Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I Woke Up in the Maternity Ward

Surgery went fine.  I woke up in the maternity ward.  I was expecting that.  My breast cancer navigator had informed me that they did that because of the privacy in that ward.  I would automatically have a private room and it would be comfortable.  I liked the idea, and it worked particularly well in my case, because I was the only patient in the ward.  There were no babies at the time, so I had a whole nursing staff to myself.  I felt special.

I had been told about the Lidocaine and the drain, but it didn't really prepare me for it.  The thing that I find when it comes to surgery is that no matter how much research you do, and no matter how much information you have; it's still full of surprises.  I had a drain out my side with a little plastic bulb that needed to be drained periodically.  It was awkward and it reminded me of an old Katherine Helmond movie called Brazil.  You'd have to see it to understand.  You can find it on Amazon and probably Netflix if you want to check it out.  I also had a pouch with a ball in it that connected to the surgical area with a tube of some kind for the Lidocaine.  There were massaging cuffs on my legs so that I didn't get blood clots.  I had an IV for fluid levels.  Oh yeah, and I was missing a boob.

I didn't really know what to think of my current status.  The staff told me that everything went well.  I thought that they should know.  They had the experience in the situation.  I'd never been through it before.  I felt a little mechanical, considering how many things I was hooked up to.  The one thing that I noticed was that I didn't hurt at all.  I had been extremely worried about the pain, and nothing hurt.  I was excited.  This wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  Amazing.

Now, I know what you're thinking.  I've had surgery.  I know full well that the anesthesia hangs on for 24 hours, and that you don't feel the pain right away because of Lidocaine, mental blocks, anesthesia and shock.  I still was happy that I was alert and didn't feel pain.  Lidocaine is something that was previously used for joint surgery pain.  It is fairly recent that it's being used for mastectomies.  I can tell you after my experience that it's a great idea.  Good job surgeons for coming up with that.  I hate pain killers because they make me sick and cause me to feel wasted.  Lidocaine is great.

The wound was completely covered.  I had a bandage that started in the middle of my chest and went all the way around to my side under my armpit.  The nurses told me that it was over 20 centimeters.  I don't know much about the metric system, but that's large.

The nurses asked me how I was feeling.  I was actually feeling pretty good, all things considered.  I was happy that I woke up and there was no catheter.  I normally go in for surgery on parts related to the urinary tract, and I wake up peeing blood or having a catheter or a stent to deal with.  This was a different scenario for once, and I liked it.  You would have to deal with as many urinary tract problems as I have to appreciate the relief that you feel when you wake up and you can pee normally.  It's a matter of convenience that most people take for granted.

So, I ate and drank normally.  I had some bland food to start off with just in case, but there were no digestion issues.  It wasn't long before I got up and went to the bathroom with a little help.  I nearly did it all by myself right away though.  It was amazing how easy things were after a major surgery.  I did need help getting the massaging cuffs off and on my legs though.  Those things were tricky.

My husband was there.  He sat with me.  He was so very worried about me, and he noticeably relaxed as he saw me feeling way better than expected.  He eventually went home and brought my son back for a visit.  I think that everyone felt a little better after seeing that I was all right.  I hate thinking that I've caused my family any grief.  I can recuperate easier if I don't worry about them.  I'm a wife and mother.  It's who I am.

Here's the amazing thing.  I tend to just deal with my situation.  I don't live in denial and I don't avoid any subjects.  I just don't like to focus on the inconvenient or bad stuff that I have to deal with and there's no way to avoid.  I just deal and try to focus on something else.  So that evening, my something else was that I actually had CBS on the television, because the hospital has satellite.  I hadn't been able to watch Man With a Plan, Scorpion, or The Odd Couple for weeks  because the cable company is a pain in the ass.  So, little bit of happy in the middle of major surgery.

So, first night after surgery.  Great nursing staff, whole ward to myself, up and walking a bit, had a nice dinner, visited with my family, read a little, watched some TV and went to sleep.  Considering the fact that I had only cured one of my potential cancers, and that I had a long recovery road ahead, and that I hadn't gotten a pathology report telling me that this event was officially solved; everything was going pretty well.  I had been so worried, and at that moment I wondered why.

So, if anyone takes something away from this post, I hope it's that it wasn't as bad as I imagined.  I will continue to tell the story, so hopefully it will help someone.  

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