Post Op: Axillary Lymph Removal + Pathology Results
Long time no blog, eh?!
Let’s bring it back to the day before surgery-Wednesday, January 16th. The day is nice out. Liam is in school, Ava is home with a fever. I do my best to live my day as normal as can be, just trying not think about tomorrow. But something is building up inside and I can’t pin-point it. I bring Ava to Papaw, my father-in-law Bill, and Liam is already at the school with Mamaw, my mother-in-law Julie. One of the many awesome parts about my in-laws, is they both work at the kid’s school! They’ve been super incredible help over the past couple months as well. Anytime I have an appointment, I want Bj and my Mom with me and they can take the kids anytime. I really love them both as if they were my own parents. It’s hard to find someone who actually enjoys their in-laws <3
Bj was working lat that night to take the day off tomorrow. He came in at 7:30am and closes up shop around 7pm at Big Frog Custom t-shirts. Mom and I are sitting at the table and I’m still feeling so off. I start telling her about it and I notice I’m crying. I’m crying because of how far I came from the bilateral mastectomy surgery. How effing hard that was to overcome and here I am not even a month later about to go under the knife again. I’ve been climbing up this 90˚cliff by my teeth. I took a walk one week before because I was so pissed off. I missed running. I needed that release. Running organizes my mind. Screw getting in shape, I honest to God run to organize my chaotic artistic brain. I changed as soon as I got home, my eyes full of tears just getting back from another damn appointment…tears not from the appointment in general..tears of fcking frustration. I grabbed my phone and my headphones and said “Hey Mom, I’m going for a walk. I have my phone if you need me.” I grabbed some kleenex incase a song came on that I needed to bawl to. OH! This felt good. I decided I was going to walk as far as I could til’ I didn’t know where I was anymore. Fuck Cancer. Fuck you.
I look over as I’m passing a farm. “..but it was only a fantasy” as the lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” float through my mind, and I see this cow moo at me. I stop. It stands up. I cross the street and walk to it. It comes close to the fence. I have no background with cows, so I was a little nervous. I stuck my hand over the fence to let him smell me. I think he wanted grass, but he sniffed my hand and so I reached over and pet his head. It was a really neat moment the cow and I shared..all the cows and horses then came to see what the fuss was all about with this human.
(Will just said, “Where did you find that cool cow picture?” LOL..I TOOK it!! This is the cow!)
As I got about 3 miles out, I felt my chest tighten. Hard. I said out loud now, FUCK YOU CANCER. You DON’T own me. So I walked faster. I knew this wasn’t the right way to treat my body, my chest wasn’t used to this exercise and the surgery probably made it even worse. I walked about 200 more feet and turned around. I came home, dizzy as hell, about to faint. Mom made me some pb&j after I scarfed that down, I passed out under my heated blanket. “Wake up, lovey.” Mom says “It’s time to go.” Damnit. These damn appointments. This was for an echo-cardiogram and an ultrasound of my “angry” lymph node under my arm. (Those results came back just fine..the echo is routine to measure how strong your heart is before chemo and they keep monitoring as you progress)
**Back to the night before surgery..
I also cried because I had to send my kids off again. Having my Mom or in-laws take care of my kids breaks my heart. I don’t feel like a Mommy, but a child. I know this is ridiculous of me to think..but I am human, and this is something I was stuffing down deep and ignoring. I would have to have my kids be taken care of again after I got out of surgery..how long this time? It made me feel awful. I know, I know..whatever. But this had really upset me.
So bam. Surgery morning. 4:45am and I wake up with a stomach-ache. A little unusual for me. I don’t typically get the willies before a surgery or anything, so I wasn’t sure what was going on. We get to the hospital..same thing as last time. Check in, go here, sit there, undress, pee in a cup, sit here, get weighed..let’s IV you. I was watching “I love Lucy” this time, so during the 25 minutes of my tiny stubborn veins failing me, the nurse finally got one. I start to get hot. I didn’t even want a warm blanket. I start to burp. I feel nauseous. What the heck is going on? Am I really that nervous? NO. I’m mad. Even the smell of the hospital didn’t welcome me. I LOVE the smell of hospitals. The last time I was at the hospital tho, it changed my physical body..and now I was becoming physically ill.
The nurse peeks her head into my tiny waiting ward room, after what has already been an hour of waiting, and tells me it will be another hour. An emergency surgery came through and my room was being used. Dr. Berg comes in. My sickness immediately goes away and I am happy again. I love this man! He always makes SURE I know everything that is about to happen, how I feel about it and any other questions I might have. And he’s only 32, so he talks to me in normal terms and understands “my talk”…do I have a talk? wth lol??! I have my own “Alyssa” talk and I am pretty educated in what is happening through all of this, and I think he enjoys that.
Me and Dr. Berg just before surgery!
He spent about twenty minutes going over everything in detail..what the lymph nodes do, what they are for, what happens when they are removed…a very patient man. As he leaves, the nurse comes back in and shows me what is about to be put in me for chemo. A power port. An implanted port is a central line that has a round shape and is placed under the skin. It is used for long-term IV access for:
- Liquid Nutrition
- Blood Samples
This little guy was implanted just under my left collar bone. That purple long tube was inserted into my large blood vessel that either will go directly to my heart or is right by my heart. This is were all of the chemo medicine will go in. Do you see those little numbs on the circle disk? Those are there to be felt under the skin so the nurse can feel where to put the needle in, right in the middle. Quite awesome I think!! No more dumb ass stubborn little veins to deal with. All this was implanted in the same surgery.So, it’s almost time to go. I’m on my phone trying to stay calm and keep you peeps updated.
And we’re off
Now. This time I did NOT have any “happy juice” going into the surgery, like I did last time. So here I am, observing everything for the first time. Two nurses are bringing me down corridor after corridor. It gets colder and colder. I am wheeled into my room. I see a looooong skinny table covered in blue with tons of shiny metal things. The room has some music playing in the background..probably one of those music stations that “anyone” can listen to without being offended by anything. They slide my bed next to the operation table..which is a little bit more narrow than the one I’m on. They ask if I can get on the table myself. I expect that most patients get onto the surgery table with their arms..well, I don’t think they knew that I just had a double mastectomy about 3 weeks ago, and my arms and chest were still sore. So I knelt up on the table and knee’d on over to the other table…meanwhile my entire backside completely open to the anesthesiologist…!! I didn’t care. I hear them chatter behind me “Well, that was the first time I’ve seen anyone get onto a table like that!” LOL. As I’m laying there, so many unfamiliar faces surround me and talk flat to me..then I look over and see Dr. Berg! And he has his Bengal’s skull cap on! (I gave him crap about that last time..) Once I saw him, I was fine again. I said, “Hey!” He looks at me and see’s that I am smiling and smiles back..a little surprised. I ask him, “Ready to do this?” as he walks in closer to me he replies back, “I sure am!” I said, “Okay let’s go!” and put my hand up and he returned the five. He said that he never had someone give him a pre-surgery high-five..!! As the anesthesiologist is giving me the meds to knock me out, I’m slowly asking him “So if I’m completely knocked out, but feel pain..how can you tell?” He told me that he would be able to see that on the monitor by how my heart is reacting….then I peacefully fall asleep.
I wake up almost clear as a bell and look up to see a man and a woman nurse bringing me back to the recovery room. I look up as the man is talking to me and he says “Hey! You’re the Facebook girl aren’t you!?” OMG are you freaking serious? He says, “You’re pretty famous around here.” Nurse after nurse walked through looked at me and smiled really big at me and came over to thank me for what I am doing. Creating awareness and sharing my story. Bam. This is EXACTLY what I’m here for! Early detection IS saving LIVES.
Who the shit is this happy after waking up from surgery…this girl is from hearing all of that
Here I am as I’m waiting for the nurses to set my bed up. Bj was walking down the hall as they were rolling me down and didn’t even comprehend it was me until we were about 5 feet away from each other. He goes, “Holy hell! I didn’t think you’d be back for another hour!” As you can see in this picture above me, that black blob against the white is my Mom on the phone..she didn’t even know I was there until I was set up in my new bed!! Dr. Berg did an amazing job.
So for some reason, the thermometer didn’t like my mouth, so she had to go old school and go under my arm.
And then here’s me letting you all know on facebook I’m all good!
See that white bandage on my shoulder? That’s where the port is.
So things went fine that day. Mom left at night and Bj stayed with me..sleeping on those port-bed-chairs..that’s when things took a big turn. I was in pain. I felt delirious. The nurses were keeping up on my pain medicine, but I still had this deep, deep nerve pain in my arm. So they kept giving me morphine every two hours. I’m honestly getting nauseous reliving all of this right now. I wanted to go into full detail, but I’ll just put in bullet points what all I encountered from the morphine:
- Skin Rash (this wasn’t visible but I nearly tore through my skin through my entire body from scratching so hard)
- Blisters (I got a blister under my right arm)
- Nasal Congestion
I was convulsing. Tears running down my face, but I wasn’t crying. I couldn’t breathe. No nurse was around. One nurse ran in and checked my vitals…UM. I CAN’T BREATHE..”Well, your heart-rate is fine so you’re not having a heart-attack” NO SHIT! Figure this out now!! I can’t speak, I’m tearing at my skin, my throat is closing up and I’m breathing like these are my last breaths…nurses in and out..really not getting it. Then one nurse goes, “I think she may be allergic to the morphine.” BINGOThey gave me an anti nausea IV cause I was so freaking sick. But I couldn’t puke. I felt HORRIBLE. Migraine, sweating, cold…shit I’m honestly getting sick again..YOU GET THE POINT
bad. bad. bad. bad. My nurse had to wait for Dr. Berg to get out of surgery to prescribe me dilaudid, treats moderate to severe chronic pain. This medicine is a narcotic analgesic, an opioid.
Here’s me trying not to die. Concentrating on breathing. Once the dilaudid came through…dude. I was on cloud nine. No more pain, and it knocked me on my ass. Finally, I was able to sleep.