Cut it out!

The first of the Holy Trifecta of ‘slash, poison, and burn’ is now behind me…

I was picked up at 7:00 yesterday – and mom was right on time; we were at hospital in plenty of time for my 7:30 check in (due to the study, otherwise we would have had more time) – and by 8:00 am or so, I had left my street clothes behind me for the duration. Those lovely hospital gowns! Who can praise them too highly?

The first stop after check in was the outpatient desk, where mom was issued with a pager, and I a sheaf of papers; then we were sent off to the breast care center for the study. There I donned the first set of hospital finery (gown and robe- though I got to keep my ‘real’ clothes on from the waist down), and the tumor was injected with a contrast solution under ultrasound guidance. Either the Lidocaine or the contrast solution was unexpectedly and surprisingly painful – surprising for both me and the doctor – when injected; not at the injection site, but in the tumor itself. After that initial shock, it went quite smoothly; the dye slid in, swirled around the tumor, and I went off for mammograms – I got the same technician who had done my previous mammograms, and she was very careful not to cause pain. Three views later, that part was over; I had a quick look at the images (the skull calcification beautifully apparent – I’ll need to get a set of those images!) and we went back up to outpatient surgery, were ushered into the back waiting area, the place with the curtained rooms and hospital beds and nurse station and all.

Throughout all this time, I was determinedly swigging down as much fluid as possible,  frantically trying to super hydrate before the cut off time of 9:00. As it turned out, that was a smarter idea than I realized – it was a long time between my last drink before surgery and my first after.

I was issued a new hospital robe here – the classic, open at the back and show your bum, snap shoulders,  flattering for every figure, style. Lovely! The wreck of the Hespera never looked so good. I did get to keep my jeans on – at least up until they put in the IV for Ringer’s solution, at which point it seemed a Good Idea to strip off before it all got too complicated for words.

Shortly after the IV went in the back of my right hand (always pleasant), I developed a huge flush reaction – either from the Ringer’s or a delayed reaction to the contrast dye, no way of knowing for sure. My  extremities turned bright red, my entire skin flushed – it was amazing, especially for a Raynaud’s sufferer – o, my toes and fingers were warm, warm at last!  I was positively glowing, radiating heat in all directions.

So they shot me up with Benadryl, and that put me gratefully to sleep after a brief bout with nausea and dizziness… hell, I hadn’t been sleeping well since the lump first appeared, anxiety and the pressure of things to do, all the things that needed doing, and I needed the rest. Gave poor mom a break too… she hadn’t slept the night before, and I wasn’t the best of company, to say the least.

In between all this, Tessa came in, with flowers, no less! – and much glitter; various medical personal dropped in and out with forms and questions; Mom managed to get out to eat a bite with Bobbee (who also brought flowers and spent hours sitting vigil in the main waiting room); we took a quickish trip to Nuclear Medicine (where we were quickly rejected, on account of the contrast solution having been injected earlier) and a quickish trip back (I waved from my bed – elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist; wipe a tear, blow a kiss. Who sez I don’t have style?) and time went on.

And on.

Although surgery was scheduled for 1:00 (12:45, but who’s counting?), things took rather longer than anticipated, and it was 4:30 before I was wheeled in. I had refused the offered stirrup cup of Versed, so as to be clear as possible as long as possible… down the halls, into the chill bright room, staff waiting all gowned and masked.

It went very quickly from there on out – I was transferred to the narrow operating table, gown pulled out from under me, quick check of lungs,  lie back, right arm extended onto a rest, monitor taped to finger (much nicer than the clip on style, must say), pillows beneath my knees for my dodgy back, strapped in, blood pressure cuff wrapped around my right calf and then transferred to my left (varicose veins on right side), mask on and over, take nice deep breaths……….


~Two and a half hours later~

I woke in recovery – no nausea, no vomiting, no difficulties that I remember. Not that I remember everything… memory’s edges are decidedly fuzzy for a while. I apparently talked to my sister on the phone, but I have only the faintest outline of that memory – in the way it sounds vaguely familiar once she mentioned the conversation, but no more than that. Deborah and Gary Chassman – I don’t even know how they knew I was in surgery- brought flowers at some point, though I don’t think I ever saw them… if I did, I certainly don’t remember *anything* from that.

Bandages under my arm, and across my breast, tight and sore but not painful per se. Wobbley and tottery, strapped into my bra , dressed in my PJs,  given ice water to drink, into the wheelchair and thus wheeled out and driven home again, home again to the coffee pot set up and waiting, to the leftover pasta from Mark and Amy (thanks, guys! It was delish.), to cider from Ron, and mini ice packs the size of doll pillows tucked in atop the dressing, one scant pain pill and my glorious glorious bed.












I’m sure I’ll care what it looks like later, but the relief of having it gone  overwhelms all other considerations right now… it was growing so fast, such visible scary progression – not fast enough though! They took the two sentinel lymph nodes associated with it and, so far, they look clear, as do the margins.

Pathology report should be back in five to seven days, which will help determine what comes next, but right here, right now, it’s looking good.

Buh-bye, Lump! Our short & painful acquaintance is over as of NOW. Do not call, do not write, do not attempt to communicate with me in any way – we are through, and I feel much the better for it.

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