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Monday, March 5, 2012

One test, two tests, Old breasts, new breasts

Annika made this for me to take to the hospital :) 
Whew! Two weeks have passed since surgery and so much has happened, yet not much has happened at all. It's amazing how oxycontin can make time pass so quickly. This post is long overdue and I realize after spending time with friends and family, I have been using terms that are familiar to me, but completely unfamiliar to many of you. It *might* explain the crickets and blank stares when I talk about my 'drains' or some of the time in recovery post-op. Hopefully this post will answer those questions and more and we can all proceed on the same page :)

First things first, I have to say THANK YOU to my amazing Mom who made another trip from upstate NY to be here for me for this surgery. I honestly can say that I really do not know how on earth I would have done this without her here. I love you, Mom!!  
Me and Mom patio dining at North on March 1...beautiful

Two weeks ago today, I headed into a life-changing surgery. I was prepared, physically and mentally but nervous just the same. I really don't like the idea of spending an entire day under anesthesia. As it turns out, the surgery itself took 7 hours but when you count pre-op prep and post op recovery, it was really an all day ordeal. I cannot express how thankful I am that my cocoon kept my mom company in the waiting room allllll day long and were there when I woke up in recovery. Thank you Adam, James, Debbie, and Jim (was anyone else there? If so, I don't know. I was OUT like a light). There is nothing I wouldn't do for any of you. I am so thankful for all of you!

So after spending more than a week on pain meds, you can imagine that some of the details are a little fuzzy, but there were some great anecdotes that came from surgery. Since you all know what the actual surgery entailed from the previous post (except Dr McGinniss did the prophylactic side before the damaged one), I will tell you what I remember so you can identify with some of my frustration. I know that some of you out there work for KU or are medical professionals so PLEASE understand that although I hit some rough patches, I am VERY pleased with KU and the majority of the staff who cared for me.    

I remember...

...Getting prepped for surgery by getting the sentinel node biopsy set up. That involved them wheeling me into this weird little room where a guy stuck a 32 gauge needle in my right nipple 4 times (wheee!) and injected a radioactive solution. That would allow Dr. M to locate the nodes that needed to be removed for testing during surgery. 

...sitting perfectly still so the anesthesiologist could give me a nerve block in my back which REALLY alleviated some of the recovery pain. So thankful I opted for that!   

...Going into surgery with Mom, Adam and James by my side, SO thankful that the guys made it there to support my Mom. Such peace of mind going under... speaking of which, I don't remember going under at all!! 

...waking up with two 'nurses' arguing by my bedside as I was crammed like a sardine into the recovery room PACKED with half conscious people on gurneys. Fun! I was very upset and one asked me why, I replied 'I feel like you don't know what you're doing and I'm frustrated! I want you to hurry up so I can go back in and finish surgery!' which one replied "Honey, you're already finished." Oh. 

...lying on that gurney in recovery feeling SO dehydrated and BEGGING for water. They were not allowed to give it to me until they got orders from a Doctor. There was a lady foot-to-foot with me in recovery who was slamming a Sprite and as much as I HATE soda, I would have done ANYTHING for a drink! So they gave me a miniature styrofoam cup with a few ice chips and a spoon even though I could barely move my arms. Grrrrrrrr...

...Mom and Adam coming into the recovery area for a VERY brief time until they kicked them out because it was too crowded. 

...getting moved to a private room in recovery...for FIVE hours because there wasn't a room available for me in the hospital. The most warm 5 hours of this experience... I was surrounded by warmth and love. Mom, Adam, James, Debbie, Jim... I love you all. I remember Adam (life coach) holding my hand every time I fell asleep and feeling really relaxed (must have been the drugs ;) ). I remember that my nurse's name was Debbie and I was PISSED because she was giving Debbie a bad name! She was MEAN!! She argued with me about exactly how much morphine I got and how frequently I could push the button. And she told me my dinner would be there in one took TWO HOURS!! All I ordered was fresh fruit... and I remember James going out to get me a smoothie and after consulting with Coleen, only finding fresh juice so he showed up with a beet juice something-or-another that looked good, tasted good but almost made post-surgery me hurl... Thanks for the effort James!!
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor  

...Adam joking that the call button was a karaoke machine >>> 

...Liz Wakeman (Chris W's sister) stopping by just as I was getting moved to my own room. What a nice surprise!! 

...Taking a very long gurney trip to the cardiac unit (I fell asleep for the trip) where I was upgraded to the nicest part of the hospital. Whew!! Home at last! Well...for two days anyway!

...Skyping my kids from my hospital bed to reassure them that I was OK!!

...waking up SO sore and meeting the resident who was not my favorite. She was wearing Shape Ups. I don't trust people who wear Shape Ups...especially medical professionals. If you wear them, please tell me...why?!  I remember her saying she'd be back after dinner and after checking my drains (*explaining drains soon), telling me that I would probably stay another night. I accepted that, only to have her come back that night and tell me that I should be going home but that because I didn't ask the nurse to wean me off the IV and get me on oral meds, that I had to stay one more night. Whaaaaa?? It's MY fault that I didn't direct my own care immediately after major surgery. Responsibility accepted...afterall, I DID go to medical school ( I didn't!!). She also reprimanded me for not eating enough protein (which no one told me to do) and that I needed to make it ANIMAL protein because it's better for healing (ok, vegan friends pipe in ;) ). Whew! Not my favorite person at all. She did end up apologizing the next day, but she won't earn back my respect. I even got a visit from the head nurse on the floor and I explained that the nursing staff was FANTASTIC. It was the resident alone who made me cry...yup. You read it here. She made me cry :'(

...the plastic surgery resident who was a nice looking young man with two male students coming into my room, opening my gown and flicking my nipples to see if I had feeling... awwwwwkward! They didn't even buy me a drink or dinner!!   

...visits from Larry L, James, Adam, Kelly, Erin, and Danny (Kelly having to text Erin to run because I was fighting to stay awake). I had been awake most of the day and it was mid-afternoon and I was crashing hard! They brought me the most beautiful flowers (thanks Kelly, Erin, Sam, John, and Mike!)...wait! Were you guys in recovery too?? Sheesh...I can't remember anything! Thanks to my friend Steve for bringing dinner from Cupini's and to Rick for making the drive from Lawrence to see me :)

...Adam and James loading up my stuff and taking Mom and me home on Wednesday morning. You are the best friends I could ask for. THANK YOU!!!!

...Rick taking the day off and coming over on Wednesday to cook lentil soup and make my house smell delicious. Sorry I couldn't stay awake and keep you company :( Or did I? LOL. I can't remember!! You are the BEST!! Love you!

...countless days of stripping drains and counting fluid. And here is what that means...

This is not a depiction of me. I have less hair and brown eyes.
*JP drains (Jackson Pratt drains): The original suction drain. The drain itself is inside the body. It is made of Teflon and has multiple drainage holes. The drain is connected to clear plastic tubing which is usually sutured to the skin at the point it leaves the skin. The tubing connects to a bulb reservoir. The bulb, when squeezed empty, applies constant suction to the drain and pulls the fluid out of the body. The drain is removed when the excess fluid has stopped draining from the body.

So what's next? Well, I have to have less than 30mls of fluid draining from each side for two consecutive days before they pull the drains. I am currently at 50ml on one side and 40ml on the other. I was told by the resident-I-don't-care-for (upon discharge) to get up and walk to help my healing. So I did. You don't tell a runner to go 'walk' unless you mean it. I walked 2 miles. Apparently what should have been communicated to me was to walk around the house, maybe to the mailbox. My plastic surgeon told me this at my follow up visit a week ago. Again, Grrrrrrr... I would have sat on my ass to get these drains out earlier if only someone would have told me! So with that said, Operation Sitonmyass went into full effect. Mom and I watched more movies this past week than I've seen since 2005 (slight exaggeration). Thank you to James and Steve for lending us a ton to choose from...and to Redbox for being so convenient :) 

Thanks to Dad, Mary and Tom (bahaha...Tori!) for the beautiful plant! Thanks to my Mom's Ellenburg, NY friends for the amazing Edible Arrangement and to the Keverns for the AMAZING dinner. Thanks to Amber for the beautiful sunflowers to brighten up my day :) Thanks to Erin for the yummy veggie soup. Thanks to Coleen for the vegan pastries from Mudpie that got me in trouble with the resident-I-don't-care-for (Bahahaha). Thanks to everyone for the thoughts, prayers, gifts, vibes, visits, meals, snacks, love and support. Thanks to Dr. McGinniss and Dr. Ponnuru for having their A game with them two weeks ago. I am so happy with what I see so far... I am so so thankful for all of you. 

But wait, there's more!! Like the results of pathology and what my future doctor visits look like... but I've got to go pick up my kiddos from school and my dad from the airport (Yay!!). 




  1. That was crazy good! And even though I barely know you, I know I am SO happy you are ok. And that you write these - how else would I know even a glimmer of what its like to go through what you have. It's all awesomesauce.

  2. Nice and very informative post and
    How great is our God that always save us.