Wednesday, July 27, 2011

April 9th, 2011 - Surgery.... the whole long thing...

So I have, apparently, come through surgery just fine. I know you're sick of hearing me say "If you would have told me...." but here comes another one. If you would have told me two months ago I would have a mole removed, get diagnosed with cancer, and have a real actual surgery, I would have probably had a heart attack on the spot. I always knew one day I'd have to face some painful medical procedure or diagnosis, and I've dreaded it. I've watched while Deni has undergone procedure after procedure and been so brave, so stoic. Without even having had anything happen to me, I was embarrassed at my own fear of the future.

Needless to say this is one of the biggest things that's ever happened to me, and on a scale of painful, I'd have to give it maybe a 3. Now having bad teeth, that's been a 10. You see, when my body has an illness and my immune system is compromised, my bad teeth just figure they'll join the party and decide to act up, which is exactly what happened the night before surgery. Yes, here I was about to have my first real surgery and what am I complaining about? My tooth. I wasn't supposed to eat or drink anything after midnight, but by 3:30am I was hurting so bad I called my other sister, who's a nurse, and asked her what to do. She told me to take a Vicodan with just enough water to wash it down, and not tell anyone. I was really scared of the doctors re-scheduling me, so I did what she said, and it was enough to get me through.

I must say that every person I had contact with at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, and the Shands Cancer surgical dept at new Shands were SO NICE and understanding. As soon as I told them I was scared, they were immediately on my side, making sure I was ok every step of the way.

The thing that hurt me the worst was when they put the IV in while I was in Pre-op. I've had IVs before, but for some reason this one was a bitch and I felt it. I wanted to slap the nurse that put it in ala Chris Tucker in "Fifth Element" and yell "OUCH! That HURT! What's WRONG with you?!!!BzzzzZZZZZZ!!!!". But I was good and just said Ouch. Once that was done, they let my parents come in and sit with me while the cute anesthesia guy asked me some questions. I love how they give you those warm sock with the no skid pads on them and cover you with toasty warm blankies.

After a few minutes, they came to get me, and mom kissed me on the forehead just like I was a Honestly by this point I swear she was more nervous than I was. I was ready to roll. They got me into the OR and had me move from my bed to the other bed. Then there about 4 people doing things to me all at once; giving me oxygen via a face mask, putting both my arms on cushioned boards and taping them down, and they put these cuffs around my legs, like blood pressure cuffs only bigger. I get calf muscle cramps really easy and I started freaking out. The one tech said would you rather have a blood clot during surgery or a muscle cramp, which you won't feel anyways? And I said "yeah, ok" and he started to laugh and put the mask back on me. A few mins later as I felt the gently waves of massage on my legs I remember saying "Oooo that's nice!", and I looked up to see the tech staring down at me with a smile saying "We're gonna take good care of you", and I was out.

The next thing I know I was laying in a bed in recovery, wrapped in nice warm blankets, while the nurse was reading my monitors. My first feeling was that my throat felt like acid had been poured down it, and it was IMPOSSIBLE to talk. All that came out was a whisper. I felt a little pain on my chest at the surgery site, but more sore than pain really. The only thing I cared about was my throat. The nurse had two ice laden drinks for me and I started sucking them down like I'd been in the desert for a month. Eventually mom showed up and sat next to me and told me they were having trouble with my sats, that I needed to try and breathe more to bring my sats and my blood pressure up before they'd let me go home. It took about 45 mins of me drinking and breathing, but eventually my vitals were fine and they released me and wheeled me out to the valet parking. My mom, meanwhile, was sent to the nearby coffee bar on a mission from me.... obtain a LARGE vanilla latte freezer STAT!! And she did. And OMG was it GOOD!!!

Before I left the recovery area, they gave me two Percocets for my pain, and by the time we hit the interstate going home, the meds had kicked in BIG TIME. I was talking nonstop and making my mom laugh so bad. My dad was driving a little fast and I told him to slow down, he made some excuse and I said "Hey! I just had surgery! Lean back and let me grab your testicles and we'll be even!". Both my parents almost spit their drinks laughing when I said that. I probably shouldn't tell you all that, but really, that's the kinds of things I was saying. High doses of painkillers give me "The stupids" really bad.

Once I got home I discovered I have a compression bra on that has to stay on for as long as I can stand it. I have a large incision on my chest that I swear goes down to the bone because I feel like I got a face lift on my chest. I also have a small incision under my arm that I don't even feel. As for pain, they've given me Lortabs, which are great, but my pain has been really small. I just feel ALOT of tightness in my chest and I walk a bit hunched over because if I stand up straight, the skin pulls from my chest up to my neck and feels uncomfortable. I'm over at my mom's so she can take care of me, and Deni and I are like two siamese twins that have just been separated. It's awful. I'd rather have surgery again than have to be away from my Doodle. Hopefully I'll be able to go home in a few days when Mom thinks I'm strong enough.

The big thing now is waiting for the pathology results which will come back sometime next week. The surgeon told mom that based on how my one lymph node looked, and how it looked inside my chest, that she was "Cautiously optimistic". I'm praying nothing higher than the current stage 2, but I'm prepared to fight tooth and nail if it's higher. I saw a t-shirt supporting cancer that I thought was great, it said "Fight like a Girl". That's so awesome! If I have to have radiation or chemical trials - so be it. I'm really amazed, though, at the havoc a small mole can cause. For the rest of my life I will be an advocate for taking care of your skin and fighting against Melanoma.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, and remember.. stay out of the sun. It's not worth it.

1 comment:

  1. My husband is the same way right after surgery. He is funny all the time but after surgeries he is just talk talk talk...and the things he says are hilarious! We are always cracking up all the way home. Sorry about the tooth pain on top of it all!