Archive | September 2014

Hand grenade and Drain tube…

I thought I was well prepared for my surgery on 9/11…and…I kind of wasbut I have never had a surgery where “it wasn’t done after the surgery” That might sounds weird… what I mean is;  Usually after a surgery; You’re done! You’re in recovery! But this time when I woke up, I had 2 tubes attached to me. And it felt like I wasn’t done…

MY MIND HAD REGISTERED THE INFORMATION. My surgeon had told me exactly what was going to happen…but until you experience it …it’s just words…bla,bla,bla…tubesurgeryafterwards…bla, bla…just words… I remember saying “Yes, I get it” “Aha, I know…” “I understand…” …and that is all true…but the experience is what’s making it real. I knew I was going to have a drain tube attached to me, and I knew I was going to have this “thing”, looking like a hand grenade, with pain meds, attached to me. I knew it…

 I can’t recall when I first paid attention to my new “best friends” Mr. Q.(pain pump) and the Tube (drainage)…

Maybe it was when I first had to go to the bathroom (or I was told to go to the bathroom) the nurse showed me the black bag I had beside me. It looked like a hand grenade (as I was told) in a bag (called ON-Q) It’s a balloon type pump filled with a medicine to treat the pain. It blocks the pain in the area of the procedure. Very nifty! ”Here’s your little bag. Hang the bag over your shoulder…It will disburse pain meds every hour”. Even though it was a little scary having something hanging from your body…from your skin…freaky! and annoying (don’t know how many times I yanked this tube by mistake! Yikes!) “Mr. Q” became a good buddy though! Thank God for him! I only had to take extra pain meds at night. After 5 days, Mr.Q  was dead, empty…flat as a pancake. It didn’t matter how much I shook him, gave him resuscitation, mouth to mouth – He was dead! I was sad…

My other ‘best friend’ the Drain Tube. At the end of the drain tube is a little plastic bottle that fills up with your inside guts…lol…not really…but it drains fluid from the surgery area… The first three times the nurses helped me to empty the plastic bottle. Thank God! Which was about half filled with body-red-liquid. It was not really the color of clear blood, but more a mix… like muddy-obscure liquid. Hard to describe. They showed me exactly how to empty the bottle… How to squeeze the plastic “ball”. Empty it of air. Put on the top, so the squeezed bottle would expand and suck out the liquid from the drain tube into the bottle…All of this had to be documented to a “Drainage Record Sheet”. Check!

It was leaking a little bit from the incision area. The Doctor said this was normal. The first day, and night, it leaked through the dressing (called Dermadond. It’s a superglue for the skin), through my bra and onto the bed. I was a little nervous of going home with this leaking…thinking I would wake up in a pool of blood…Or (worst case scenario) I would totally be drained of all my blood…a slow death…This is how it’s going to end…I know – Very Dramatic! He,he,he…

It was not ”The End!’

I learned I was going to get Home Care for a week after the surgery. I gladly accepted. I asked my neighbor, Joan Norell, (a respiratory therapist) to be here…I just felt more comfortable having a second person present.

The nurse was an elderly woman with many years of experience. Very sweet.  She looked at my surgical area, the tubes, the Dermadond and the dauby- mess underneath the plastic…I got the feeling she didn’t really know what to do… (What???) She didn’t have the right equipment with her (had not received the correct instructions for me, specifically) She looked, and looked at the area…She suggested I go back to Cleveland Clinic, or Urgent Care, to exchange the dressing…She called the Doctor ‘On Call’ at Cleveland Clinic, and send him a picture of my surgical area. After a while she said: I can do this! I just needed the right equipment.  I felt so safe and secure in her hands…NOT! But…I told her to come back the next day! (I’m a brave woman!)

She was filled with self confidence the next morning! She took charge and knew what she was doing…very different from the day before. Joanie came as well. I wanted her to be present…just in case…It took a while to change the dressing…it was many strips of tape that needed to be pulled off, and to be careful of the tubes…plus the discomfort…But she did it! With Joanie’s help!


After this I asked Joanie if she could help me to change the dressing from now on… she said “Sure!”

No more Home Care!

This entry was posted on September 24, 2014. 6 Comments

Chap Stick and Surgery…

9/11 – This date has so many meanings…NINE-ELEVEN…

It makes me feel sad. It makes me shiver sometimes. It makes me think of loss…It makes me think of that exact time 13 years ago…I remember exactly…the horror, the pictures, the sorrow…

13 years later I’m having breast surgery on this day… I feel I’m blessed to have so many wonderful souls/spirits on the other side helping me through the surgery and lovingly caressing me…Holding me high…whispering “you’ve got this!”… These souls have a busy day (for sure!)….reassuring their loved once, on earth, that they are perfectly okay this day – NINE-ELEVEN.

I’m also so immensely grateful to all of my family and friends who, on this day, were praying and thinking of me. Lighting candles, sending me healing thoughts! They worked! THANK YOU! I love you!

I was a little anxious the night before (actually for a few days before…) we woke up at 4.30 a.m. on Thursday the 11th. We had to leave the house and two confused dogs, around 5.00 a.m. I looked my sweet dogs in the eye and said “Don’t worry I’ll be home soon. Loveyouloveyouloveyou to the moon and back!”

As we were driving away I saw Emma and Freja looking out the living room window…maybe thinking “Why can’t we come? Can we come Please and Thank you…we’ve been good dogs….promise not to bark at the fence ever again! Scouts honor!”

Got to Cleveland Clinic before 5.30 a.m. No traffic at that hour. There were lots of PARKING spaces available. Woohoo! You have to appreciate the small things sometimes…

The front desk girl asked for my name then she turned to another lady and said “Got one for you!” She asked us to sit down and we did. A few more people joined us, and then we (all) walked over to the “Pre-Op” part of the hospital.

After a while, my name got called and they showed me into the Pre-Op room. Brian could not come with me because I had to change clothes (been married 24 years…).  Then, Brian got escorted into my “room” with curtain drapery…Of course I had to show him my new fashion statement of clothing! I got some clothing that I have never seen before… It was like a thick paper coat…in the color blue…matching my eyes! Ugly as hell, but extremely smart. I had to show it off to Brian… “Bair Paws”, a disposable paper gown!

“A new type of operating room gown is helping hospitals fight infection rates. And this breakthrough in medicine will remind you of one of the oldest and most popular hair dryers around.

It’s got the flexible hose with the lock and release system and even the soft plastic lining that inflates to help disperse the heat. But this isn’t a soft bonnet hair dryer. It’s the Bair Paws system, the latest in infection fighting operating room technology.” (from the internet)

If you are not a frequent visitor at the hospital, then you might not know they keep these facilities freezing cold! So, being  a little nervous (check), having to strip down to nothing (check) and putting on a disposable paper gown (check) feels pitiful…plus wearing a hat because you’re bald, and cannot wear any make-up (this morning) makes you even more conscientious… (…but this is how vain I am…I painted on eye browns with my eyebrow pencil before we left home…no one noticed!)

Soooo, this hair dryer “Bair Paw” dress was really a blessing…The hot air pops you up and keeps you toasty. I wish I invented this Bair suit! After getting comfy and warm, I had to take this “Bair Paw” off (darn!) and get into a wheelchair. Time to roll over to Radiology. Brian could not come again. We decided it was best for him to go home and then come back after my surgery.

(I was just a tad envious that he could go home and jump into bed with our dogs and snuggle…)

The sweet Radiology nurse asked me if I knew what was going to happen? I said I had no idea! She wheeled me into a room with a big “radiology bed”. A female Doctor came in and said what was going to happen. I don’t remember ONE WORD of what she was saying…I was told to get up on the bed facing down with my right breast in the round hole.

Everything was fine until they started squeezing my breast in between two metal plates…NOT AGAIN! Turned out, it was not that bad (as the MRI with a biopsy)…but the initial reaction was “F… this…not again!” They squeezed “it” and took pictures…then they numbed an area and put in a “flexible line” that was later attached to my pain pump. I could feel the pressure, but it didn’t hurt…Then off to do mammogram. Seriously? Yes, they had to see that this wire was put in correctly. Two mammogram ‘snap shots’ then wait for the Doctor to say the pictures were okay. More waiting time. They put me in the wheelchair in a corridor…for staff only mind you…But it was weird being left alone in a wheel chair…Looking like “a sick cancer patient with no hair left in a corridor” (hm! that’s exactly what it was…)

Turned out the pictures were fine and I was finally wheeled back to pre-op…I didn’t get my “Bair Paw” suit on again, but I could use the “hair dryer heat” under my blanket. Lovely!

Got the IV hooked up, and calf pumps or sleeves… (these sleeves are plugged into hoses with an electric motor. The motor will pump air into the sleeves and massage your legs, sending the blood back to your heart. This is to protect you from forming blood clots) I was enjoying the heat under my blanket and the calf massage for a while…

There was some action in the room…nurses coming and going…beds being rolled in and out…doctors rushing by…I choose to turn on the TV for a little bit…but I got so distracted from medical staff coming in and out of my “curtain room”, asking the notorious question “What is your date of birth?”. Even though I have this beautiful wristband with all my data on it…they still ask DOB? I mean – there is no chance I could have switched beds…I really don’t want to be Carmen Gonzales having a knee surgery…It says clearly on my wrist band when I’m born…They also ask you when they put on the wrist band “Is all the information correct?” You checked it and confirm it. Then they scan the wristband with one of those infra red tools….like “YES! (jubilation!) We have a match!” Can’t be careful enough I guess.

The anesthesiologist comes in. A young man with an accent…He looks European…like Romanian or something…He’s upbeat and trying to be funny…I mean; he’s nice and all…but every time I have met an anesthesiologist they are a little “weird”…maybe they take a hit from the anesthesia once in a while…I don’t know? But the once I have met have been like a little “Clown-like”…trying to crack a joke, or being too upbeat and funny…this one (I could tell) was flirting with everyone (read female)…my ’Romanian Joker’. He, who’s responsible for my life (kind of)… I better flirt back!

Away we go! My bed is being rolled away to the operating room. The room seems small…and messy (!). Don’t know why I thought that…

The smiling ‘Romanian Joker’ looks at me…He’s holding the breathing mask in his hand…He puts it over my mouth and nose and says “Count to 10 My Sweet little One” …I was determined to G O  A L L   T H E  W A Y…I got to three…

(Correction: He didn’t say “My Sweet little One” I just added that ;o)

When you’re under general anesthesia, you’ll be wearing a breathing mask or breathing tube, because the muscles become too relaxed to keep your airways open. Several different things are continuously monitored while you’re under; oxygen level in the blood, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, brain activity…and a few more things…

I woke up in the recovery room, which is the same room as the Pre-Op room! A nice nurse told me she’s my recovery nurse for the day. She was in her 60’s so I knew she was a “good mama figure”…I knew that she cared. She’s been there, done that. I trusted her. Her name was Jettie.

I felt my lips…they were dry and chapped…I got blood on my finger (my thought was when the “the Romanian Joker” pulled my breathing tube out, he must have been a little rough, and the tape, holding the tube in place, took a piece of my upper and lower lip with it…) I asked Jettie if she’s had any chap stick, but she didn’t. She found something though that she put on my lips…like baby oil…better than nothing. She told me I have to go to the bathroom before I can get moved into a room. I said “OK…I can pee on command” She smiled and said “Maybe not after you’ve been under anesthesia” But it’s true…I can pee on command! This time too…

I dosed in and out for a while…then she said “Do you want me to call your husband?” I said yes. He was already in the waiting room…He comes in and kisses me. It’s good to see him! He did remember my bag that I packed the night before…the Chap Stick is in there!!!

My surgery went well by the way!

There are two incisions. One under my armpit and the other one are on the outer side of my right breast. The incisions are bigger than I thought…about 10 centimeters each…about 2,5 -3 inches. I have a drain tube attached to me. This one drains liquid from the inside surgical area, into a little plastic bottle. I have to empty that every four hours (or so)…the nurses did this the first few times. Thank God! Then I got a hand grenade looking thing, with an attached tube leading into my side (that long needle-thing they stuck me with in the morning) that automatically disburses pain medication every hour.

Me like hand grenade!

Brian peaked outside every now and then because a big rainstorm was approaching. It takes until the afternoon until a bed is available for me. I didn’t mind…I was in “La,La Land”. I had the best nurse and chap stick! At 5 p.m. they received a message that a room was ready. They wheeled me up to third floor and I get a Private Room! Fantastic! Brian cannot come the same way as us. He needed to go through the Visitors part and get checked in. They are pretty strict.

Brian arrives and he’s got our friend, Jane, with him!  Jane has been there for me during every surgery I have had…how could she miss this one? I should mention she lives in California…She knows I would do the same for her!

At this point I’m pretty hungry…I’m not sure if  this is the norm? I get hungry (even) after anesthesia! Before Brian had to leave, I asked him to run down to the restaurant and get me some soup, a glass of wine (kidding!) and bread…I was starving! Jane stays for a couple of hours then she left to go to our house. Brian had dinner ready.

I was all alone…but “happy”. Happy I had my chap stick and this chapter was written with a happy ending…or so I hope! The Pathology department better come with good news!

Another thing – both the Day and Night nurses were FANTASTIC! Absolutely wonderful! I “rang the nurse bell” just because…They were amazed I was just out of surgery!

It had been a long day and night. I felt beat-up, black and blue, sore and tired!!!

At 9 p.m. the night nurse gave me my medication… one of the pills were an Ambien…Sleeping pill!

Good Night World!

This entry was posted on September 17, 2014. 10 Comments

Life and afterlife…

I remember on April 1st when I first heard the words “You have cancer” for the first time. The Doctor spoke TO ME! I felt so totally in denial! Like the Doctor was talking to someone else…I wanted to whistle and look around in the room…not me, not me, not me…Even though it was only me and Brian in the room. It was April 1st…what a joke! Then reality hit me…

Well…maybe not right there and then…it took a few days for the diagnoses to sink in. It took a few days for me to be able to speak the words “I have breast cancer”…yes, it took a few days…It really did…hm…

To be honest – I never thought I was going to die. I thought about it…but I have thought about that many times. Especially when someone close to you dies….you think about your own mortality. Right?

Anyway – after being diagnosed, and thinking about my future…or no future… Why not express how I would like my passing…  The only thing that is for certain when we are born, is that we’re going to die…the rest is an unwritten book. An unwritten book for me (and you) to fill in the pages.

There are a few reasons for why I want to bring up this issue…

  1. I might die. Or, I will die one day! Period.
  2. I remember my mom being at a total loss after my Dad died. She had no idea how he wanted his funeral to be and where…(huge reason)
  3. I did not want to leave Brian with that feeling (plus he would totally pick the wrong music!)
  4. I’m not afraid of dying…so why not write about what I want?
  5. I want it my way… (Being in control? Ha!)

When I pass; please celebrate my life! Remember all the good times. Forget about the bad ;o)

I want everybody to be dressed in white!  (I will be watching)

I want to have a gathering at the beach in the early morning…To walk in silence for 30 minutes (I’ll be right there with you)…then for everybody to gather in a circle and speak from their heart. Peace and love! For the Swedish Minister, who’s in Florida at the time, to say something profound…;o) (I will be listening…hehehe)

Then there will be breakfast with coffee, bagels, juice, mimosas at our house with lots of music, dancing and swimming in the pool! (I will be smiling!)

I want everybody to sign up for Gratitude Training…if you haven’t already gone through it…It will change your life!  (I will guide you)

I want to be cremated…Where my ashes go is not that important to me…Maybe spread some of the ashes on ‘Marabou Hill’ (in our back yard)…at Heritage Park…in Sweden…the Ocean… (Let it fly!)

I believe in life after death. I believe the soul does not die…the soul travels on. Can I prove this? No, I can’t. But I have read so many books and heard compelling stories about “going to the other side and coming back” and “seeing the light, and being pulled back”.  (I will give you a sign…just listen!)

Like Betty Eadie (author) said in one of her books “Life does not end when we die. Death is a rebirth into the spirit world of light and love, a transition from the physical to the spiritual that is no more frightening or painful than passing between rooms though an open doorway. It is also a joyful homecoming to our natural home, a return to the Creator who sent us here and who welcomes us back with loving arms”  (I will always love you).

Now I have to work on the music list!



PS. Of course this might change with time…who knows…

This entry was posted on September 5, 2014. 14 Comments