Archive | September 17, 2014

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!

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