Cancer: Waiting Mode

Update on my health if you’re interested! If not, please carry on by, no worries! (TL;DR: It’s been 1 week since surgery. Pain isn’t too bad. We are in Waiting Mode to find out if the cancer spread.)

So, yeah… it’s been one week since my surgery. Subjectively it feels like maybe three or four days at most. I have been getting lots of sleep, so maybe I’ve only been awake for three or four days worth of a week. One day passes into the next without really noticing. Time is not really divided into Day and Night in this slightly surreal existence of post-op recovery, it’s more like Snack time, Medicine time, Nap time.

First: Surgery & Homecoming. (I’ll cover some thoughts about this last week later I think. I’ve had many wonderful helpers and lots to say!)

Surgery preparation moved along very swiftly once I checked in at the hospital. I had expected long periods of waiting around, so I packed things to do while waiting. I barely touched anything, including my phone. John and I were brought to a small waiting room where I changed into hospital garb, then we moved to another small room where both my breast surgeon and my plastic surgeon made a great many markings on my body, then I was wheelchair rolled off to another room for a radiation injection into my right breast to see which lymph nodes it hits first (sentinel nodes, this will be useful later), then back to the small room with my husband, and finally I was wheeled in the bed alone into the surgery room.

The surgery room surprised me with its utilitarian appearance and size. It looked nothing like I imagined, but I’ve never really been one for hospital shows, so maybe it’s exactly what I would have expected! Anyway, I was there for approximately one minute before it was lights out for me, so I didn’t have a long inspection time.

John was able to go home to take care of the dogs and relax for a bit, after I went into surgery. I was glad he had been given lots of time to go home and try to relax. Hospitals make him a little jumpy, and I knew we would both need him to have some relaxation for the night and next day to come.

I woke up in a small room in the surgical short stay unit at approximately 10:30 or 11:00 PM. I was quite surprised at the time! I had anticipated maybe 8:30, as my surgery was at 4:30 and the room was scheduled for 4 hours. I was in no pain, of course, hooray for the anesthesiologist! They told me that 2 of my 3 sentinel nodes tested had tested positive for cancer, so they had removed the whole lot of them and were sending them off to California (I think 🤔) for further dissecting and analysis. The results will not be available for about 7 business days, so maybe they will be known tomorrow at my follow up but it could take a couple more days. So, we wait. This is a bit anxiety-provoking, but what else can we do? I know worrying about it won’t change anything for the better, so I’m just letting it go. It will all be fine. Whatever it is, we will deal with it.

My nurse, Marissa, at the hospital overnight was *truly* an angel! I stayed in the short stay unit overnight and since I didn’t go up to an admitted room, I was one of only two patients on the unit overnight. So I got some special attention I probably couldn’t have gotten upstairs on a ward. She thought of all the little things that were helpful, brought me chocolate pudding twice, and made good conversation while we were checking things hourly. I found out how good she was when she took her lunch break and the nurse helping me did NONE of the thoughtful little things that Marissa did every time. I was glad to see her come back! I tried to sleep when we changed to having to check everything after four hours, instead of hourly. I wore my sleep mask with Bluetooth headphones (which is SUPER awesome by the way) and listened to the Healing hypnosis audio app that I’ve been listening to for a few weeks while I tried to sleep. Usually I’m out before we are done with the relaxation part of the audio, but that night, though I had it on loop, I never fell asleep. I kind of zoned out and stopped listening to the words but I could really tell I wasn’t in and out of falling asleep, I was pretty awake all night. I found out later that John barely slept at home either. It made for a really long following day!

In the early morning a couple of the doctors from my surgical team stopped by and checked my incisions and my vitals and checked my drains and pain level and then pronounced me good to go unless my pain wasn’t managed. I just had to wait for each of my surgeons to stop by and look me over and agree with the decision to discharge me. So, John arrived and was promptly dispatched to run around the hospital to pick up my pain medications from the pharmacy and my “flack jackets” from the Transitions breast cancer shop within the breast surgery department. We were taught how to care for my drains (squeamish beware!) and by 10:30 AM I was being wheeled out of the hospital and set in a car and we headed home from surgery.

Coming home from surgery requires a crash course training for some semi-basic medical care that will need to be done twice a day until the doctors say you can stop. In the hospital I had no problems with the ick factor and quickly learned the ropes, John was a little squeamish but followed along. At home, John has been great at all of it and I have gotten a bit squeamish; we have had to stop mid-way a couple of nights for me to sit down and cool off from my sudden lightheadedness.

TMI Alert from here on, beware if squeamish!

I have tubes coming out of my body, two on my right, one on my left. They are attached to little pod drains that collect the lymph fluid from the body where the surgery took place, in my case, my chest, both sides. The drains look like little hand grenades kinda, and there are these camisole vests that you can wear after surgery and they have little detachable pockets for the drains, thus called a flack jacket, at least they are called that by my friend Terri. Makes sense to me. The drains are removed from the vest and emptied and measured twice a day. The color starts initially looking like blood, which didn’t make me queasy at all. It has since lightened to a pale watermelon color because lymph is yellowish. To be honest, it grosses me out. John is a champ!! The goal is to get the amount of liquid being drained down to less than 30cc in a 24 hour period, I think. We are still a ways from that if the 30cc is cumulative for all three drains. If it’s per drain, we are already there. We’ll find out tomorrow at the follow-up appointments with my surgeons.

I ran out of oxycodone today, so I’m just crossing my fingers things don’t get too painful! Apparently I’m supposed to be good from here on out with extra strength Tylenol… okayyyyy. I hope so! 🙏🙏🙏 I’m hedging my bets with CBD oil intake and edibles on the regular!! We’ll see how tonight goes. I definitely have no desire to be on narcotic pain medications any longer than needed but I’m having some anxiety about this! I suppose if I get high enough with THC to not care about the pain, that works.

Also, because I didn’t have enough to deal with, I got my monthly cycle the day I get home. WONDERFUL!! Good sense of humor there, Buddy! I am not the only one I know that had this happen the day after surgery, so I don’t know if it’s coincidence or if the surgery somehow is related, but I’m chalking it up in the “possible” column of: Things They Didn’t Tell Me Ahead Of Time.

I’ve had some really wonderful helpers this last week and I’ve been doing a lot of self-care that I think is worth talking about, so I’ll do that next time I write. Thanks as always, if you are still reading this lengthy post! Thanks for all of your prayers, good vibes, happy thoughts, remote reiki, and possibly a goat sacrifice. I feel very well taken care of and well loved. I feel stronger with you with me. With all of this at my side and as my foundation, how can I possibly fail?! We’ve got this guys! I really believe that! Until next time, I’m yours truly.

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