Pain, nausea and confusion, those feelings overwhelmed me when I started waking up in the recovery room. It took me more than a few minutes to remember where I was and why I was there. I groaned a little and a nurse came over and put a button in my hand and told me to push it whenever I was in pain…I pushed it several times. The nurse told me it would only work every ten minutes…”so I can’t off myself” I say…a few people giggled and I opened my eyes a little. There were several people standing around me, checking my vitals, pushing and moving me around and then I threw up. Two or three people went into action and cleaned me up and told me everything was okay. I fell back asleep or passed out…not sure, but things went dark. I opened my eyes again and immediately pushed the lovely little button in my hand. Ahh, that felt better and then I threw up…sheeh. The nurse said that it would get better, it was just the anesthesia. After a bit they decided to take me up to my room. I was glad because I wanted to see Telle and my family. I saw a clock on the wall and it was after 9:00pm. I was a little concerned since I thought it wasn’t supposed to be that long of a surgery, I watched the elevator doors open and they pushed my gurney out into the hall, I said, “I think I’m going to be sick”, and then I threw up. Okay, this was getting gross. Things went dark again.
I woke up in my bed in my room. Telle was there telling me everything was okay, I was really glad to see her. I said hi to her, pushed the little button again and the pain backed off a bit, you might be able to guess what happened next…you’re right…I threw up. By now they have put a little container near my neck so I can just turn and let it flow. It was like transmission fluid..bright green. I have to give Telle a lot of credit helping me with that. She has a really hard time with anything gross like that. Thanks so much Telle! The nurse asked me my name, I told her it was Kelly, but they could call me princess. LOL, I have no idea where that came from. I’m guessing the meds were making me goofy. When Telle went home for the night I told her to take my phone with her. Now I know that’s not like me!
My Mom and Dad were there, my son John and his girlfriend Judy came by too. My legs were in these airbag type massage things that were very comforting. I was thinking about how I might get a set to go home with. Now the pain was coming and going depending on when I was able to push the button, and so was the nausea. When the nurse came in next I told here I was beginning to think it was the pain medicine that was making me nauseated. The pain would come, I’d think I don’t want to get sick again, but after a minute or two I would just push it anyway, what’s a little green puke anyway?
During the night they came in and out, checking on me, drawing blood, and finally bringing me a bed pan. Now I have never used a bed pan and wasn’t sure how that was going to work. I couldn’t roll to one side or the other, both my arms really only seemed to work from the elbows down. I was able to lift my butt a little though so things worked out. I have to say that was something that made me giggle.
I wrote this part a while back as I have been really busy with work and radiation. May family has been here to help me out and well things have just been crazy. I have access to my laptop again so I’m going to update you all on what has been happening since I came home from the hospital in the next few days. Thank you for being patient.
Thank you again, I can never say it enough, to all my family and friends for their constant support and help. I love you all. – Kelly
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.
Two more nights before my surgery. Two more nights with breasts. Two more nights before I move. Two more nights with breasts. Oh, I think I might have said that twice. I’ve been as upbeat as I can about this whole thing and believe me I’m anxious to get this over and done with asap, but there is still some part of me that morns for the loss of these two breasts. They seem to know something is up and are rebelling by getting cysts all in them, making them achy and sore…well for two more nights anyway.
I ordered these camisoles that have pockets in them for the drainage tubes and bags a while back. (Drainage tubes…yuck) They only had one in stock in my size (medium is so hard to come by) and had to order the other one. I’ve tried several times to meet up with them to pick up my second one but they kept insisting I needed an appointment to pick them up as I needed to have a fitting for some prosthesis. I finally had my appointment today and guess what…they couldn’t do a fitting because you have to have had your surgery first…sheesh…you think they would have figured that out when I said to them I needed to see them on Wednesday because my surgery was Friday. Anyway, I go back to them once the tubes come out.
I’m also in the process of moving. Thank goodness my parents are here to help me out with all of this. They actually drove their car back down to Florida to pick up their van and drove it back to help with the move. I couldn’t ask for better people in my family. There are times in your life when family is the most important thing, this is one of them. I have to say that things could be so much more stressful, but because of them I’m making the most of every single day. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
All of this has put an added stress on my family and Telle and I’m sorry you guys are having to go through this. Thank you for all your support and continued tolerance for the ups and downs. I couldn’t do this without you.
Two more nights.
Well the last of the chemo is done, thank goodness, and now I have surgery next Friday. It’s been a whirlwind of ups and downs the last few weeks. My son Christopher graduated from Officer Training School in the US Air Force. It was a moving ceremony and my heart was filled with pride for him and his beautiful family. I had such a lovely time visiting with my grandchildren Amy and Lilly and daughter-in-law Kallie. The trip down and back with my parents was fun and distracting and I really enjoyed every moment.
I thought I had managed to make it through my whole chemotherapy treatment and not lose my eyelashes, but this last one seems to have pushed them over the edge. They didn’t fall out completely but the most of them have abandoned ship. I don’t actually look in the mirror very often lately, because some strange bald woman keeps looking back at me so I just try and avoid her. But once in a while I forget, see a mirror and take a moment to look in. I kind of giggled a little when I saw my eye lids without lashes. It was kind of a crazy giggle, I’m hoping no one heard me.
I came back from the trip to Alabama and had my CT. I had an appointment with my oncologist and surgeon on Wednesday and got the news that everything looks good and we are moving forward. My oncologist stayed in the room with me a little longer than usual and took time to tell me she was glad I was so positive, however it might not be as easy as I thought to heal up from this surgery. My mother was there with me and offered up that I try to do too much. I do get a little hyper and overly bubbly when I’m nervous so I’m going to take a chill pill and listen to my doctors and parents and take it down a notch. I was kind of hoping I could get back to work in two weeks, but it’s looking more like four at this point. I guess I’ll take it one day at a time, do everything I’m supposed to and I’ll heal up when my body is ready.
After my surgery I’m scheduled for six weeks of radiation. they are going after the lymph nodes under my right arm, near my collar bone on the right side and on my chest wall under my right breast. I’m told I will have fatigue and some skin irritation. All I know at this point is it has to be better than chemotherapy. So far things are going well. My tests are coming back better and better, I’ve changed my diet completely and I’m working on getting rid of all unnecessary stress in my life.
I have the most wonderful family anyone could ever wish for and that is what is keeping me in such great spirits. No matter how things turn out I know I’m loved and knowing that makes everything okay.
Thank you Mom and Dad for being here and taking such great care of me, for making me smile, making me eat right, making me rest when I need it and just being the great parents you are. I love you.
Thank you Della for being the bestest sister in the whole wide world. Thank you for all the time you spend texting me, calling me, flying in to see me again and again, for all the packages and cards and for making me feel so special. I love you.
Thank you Johnathan for running to the store for me at all hours of the day and night, for putting in and taking out and putting in my air conditioner, for setting my computer up near my bed so I can reach it and for all the cool stuff you put on it, for cooking for me, for carrying everything up and down the stairs for me, for being a wonderful son, and for all the little things you do to make things easier for me. I love you.
Thank you Christopher for checking on me always, even when you were going through such intense training, for bringing your beautiful family to see me, for having me be a part of your “moment” (pinning on your bars was very emotional for me), and for being a wonderful son. I love you.
Thank you Telle for dealing with my ups and downs, hot flashes and chills, for making me eat when I just don’t want to, for letting me cry and yell and listening to my silliness and taking care of me through all of this. I love you.
Thank you to all my friends and family for letting me know how much love there is in the world, for keeping me smiling and keeping my spirits up. You are the reason I live and breathe every day. I love you!
Loving and being loved is the only thing that is really important and I’m lucky to have so much of both.