Thank you all for the prayers, well wishes, and healing energies… Jess and I have been blessed and held in your love. We’ve both felt completely supported by this grace and it has been doubly wonderful to be so aware of it all.
Wednesday was a very long day, and one that we are grateful to have gone so well, and also grateful that it is now over.
First was another set of mammograms taken against a numbered/lettered grid so that they could exactly map the location of the two small tumors. It’s somewhat more complicated than working on a specific organ… then the doctor knows what he/she is looking for and where to find it and can see it with the naked eye. Using the grid over the mammogram film provides coordinates to place the pins. These long thin needles are about 3-4 inches long, and while the end inserted into the breast is rigid, the tails are not. That allows them to bend and be covered by a pocket bandage taped to the breast so that they don’t get knocked about and the gown can be closed up. All of this was done with a local anesthetic.
Second, was going to Radiology, where I was injected with a radioisotope dye in the same spot the needles were bracketing. That shows up on the scan within a few minutes and allows identification of which lymph node is the sentinel lymph node… that’s the first one in which cancer cells will most likely get caught in if the cancer has spread beyond the breast tissue.
Third, was Pre-Op. We spent a couple of hours there, mostly just waiting. Me in the bed, wearing a very stylish paper gown. Jess, either in the chair, or at the foot of the bed, giving me a foot massage. The gown was rather amazing, insulated on the inside, and with Velcro openings wherever the medical team might want to access. Very clever, comfortable, and warm!
The anesthesia team came to talk about that process and I asked them to keep my head, neck, and spine on the same plane because of the herniated disc at C5/6. If my head gets tipped in the wrong position, it pinches a nerve and hurts like hell. They were very accommodating, and once they wheeled me into the OR, I got a pillow under my knees, and the extra support under my neck. This was very good. They also introduced me to every member of the surgical team I hadn’t already met. At 3:00 pm they put me on oxygen for a few moments, and then added the “tequila” (as they called it), and I was probably unconscious by the third breath.
I woke up in the Post-Op Recovery Room about 5:30, where Jess was. Our dear friend, Eileen, was also there, having stopped on her way home from work. It was good to know that they were there, and had each other for company as I spent much of the next hour drifting in and out of the anesthesia. By about 6:30, I was able to keep my eyes open. Sarah Blair, my surgeon, stopped by to check me and then we got to go home.
I had a couple of sips of water (remember I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since 10pm the night before, now about 20 hours), got a bit nauseous, used the acupressure point for reducing nausea which worked for a while. We got home just after 7pm and I threw up the little bit of water I had drunk. The feeling of nausea was gone, but I still couldn’t keep anything down for more than a few minutes. I also wasn’t able to stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time. So, that’s how the evening progressed… sitting on the couch very comfortably, watching TV with Jess, dozing off for a few minutes, coming back to, sip something or nibble on toast, throw it up a few minutes later into the ever-present basin. By the time we went to bed at 10pm, I still hadn’t managed to keep anything at all down. I woke back up at 2am, got up and shared half a banana with Jess, threw that up about two minutes later, gave up and went back to bed.
By the time I was finally able to keep anything down, it was about 33 hours. And I wasn’t hungry or thirsty, but I started on applesauce and Jess brought me little nibbles and juice all day and now I’m back on a regular schedule.
The only other thing out of the ordinary was my urine turning bright blue for about 24 hours. During the surgery, I was injected with a dye to help the doctor find the sentinel lymph node under my arm. Now, everything looks normal.
Yesterday, I spent the entire day on the couch with a book, dozing off and on. My brain was clear enough to follow the book, but not enough to really talk with people. Even with Jess, I kept getting distracted and then couldn’t remember what we were discussing.
Today, I’m still a bit foggy, but getting clearer. Jess helped me wash my hair yesterday at the side of the tub with the handheld sprayer. The rest of me just got a sponge bath. This may sound frivolous, as I’d showered Wednesday morning before we went to the hospital, but it absolutely necessary to help shake off the ‘sick’ energy and rev up the healing energies. It immediately and noticeably brightened my energetic field.
I had woken up in Recovery wearing a zip-front sports bra that is containing the bandaging and using compression to keep the swelling down. I can take it off after 48 hours, so late this afternoon I’ll be able to take a real shower. And see what the new landscape of my body looks like.
So there it is, my very own Grey’s Anatomy episode. Jess and I talked about this while we were hanging out in Pre-Op. Things look very different now that we’ve watched 10 seasons of the show in about 8 weeks on Netflix.
In the meantime, although it’s not yet lunchtime, I feel like it is late afternoon. Which probably means I need another nap.
I'm learning more about my art, and from my art, every day. It's not so much a matter of skill or practice... mostly it's a shift in perspective, a way of shaping how I look at and exist in the world.
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