Friday, May 29, 2009

Catching Up...

So, I'm finally out and done with my surgery.

I'll make a few comments about the days leading up to it, and then update on my current condition. Please bear with me...

The day before the surgery (Tuesday 5/26):
It was a day spent wallowing in the mundane. I started my leave on Tuesday and, after getting the kids on the bus, I did some laundry, cleaned the house, and did some running around. I went and traded in some PSP games in on some UMD movies (I scored Resident Evil, Zack Snyder's awesome Dawn of the Dead remake, and Starship Troopers). I also managed to find a used DVD copy of Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn Special Edition for $4! wOOt!

Like I said, it was spent doing just normal stuff as I prepared for the surgery. I didn't spend much time thinking about the upcoming surgery, only thinking about all of the stuff I WOULDN'T be doing over the next month. I also spent some time cleaning up the yard from the party we had over the weekend. It was a great time and it was a humbling, gratifying outpouring of love on the behalf of my friends and family. I am so grateful for the support I've received as this whole fiasco's ensued, and I think a large part of my attitude can be attributed to the sheer coolness that is my family and friends.

And another thing - and this is to all of my friends who believe in a higher power - please don't let my heathenism and atheist beliefs stand in the way of your prayers and well wishing. All week, I've had people apologize to me for praying for me when they understand that I don't believe in a god. PLEASE STOP APOLOGIZING! It's all right, really! I am grateful for any positive thoughts, energy, and all around good karma it brings. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and love and appreciate all of your prayers. Although I don't personally have any religious beliefs, I understand the importance of it to others and am overwhelmed that you care enough for me to add me to your church's prayer lists or own personal prayers. Thank you sooooo much.

Anyway, back to the night before, I ended the night with a yogurt and some ramen noodles at 11:30. My metaphoric last meal before midnight and the interminable fast before my surgery. One great bonus thing that happened, our friend and neighbor Joy (a fellow breast cancer survivor) came back from her cabin in Pennsylvania and brought me a case of Yuengling Lager. Mmmmm.... I will most definitely enjoy it when I'm feeling better!

The Day of the Surgery (Wednesday 5/27):
I got up at about 6am and got a shower and a shave. I shaved my head and took great pleasure in NOT shaving my goattee. You see, I worked my last shift at the hospital on Sunday morning and, since I won't have to adhere to some stupid cop rules, I can actually grow some facial hair again. (At least until I have to do some chemo). I know it's stupid and silly, but I love having facial hair and the only regret I have about my side job is that I can't have a freaking beard.

Michelle and I then went downtown and were at the McDonald's Woman's center by about 7:50.

We met Dr. Persons, my surgeon, there and she injected me with the radioactive isotope to track my sentinal nodes.

First, she gave me four injections into my nipple with some anaesthetic (DAMN! WHY DOES IT ALWAYS BURN!) and then, while we were waiting for it to take effect, they called a tech over from nuclear medicine. The second set of injections were easy as I was already numb. It is weird that - my whole life - I've heard that radioactive material causes cancer. And now, here I am, treating my cancer with nuclear material. And I mean serious nuclear material. The tech brough the shots over in a lead case festooned with radiation symbols and he and Dr. Person's handled it with special lead gloves.

I, of course, was my typical 12 year old self and joked that I could feel the radiation activating my super mutant abilities. I made my wife promise to tell Professor X I'd call him back at Graymalkin Lane if he happened to call me while I was under general anaesthetic. She said she'd do no such thing and laughed, telling me that I needed to stop acting like a buffoon.

After that, one of Dr. Person's assistants walked us over to Admitting... and from there to Surgical Prep. That is one thing I need to comment positively on. The whole staff at the woman's center, even considering the fact that I'm a dude, were absolutely incredible. She stayed with us the entire time and was there to answer any questions we might have. The attentiveness and caring of all of the staff was very comforting throughout the entire process. Especially so to my wife who finds solace in asking questions and focusing on details.

From there, I got naked, put on a little tiny robe and gown, and sat down for the interminable wait for my surgery to start. I was scheduled at 10:45, but as is our typical luck, we didn't get into surgery until around 1pm. Once things got going, they went quickly. I had a huge surgical team and they all made a point of coming out and meeting me. There were three anaesthesiologists, two or three surgical residents, and - of course - Dr. Persons.

While we were waiting, my family took turns coming back and visiting me.

The best part of the day, however, was right before I went into surgery. We'd chased all of the family out and were waiting for the doctors to show up. Michelle made me scoot over in my bed and she climbed in with me. As we lay there, snuggling and talking and holding each other, it was like we were in our own personal bubble; free from the scramble and frenzy of the pre-op area around us. It was a few beautiful, perfect moments in an otherwise hectic day.

Then the gas passer came in and gave me a shot of happy juice and it gets all groovy after that.

I remember wheeling into the Operating Room, and scooting over onto the cold table. The anaesthesiologist gave me the general and I remember it burned like fire as it went into my IV... and then there was nothing.

And I should add that I think that's what death must be like. I don't believe there's any bright light, or angels, or music... there's only darkness. For the 4+ hours I was in surgery, I was truly like Shroedinger's cat. there's awareness, and then darkness. And that's kind of scary... but I digress.

I woke up in recovery several hours later, groggy and sore.

Really sore.

Really, really, really sore.

And you'll have to excuse me as I stop here. I'm due for some more pain meds and I need to pace myself. I promise I'll write more later.

I do want to let you know that, although the surgery took two hours longer than predicted, things look really good. I had both of my moobs removed, the doctor said they got all of the tumor, and that it hadn't extended beyond my breast tissue into my pectoral muscles. Also, the sentinal nodes showed no signs of metastasis. It took about 90 - 100 stitches to close me back up, and I have two little jug- like jars pinned to my shirt. These jugs are connected to my chest by tubes that feed into my chest wall in order to prevent fluid buildup.

It really hurts, for obvious reasons.

The tumor, my nodes, and all the other removed tissue has been sent to pathology and I should know more within a week.

Now, my life consists of pain, some Percoset, sleep because the Percoset kick my ass, and then more pain.

And, on that note, time for more Percoset

1 comment:

glittergirl said...

the "jugs" are rough. i had them after some surgery and hated them.

you take the pain meds and rest. then you're gonna get bored and pissed and LOOK OUT!