Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 5th 2011 - My version of what will hopefully be the last surgery....

I had a feeling this tumor was benign, but I knew it had to come out, otherwise I would always wonder.. and be scared. So on Monday Mom and I headed over to the ortho oncologist for a pre-pre-op checkup. I got to ask questions and get the play-by-play from Doc Onc and his trusty sidekick Mr Fellow (who is actually kinda cute). Once I was done there, Mom and I ran a few errands and made it to Shands hospital Anesthesiology dept in time for my official pre-op. This consists of waiting in a waiting room along with about 30 other people, getting called on, go back and fill out paperwork, go back to waiting room and wait, getting called, go fill out more paperwork with someone else, go back and wait more, getting called, go have tube after tube of blood taken, etc. It takes about 2-3 hours all total, but mine went a bit faster since I already knew the drill. Many of the questions and things they had to tell me I already knew. One of the ladies even asked if I could go out and let everyone else know the drill because she was tired of saying all the usual There's something to be said for having as many surgeries in as little time as I have had.

Once that was done, I had myself a latte thanks to mom and went home to rest. I was assured by Doc Onc that he would try and schedule my surgery as early as he could so I wouldn't have to go so long without any water or drink. The last time my surgery didn't happen until early afternoon and I hadn't had anything, not even a sip of water in over 12 hours. Food I can do without, but a drink... I'm diabetic and I get cotton mouth really easy, so I always have a drink next to me. So anyways, Doc Onc promised me an early surgery. Later Monday I called Pre-op to find out my surgery time and they told me to be at the hospital at 10am, which meant no surgery until noon, which also meant another 12 hours with no water. I was so pissed, I ranted and raved and just generally had myself a little meltdown. It's funny the things that will get you down. For me it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was nervous and stressed and a little scared, and by the time they told me the surgery time I had just had it. Luckily for me I have a great mom and sister that basically told me to "Suck it up, Princess!" and I got over myself. The next morning pre-op called at 7am and asked how soon I could get to the hospital. Seems they had a cancellation or something, so my early surgery was back on... after all that bitching and moaning...LOL. So Mom and I grabbed our stuff and took off.

Once there they took me straight back and I left Mom in the waiting room. I knew once they did a few housekeeping things (took vitals, changed me into the dreaded hospital gown, hooked me up to machines, inserted the IV) that they would let her come back and sit with me, so I was pretty relaxed. I knew the drill. Getting the IV in wasn't easy because I only have one arm they can use (I'm not allowed to use the lymph node dissected arm for shots, vitals, IVs...anything), and the one vein they tried blew as soon as they got it, so they had to stick me twice but they eventually got it inserted. It was uncomfortable and really pinched and I hope later it would settle down and stop hurting. Once I had all the doctors come in and check on me, they said they were going to do the nerve block right there before they took me into the OR. I asked if Mom could come back and be with me and they said no, not until it was over. Now, I know I'm 46 yrs old, supposed to be a grown woman, not afraid of stuff, but I was afraid of this nerve block and damnit, I just wanted my mom with me. I started to get really nervous, but then suddenly I was overcome by a feeling of calm. Something told me that they had taken good care of me before, and they wouldn't do anything that would hurt me. I don't know where this feeling came from, but I went with it.

They injected something calming into my IV (yeah I know, but this was AFTER I felt calm), and then rolled me onto my left side. I felt something cold and wet on the side of my upper thigh (alcohol), and then I felt a poke... and another. I knew they were injecting my nerve twice, and I remember saying "ouch" twice, but it wasn't a big deal and it's all kind of fuzzy now. The next thing I knew I was laying there relaxed and Mom was with me and everything was fine. Weird. Why can't they give me that stuff at the dentist? Laughing gas is great, but not like this stuff.

A few mins later Mom kissed me goodbye and went to get breakfast while they wheeled me into the OR. Doc Onc said a few things to me as I lay there looking at all the lights and instruments, and I think I said my usual to him, "Do a good job!", and I was out.

I woke up in recovery hours later. I thought they said they weren't going to put me to sleep? Well I guess they did. I still don't understand it. Apparently there are different levels of being put to sleep and they used a new one on me... I think. I don't know, all I care is that I don't remember a thing. When I woke up in recovery it was with the usual sore throat and I lay there and sipped ice water for about an hour, drifting in and out. I vaguely remember Doc Onc stopping by my bed to tell me he was pretty sure the tumor was benign, and then Mom was there with me. As I woke more I realized I had a long blue velcro immobilizer on my leg from the upper thigh to my ankle... and I couldn't feel my leg AT ALL. Very weird. Of course there was no pain, just my throat being sore.

A while later they wheeled me upstairs to my room and Mom and I got settled in. One nice thing about staying in the hospital in New Shands in the cancer section, the rooms are all private. I spent the rest of that day just laying there, not being able to feel a thing, watching tv with mom, and drifting in and out of sleep. Mom was so great and got me a little pizza for lunch along with a frozen latte... my favorite, so I was a happy girl. And it was confirmed the tumor was benign.

Later that night Mom was asleep on the pull out couch, and I was getting IV antibiotics all day on and off, when suddenly it started burning like acid in my hand and it was so bad that I told the nurse to take it out completely. Usually they would have argued with me about it, but I told them in no uncertain terms that if they didn't take it out.. I would, so they did. I still don't know what happened, I guess my vein blew or something, but once it was out my hand felt so good. Relief! That was the only thing that happened that night. Oh and every nurse and doctor that came in kept telling me that when the nerve block wore off, it would wear off really fast and the pain would hit me like a truck, so at the first hint of discomfort, I was to tell the nurse and she would start me on my pain meds. Mom and I almost got paranoid about it. Finally about 2am I could wiggle my toes again (you wouldn't think it would be a big deal but I was SO HAPPY to feel my toes!!!) and I started to feel a little pain, maybe a 1.5 on a scale of 10, so I told the nurse and she gave me a pain pill. After all the warnings, my pain never got above a level 3 or so, which surprised the nurses and doctors, but Mom said I have a high pain threshold just like her and Deni, which made me proud. Everyone in my family always thought I was a wimp.... until now.

The next day Doc Onc came by to tell me I could go home, and then Physical Therapy came by to show me how to get around. So far until now I had been using a portable potty chair next to my bed because I couldn't get to the bathroom. They brought in a walker and some crutches for me and showed me how to stand up safely. The crutches, which I thought would be good, were ackward and I hated them. The walker, like Mom predicted, was great and I used that to walk out of the room and down the hall a bit. Then they put me in a wheelchair and took me to the physical therapy room that had different things in it, along with my nemesis, the small mock up of stairs and a landing.

They showed me how to get up the stairs and down first using the crutches, then using the walker. It was a shock to me to discover how weak I was and how totally useless my leg was. I hated the stairs, and both my house and Mom's house have stairs up to the house that I would have to navigate if I were to get inside. I had a little mini-freakout and sat there and cried. I hated that I couldn't walk, couldn't use the bathroom like a normal person, couldn't get up or down stairs, etc. I just hated feeling disabled. It was a good lesson for me. I eventually started getting up and around my hospital room a bit more and started feeling better and they released me.

Once I got back to mom's, which is where I stayed for 2 days, I got up the stairs easier than I had thought I would. It was still really awkward but I did it. The next day it was even easier, and so on. Right now I'm walking without a walker or crutches, or should I say "limping" around. I have a wonderful "L" shaped scar on the back of my leg to add to my collection, and very little pain. Mostly my leg feels really stiff. After two days I took off the big blue monster leg immobilizer and I felt so much better. Now all I have to do is heal. I'm back to making dinner and waiting on Deni, albeit much slower than normal. Today I will go grocery shopping and I will have to use an electric chair for the first time. It will be an odd feeling but if anyone questions me I can point to my incision which is still very visible.

I'm hoping this will be my last surgery for a long, long time. I've gone 46 years with no surgery other than oral, and now within 4 months have had 4 surgeries. I think I've earned a rest

1 comment:

  1. You certainly do deserve a rest now. Hoping no more surgeries for you Becca. Always here...thatnks for sharing your journey. ♥