Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Boobless Wonder

Me before surgery - looking goofy.
Well, it's done.  I was released Thursday around noon.  I still can't believe that they keep you only one night after a mastectomy- and some people go home the same day!  Crazy!

Surgery morning started off well.  I had to go to one hospital at 7:45 a.m. to get the radiation shot into my poor suffering boob.  Only in the left breast since there is no known cancer in the right breast.   It didn't hurt at all and it was over in probably about 60 seconds!  The part that hurt the most was when he vigorously cleaned off my breast - my breast was so sore and touching it at all hurt.  After the torture of being *gasp* cleaned - I had a shot to numb the area right by my nipple - just a pinch and then I felt nothing after that.  He put the radiation in and it was done!  Easy!  Unfortunately, by the time I got to the car, my breast was KILLING me - so painful.  That lasted for a couple of hours before it calmed down a bit.

I really liked the doctor who did the injection - he was a lot of fun.  He told some jokes and said a bunch of funny stuff like, "Don't worry about me here, this doesn't hurt ME a bit!"  He also told me, "I don't get a lot of Christmas cards...I don't know why..."  Haha - Well, *I* know why and after the pain started, I crossed him off of my Christmas Card list too!  Ha!  I asked him why he decided to become a doctor instead of a comedian, he replied, "Pays better."  He was a hoot.  Such a good way to start the surgery day.  I was also very amused that his name was GEORGE GLASS!  If you've seen my new favorite movie, Bridesmaids, you'll know why!

Anyway, once I was finished and dressed, the technician led me back to the lobby.  He told me that I didn't have any "restrictions" since I got a really low does of radiation.  I asked him if I should stay away from the microwave, just in case.  He said that microwaves are fine.  I think I'll keep my distance anyway, just to be safe. He did tell me that some people have larger doses and then they have restrictions for several days - things like not holding babies or sleeping next to someone because you are emitting so much radiation that it's dangerous.  I wonder if they glow in the dark...I wish I could try that out and see.  Any volunteers?

The reason I got the shot was so they could find my sentinel node.  That's the main node that drains from your breast.  During surgery, they can identify that node and then take it out (along with 2-3 more) to test for cancer cells.  I asked how they knew which node to take?  Did they use a black light? Strobe light?  Disco ball?  They do not use any of those but what they DO use is a Geiger counter!!  How cool is that!  I didn't even think of that - I was too busy imagining the surgical team discoing while looking for the right node.  Geiger counter is pretty cool too though.

After the shot, we headed to the other hospital where the surgery would be.  They are only about 10 minutes apart.  We arrived there just before 9 am.  I was told my surgery would probably be about 11:30 - I was the last (and longest) surgery of the day.  My doctor was running behind though and I didn't get wheeled back until after 12:30.

Thanks for the Memories!
It was kind of hard to wait.  But, at least I got a chance to say Goodbye and Thanks for the Mammaries!  (I totally stole that "mammories" joke from my friend Jacquie!  I so wish I'd thought of it!).  I was calm while waiting, I felt ready and just wanted to get it over with at that point.  My husband came back and sat with me after the IV was in.  We did a lot of goofing around and playing with our phones to pass the time.  My husband threatened to take pictures of me in my drugged state to post on FaceBook.  I threatened him with bodily harm which must have worked because I don't see any crazy pictures of me lurking around the internet.

The "drug guy" came a little after 12 and gave me a shot to relax me.  Oh, how I love the "drug guy."  He said I wouldn't remember anything from then on but I DO remember (so HA) kissing Greg goodbye, saying goodbye to the boobs once more and being wheeled out the door.  From there, I remember nothing.  I was gone.  Which is weird because, in all of my other surgeries, I remembered getting to the OR and having to move to the operating table, counting down from 100, etc.  This time, though, nothing.  I think the exhaustion finally caught up with me.

I next woke up in recovery.  I quickly secured ice chips.  They gave me quite a bit of pain medication because I was really in pain.  However, I am one of those people that gets itchy with the pain meds.  So, I had to have Benadryl as well.  I remember the nurse asking me if I really wanted the rest of the pain medication - "It will make you more itchy," she said.  This really didn't compute to me in my groggy state and I snapped, "I want ALL of the pain medication!"    Duh lady, don't withhold the good stuff!  The hardest part about recovery is that it's a small area and the nurse kept bumping into my bed!  Every time she bumped my bed or moved it (she did that a lot too) the pain was excruciating!  I really wanted to get up out of bed and strangle her.  I did say something and it got better but not great...she still bumped me quite a bit.  She's off my Christmas Card list now too.

I don't know how long I was in recovery - an hour or so - I slept through most of it.  They took me up to my room at around 6 p.m.  I was on the same floor as when I had my renal cancer.  I meant to go say Hello to my old room, but I couldn't walk that far.

By this time, 6 p.m., I was STARVING!  Nothing to eat since midnight the day before and I was so hungry.  Someone from food services came to ask for my breakfast order the next morning.  Breakfast?!  I hadn't had dinner yet!  I told her that I was hungry and she said I had missed the dinner service but there would be leftovers and she would bring me some.  I never saw her again. Hand me my Christmas Card list...

By 9 p.m., I feared I might waste away from hunger so the nurses brought me the only thing they stock at the nurses station.  A turkey sandwich.  It was disgusting!  Bleh.  Do you think they are trying to give the patients food poisoning so they can keep them longer?  Job security!  Well, I did eat about half of the sandwich - "eat" might not be the right word - I "choked down" half of the sandwich.  Then I ate about 15 packages of graham crackers.  I complained to the RN in charge about this before I left.  There obviously needs to a better system - you can't expect people to go that long after surgery without eating (unless it's the type of surgery where you have an eating restriction, obviously).  The RN was pretty mortified - but I don't know that anything will change because one of my nurses told me it happens all the time.  Ridiculous!  So, if you have a late surgery, it might be a good idea to pack something to eat for after!

I dozed on and off throughout the night, watched a bit of TV here and there.  My phone was threatening to die so I couldn't do much with it.  Thankfully, I was too drugged up to really be bored.

When breakfast arrived the next morning, there was a delicious bran muffin (okay, I was really hungry) and a HUGE plate of scrambled eggs!  There were enough scrambled eggs to feed my entire family!  Probably about 8 eggs!  Crazy!  What a waste!  I ate a few bites of egg and gobbled up the bran muffin.  Then I had some more graham crackers (I don't want to see graham crackers any time soon in case you were wondering).

The doctor visited and told me everything went as expected, no surprises.  He said that, to the naked eye, the lymph nodes looked healthy but the pathology will tell the truth.  However, it's good that they looked healthy. I asked how big the tumor was and he said they never see it because they cut so far around it.  They send both breasts to pathology to be studied.  That's kind of interesting and kind of gross all at the same time.

We were leaving right as lunch was delivered.  We all shared the gingerbread cake which was actually delicious!  The rest of the meal was really scary - mixed vegetables (ick), mashed potatoes (bland!) and an open-faced roast beef sandwich (SUPER ICK).  I was very suspicious that everything was covered in gravy.  What exactly are they trying to hide?  I don't want to know.  Greg took some bites of the roast beef sandwich, he said it was okay.  There was no way I was touching that mystery meat!  He's brave (or maybe just really hungry).

It was about 2:00 by the time we got home.  I have looked down at my "boobs" but I'm all bandaged up.  And, so far, I've felt okay about it.  I have't cried or had any breakdowns - I thought I might.  I guess I got it all out of my system beforehand.  It is really weird to look down and not see breasts there though and now my stomach looks Huge!  Great.  Super attractive.

All in all, it's just a huge relief that this big part is over with.  I'm in some pain but I have good pain drugs and I'm keeping up with them so I don't get to where I'm in too much pain.  I'm sleeping a lot (Thank you pain pills) and enjoying the company of people who stop by.  After my renal surgery, which was SO painful, it was hard for me to entertain people or talk to them much when they came.  I was just in so much pain.  But, with this surgery, it's definitely easier and I'm a little bored.  I can't do anything because I'm in pain when I move - but I feel pretty good just sitting.  Though, I'm still taking Benadryl for the itching.

Just so relieved - I feel like I made the right choice.  My 9 year old daughter said to me yesterday, "Mom, we are kicking cancer's butt, huh?"  Then, she said, "Wait, does cancer HAVE a butt?"  I replied, "Well, if it does, we are kicking it!"  She's so cute.

I go to see the surgeon on Tuesday and they will take off the bandages.  I think that might be emotional - we'll see.  I'm trying to prepare myself for it and I've seen pictures online of what it will look like.  I'll find out a lot of the pathology results on Tuesday as well.

In the meantime, I'm just working on my Christmas Card list.  I have some revisions to make after all.

People Outside My Family Who've Seen My "Boob" = 27
Boob Count = 98


  1. Keep going. myLaura and I are so proud of you.

  2. you are so brave! i have been thinking about "what if" i was in your situation....i don't know if i would be as brave giving up my girls. i really love much i decorate them, ya know? i started to tear up reading about what it would be like to take off the bandages. my heart goes out to you. not to make you sad or anything, i guess i am completely sympathizing with you. but, that being said, i'd rather have you around, than your boobies. you are way funnier! well....maybe. were your boobs funny? i never met them!! love you laura!