The first week(ish)
It has been two weeks since I had my surgery and there have been a lot of ups and downs since then . . .
The actual day of surgery got off to a crazy start. Because the surgery had been rescheduled there was a definite lack of communication between the various pre op offices I had to stop by prior to the real deal. As I was brushing my teeth that morning I heard my phone buzzing. That seemed pretty weird for a Friday morning at 7:10 am but I figured it was someone calling to wish me luck. Imagine my surprise when I listened to the voicemail from the hospital saying that I was supposed to be there at 7. As if we weren't stressed enough. It ended up kind of being a blessing because there was not a lot of time to sit around and wait once we got to the hospital. Everyone was really understanding and agreed that the date/times in various offices did not match up.
Our first stop was for dye injections to aid in the sentinel lymph node removal. It was not too pleasant to have dye injected by large needles into each breast, twice, but it was just a small taste of what was to come. I was bandaged up and Dave and I were off to our next stop. It was the surgical floor. Neither Dave, nor I, have ever had surgery so it was a little intimidating to both of us. While I was back filling out paper work Dave got a visit from his best friend's father who is a cardiac surgeon. I think he helped ease some of Dave's anxiety but the stress level was still pretty high when I returned to the waiting room. There was not a lot of time to wait before I was called back to get ready for surgery. A million OR nurses introduced themselves to me, asked me questions and hooked me up to an IV. It all happened very quickly. Then Dave came back to sit with me before they wheeled me into surgery. I don't think either one of us really said anything in those moments. What do you say? I read this www.kevinmd.com/blog/2010/07/grief-men-face-wives-undergo-mastectomies.html article prior to surgery and could really relate when the time came for Dave and I to say good bye. I lost it. The nurses were all very nice and understanding and did their best to calm me down and have a semi normal conversation as we approached the OR. I definitely felt like I was in a medical drama when we got into the opperating room. I just remember metal doors and being lifted onto a bed and strapped down. Everything was white and there was sooo much going on. Luckily I was knocked out pretty quickly. When I last looked at the clock that morning it was 9:18. When I opened my eyes in recovery it was 5:45. Yikes. I missed the whole day.
Dave was right by my side when I opened my eyes. I don't know which one of us looked worse (sorry babe but that worrying took it's toll). He later told me that he knew it took no more than seven minutes to get to the car and back because he had done it at least six times that day to pass the time. He met a friend of his for lunch (the same one that watched me face plant in Fells Point just a few days prior) but Dave was an hour early because he couldn't stand waiting in the waiting room. After lunch he wasn't ready to return to the hospital so he walked around downtown for about another hour. Even still, he spent at least five hours in the waiting room with his mind just reeling. We were both beyond happy to be reunited in recovery. Dave and I have a lot of discrepancies between how long we actually spent there but somewhere between twenty minutes and two hours later, we were taken to our room.
I thought we would spend one night, maybe two, in the hospital but I was quite wrong. The anesthesia made me extremely nauseous and we were not able to leave until I could eat. I spent most of Friday night and Saturday totally zonked from all the meds and the actual surgery. The nurses at Mercy were great and took such good care of us. There is a lot of nasty stuff that goes along with care post mastectomy but they were sweet and patient with me and my very weak stomach. By Sunday I was feeling better but still could not eat without the help of Zofran (anti nausea med) so they wanted to keep me just one more night. UGH. By around 8 pm (about three whole days since it had been placed) my IV was infiltrated. We were watching Happy Gilmore and I realized that my arm bore a strong resemblance to Chubs'. The nurses were worried and though I was finally overcoming my nausea, they started looking for a vein in my other arm to start a new IV. I may or may not have turned into a difficult patient at that time. I assured them that if they prodded in my other arm for a vein that I would most certainly be sick again and that from here on out I would be refusing any and all intravenous drugs. Laying down the law helped because they just unhooked the IV I had and let me be until I was discharged the next day.
The Monday after surgery we finally headed home. I hadn't seen my boys in forever so it was great to see them, if only briefly. I spent the week almost entirely in my recliner. I was still very tired and just felt kind of gross. The pain was manageable, I was just blah. My mom stayed with us and took care of the boys and my mother in law helped out with the kiddies too. Tons of friends brought, and continue to bring, dinner for us, which has been such a blessing. One week post surgery my mom and I headed back to the hospital for my first post op check up. I was elated to find out that I could have my drains removed. If you know what they are, you understand my relief to have had them gone. If you do not know what they are, I will spare you the gory details. I also had a pain pump sewn in, which stopped dispensing Lidocaine that Wednesday so I was happy to see that go too. I was feeling good mentally and physically going into the weekend. My mom decided that since things were going well, we would be ok without her. She took Max to her house for the weekend and my mother in law took Oliver. Dave and I had a great Friday night watching Maryland basketball with some friends. Sadly, things took a turn for the worst Saturday morning. I don't feel like most people reading this would like to know the true nature of the torture that was Saturday, but I will say that all of the medications that I was prescribed seemed to wage an all out blitzkrieg on my body. Dave took four trips to the pharmacy purchasing a more embarassing product with each visit. And I spent the day in a modified fetal positon in my recliner or sitting in an oatmeal bath (I dare you to try to sit in a bathtub using absolutely NO help from your upper body). it was not fun. Needless to say, I had my mom back by Sunday and life was good(ish) again.