on this month.

Oncology Check-In

This entry is part 38 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

This past Friday, I had another Oncology visit. This time, instead of getting my Neulasta injection after the appointment with my Oncologist, I picked it up prior to the appointment. This is so I wouldn’t be stuck waiting at the hospital to have it injected; a nurse has to do it, and the medication is refrigerated to keep it fresh because it is a powder-gel combination so it works over a long period of time. There are three-month and six-month doses, and I have the three-month dose.

Nothing’s changed with regards to my medication regimen. My doc said what I’m on now is better than the Tamoxifen, though I forgot to ask precisely how. Before my appointment with her, I went for blood draw, for tests for both her and my primary care doc, but the hormone results take 24-48 hours to return. I think the VA either has to send the tests out to another lab, or it just might be because something about the test requires more time. Next time I go to the lab and see I’m getting a hormone test done, I’ll ask the process it goes through and why it takes so long.

I may contact my Oncologist tomorrow to see if she’s had the results in, and if I do, I’ll try to remember to update this post with the news.

One thing my Oncologist did say was that if this medication regimen isn’t suppressing my hormones adequately, we may have to look into surgery to remove my ovaries. I’m sort of half-hoping it has to be done, and half-hoping it doesn’t, and the latter is because it won’t be a full hysterectomy, and I don’t really fancy going in for the remainder of the procedure at a later date. Still, if it’s required, I’ll do it. The last thing I want is to put myself at risk for more cancer.

ETA:

During my Oncology visit, I also received a breast exam, which I’m apparently to have done every six months now. I wanted to mention this in particular because I learned a couple things which are troubling to me. One thing, which I’ve noticed in my breast self-exams, is that it’s impossible to press deep enough to the front of my chest wall. This is desirable because it enables the examiner, whether it be the woman herself or her physician, to feel through the entire breast. The main issue preventing this complete examination is the density of my breasts, which my doc places at a level of three or four on a scale docs apparently use to indicate difficulty/ease of breast examination.

When I asked if this was bad, she said that breast density—the denser the breast is—was an indication of the propensity of cancer (higher density = higher likelihood of breast cancer). My Oncologist went on to add that right now, there are no decided recommendations on how else to examine breasts. What I got from her explanation is that though there are possible other methods, besides mammograms (which she noted may not work as well because of my breasts’ density), which may work for discovering breast tumors, there’s a great deal of uncertainty about whether or not they’re actually even as helpful as a mammogram, never mind any more helpful.

Also:

My Estrodiol is apparently suppressed to a level which pleases my Oncologist, so it looks like my current medication regimen is working. Yay.

Bits and Pieces

This entry is part 12 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

I have a few things to say here. May have said some of them before, but I thought I’d try to go into a bit more detail about anything like that.

Such as the numb area of my arm. Today, I can tell it goes around to my back a bit. Its borders back there tend to fluctuate, I think depending on whether or not I’m having other sensations. Like itching. Itching is fun. Neuropathic area itches, reach to scratch, realize area to scratch is actually numb to the sensation of touch, so can’t actually scratch the itch. Sometimes those itches settle in the edge of the numb area, where the one I’m trying to ignore right now is. This is a mild annoyance, and not as traumatic as the sensation of pain which sometimes crawls through the neuropathic area. Sometimes this pain comes on its own, sometimes something I do (usually moving my arm up so my hand is somewhere at head level or above) causes the pain to come. This generally strikes the back of my upper arm, is fleeting, but is shocking at times when I least expect it. Other times, it’ll come in and hover for a while.

Really, I’d rather have this than cancerous lymph nodes.

The steri-strips are still on my armpit and breast. The ones under my arm are peeling off at the ends and bunching up toward the middle, right over the wound from the surgery. I think it’s this which is causing the bruised feeling in my armpit, and the sticky areas keep catching on hair growing and pull it without warning, usually at night when I’m laying on my left side. Move right arm to more comfortable position, pull hair.

This is not to complain, exactly. It’s not that much to have to deal with. Just thinking there might be someone out there who might want to know about all the little discomforts which come with cancer treatments.

Yesterday, I received a call from Robin (a nurse, not Robyn, the Physician’s Assistant who came with my surgeon). She wanted to discuss the order Dr. Weiss, the head Oncologist, put in for something called a “porta-cath.” I think that’s what it was called. It’s something they insert under the skin of the chest for long-term chemo treatments, and she said it made sense they ordered it if I’ll be getting such treatments for a minimum of at least four months. It makes administering the chemo drugs easier and less stressful on the body—she said it can be rough on the veins if doing it through an IV. I have to go in at 7:30 in the morning on the 15th of next month for a fasting lab (whee, no eating/drinking after midnight) and report to the AMU clinic for the porta-cath to be inserted. According to Nurse Robin, they’ll sedate me for the procedure, so I’m going to take Mom with me so she can handle the cab. Also according to Nurse Robin, the sedation will wear off after a few hours and I’ll definitely feel like they’ve done something, but it shouldn’t be too painful. We’ll see about that.

If I find out they’re not doing the chemo long-term, I’m to call and tell Robin, and they’ll arrange to do something slightly different. Something about having a tube hanging out my body, and dressings which need to be changed, with a lot of care required. This enthuses me no end, I assure you, so I’m kind of hoping to do the porta-cath instead.

Robin was most displeased I recalled nothing of this being discussed during my last visit with the Oncologists. I could have heard something about it, and it may not have stuck, but she said it was up to them to make things clear, and she was upset I hadn’t received the printouts they promised. So, I’m kind of hoping my visit with them on the 7th turns out to be nothing more than me getting those printouts and hearing again what they’ll be doing, and maybe getting a firm answer on just how long and how frequently I’ll have to be in for chemo.

Today I got the letter the genetic counselor, whose name is spelled “Anne,” sent me. I’m glad she didn’t take her time about it. I have the distinct impression she got back to her office last Friday, prepared all this, and had it in the mail by the time she left the office for the day.

Some interesting facts from the letter she sent me (I haven’t read the printout from a cancer center’s website she gave me yet. Can’t bear to look at that bit yet).

-Most cases of breast cancer are sporadic (not due to inherited factors).
-Approximately 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
-A combination of factors can contribute to development of breast cancer (including smoking, unhealthy living).
-Simply getting older can cause breast cancer—most women who develop it are over 50.
-Approximately 5-10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be caused by inherited predispositions.
-Changes in BRCA1 and BRCA2 can also lead to an increased risk of other cancers, including ovarian cancer.
-In some families, a specific genetic change can’t be identified, but many members do develop cancer (more than expected by chance). In such cases, it’s considered familial, though they can’t identify the specific cause.

Once again, she iterates I should get the genetic test because of my complete lack of knowledge of health history of my father’s side of the family and my young age (39-40) at developing it. She’s going to call me before the 7th to make sure I do want the test, then put the order in for the blood for it to be drawn at the same time I have it drawn prior to my visit to the Oncologists on that day.

Surgery Follow-Up

This entry is part 09 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

Today, I went in for my surgical follow up. Got to see Dr. Savarise and Robyn again, and we discussed a few things, including something they found with my tumor, a DCIS or Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. As I remember this being described to me, this is basically the precursor to the cancer I had, so it wasn’t unusual to find it. Dr. Savarise went on to explain Chemo and radiation are the methods they use to ensure any other such carcinomas don’t form up into proper cancers. According to him, the next step is traditionally Chemotherapy, then radiation, which, to me, didn’t make much sense until he explained it. Can’t remember his explanation, or I’d repeat it here—I was in no condition (in a hospital gown on an exam bed) to take notes and Mom, who was with me, didn’t think to write anything down except “DCIS.”

Dr. Savarise took out fourteen or fifteen of my lymph nodes, but the only one with cancer was the one they found on ultrasound. This is good, though. It means no more surgery required at all. I can go on to the next step of cancer care without any concerns we’ve left anything undone.

Oh, and I had my drain out today! Yay! It’s such a relief to have it gone. Robyn did the removal for me, and she tried to explain what it would feel like (“a little discomfort with a little pain, but so fast you won’t really be able to register it”), before she did the procedure. To be honest, I was expecting to feel a great deal more than I did. She snipped the sutures holding the tube in place (didn’t feel those being snipped or removed), then she said, “One, two, three and we go!” and I didn’t feel the removal of the tube. I looked at her when she got done and asked, “That’s it? I didn’t feel anything!” She was very pleased to hear that. She and Dr. Savarise bandaged me up (he put the tape on the gauze), and she showed me the end of the tube which had been in me; it’s made of silicone and looked somewhat like a ladder on one side because of all the collection holes.

Both my surgeon and Robyn were quite pleased with my range of movement, but, honestly, I’ve had full range of movement since the day after my surgery. Yes, it hurt the first day after, but I felt confident I could handle it, so I moved normally. Most of my pain and discomfort now come from the effects of the surgery, which I forgot to ask about, and I meant to. However, I have Robyn’s contact information, and I can call her with my questions later.

Results of Surgery

This entry is part 04 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

What, you may ask, did this surgery get me?  Well!  Here is where I tell you.

First and foremost, it means that all the cancer is now hopefully removed from my body.  I now have bandages over my right breast and under my arm due to this.  The ones under my arm are more annoying.  It feels like they’ve bunched up in one spot and are digging in now.  I’ll be glad to get these things taken off tomorrow.  My breast has had little discomfort from its surgical wound.

In addition to all these bandages, I now have a nifty little drainage system.  This includes a tube sutured into place in the wound under my arm, which extends to about hip-length, with a bulb attached to it.  As demonstrated by the nurse in recovery, emptying the bulb involves squeezing it viciously until all liquid is expelled.  She left the bulb squeezed almost flat, but I don’t do that. It seems to need to be somewhat squeezed, or it doesn’t draw the fluid, but if it’s squeezed too much, it needs to be emptied more frequently.  I think I’ve got a nice compromise with it right now.  The fluid it collects is a combination of secretions to the missing lymph nodes and blood, though there seems to be much less of the latter now.  I won’t tell you what it looks like to me (it might make you too sick to eat).  I’m to keep track of how much fluid comes out of this bulb, so I squeeze the contents into a little urine-sample cup to get the measurement and write it down before dumping the fluid in the toilet to flush away.  Simple, if a little gross.

I spent most of yesterday in bed, thanks in part to the trauma of the surgery itself.  For me, part of the surgery included them putting a tube down my throat so I could breathe because I have acid reflux.  This has left me with a phlegmy cough which produces very little.  Thankfully, they put the tube down while I was asleep, or I would have had much to try to say.

The rest of the reason why I spent yesterday in bed is because of the painkillers my surgeon prescribed. A  combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. I took one of these at 8PM and another at about midnight on Monday night, and they knocked me out for the rest of the following day. Not again.  I do not like spending the day in bed.  I finally made myself get up a little before I wrote/posted yesterday’s post here, and I did not get any fiction writing at all done.  In comparison, today I got up around nine thirty, washed dishes, got a plot card on Brotherhood, took a nap from noon to two, and got up to cook a late lunch; this is more like a typical day for me, though my naps usually aren’t quite so long.

I haven’t showered since Sunday night.  Kind of not supposed to until the bandages come off, and Mom couldn’t make it out today to help me remove them—I definitely want help on the underarm ones due to the tubing.  And showering will be a challenge.  I’m not to get the area under my arm wet.  Either way, tomorrow night (if Mom’s able to make it), the rest of my body will be clean, and I’m really looking forward to that.

Post-Op Update

This entry is part 03 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

Yesterday, I had my surgery.  I want to get down what happened during it before I forget, so here goes.

I arrived at the hospital, with my mom, just prior to my appointed time of eleven AM.  They called me back into the surgical prep area about ten after, and I changed into an open-backed robe and socks.  You know those hospital socks, with the grip-spots on the tops and bottoms so you can put them on either way and not worry about slipping on the highly-polished floor.  Kept my toes warm, which was nice.  They covered me with a warm sheet and had me sign consent forms and I met my surgeons surgical assistant (whose name I forgot—but I do remember she was of Austrian/Hungarian descent and had a pleasant little accent).  Before they wheeled my bed into the surgical chamber at one PM, my surgeon, surgical nurse, and Anesthesiologist “ganged up” on me and we went over what I could expect of the surgery and what the procedure would be.

Then into Surgical chamber number four.  They had me move to the surgical table, got my head comfortable, and everything ready, down to leggings which strapped around my calves to keep the blood circulating and prevent blood clots.  Then I was out.

When I woke, I was in recovery.  Had lots of vertigo at first, even just laying down, and the nurses on staff were kind enough to give me some orange juice and peanut-butter-cracker sandwiches for a snack.  It was the first food I’d had all day.  After the nurse saw I’d been awake/alert with a blood oxygen level of 95% or above without an oxygen mask for an hour, she cleared me to go and I was wheeled out of the hospital.

Mom and I took a cab home. I should say here the hospital wouldn’t have let me go home if I hadn’t had someone to stay with me overnight.  Not only do they want someone with you, they also don’t want you to drive yourself or travel by yourself if you’re on public transit.  Even with Mom’s presence, I was told I may not be able to go home last night—it all depended upon how the anesthesia affected me and whether or not I required my cpap machine.

At home, I had a light bowl of veggie soup (as I was advised to eat lightly), then went to bed around eight or eight thirty after taking one of the scrip painkillers they gave me.  There are no restrictions on my diet or activity, so I’m eating normally now and am going to go square dancing tonight.

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