Surgery

It’s now been almost two weeks since my surgery … left mastectomy, sentinel lymph node biopsy, insertion of the chemo port and initial reconstruction with a tissue expander.  The day began fairly quietly, arriving @ the hospital, gentle conversation with my son, the nursing staff friendly and helpful.  Vitals were taken, but no pre-op work — we had expected some, but the next thing we knew I was on a stretcher and we were traversing the maze that is UTMB to the 2nd floor Radiology department.  After a series of 4 shots in my left breast (only 2 were painful), I moved to pre-op.  There I waited on the preceding op to finish and the OR to be cleaned and readied.  While there, the anesthesiologist asked me about my surgery (which side, what, name, birth date, etc.) and then inserted the IV into my left arm.  I watched and when he was just about through, I casually mentioned that I thought it was unusual that he was using that arm, since surgery was on that side.  I saw him freeze, then shake his head.  At that point I knew we were in trouble.  Ten minutes later, the IV was in my other hand and the left hand had the IV removed and an enormous bruise already developing.  Moral of this — question … always question …

Pre-op was full.  I saw people coming and going.  Still I remained.  I decided it was a good time to pray, and so began the Rosary … praying for the surgeons & team, for family & friends, for myself and for the cancer to be successfully removed.  Amazingly, I finished the Rosary before they came to move me into the operating room … God is good!

I remember being placed on the operating table and my arms laid out flat … my doctor lightly stroking my hand … one of the techs telling me to breathe deeply of the oxygen mask … given through the IV the light relaxer (and the Rosary) had done its job … I was calm and relaxed.  The last thought I had was that I was stretched out like on a cross …

The next thing I remember is opening my eyes to a flurry of activity, nurses, noise, Shawn, lights … but not for long … back to sleep for another while.  The next time I opened my eyes it was quiet, just 2 nurses nearby.  I asked if I was the last one, they laughed, but I sure didn’t see anyone.  I asked about the time … 8pm … finally going to a room.  I’d been out for awhile.

As we head to the room I still have trouble keeping my eyes open, but the nurse is talking so I respond.  I learn she also had breast cancer and is a 6 year survivor.  It’s amazing to me that everywhere I turn, I meet women who have endured this horrible disease but have conquered it.  I want to be part of that team!

Most of the rest of the time in the hospital is spent taking pills, pain meds and sleeping.  Lots and lots of sleeping.  Friday late afternoon I finally get home – it feels good.

First milestone complete – surgery done.  Next step recovery.

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