Wednesday, July 27, 2011

May 5th, 2011 - Surgery Wrap Up II

So I've spent the past week recovering from surgery again at Mom's, and just came home yesterday. I feel pretty good, albeit very sore, and very swollen. I'm not allowed to pick up anything over 10 lbs with my right arm or drive for the next 5 weeks. I have another lovely scar for my collection, and I got my tube removed. Here's a brief recap.

Wednesday I went into pre-op and after getting me situated with my IV and stuff, my mom came back to sit with me. My dad was there, but my neice Heather was there too, so I let her come back instead of my dad. They only let 2 people come back to pre-op. Heather had to come to the hospital anyways to do something for school so she stayed with my mom all day, which was really nice of her. We all talked and made jokes with the staff and each other until they came to get me. It's weird being wheeled on a bed into the OR and seeing all the lights and instruments, and people are buzzing around everywhere getting things ready. All for me. There was music playing too, but I don't remember what it was, just that I was glad the atmosphere was good. This time I was getting to be an old pro, so I put my arms where they could place them on the boards, I didn't freak when they put the compression pants on my legs, and right before they placed the mask on my face, I said "Do a good job!" and gave them a thumbs up.

I woke up in recovery and this time my throat wasn't on fire like last time. I was a bit more uncomfortable, in more pain than last time, but it was still only like a level 4 or 5 of pain. Again they gave me Percocet and I was feeling very relieved that it was over. They took me up to my room on the 5th floor and Mom and I settled in for the rest of the day and the night. Mom was so great, jumping up every time I needed something. There's something really weird about having to ask complete strangers to come help you go to the rest room, but that's what the PCA's and nurses were there for. Mom could only help me so much, she couldn't handle all the IV tubes and things I was attached to. Mom slept on a pull out couch bed thing that she said was horribly uncomfortable, and neither of us got much sleep. By the next morning after not having any good sleep, the anesthesia had worn off and the pain had kicked in, and my body felt so ALIEN to me, I sat there and cried. This was gonna be harder than I thought. Also I felt guilty. It was Mom's birthday and here she was in the hospital looking after me. I was not happy.

They had a physical therapist come see me, and once I got up into a chair I started feeling better about things. She showed me exercises that I have to do every hour to keep from getting lymphadema, and she thought I already had good movement in my arm. Oh and I had a new friend, Jackson, my little drain attached to a tube that went into a small hole near my armpit. They showed me how to clean and strip the tube daily, how to empty it, and to record the daily outputs. Then after my doc came by and took a look at me, she signed my discharge papers. It was barely noon.. yay! So they bundled me in my PJ's and into a wheelchair, and we left. After leaving the hospital I went straight to mom's and stayed there for almost a week. I had to have help showering, going to the bathroom (thank god for moms!!), dressing, doing just about everything. I was given Percocet for the pain, but it wasn't that bad. Apparently this is a common surgery for breast cancer patients because the exercise paperwork and disharge papers had alot about recovering from breast cancer lymph surgery.

By the end of the weekend my drain was barely putting out any fluid so we called the doctor Monday and she had us come in Tuesday. They removed the drain, and I was so nervous it was going to hurt, but the thing practically jumped out onto the floor. I didn't feel a thing, and I was so glad. They looked at my new incision, which looks good, and then at my chest incision, which is being slow to heal. They discovered underlying stitches on my chest that were pushing their way up out of my skin, and this was keeping the wound from scabbing over and healing properly, so they had to do some maintenance. I had to lay down on the table while she took some tiny tweezers and pulled/clipped the little threads that she could find. Ok, this did hurt... but no big deal. She also pulled all the scab off so when she was done my wound was fresh, red, and irritated. But it was apparently better for healing. Now I have to take a shower daily and use a wash cloth to gently scrub the wound to keep dead skin or scab off of it. Today is only two days later and it already looks much better. They DO want it to scab, but not like it was doing before. I know, I'm confused too.

One of the important things that happened that day was I asked the doc how many lymph nodes she removed and she said 25, and the pathology report came back and said none were cancerous. So that means only the initial lymph node that they biopsied had cancer in it. Yes that means that I didn't really HAVE to have all my other lymph nodes out, but better safe than sorry. I'm glad I had them out. So the doctors basically dismissed me as a patient in the surgical area and said they were turning me over to my oncologist to do his part. I'll see him next Wednesday and we'll find out if he wants to do any kind of chemo or radiation or anything. Mom really really wants him to say he's just going to observe me for a year or whatever, but if he suggests actually doing some kind of therapy, I'm gonna do it. I mean I know mom doesn't want to see me sick or anything, but I don't want to play "let's just sit back and see what happens". I'd rather be aggressive and pro-active to make sure the cancer is not only gone, but doesn't come back.

So I'm back at home now, with my bed, my pillows, my kitties, and my Doodlebug. I love being at mom's, but I also love being home. My arm keeps doing all this weird crap, tingling... hurting... itching... feeling good... feeling bad, especially by my elbow. And there are many parts of my upper arm that are numb and will never change. Apparently the doc had to cut two of the nerves in my arm and it may take months for the tingling and other feelings to subside. I don't care about the parts that will stay numb... as long as it isn't near my hand, I'm fine. I can deal with it. My incision under my arm is a long "S" scar, but it was done beautifully and looks like it's healing really nicely. I have just a tiny scab where the tube went in, but eventually I'll barely even be able to see it. I do still feel like I have a golf ball under my arm, there is SO much swelling, but I'll have to be patient. All in all, I feel pretty good. Everyone keeps telling me to take it easy and slow down, but I just want to get back to normal, ya know?

So there you have it, my surgery wrap up. Things are looking up, but I'm still a stage 3 cancer patient. I'm not running around thinking everything is over and fine, but I am thinking positively, and I'm letting myself feel happy... at least until next

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