Post-Op Day Two (GRAPHIC)

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This day started with a little bit more rest and lots of visits from doctors, interns, and whomever else felt the need to wander into my room.  The bitch nurse was still bound and determined to kick me out as soon as possible, though she couldn’t give me a time or any other information.  She told me I could put my pants on, but keep the gown on.  She asked me to take another walk, this time it was really fun because I was alone, and dizzy.  Nobody seemed at all concerned to see the girl with the ‘fall precautions’ bracelet shuffling down the hallway carrying her fanny-pack of marcaine.

Catheters for the marcaine infusion.

Catheters for the marcaine infusion.

Black bag filled with approximately 5 days of marcaine anesthetic to bathe the inside of my chest, two  (Jackson-Pratt) drain bulbs with a small amount of fluid.

Black bag filled with approximately 5 days of marcaine anesthetic to bathe the inside of my chest, two
(Jackson-Pratt) drain bulbs with a small amount of fluid.

After returning from the walk, I decided to empty my drains.  This consists of stripping the blood and clots from the tube into the bulb and then dumping out the bulb and measuring and recording the output.

I slowly gathered my belongings in anticipation of leaving, and I’m glad I did.  The nurse arranged for someone to transport me to the pharmacy in a wheel chair, and then to the entrance to be picked up.  Meanwhile, the surgeons each came to take one last look.  Both were very proud of their work.  Um.  I would hate to see the work they aren’t proud of, because all I see is crooked, lumpy frankenstein boobs.

Results, approximately 24 hours post-op for prophylactic bilateral mastectomies with stage one reconstruction with expanders.

Results, approximately 24 hours post-op for prophylactic bilateral mastectomies with stage one of reconstruction, expanders placed.

Pointing to the ridge of the edge of the expander.

Pointing to the ridge of the edge of the expander.

So according to the surgeons, this looks great, the skin looks good, incisions look good, everything is draining properly and there are no signs of infection.  Time to go home.

I sat in a wheel chair and a woman helped carry my bags while wheeling me down first to the pharmacy, then to the entrance.  Each bump, threshold, rug, concrete floor junction shot a sharp pain through my body.  It’s okay, because before I knew it, I was being helped into a warm car, nestled in with a pillow,ready for the short ride home.  I was looking forward to my new recliner,my own food and drinks, my own schedule.  That was quickly overshadowed by the excruciatingly painful experience of feeling every single bump, patch of snow or ice, every pot hole.  Every muscle in my chest was being jostled and tensed up and all I could do was bury my face in my pillow and hope that I got home soon.  The whole way to the house I was sobbing in pain, and I could barely get out of the car.  I think this is a sign that perhaps I was not adequately controlling my pain and perhaps another day in the hospital to work out the proper regimen would have been appropriate.  It was too late.  No way in hell was I going anywhere in that state, with that amount of pain. Time to take some drugs and try out the new recliner.

Post-op Day One

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Due to the initial error of my surgery being flagged as an outpatient procedure, most of the people I encountered on day one post-op seemed to be snarky, trying to rush me to get better and out the door.  I was upgraded to solid foods almost instantly upon waking, despite my severe nausea and dysphasia.  If I can’t get liquids down, how am I supposed to get solids down?

I also made the mistake of asking one of the nurses if she could send her nurse assistant over to help me comb my hair, and her snarky reply was first to say they she was too busy, and they really don’t do that sort of thing, and then to say, and could you please tell me exactly why it is that you think you can’t do that yourself.  GRRRRRRRRRRRR!  Um, because I was told that I can’t lift my arms, duh.  And my lack of sleep gave me a serious rat’s nest to contend with, so I wasn’t about to back down on this nonsense.  It’s their job to help you with activities of daily living, I don’t think combing out my hair is really too demanding.

About and hour later that nurse skulked back into the room and asked where my brush was.  She said she had confirmed that my arms couldn’t be raised above my head, so she sat and combed out every snarl in my hair.  Heh, heh, heh.  Bitch.

That was the highlight of my morning, as the rest of the day consisted of me trying to find the right combination of pain meds, me fighting the nausea and food that was being forced on me, and me being forced to get up and move out of the bed.  Standing, ok, that’s cool, but remember I have a catheter still from surgery, two drain tubes and bulbs hanging from my chest, and this giant fanny pack of marcaine hooked to tubes hanging from my chest.  You try untangling that mess while, dizzy, light-headed, hungry, nauseous and exhausted.

I managed one small walk, and since that was a success, I could have the catheter removed, as I was now trusted to use the bathroom on my own.

I had a few nice visitors too, that were kind enough to keep me company, take me for a walk around my unit, bring me my favorite candy and some super soft pajamas, and loan me their favorite bear to watch over me.

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surgery day

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I arrived at the hospital at 5:30am to be checked in and was quickly taken to a small pre-op room where I have height, weight, and vitals taken.  I got to lay in a bed with a BAIR gown that filled with warm air, while I waited for the anesthesia and surgical teams to come through and talk to me.  Then I could finally get some sedatives.

I woke up without remembering anything else about the morning.  I was told that surgery was just over 7 hours and I think I was in recovery for 2-3 hours.  Coming out of recovery I was too tired to keep my eyes open, but tried to keep talking to everyone.

Dad was kind enough to snap this shot of me in my post-operative state:

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The day was a success, and the night was exhausting.  Machines were alarming all night to alert the nurses that my blood pressure was too low, my pulse ox was too low and my IVs needed to be change.  I slept in 5 minute increments between all of the nonsense and pain.  The morphine pump did not help with my pain.

Still out of it from the anesthesia, I hadn’t even taken the time to really look at myself, though I could feel a lot of warmth and lumpiness through my gown.  Periodically, nurse assistants came to empty my drains, check my vitals and push me to drink more clear liquids.

Count down to surgery

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In less than 12 hours, I have my surgery.  I currently smell like stinky surgical scrub after taking the first of my two preparatory disinfecting showers.  My shower is cluttered with my new shower stool in preparation for coming home and needing help to wash my hair and whatever else I can’t reach.

I went shopping today, cleaned the house and am working on the million loads of laundry that appear when you are told you need to sleep on clean sheets, in clean pajamas, etc.

I’ve barely eaten today, and I’m sure I will regret that.  Two buckwheat waffles, a few bites of chicken, a few tortilla chips, a mountain dew and a some water and juice.  The surgical scrub scent is nauseating, and so is the thought of the surgery, or the anesthesia or the loss of control that comes during and after surgery.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to pack.  FORCE has a short suggested packing list.  The hospital just had a short list of what to bring and not bring to the hospital, but went so far as to contradict themselves with their bring money, but in a later paragraph, don’t bring money statement.

Here’s my list that I’ve come up with:

  • toiletries, including toothbrush, toothpaste
  • special foods, including crackers and cookies that are allergen-free
  • hard candy, root beer barrels!
  • one book
  • I-pad and cellphone
  • socks, underwear, pajama pants, one button-down shirt to wear home
  • nail polish and a nail file
  • hand sanitizer
  • lip balm
  • lotion
  • paperwork from pre-op physical
  • insurance information and wallet
  • small notebook and pen
  • list of food restrictions
  • list of important contacts

I’m sure I’m forgetting things, but this is the best I can do to prepare for what I would think that I need. Now, if I can just get some rest tonight!

Taking the boobs out, one last time

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I missed out on any sort of going away party, and I’ve still been procrastinating actually telling the majority of the people that I know about surgery, which is now less than 48 hours away.

Tonight, I go to work, in a skully corset to showcase the boobs one last time.  I almost teared up, just a little bit, putting on my make-up.

In case there is still anyone out there that is confused about my procedure, this is a prophylactic double mastectomy and reconstruction, NOT a boob job.  I mean really, do I need a boob job with these babies?

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Countdown to surgery

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Surgery is less than a week away.  A nurse called today for my hospital pre-admittance, so I guess things are a go.  I had my second blood draw on Monday and hadn’t seen the results online, but this nurse said I brought my number up a little bit.  I’m still anemic, but not as bad as before, and I have a few more days to load up on steak and spinach, and the iron pills.

So.  Let’s see, what do I need to do between now and surgery?

  • Freak out.  check.
  • Freak out that I had a two-week cold which prevented me from actually getting anything done in preparation for my convalescence.  check.
  • Freak out that I still haven’t had the requisite ‘Boob Voyage’ party.  check.
  • Freak out that I’m about to have my boobs chopped off.  check.
  • Stop freaking out and start getting ready:
    • Inventory basement fridge, move unnecessary things to basement fridge, stock up both fridges.  I’ll get to that later.
    • Strategically place things I need to access at accessible levels.  Yeah, later.
    • Hmm, pack for the hospital?  Darn, my new overnight bag has not arrived yet, I guess I have to do that later.
    • Oh yeah, finish telling people that I’m getting my boobs replaced.  Yeah, that would be good.  Hmm, maybe just wait until tomorrow.
    • Stop freaking out.  Yeah, maybe when they give me the I.V. of the good stuff to calm me down.

Apologies to those of you that are the victims of me freaking out.  You would be screaming like a raving lunatic too, if you were counting down the minutes to a new body.

Pre-Op Physical (TMI, as my dad likes to say)

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I had my pre-op physical today.  As far as I can tell, it’s the same as any other physical.  My blood pressure is good, my temperature is normal, my weight is adequate.  My asthma is under control and I passed the depression quiz.  Blood was drawn, the only potential problem with that is my hemoglobin, if that is low, I will be prescribed iron to take, to bring it up to a healthy level in the next 2-3 weeks.

Onto my Q&A.  This wasn’t my normal primary physician, mind you, but I awkwardly asked the questions most people are only thinking:

Q: Sooo, this is a 6 hour surgery, is there any chance I might poop while under anesthesia (you know you want to know).

A: Well, chances are, no.  Anesthesia usually shuts down your intestines, however, there is a chance you might.  It happens.

Q:  Well, I ask because I know my animals at work poop while under anesthesia, when I have them anesthetized.  Is there something I can do or not do to minimize my risk of this horrifying possibility?

A: If pooping during surgery is the worst thing that happens to you, I think you are good.

(He then went into an awkward discussion of pooping.  He suggested I drink a lot of caffeinated pop the day before surgery to try to stimulate all of my poop out, but definitely don’t take laxatives.  Also, he asked me if I thought fiber would help, I said no, fiber is like razor blades coursing through me, but maybe something like applesauce would help with the soluble fiber.  Or not eating, but really he wanted me to eat up until my fast time which is midnight.  He also suggested drinking a big glass of water before bed.  This way, not only will I be anxiously awake for surgery, but also getting up to pee.  Actually, he said that the water would help keep my hunger down the next day.  I disagree.  It will just make me pee.  And I am hungry 24 hours a day.  Nothing I eat turns that off, certainly not drinking a glass of water.)

Q:  Okay, well, what about a period.  What if I get my period?

A:  Oh, you aren’t on birth control, we can’t manipulate your cycle.  Darn.  Most of the nurses are female, they really won’t care.  They deal with worse things.  If getting your period or pooping during surgery are the worst things that happen, I think you are good.

Q: Okay, okay.  Last question, I keep getting told I will be in the hospital a few days.  How long is a few days?

A: In all likelihood, 4 days, or maybe 3.  If you are out in 1 or 2, I would be very, very surprised.  This is a major surgery.

One more question.  Do you personally have any other patients that have had this surgery?

A:  Just one that I know of.  I know it’s becoming more popular, but there’s a huge divide in the medical community.  People want the surgery to prevent a cancer that is not very deadly, the statistics say you have such a small chance of dying, but we can’t tell you if you would be in that small percent.  Your big risk is for cancer, not dying.  (Me: but it’s a quality of life issue.  I don’t want to worry, and I don’t want to live with cancer.)  Correct.  That is the debate.  Quality of life versus statistics.