The big surgery hurdle has been leaped. I returned to Home Sweet Home in less than 24 hours...about 9:30 yesterday morning. Let me just say that everything in my previous blog post was answered. The surgery went without a hitch, as did all things pre and post op. According to Dr. Cross, it went better than he imagined. I wonder what he imagined.
The day of surgery began bright and early at the Breast Center, where I received several injections of radioactive dye. This was to help locate the sentinel node(s) during surgery. From now on, when there's a lull in the conversation, I can perk things up by mentioning that I was once radioactive.
From the Breast Center we headed to the hospital. Knowing what was ahead of me that day, they sent me off by pinning a lovely pink and bejeweled "guardian angel" to my jacket. So touching and sweet. The people at the Breast Center are always so kind. I left with instructions to continually massage my left breast...to "smush and push". This helps the dye find it's way to the nodes. I found it sort of awkward, sitting in the surgery waiting area in the midst of strangers (all but David), while smushing and pushing. We decided I was spending a last bit of quality time with my left girl who was about to be sacrificed for the well-being of the whole girl.
While at the hospital, things stayed pretty much on course. Pleasantly, there were no surprises or delays. Wait...I take that back; there was one very nice surprise. When I was in the pre-operating holding area (or whatever it's called) Dr. Cross stopped in to visit and go over what I should expect following surgery. Right before he left to scrub up he asked if I'd mind if he prayed. Wow! Of course I didn't mind. He took my hand and prayed for guidance and healing. I'd been strong and tearfree...until then. I was still strong...but the tearfree part was not happening. What a comfort it was, going into surgery knowing my surgeon also puts his faith in the Great Physician.
What we learned from the surgery and subsequent hospital happenings:
The big bad tumor was loose and not attached to anything (like my chest wall). No damage to muscle is a very good thing!
Three lymph nodes showed up as sentinels (glowing with radioactive dye ) and were removed. None of them appeared abnormal and, according to the pathologist who was working with Dr. Cross at the time of surgery, no cancer cells were found. There will be more in depth testing (frozen section and other things I don't understand) in which they will be able to say for sure if there were or were not cells.** I will know this on Monday when I return to see Dr. Cross.
I received only one drain, as opposed to the earlier estimate of 3-4. Why the difference? I do not know. The fewer the better, in my opinion. This will come out in a few days, but for the time being I have a long rubber tube emerging from my body, connected to a rubber ball sort of thingy and pinned to the bandaging on my left side. This fills with drainage from my surgical area. We get to empty, measure, then flush it's contents 3 times a day. Yes, I know...ewww. (But good experience for JC, future EMT.)
I discovered that coming off of general anesthesia does make me nauseous. I felt it in the recovery room and was medicated as soon as I mentioned it. I then awoke to more pain and nausea later that night. This time I wasn't medicated quickly enough and, therefore, got to know the plastic wash tub up close and personal. I noticed that the next time I hit the nurse button and asked for pain meds, they were much more prompt.
Bearers of good news>>
Following surgery, it was a great pleasure to be rolled from recovery to my hospital room and be greeted by several of my favorite people in the whole world. I knew that Dr. Cross had spoken with them, and so I was anxious to hear what news he had shared. However, as I was rolled into my room, everyone seemed especially solemn and quiet. My first thought was that something was wrong. Why else would they be acting like this? So, of course, I asked. I was quickly relieved by their positive responses..."Everything went great!" "Couldn't have gone better!" So, FYI, when you have good news for a patient, don't hold back! Not only was I happy to see my dear family and friends, but was happy to hear them bear the good news.
Arm sling?? >>
The arm sling I'd been forced to wear made no sense to me. When Dr. Cross walked into my room Thursday morning, it made no sense to him either. First thing he said to me, after "Good morning," was "Why are you wearing an arm sling?!" To which I responded, "I have absolutely no idea." I was glad to know that my continual questioning of that silly thing was for good reason. As he mentioned to his nurse, "We've been seeing some strange things lately." Apparently his post-op instructions involved keeping my arm elevated, and, to someone along the way, a sling made sense. Go figure. (And I have to think it probably added 100 bucks to my hospital bill.)
So, that's a general run down of my first major surgery and brief hospital stay. It was so great to be driven home in the bright autumn sunshine yesterday morning and enjoy the bright autumn colors, feeling fairly bright inside (some thanks to the Percocet, I'm sure). It's wonderful to have jumped that big hurdle and have it behind me. I know there are more hurdles to jump, but, with help, I pray that all of them be leaped with equal smoothness.
**Great news! Dr. Cross called me this morning to tell me he'd gotten a call from the pathologist. All three nodes were clear! Yes, CLEAR! No cancer cells in ANY of them! This, my prayer warriors, is a miracle! Your prayers have been heard and answered!