Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Day of Surgery

A new reader asked if I would write about the day of surgery and how everything went. Its not all positive, but I will write it anyway. ;-)

The morning of surgery was a carefully orchestrated chain of events that had to start days in advance. My son Tyler often helps us with the kids if I have doctor appointments or we have scheduling conflicts that don't allow us to make it home in time for the kids' buses. Tyler arrived a couple days before my surgery so I could get to the last appointments before surgery. Then, the morning of, Dean and I got some of the kids on the bus and Tyler got the little boys on their bus, then he spent the day with Audrey. We SO appreciate all of the help Tyler has been to us the last few months! I honestly do not know what we would have done without him. (not to forget others who have also helped out with kid care!)

Dean and I arrived at the hospital at exactly 8:00 a.m. We got inside and I realized I'd forgotten some paperwork in the van so Dean was nice enough to run back and get it. This is a hospital we had never been to before and were't sure where we were going. We finally found our way to the admissions area it was still only 8:05. We sat down at the little interview desk as they had me sign consent forms, and verify what procedure I was having done. I choked. I had a really tough time saying, "bilateral mastectomy". But I didn't cry, even though I wanted to.

Next we were brought back to a holding area. Dean decided he needed to go to the bathroom and I knew they would call my name the minute he left, and that is exactly what happened. I couldn't take anything back to the pre-op area with me so the nurse and I waited Dean to come back and grab all the stuff. The nurse looked a bit annoyed with me. Bummer for her!

I was brought back to a pre-op cubical where I undressed and put on the cool BEARgown (that blows hot air on you) and booties. Then they hooked up the hugger leg things too. (I want a pair of those at home!) Of course, as soon as I was hooked up to all that stuff I had to pee! Then, oddly, there was a call from my plastic surgeon. There had been some discussion whether or not the nipple on my cancer side was able to be saved. "I've was thinking about you all night. Tell Dr. S. I suggest using the old incision from the lumpectomy on that side and that nipple should be fine." I got back in the bed and turned the BEAR gown to blow cold because I was having hot flashes like crazy.

Finally Dean was allowed to come back. Then Dr. S, my breast surgeon, arrived and did some markings. Those were added to the markings the plastic surgeon had made the day before. He made a quick phone call to the plastic surgeon to verify what she'd told me. Meanwhile, I was now cold so turned my BEAR gown back to very warm.

About this time I was starting to feel a bit panicky. I start talking a lot, cracking really stupid jokes. "Want to shut me up? Give me drugs and you won't have to listen to me anymore." This, as I turned the gown back to COLD.

Around this time is when the lab people showed up because my bloodwork from the day before hadn't arrived and they needed to make sure I wouldn't need a transfusion due to low counts. I asked them to use my port to do the draw but they needed a separate vein. And that, my friends, is where a small problem appeared! You see, the DAY I was told I have cancer, my veins rolled themselves up and took off to Timbuktu! Just weeks before that I had been really easy, but now it is nearly impossible to get a blood draw on me. I let the lab tech try ONE time.

As she was slapping my arm to find the vein I said, "10!"

"Ten what?" she asked?

"My pain level is at 10 now. I need drugs."  I let her poke me one time and she didn't have any luck. "That's it. No more. Give me some drugs through my port and then you guys can do whatever you want to me."

BEAR gown back to warm.

Next the anesthesiology guys came in. I looked at them and grinned. "10. I'm at 10. You should give me something now." Dean begged them to hurry up just so I would shut up.

Although they couldn't use the port for surgery because it would be in the surgical field, they agreed to give me drugs through my port and find a vein later.  As we were discussing what they were going to give me ..."Diliauded? Do you have that? I really LOVE that stuff!" I felt it hit me. I looked over at Dean, "Oh sweet God there it is! Tell them I need that stuff for at home."

I lost a few minutes and then they were wheeling me to the operating room. It was VERY crowded with equipment. Hardly enough room for actual people, much less a whole surgery!  "Um, are you sure this is the OR? It looks like an OR storage area." One masked person commented, "Its ok, you won't remember it."

"Yes…yes I will, because it is weird. It is really weird like something you would see in a movie. Maybe there is some creepy conspiracy going on. You should just put a mask on me quick…."

And that, my friends, is the last thing I remember. They were done listening to me.

Surgery lasted 6 1/2 hours.

The next thing I remember is being moved. Oh sweet mother of GOD my body was on FIRE. I felt like I was in a cocoon and they lifted me up in that. "Please don't. Please don't touch me. Omg…OMG this hurts so bad! Do NOT touch me! Why do I hurt so much?" I could hear Dean's voice somewhere that seemed far away but I knew he was right there. We were in my room and they were moving me from the gurney onto my bed. Someone had put my arms over my chest and I couldn't move them from that position. "I can't move my arms. At ALL. Please someone move my arms."

Somewhere in there the nurse informed me (or Dean and I only overheard?) that my drugs had not yet arrived on the floor? WHAT??? How could they not have my drugs ready? Oh I was in so much pain. I hurt so bad. My chest was on fire and I couldn't stop sobbing, and shivering,  which caused everything to hurt even more. I am told I said some bad words. It is entirely possible I did. Someone moved my arms to a better position with pillows under them. But I could not move. Not even an inch, without searing pain.

And then I was out. My drugs must have arrived and they knocked me out.

Poor Dean. It must have been awful to see me like that.

I don't know how long I slept, but I do know the next time I woke up I wasn't in so much pain but the nurse shot me up again right away. I was awake enough to talk to Dean a few minutes. I sent him home because I was worried about how things were going there and I knew I would just sleep for several hours. No need to stare at me sleeping and I knew he had to be exhausted.

I slept most of the night, awaked every two hours when they gave me another shot, checked my drains and vitals. On Saturday Dean brought Angela and Axel up to visit for a little bit. I was able to get out of bed by then and sat upright in a chair since the hospital bed was already killing my back. By then I was on oral medication and for the most part it kept my pain under control. The nurses got behind once but believe me, I watched the clock closely because the last 30 minutes or so were always miserable. If they reached the "5 minutes late" mark I was pushing the call button.

The second night in that hospital bed I thought I was going to die because of my back. I couldn't sleep and getting into a comfortable position was impossible since there is no way to move after this surgery. There is but one way to sleep, and that is on your back, semi sitting with your arms propped up and pillows under your knees. I could have begged for one more day in the hospital but the thought of another night in that bed was enough to get me home instead. 

1 comment:

flgoldengirl said...

Leah, I hope you are feeling much better now and that you're able to rest comfortably in your own bed or recliner. I had my surgery 4 months ago and as I was reading your blog it reminded me so much of my experience. I had my exchange surgery 4 weeks ago and I'm feeling fantastic. You will too one day soon, take it easy and allow yourself to heal. :)