The two days prior to my surgery were busy. On Monday I had a tiny radioactive capsule injected into my breast tissue near the malignancy. As if that wasn’t fun enough, that was immediately followed by a mammogram. Yes, another one.
All throughout life you’re warned to stay away from radiation, and subjecting your body to trauma. Then you get cancer and all that goes out the window. But I digress.
Alongside me every day of this process was my dad, (my mom had a work conference out of town). He got up early and drove me to my Monday appointment, sitting in the middle of a lobby full of women, walls full of breast cancer posters, un-phased. We went to our favorite Thai restaurant for dinner and then got ice cream, a sacrifice for him since he is really good about staying away from sweets. I got him hooked on Netflix’s Stranger Things, because I am a loving daughter and it was the right thing to do, and then the next day he waited patiently over an hour while I had my sentinel node injection.
Okay, so I’ll pause here to do a little explaining. The radioactive capsule is tiny and is injected near the site of the cancer to assist my doctor in locating the tumor during surgery. Yes, I did try to see if I had any X-Men powers after they injected it, but I am sad to report after several experiments, I will not be attending Xavier’s School for the Gifted. I was however advised to refrain from holding babies or small animals for longer than 30 minutes at a time that day. Naturally, I cancelled my puppy petting appointment I’d scheduled for later in the day. The sentinel node injection is done to help identify which lymph nodes drain the breast tissue and in turn will be removed the day of surgery.
My hubby and I agreed that he would stay home with the kids so not to interrupt their school schedules. Of course as surgery approached David tried to renegotiate the terms of the agreement. My close friend Bethany so graciously volunteered to step in as part of my surgery day squad. We spent the night talking big about what we were going to do with our kid free time, but basically we ended up going to our old job where we met and chatting it up with our old manager. We then spent way too much time debating on how many and what type of cookies to buy. I talked her into an evening walk through my parents’ super hilly neighborhood, which is not really a big deal until I point out that Bethany is just a tad shorter than me, it seems like a whole foot on some days. So she had 10 steps for my two, but she hung in there like a champ.
Surgery morning, I’m up at 4:00 am, I am surprisingly calm and well rested. I still played my Travis Greene playlist to keep the confident mood going. I pulled on my new favorite Fight for Joy t-shirt and a comfy pair of shorts. It was still dark outside as I got into the car with my dad. I half expected the obligatory father daughter pep talk, but instead it was just two guys on an AM news station chatting, and me reciting verses in my head. Which is totally ok, because the lack of said pep-talk just confirmed that he wasn’t worried which means I needn’t be either. We arrived at the hospital and I checked in, Bethany and I exchanged a look and a giggle as a result of an unspoken inside joke. Then we sat and we waited for my name to be called. They called me back and I was escorted to pre-op alone, family and friends don’t get to come back until right before you head in to the operating room.
My nurse was nice, asked all the general questions and handed me my gown, thermal shower cap, compression socks and left the room. I snapped a picture of my metallic shower cap and texted it to my dad and Bethany for a laugh. As I rolled up the compression sock past my shins, I thought, “Cheese and rice, I don’t want to do this.” Beeping from my phone, friends are sending me prayers and positive thoughts. Okay, I’m back, I’m good. The nurse hooked up an inflatable warming blanket and then sent in my Dad and Bethany. We made small talk, my Dr. came in and gave the run down, I checked my phone, and then I cried.
Not an ugly cry, but the kind that sneaks up on you and you’re almost positive you played it off type cry. Not because I was scared or nervous but happily overwhelmed, I saw my college roommate and friend Brooke, update her status asking her friends to pray for me and Bethany had done the same, and seeing all the “virtual” strangers “standing” by me overfilled my heart.
Alright hugs to my dad and Bethany, it’s go time, I’m being rolled back by Colleen and Betty and David. I add their names because Colleen said I wouldn’t remember. (Always stubborn in every circumstance, even though I’m only 95% certain those were their names.) I remember telling them about where I live and watching as the oxygen mask moved toward my face and looked a lot like stop motion photography. Then…. the clacking of computer keys.
“Ooooh, am I done? Did they ask me to count back from ten, because I don’t think I did, sorry!” Meanwhile I am fidgeting with my sheets and checking the side of my bed for the bulb drain, that I was warned only would be present if all my lymph nodes were removed. “You don’t have a drain, she only took out 4 lymph nodes.” Awesome! At this point I feel like I’m on a raft in the water, my mouth is dry and my throat is itchy and I really want pancakes and country fried steak. I’ve been wrapped in a frilly pink tube top chest binder thingy, and my armpit was on fire! Before I know it, I am rolled back to a room to meet my dad and friend.
Real friendship is when your bestie can express to you in complete confidence right after you’ve come out of surgery that she is disappointed that your level of delirium will not allow internet fame.
I know that I left the hospital and talked Bethany into getting me a smoothie, but the rest is a blur of falling asleep between texts, being genuinely concerned that every time I peed it was aquamarine (blue dye injection from surgery), my dad and I eating Chick-Fil-A, (Yeah I totally ignored the post-surgery BRAT diet recommended, judge me if you must.) and whispering a lot of “Thank you Jesus”.
I will fill you in on the rest of the details after my post-op appointment. Thank you thank you a million times thank you for all your prayers, positive thoughts, and support.