Peter doesn't know I am on the laptop. As far as he is concerned, my jammie-clad and uber-comfy (minus a good amount of arm pain) self is happily tackling the Sunday crossword. However, due to my new friends, Ms. Percocet and Mr. Valium, just 5 minutes of crossword puzzle attempting can send me right into nap-land.
As Peter blogged on Friday, all is basically well. Despite my fears from my pre-written post that published almost exactly at the time that I was being hoisted on to the OR table ("scoot over to the right...no back to the left...well, just a smidge more to the right..."), the day far exceeded my expectations. The sentinel node biopsy prep was handled by a nurse with a calm demeanor, a quiet voice and a skilled hand. The three shots were no more painful than bee stings and it was over before I knew it.
In fact, the morning was quite smooth from arrival to the beginning of surgery. I was prepped nearly exactly as described, given warming blankets aplenty, a relatively painless IV and had visits with each doctor who would be working on me during the surgery. I was also hooked up to a compression machine that would help avoid clotting issues, crucial especially given my family history. My legs were wrapped in what looked (and felt) like soft shin guards that alternately compressed my lower legs from the time I was prepped for surgery until I was up and mobile. Most importantly, Peter was with me until they took me down to the OR. In fact, once I was settled on the OR table, I had but a few seconds before I was completely passed out. No counting backwards for me on this day.
Before I knew it, I was in the recovery room being regaled with the good news: not a bit of cancer was detected in the sentinel nodes. The surgeon did have to remove four nodes, as they were all clumped together, but they were 100% clean. The news, as one might expect, led me to burst into immediate tears of joy. My biggest fear was a possible spread and now I was reassured that was anything but the case. I have a feeling the OR nurses are used to this, as one simply asked if I was okay, I said, "Yes, just very happy!" and he let it go at that.
I can't honestly say that I remember much more of the day. The surgery left me feeling as though my right side had been run over by a Mack truck and between the anesthesia and the constant stream of pain meds, I was pretty much out until the next morning. I had a few minutes of clarity that allowed me to visit with my friends Jack and Janet, who kindly watched me so Peter could grab some dinner and a few minutes with the doctor.
It must have been a classic hospital visit: the breast surgeon walked in, asked me how I was doing, I gave a thumbs up and then promptly yakked up the water that had just been too refreshing to pass up not five minutes before. She took it as a good sign, though, and reminded me that since I do not take much, if any medication, on a regular basis, that the anesthesia was likely to affect me a bit more than others.
I also now remember that I probably owe Jack and Janet a better visit. Not only did they thoughtfully bring Peter an eggnog latte while I was in the midst of surgery, but came back several times and just sat with us. I wish I could have actually conversed, but my strength was pretty much limited to occasionally squeezing Janet's hand and a wan smile thrown in Jack's direction. My hopes to sit up and have quality time with Peter later that night were dashed by my exhaustion, though I eventually managed to down a small container of gelatin and sip warm broth through a straw. Then, despite numerous interruptions by nurses throughout the night, I still eked out several straight hours of sleep and managed to wake up by 8 a.m. and stay awake (okay, I had a few nap breaks) until later in the afternoon on Friday.
By Friday afternoon I had passed all of the prerequisites for check-out (if you will) and was ready to have Peter pack my bags and head home. My doctor had not only signed out on my departure early in the afternoon, but also approved a post-surgical massage from that point on (originally I had been told I might have to wait a week, however, she was extremely impressed with my progress). Given that, Peter will be calling the Teal Center first thing in the morning to pencil me in for a massage/manual lymphatic drainage that should coincide with my follow-up visit to the breast surgeon later this week for a check-up and post-op pathology report review.
Where are we now? I have been home for nearly two days and while I am not quite my old self just yet, I am sleeping long stretches at night, getting great use out of my new jammies* during the night (and day) , eating real food and enjoying visits from friends and family. Between the Salty Dog Crew and Grandpa Kirk, the kids have been consistently occupied and have barely noticed that I am not quite back to ye olde Jen/Mom Lady just yet.
We also had an incredibly special treat last night: Jill, an amazing lady who I am so honored to call a friend, and her husband (also deployed on a one year UT), stopped by to visit and have dinner with us. I fear for what I must have looked like as I can't really do the make-up thing yet (oh, heck, I rarely do it anyway) and my shirts are dictated by the under-accoutrement (drains** and the like) that I must wear for the next two weeks or so, but it was an extremely fun evening regardless of me maybe still being a bit out of it. It was a relaxing night, a distraction I needed, and though I wish I could have been a better hostess, both Peter and I were so grateful to have a much-needed quiet couples night in.
Today I haven't accomplished much other than napping, resting and using my right arm to the extent that I can without overdoing it. Nothing other than a quiet night on the agenda, while the kids spend a bit more quality time with Grandpa and we try to stay awake for a whole movie. All things considered, I am in such a much better state than I was this time last week...and owe a huge debt of gratitude to my friends and family for helping me find that happy place! Please know that the comments, messages, emails, texts, cards, gifts, meals and phone calls continue to boost my spirits, as we know there still may be not so thrilling, but possibly necessary follow-up treatments. Many, many thanks to each and every one of you!
(If you are wondering, since no jewelry is allowed (quite obviously) during surgery, the nurse suggested that Peter take care of my rings for me, rather than leave them at home. He found the perfect way to keep them safe and close to his heart while I was in surgery.)
*The jammies are designed just for folks having this type of surgery. I really, really did not want to buy the pajamas due to what they represented. However, I am so very glad I did, as they are so incredibly comfortable and useful. More importantly, they do not look anything like what one might imagine post-surgical jammies to be.
** I will just link to this topic here. Drains are one of the unfortunate necessities for this type of surgery. The good news? All appears to be going well with mine. The better news? I have a fabulous husband who has taken care of everything in this regard and has not let me stress over it one iota.