I never filled everyone in on the whole surgery experience. My double mastectomy was Friday, November 4th. That whole week was busy and hectic with appointments and trying to organize kids pickup and other daily routine type things. Tuesday of that week started with a visit to my regular OB for my regular checkup. Wednesday, I did pre-op which is basically 8 billion questions and more blood samples. Thursday, I met with the high risk maternal/fetal medicine physician. They took blood samples to run a billion different tests, and did an ultrasound. Baby Doodle, looked great, and the Dr. said she saw nothing of concern regarding the baby’s growth and appearance. Yay!!! Now, to go home and eat myself silly until my midnight cut-off.
Eating did not pose a problem as I had co-workers drop off enough food and supplies to get us through an apocalypse! My mom came in town Thursday evening and it was pretty much business as usual. I had one last snack before bed knowing it was going to be a long day without food the next day, and then proceeded to perform the pre-surgery disinfection process. The hospital provided me with a few packages of wipes with specific instructions to thoroughly wipe down my body. 1. The wipes are freezing. 2. They leave a sticky film. 3. Said film becomes itchy and begs to be scratched.
On Friday morning I woke in good spirits. I helped get the kids ready for school, extra hugs and kisses of course. As I got dressed, I took one last look at the girls in the mirror, “It didn’t have to end like this, but you went rogue, and left me no choice.” My mom picked me up to carry me off to the hospital while Dave dropped off the kids. My surgery wasn’t scheduled until noon that day, but check in was at 9:00 am. I was already dreaming about bagels and milkshakes before we even got to the hospital. Off to pre-surgery my mom and I go. Another package of disinfectant wipes, a pee sample for a pregnancy test, positive, surprise surprise. Hospital gown, slip proof socks, gargle, spit, swab of nostrils, IV inserted and down to another waiting area. Dave showed up by the time we got to the second waiting area. They sent for a nurse to check the baby’s heart rate, everything was good. I met the anesthesiologist, he gave me the run down. My nurse navigator “L” came and checked on me, met my mom, and told me she was praying for me. Then the star of the show, my surgeon came and introduced himself to my mom. Went over what we were doing, bilateral mastectomy, port installation. He also let me know that today’s surgery music choice would be Pink Floyd.
Shortly after that the CRNA came and talked to us, and then started me down the hall. We burst into a stark white room and 10 faces came at me and started with introductions. Just a reminder, during my last surgery, I had already been given something prior to going into the operating room, this time I didn’t get the “pre” medicine so I was completely coherent when I arrived. There was someone putting pressure cuffs on my legs, I had to wear a lead blanket over my belly for the x-ray, the table is narrow so they tie you down, my arms are being strapped in a T position, cold electrodes are being placed all over, the CRNA is a little too firm with the oxygen mask and keeps reminding me to breathe. If I breathe I might embarrass myself and ask to leave. In the corner stands my surgeon thumbing through his playlist, and then starts, “Let It Go”.
“UGGGGGHHH”, I mumble through the oxygen mask, as the anesthesiologist administers his cocktail. I hear lots of what’s wrong, and there is a pause in the bustle as the surgeon walks over. “Dr. P, I hate this song, are you trying to be funny? Is this dedicated to my boobs?” Laughter all around. Beeping and keys clacking, “are you awake Khim?”
I made it!! I felt like there was an elephant on my chest and in my daze thought that maybe they’d forgotten to actually remove my bosom, but one look at the much flatter hospital gown squashed that theory. I had four drains attached to me like unwanted tentacles and their insertion points were the only areas that were painful/bothersome. I stayed overnight, got one more ultrasound to confirm Baby Doodle was okay, and everything looked great there, and then I was on my way home Saturday afternoon.
A couple of days later when I was home alone, I undid my bandages to take a look at the breast less me. I’ll admit I cried, just because the scars were overwhelming, and the tentacles didn’t help. It was a short cry, because without the distraction of my chest, my belly was so much more obvious, and what’s going on in there is more important than my vanity.
As for the results of my surgery, the Dr. says he was able to remove all the cancer from the right breast, and the left breast had no cancer in it, they took one more suspicious lymph node. So no new concerns or scares and now the next step is chemo beginning in December.
During my recovery, I received so many cards, care packages, messages, and texts and they all were so uplifting and appreciated. So many people stepped in to help around the house, with dogs, picking up kids, and meals, and my whole family was completely overwhelmed by the generosity.