Surgery Part 4: Under the Knife

scalpel

(January 8, 2015)

The day for my surgery was finally here. My appointment was scheduled horrendously early in the morning, but was a bit of a blessing since I couldn’t eat anything or shower anyway. We arrived at the surgical clinic and I was a bundle of nerves. I was the first patient of the day, and was quickly whisked away to get ready.

Before I could have my surgery, I had to submit a urine sample so they could perform a pregnancy test. What an awkward way that would be to find out you were pregnant! When the nurse announced it was negative, I have to admit I did let out a rather loud, celebratory “woo hoo!”. I donned a fashionable paper gown and bright purple socks, then was brought to a curtained off section with a bed. As soon as I laid down, the nurse placed several heated blankets on top of me and it felt WONDERFUL! The paper gown I wore was interesting as well. It had an attachment for a hose to be hooked up and they pumped warm air through the gown to keep me warm and toasty.

The staff were all very attentive, friendly, and compassionate. It did little to ease my fears though. I wanted to panic. I was terrified and wanted to burst into tears. A nurse came by and inserted an iv into my hand without any trouble and I could feel the cold fluid trickling up into my arm.

Then I was left alone to wait for the doctor to come see me prior to surgery. I remember laying in bed wishing I had taken the time to read my Bible before coming. Wanting some kind of comfort. I was afraid I would be put under anesthesia and that would be it. I would never wake again. I began to sing Psalm 23 over and over in my head.  “Even though, I may walk, through the valley of the shadow of death. I will not fear. For you, oh Lord, you are with me.” And just like that, God gave me peace.

The doctor came in and signed his initials onto my left breast to make sure there was no error during surgery and they would cut into the correct side. Then I was wheeled away to the surgical area. I stared at the ceiling as the fluorescent lights whizzed by. The surgical room appeared and I moved myself over onto the operating table. I was a tangled mess of wires from a heart monitor, iv tubes, and the like. It felt like an octopus was surrounding me as all I could see were a tangle of arms everywhere as nurses, doctors, and assistants tried to untangle everything and make sure all the equipment was hooked up and working.

All of a sudden I thought I must be panicking. The world was beginning to spin and I was afraid I was about to pass out. Just as I was about to reprimand myself for my lack of bravery, the anesthesiologist let me know she had started my sedative and I might start feeling dizzy. The last thing I remember was the nurse trying to get my blood pressure cuff to work correctly and holding an oxygen mask over my face. Two deep breaths and I was gone.

I heard my name being called. There must be something still wrong with my blood pressure cuff, I thought to myself. They need me to do something to help fix it… But when I opened my eyes, I was back in the surgery prep area. I was thoroughly confused. There was no way they could have done the surgery already, I didn’t even feel any pain! I groggily asked if my husband could come see me, and someone went to fetch him from the waiting area.

I began to get my bearings and asked if it was possible to see the tumor they removed. They brought out a big canister, but unfortunately you couldn’t see through it, so I wasn’t able to see what it looked like. I was told that when they removed the tumor in the operating room, everyone started shouting. They were surprised at how big it was! They told me it was the size of a baseball. Oh. My. Goodness!

I worked on trying to wake out of the anesthesia fog as quickly as possible so we could go home. About 3.5 hours after arriving at the clinic, they released me. I was wheeled out to the car and our first stop was to get some breakfast. I was absolutely STARVING! I downed a breakfast sandwich, hash browns, and orange juice. I was still hungry, so I made Cory take the next exit to pick up a cinnamon roll and cookie from a bakery.

Once we got home, I rested in bed all day and felt surprisingly good (with the help of several vicodin). It’s been over 48 hours since the surgery now, and I was able to remove the bandage. The doctor had to make about a 3 inch incision to get the tumor out. Quite a bit larger than he had originally anticipated. I have spent quite a bit of time resting these past two days and have found I’m a terrible patient. For some reason, I had convinced myself that after 48 hours I would be ready to bounce back to normal. Instead, I’m dealing with an achy, sometimes painful, breast. My children miss me and want to cuddle, but have the unfortunate habit of constantly bashing into my chest making it hurt worse. It will take a little bit longer to recover than I had anticipated, but I am so relieved it is over. Now it’s just a waiting game. The tumor was sent to a lab to be biopsied. Eventually, I will find out if it is cancerous, and also if it is the kind of tumor that will grow back. It’s a small percentage, but if that’s the case, I will have to have surgery again right away to try and take more tissue out to prevent that from happening.

So now I wait. Wait for the healing process to be complete, and wait for the results.

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