Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Surgery Update

March 19th, the day of my lumpectomy.

I was a bundle of nerves before the surgery. All the what ifs and questions running through my head.... What if it is worse than the tests have indicated? What if it is in my lymph nodes? What will I look like afterwards? Will I ever feel normal again? How am I going to wash my hair after surgery? 

We, (my husband, my son and I), arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m. The schedule was - prep upon arrival; Radiology at 7:30 for dye injection and scans; Surgery at 9:30.
So after my vitals were checked the ID bracelet was placed on my right arm and into the beautiful mint green paper attire I went. Next the iv line was started. I have small veins and sometimes it is quite the task getting the iv in, but the nurse was able to get it going with one try. Then we waited... around 7:45 they took me to Radiology. They told my husband and son that they would take me from Radiology to surgery and that the doctor would call the room when the surgery was over and I was in recovery. The injection wasn't too bad. The needle itself is small and the process is quick. They do have to move the needle around to inject the dye where it is needed. This dye helps in locating the sentinel node, (the closest lymph node to the tumor and likely the first node effected) and surrounding nodes. Once that was done, the doctor initialed my shoulder, and the tech moved me to the small table for the scans. They allot 2 hours for this test, everyone's body drains differently. I drained rather quickly and they were able to trace the dye and get the pictures needed for surgery within 45 minutes. Since the operating room wasn't available for another hour or so, the tech initialed my shoulder and I was taken back to my room to wait.
I did have to laugh with my son and husband about the initials on my shoulder, but I suppose it is another way to verify that the dye has been injected before surgery. Around 9:40 I was taken down to surgery. I was placed in the line of patients just outside the operating rooms for what seemed like an eternity. The doctors and anesthesiologist would come by, check charts, start an antibiotic and off they would go into the operating room. I remember it being a constant flow of masked people going by. Many of them asking if I was warm enough, they kept trying to cover me up, I was hot and kept kicking the covers off. There was a tv on the wall in front of me on some news channel but I had a hard time seeing it without my glasses. The next thing I remember was a nurse adding the antibiotic to my iv and a few moments later feeling my iv being moved and the anesthesiologist saying he was putting a little medicine in my iv, my eyes became very heavy I saw a huge dry erase board but couldn't focus on it...The next thing I remember was the sound of the heart monitor and a nurse asking me if I wanted ice chips.

Once in surgery the Dr. injected more dye to trace my lymph nodes. He then removed the sentinel node as well as two other lymph nodes. These were sent to the lab for a freeze test, (preliminary test) which gives them an indication to the need for more nodes for testing. If the lab says more nodes are needed for testing the surgeon will remove more nodes after the lumpectomy is completed.  The surgeon then performed the lumpectomy removing the entire tumor and surrounding tissue, giving me a little lift so as to create as normal as possible look. The lab was satisfied with removing only three nodes, so surgery was complete. 

I was taken back to my room where my husband, my son and now my daughter was waiting. I was given a Coke and a few crackers. They checked my vitals a few more times and made sure I was not feeling nauseous. My iv was removed, at home care instructions were gone over with me and my family, including how my present blue appearance would not last and that I shouldn't be alarmed with the blue pee I will experience for a couple of days, I got dressed and was ready to head home. (I truly had a blue tint to my face and upper body and had blue pee for two days - we are talking tidy bowl blue)   

On March 22, after receiving the complete lab results, he Dr. told me that the margins were clear (which means no other surgery will be needed) and so were my lymph nodes. I see him for a follow up appointment on April 4th and he will then refer me to an oncologists for treatment. 

My son took a leave from work this week and has stayed with me around the clock, taking excellent care of me, waiting on me, making sure I eat, doing laundry, taking care of the dog, taking me to the beauty shop close to my house to get my hair washed, etc.  His significant other has cooked dinner every night and kept the dishes washed up. My daughter has come by after class each day to help out. My neighbor, a retired nurse, has also been a huge help with changing bandages and making sure the incisions are healing properly. My husband has had several Court Hearings and work obligations so having everyone help out has been a Godsend.

This week, as I have gotten a little stronger and able to care for my self somewhat, my son went back to work. My husband is working from home as much as possible and my neighbor still checks in from time to time. I am still quite sore and unable to raise my left arm very high or use it much, thank goodness I am right handed, but I am doing as well as can be expected. It has not been easy and most of the time I am uncomfortable, but hanging in there both physically and mentally. 

I still have a long road to travel, but am trying to hang on to as much normalcy as I can.    


  1. This is such a great report. I hope everything continues to go well.

  2. You are very brave. I know I'd panic after being wheeled away from my husband. I'm glad you are doing well and that you have a wonderful support system to help out. I'm thinking of you and your family! xoxo

  3. I'm glad to hear that you are on the mend. It's comforting to have family and friends to care for you in your recovery. I'm still praying for you and your family.

  4. This was good news. Not only that there will be no need for more surgery, but all the wonderful, loving, kind, and gentle family and neighbor that has provided all the care and support you're getting.

    Tidy Bowl Blue, huh? Oh my.

    You'll continue to be in my thoughts.


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