Friday, December 18, 2009

Surgery Has Come and Gone

"Let's leave early," I had said yesterday morning as we got ready to go to Mass General for my surgery. "The last thing I need is to be nervous about being late on top of surgery anxiety!"

My husband agreed and we gave ourselves a full two hours. However, there was heavy traffic going into Boston. I was nervous we'd be late. So we turned on our Garmin GPS, punched in the address and checked our arrival time. It said 8:42, twenty minutes ahead of our 9:00 am check-in time. I gave a sigh of relief! We eventually lost the extra time in the traffic, however, we pulled into the Parkman Street parking garage at 8:55 and I arrived at the Wang 3 day-surgery check-in station right at 9:00.

After stripping down and donning hospital garb, I was wheeled to the breast imaging center for more mammograms. This time my right breast was squished as two doctors hovered over it and placed wire markers so my surgeon would know the exact placement. First, they squeezed from the top down and then sideways. That experience ranks pretty high on my list of most painful procedures I've had. Not so much the actual mammogram but the invasive nature of placing the wires. That phase was all done by 11:00, I was on my way back to the day surgery floor and wheeled into a spot with an empty bed. "You go ahead and crawl onto the bed. I'll get some warm blankets and let your husband know he can join you," the nurse said.

That's when the interminable wait began. I had asked a couple of technicians along the way if they could tell me when my surgery was. No one could answer me. Bear in mind I'd had nothing to eat or drink since midnight (10:30 to be exact) and the discomfort levels began to rise. At 12:30, I asked a nurse to find out when my surgery was scheduled. She came back and said 2:00. However, I didn't actually get into the operating room until around 3:00. Those were the longest four hours, laying there, on my back with an IV in my left hand and wires protruding from breast, though folded flat against my breast and covered. My flannel mouth was really getting to me. Luckily, I was able to sleep through a good share of the wait time.

At 3:00, they showed up, wheeled me through double doors into a long, brightly lit hallway with operating rooms on both sides. Stretchers lined the walls, some carrying patients, some empty. Supply cabinets everywhere. More chaotic that I would have imagined. I said to the attendant, "So this is what the bowels of the hospital look like!" Before I knew it, I was waking up, feeling good, had some graham crackers and cranberry juice. By 6:00 I sat in the wheelchair and someone pushed me down to meet John who had pulled up to the front entrance. I slept most of the way home until John drove into our driveway at 8:15.

So far, nearly 24 hours later, I have very little discomfort. I slept good last night and am resting today but able to do some hand quilting. The perfect activity for a cold, wintry day where the thermometer hasn't reached above the twenty-degree mark.

It's done! The surgery is behind me, it will heal soon. The surgeon said the sentinel node she removed looked good but we will have to wait another week and a half to know the results of the pathology tests. I'm not worried. What will be, will be.

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