Monday, September 2, 2013

Emergency Surgery

I walked around with the drain in my armpit for a week.  From what I’ve heard and read, it’s a taste of what’s to come when I have my mastectomy.  Only then, there are FOUR of them!  It was a really bad week.   I was either drugged on Lortabs and sound asleep or just…miserable from the large needle pinching me. I couldn’t wait until Dr. A.J. would remove it Thursday.  There was still quite a bit of swelling, so I was terrified that he would make me endure this misery another week.

Liz, God love her, met Jeff and me at Natural Bridge exit halfway between Prestonsburg and Lexington. Thanks to her, Jeff has been able to miss less work due to some of these routine appointments.  But, then, nothing has been routine, has it?

After thirty minutes in another “one size fits no one” paper vest the next morning, Dr. A.J. walks in wanting a full written report on every ounce dumped from the drain.  (Sorry if you’re reading this over breakfast).  The bandage had to be changed daily, so apparently a layer of skin joined it each time.  My breast/armpit was purple, raw, throbbing, and stinging.  Dr. A.J. was ready to bring out the big gun…or at least it looked like it. It reminded me of a tranquilizer dart I’ve seen in the movies, possibly King Kong.  He first used a small needle and injected Lidocaine (again!!) to numb the area.  Then he inserted the needle/dart surely meant for elephants or apes the size of the Empire State Building.  He maneuvered the huge needle deep inside my entire breast.  I looked at the contents of the syringe. It was practically empty, but my left boob was still looking like it would fit quite nicely into one of Madonna’s cone shaped bras, only three times bigger. 

Dr. A.J. looked at me and said, “When was the last time you’ve eaten?”  I looked at my watch, “Around 7:00 this morning.”  You have blood clots that can’t be aspirated through the needle. “What did you have for breakfast?”  I was trying to remember…”Fresh mango, pineapple, and a gluten free scone.”  (As if he really needed to know that it was gluten-free). “I need to go back in through the incision and clean out all of this.  The clots will eventually dissolve on their own, but it could take weeks.  I know you’re anxious to start chemotherapy.”  I was panicking. Jeff was two hours away. Liz had to pick up Grant at school.   “Are you saying you want to do this now?”  He paused to think,  ”How about 3:00?” My head was spinning and I couldn’t think clearly.  I asked Dr. A.J. if he could have someone call Liz from the waiting room.  Liz said we could make arrangements to have Lauren or Jordan pick up Grant from school.
 I called Jeff and he was speechless…”Whaaaaat? What time?” was all he could say. “Three o’clock.  It’s ok.  It won’t take long. I’ll stay with Liz tonight in case there are complications.”   The next thing I knew, he was calling wanting to know if I needed anything from home.  He said he couldn’t be there before surgery but would definitely be there afterward.  What a guy.  He called the lottery office and asked my friend/co-worker/ dog lover to see if she could take care of my arthritic, diabetic, love sponge golden retriever Buddy for a couple of days.  She loves "Buddy time", she says. God bless her.

I think I’ve got the system down now.   Sign in at the CBH Surgery Center. Don’t pee, because you have to save that for a tiny Dixie cup.  Wait for about 20-30 minutes. Nurse Crystal calls me back, remembers me, hugs me, and asked me to teach her again how to order a Powerball ticket after I pee in the Dixie cup.  I asked her, “Why the urinalysis?” She said, “We have to make sure you’re not pregnant. I rolled my eyes. “Lordy, I could’ve saved you a cup and a test strip.”   She laughed and said, “What brings you back so soon?”  I told her of my lumpectomy complications and brought out my shocking photos.  She and her nurse friends stared at the iPhone with their mouths agape.  One enlarged the photo to make sure it was really me, my boob, or maybe even Photoshopped.   “Bless your heart! You must be in agony!”  Well, he DID remove the drain so agony had been downgraded to discomfort.  I was anxious to feel, well, normal again.  Liz came back, hugged and kissed me and I had to beg her to leave so she could make afterschool arrangements for Grant.

 Another nurse tried to stuff my hair in a blue cafeteria cap.  “You sure have a beautiful head of thick hair.”  My chin quivered and I said, “Thank you but it’ll all be gone next month.”  Her eyes watered, she clasped my hand and said, “I’m sorry, Elizabeth.  I’ll be in the operating room with you and I promise we’ll take very good care of you.”  The look in her eyes told me that she had seen this before, probably a loved one.  
“You can call me Ann.”  
“Why didn’t you say so, silly?”, said the misty-eyed nurse as she wheeled me into the OR.

I woke up to Liz saying, “You still have on your lipstick.”  There were three things I wanted to hear when I woke up from surgery:  “Your boobs are now the same size,”    “Your husband is here,” and “What do you want to eat?”  Thank God, I heard them all that afternoon.  The fact that my lipstick remained was just a bonus.


No comments:

Post a Comment