Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cancer doesn't kill you, the hospital does

It's Saturday night and I'm happy to report that surgery went well and I have been "home" (at Mom's house) for more than 24 hours. I'm feeling incredibly strong and recovering faster than I expected. Both of my surgeons did a fabulous job and the reports could not be better at this point. The sentinel node biopsy came back with no cancer. So, it looks like there is no lymph node involvement. Fantastic! That means it was stage 1 as originally thought. We'll be sure of that when all of the final pathology comes in on Monday. Whew!

The stay at the hospital didn't go quite so well. Thank you all for your prayers. You probably thought that they were to get me through surgery, but it was the aftermath that I really needed the prayers for instead. I should have know we were in for something when a surgical nurse appeared just before my surgery was due to ask if I had prepared my earlobes properly. Earlobes??? Keep your scalpel off my earlobes! I'm already giving up chunks of my body! I don't want to wake up without earlobes as well. I mean you gotta draw the line somewhere and for me that apparently is at the earlobes. Luckily, she figured out that I was the wrong patient before they knocked me out and chopped up my ears.

Surgery went longer than expected because one of my tissue expanders was faulty and collapsed after the surgeon had closed that breast. So, he had to take it out and replace it right there on the spot. So, basically I got 3 starter boobs for the price of two. (Mom was so proud since she's always looking for a bargain.)

Once we got to my room with the "magic button" machine of pain meds, things took a turn for the worst. Turns out I am basically not able to tolerate any of the good stuff. They cause incredible itching that is almost worst than the pain itself. I was literally clawing holes in myself. So, we had to add two more drugs to the mix to counteract the reaction I was having to the pain medicine. I had a wonderful nurse that first night and the next day even though we could not get the pain under control, they did everything they could to help me. It was night two when things began to slide downhill.

It was at that shift change when everything went wheels off. My nurse for the evening couldn't seem to start an IV, or properly connect the tubing for the antibiotic, or get any of my meds to me as scheduled. I'm not talking 5-10 minutes off here either. I'm talking 45 minutes late for pain medicine (since we ditched the magic button earlier that day), and as much as 1.5 hours late on others. You shouldn't have to call the nurses station to tell them it's time to hang a new bag of antibiotics. But, I had to every 8 hours. So, I realize at this point that I'm going to have to keep the schedule of all 6 of my drugs straight while under the influence of narcotics and great post-op pain if I plan on making it through. I know you're thinking opiates and math don't go together, but you can do amazing things when your life depends on it. Then mom and I set multiple alarms on my smart phone to let us know when we had to start begging for them to bring the meds that my doctors believed I was getting as scheduled. At one point, mom had to go a little postal. It was Baptist postal, so no bad words, but plenty of flat out yelling. Turns out if they think your Mom is crazy and about to call an investigative reporter, they start trying to get you your meds. They also magically produce a security officer to hover around the nurses station.

I'll tell you more tomorrow about the results of surgery and everything else. For now, just a big Thank You all for the prayers. A lot of what lies ahead is uncertain still. But one thing is not, I'll definitely be getting the second half of my reconstruction at a different hospital.


Unknown said...

so glad to see your words! and your humor continues to seep through the pain! more prayers going up for you.

Howdybooth said...

What's life w/out a little added drama! I want your mom on my side if I have to go under the knife!

kitykity said...

Your mom is indeed awesome. And man, that itchy feeling... not sure if I told you the story, but I've had a similar experience, and I 100% know what you are talking about. "Baptist postal"... I'll have to remember that one ;)

kristimalik said...

So glad you have kept us all updated via your blog! Thank you so much! I check it daily! I'm glad you made it through the surgery ok, even though they tried to kill you with pain in the aftermath! Thank God for your sweet & strong Mom!! And doubly thank God for no lymph involvement! I love you, and am praying for a fast recovery for you!! ;-) Squeeze that little boy!!

Unknown said...

I'm so glad to hear that you have the energy to post, that's got to be a great sign, right? You are strong and courageous and thank goodness, smart too. I'm glad your mom was there to help get you through this. Keep us posted, know we are praying and thinking of you, and live strong, how could you live any other way. You have always been one of the strongest people I've ever known.


Unknown said...

Stay strong!
I never do well with pain meds either, how I wish there was something other than the alternitive, pain or the insanity of the drugs that play more tricks with you. God continues to work with me now that I have begun to let Him. around every corner things happen, some amazing some I dread but I can feel the difference now that I am yeilding more. I have a long road of recovery too. but you helped me retake the first step.
may His arms surround you and give you rest


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