Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rocki vs Breast Cancer - Surgery

Surgery has come and gone and now on the road to recovery. For those who do not know, I had a Bilateral Total Mastectomy without breast reconstruction due to breast cancer (early stage), along with a Sentinel Node Biopsy.  The doc said the 3 nodes that were removed looked good, but he’ll have the pathology report on my first follow-up next week.  The reason for the node biopsy is to make sure that the cancer has not spread, which he feels hasn’t.  So, if that is true then I am cancer free! 
We had to be at the hospital at 6:00 am and were up at 4:00 am, so this made for a very long day.  After check-in, lab work, etc. it was then time for the radioactive dye injection for the SN Biopsy (biopsy was done during surgery).  That part only took about a minute, which was done by my doc.  It  was not painful really, more of a burning stinging sensation.  The radioactive dye follows the cancer path and through the lymphatic channels to the lymph nodes.  The doc uses a handheld Geiger counter to locate the Sentinel Node, which gives off a specific sound and are the first nodes the cancer would travel to - IF it has spread.  I found that part very interesting.
Pre-op was simple.  I must say here that from start to finish, every single person that we came in contact with at the hospital made us feel very comfortable and were super nice.  After pre-op it was time for surgery and the anesthesiologist gave me a little cocktail on the way that made me go nighty night, but not before giving Mark a kiss.
Surgery was about 2 hours and I was in recovery for 1 hour, which I don’t remember at all.  The only part I do recall at this point was waking up and seeing Mark beside me, holding my hand and saying “I’m right here honey” while they were taking me up to my room.
The rest of Thursday and early Friday morning was horrible.  Not because of the pain from  surgery, but from the anesthesia and pain meds.  I was horrifically nauseated, couldn’t keep food or drink down as it would come right back up, blood pressure very low and felt like I was going to pass out even if just sitting up.  My body simply cannot handle meds – in fact I rarely ever take conventional medication and when I do, it’s either half the dose or children’s meds, so that part was really rough.  After my meds were changed to the lowest dose possible and upping my IV drip, I did better. 
My brother Chris and his family came to see me Thursday, but I was still pretty drugged up so I don’t recall the entire visit.  Except the part where I got sick and Mark had to get the bucket once again – and my brother ducked out of sight.  Oh and they brought me a little gift - a little bird figure with the words: Live, Laugh, Love on it, so cute!  I also apparently ‘drunk called’ (more like drug called) my boys that night, which I do not remember that either. 
So now we come to the part when the nurse took off the compression wrap Friday morning.  I was wondering if I was going to have a reaction like some people were afraid of, but I didn’t.  Not one tear.  Not one gulp.  Not one bit of sadness.  The only thing I could think of was the cancer was gone and don’t have to worry about it coming back.  Then I saw the swelling, drainage tubes and staples.  That part made me a bit woosy.  Picture it this way… staples from under one arm all the way to the other arm with about a 2 inch gap of no staples in the middle.  Plus another set in my right armpit where the SN biopsy was done.  Long drainage tubes from each side of the breast area that drain into a hand grenade size pouches. I can hardly wait for the swelling to go down to see how it’s going to look.  I also started a photo diary for my own keeping from before and after throughout my recovery time, and *may*share some of the pics down the road.

I know this is long and if you’ve made it this far, wow, thank you! This is simply my ‘open diary’ that I want to keep track of and hope that it helps others along the way.
Friday at 6pm I was released to go home.  After arriving home, saying hello to our 4-legged kids and having a bite to eat, Mark and I fell asleep around 8pm – he on the couch and me in the recliner.  We didn’t wake up until around 7:30 am Saturday morning.  That was the first night of full sleep we’ve had in a while and it sure felt good! 

Let me tell you that Mark makes an EXCELLENT nurse!  While in the hospital and at home, he’s doing anything and everything from taking me to the bathroom, bathing me, emptying my drainage tubes, walking me down the hall, feeding me ice chips, making sure I have plenty of water, making meals… the list goes on and on.  I couldn’t have done all this without him, as well as my family, friends and many others that continue sending me their love and support.
On Saturday evening I broke out in a blisters that freaked me out.  After contacting my doc, found out it was an allergic reaction to the pain meds, was told to stop taking them and to take an antihistamine.  The pain actually isn’t as bad as I thought it would be at that time, so that was good.  Basically now it is more of a tightness, pinching, pulling type pain across my chest and armpits with stiffness, which is tolerable.  One of the oddest things is the crawling wiggly type sensation that I’m told is nerve endings, along with numbness in some areas.  Weird stuff. 
So here I am, Sunday morning relaxing in my recliner, where I’ve been sleeping as well, except when walking around the house for exercise. With the symptoms mentioned above and not being able to lift anything more than a cup of coffee or exert much pressure with my hands/arms, I’m actually doing much better than expected.  And with my first follow up this coming Wednesday, the drainage tubes and possibly staples will be removed, plus get the final pathology report. 
The road to recovery is underway and I’m following doc’s orders exactly so that I will soon be back to my “normal” self.  Normal… what is that anyway?
Life is good.
Peace, Rocki


Carol- Beads and Birds said...

You are glowing in this picture. You have an aura of peace surrounding you. You look great and I am so happy you have posted .
Much Love

mairedodd said...

it is so very nice to hear from you - i have been thinking about you... i am glad you are writing it down...
you have certainly been through a lot in a short time frame... traumatic experiences (even when they have good outcomes - like your surgery and childbirth) need to be documented, sorted through, understood... sending your hugs, light and love -
be well, rocki -

Michelle said...

Hi Rocki,
I saw your earlier post on FB and have been thinking of you, it's good to hear you are home from the surgery and on the mend. It is a very good idea to talk through this stuff, I hate hospital and surgery, and far out it helps so much to talk it out, as many times as you need to process it. I've 'drug dialed' before too, you aren't alone there!
Wishing you the best, Michelle

Rocki Adams said...

Hello and thank you all so very much! I'm reading all posts, messages, emails, texts...but trying to reply to them all is a little much right now.

PLEASE know that I appreciate all your comments and thank you from the bottom of my heart!