I tried to stay up late the night before surgery since I could have nothing after midnight, no food, no water, no anything..so I, of course, promptly fell asleep around 9:30pm…hmm. I woke up around 5:50am and the thirst began. I tried not to fret because I knew I’d be getting an I.V. set up as soon as I got checked in and set up at the hospital. You see I had already forgotten that my hospital tends to like to dehydrate you.
We head out around 10:00am and arrive all ready about 10:30am. We check in, get my arm band, Telle and I are sent back to the surgery prep room and we began the dehydration process. There was confusion as to where to start my I.V. as Dr. Salti (my surgeon) had mentioned that if my port was in the way at all he would have to take it out. No one wanted to make any decisions as to where to start the I.V., I’m guessing since no one started one at all. A few hours later they called me back to the radiologists. I’m nervous and thirsty but at least things are getting started. Telle is with me and the nurse explains that they are going to inject radioactive fluid into my breasts above and below each nipple. I blinked a few times absorbing this information and then asked if it would hurt. She frowned a little and said I’m afraid so. Telle can hold your hand while we do the process she says. Now I’ve had my share of pain since starting this journey, I’m a big girl and how bad could it be anyway?
They lay me on this long table that retracts into a big machine…a gamaraywhatchamacallit, that will then scan my breasts and lymph nodes to see where the radioactive stuff travels to. This helps them know which lymph nodes to take out during the surgery. I climb onto the table, my arms over my head, hands together and Telle gently holding them. In walks the radiologist with his “devil tools” (that’s how I think of them now). He says good morning, how are you, blah blah. They give me the first injection in my areola just over my right nipple, I think that may have been when the main bruising on Telles fingers happened. It was exactly like someone took a white-hot poker and pressed it into my nipple and down into my armpit. I hear from somewhere far off, “you’re doing well”, then a second poker in the same nipple. I’m pretty sure I’ve now damaged Telles fingers, but I try not to move and they jam the torture device into my left breast twice as well. I’m thinking “I’ll tell you anything..yes I did it, it was me, I give up”. And then about 30 seconds later the pain let up. The table was moving sliding me along with it. My eyes were closed and I couldn’t seem to open them. The nurse asks if I’m claustrophobic and I answer no. I’m breathing slowly and starting to come back from what ever safe place my brain had taken me. I guess tears were rolling out of my eyes and into my ears as the nurse kept wiping something from my face and telling me it was okay. I opened my eyes a little and found out that I might be “a tiny bit” claustrophobic…wow that machine I was in was touching my nose. I think I giggled a little and they asked again if I was alright.
They put me back in my wheel chair and rolled me back to the surgery prep room to wait some more. I think it might have been around 1:00pm. We sit and watch some T.V., I ask about my I.V., they are checking on it I’m told and then this man comes in with gloves, not doctor type gloves, but those gloves from those shows where the hazmat team comes in to clean up a spill, puts on a mask and vest to match and brings out an actual Geiger counter. He waves it over my breasts and it’s making those sounds you hear on TV when you are supposed to run…he waves it over my armpits, makes little marks on my skin and says thank you and good luck. I’m pretty sure I giggled again. I’m dehydrated pretty good by now, so maybe that was it.
We wait some more and I think they came to get me around 3:00pm. They took me to the final surgery prep room where you are just behind curtains. I can hear the man next to me, think he was having some kind of knee surgery. He was being so grumpy and uncooperative. I kept thinking why would you piss off the people who are about to cut you with a knife? I guess you can’t please some people.
The anesthesiologist, the nurse, the 3rd year medical school student, the surgeons assistant and finally my surgeon all came by to say hi. They asked if I had any questions, asked where my I.V. was…I shrugged, no one knows where to start it I answer, they say they will find out. The student came back and was very nice. I was joking about something and she laughed a little, then started to hiccup. Ut OH she says. I asked what was wrong. She said she got the hiccups in the last surgery and the surgeon was very displeased. I can imagine that might be distracting so I tell the assistant to maybe scare the student…not while they are working on me though I say. Everyone laughs. I just want my surgeon to be as comfortable as possible while he’s working on me. Finally another sleepy time doctor comes in and asks, where’s your I.V.? Oh never mind he says, I’ll just start it. They finally get an I.V. in my left hand and before I know it we are rolling down the hall.
I look up and watch the lights roll by, say a little good-bye to my two breasts and we burst into the operating room. They have me slide over onto the table and start putting leads on my chest. One of the people, the student, the assistant, the sleepy time doctor, I’m not sure says something and they sit me up and take off the leads from my chest and put them on my back…I’m thinking I’m glad someone figured that out before Dr. Salti walked in, wouldn’t want him to be displeased.