Hey Everyone! I apologize for the delay in posting as I have been recovering from my latest (last – fingers crossed) surgery. This 6th surgery has been different in a number of ways, starting with the fact that I was not living in Gainesville for this and I went to the surgery by myself.
The Night Before Surgery
I have met lovely women through UF Health’s Breast Cancer Support Group. Meetings are monthly and, my goodness, I have learned so much about cancer, different treatments, and the amazing strength of all the women I came into contact with. These groups are so important as woman with this common bond are always there for each other. We’re not on other people’s timelines to be well or get over it. We can be ourselves and draw on combined strength whether you’re 5 days into your journey or 5+ years after your journey. I had a tradition of eating at my favorite Italian place (Amelia’s!) the night before each surgery. I texted a group of ladies to say I was heading into town and might possibly make the monthly meeting, which my surgery day fell on. Another suggested meeting up the night before and suddenly, I got to have dinner at my go-to, pre-surgery spot with 7 other breast cancer patients / Survivors / Friends. It made the night magical. 🙂
I stayed in a hotel for three days. I needed to be in the night before as I wouldn’t know when my hospital reporting time until the evening before – it was 6am – and I needed to stay through my follow up appointment on Friday. I have to give the Paramount Plaza Hotel a shout out as they had a very generous hospital rate and free shuttles back and forth throughout the day. My crazy-early call time didn’t fall in shuttle hours but they helped me schedule a cab the night before for 5:45 the next day.
I had to shower the night before and next morning with special soap and then I made my way out in the still dark morning. The admissions desk had gotten quite a fancy makeover since my last surgery in mid-April but the drill was still the same. Check in. Sit. Name called. Sign something. Sit. Name called. Get your admission bracelet and a ‘Fall Risk” bracelet. Gather to be brought upstairs. The drill was the same but it was a different experience being on my own as I kept getting asked who was with me over and over by person after person with each giving a look of disbelief. My mom who has been at each surgery was home with our 6 cats and my friend, Amy, who has come to all previous surgeries did offer but her usual role, babysitting my nervous mother while I’m unconscious, wasn’t necessary. Every surgery, my mom would take a “glamour shot” of me pre-surgery, so I took one in her place. It was a little weird being alone as there is always that chance or thought that you won’t wake up and I realized how nice it was to say and hear, “I love you,” as I was going under.
That said, I wasn’t alone from a nurse and doctor standpoint. For the fact that I was having two not big nipples made (origami nipple reconstruction), it felt like there was a cast of thousands. It’s a teaching hospital so in addition to my plastic surgeon was a second plastic surgeon, three anesthesia guys, the pre-surgery nurse who got me all set up, and the OR nurse. I really owe my pre-nurse a thank you as my plastic surgeon sprung a surprise on me. He handed me two EKG stickers and told me to go to the bathroom and place them on my boobs where I thought my nipples should go. I don’t know why but this flustered me and she came into the bathroom and stuck them on for me while we lamented what a weird thing to ask your patient to do. Turns out it was a test and we did pretty well. I then learned that nipples should be placed low and to the outside of a boob and that if someone had placed them high, etc, he needed to be able to tell them why their nipples are not going to end up in those spots when they come to.
I got rolled towards surgery around 7:45am. I had asked the main anesthesia dude to help me knock off on my way to the room as during my third surgery they brought me to the room on the more awake side, put a mask on me, and told me to breathe in heavily. I Did Not Dig That! If I need to be passed out, I do not want to be an active participant in it. This time, I actually do remember rolling down the hall to the OR, going through the OR doors, seeing the big OR lights and then Nada… Night night.
I think I woke up around 10:30am. I was doing okay but with a pretty sharp burning sensation from each boob. I looked down and saw, well, this! I had to take and overshare a picture – I felt like a poor man’s FemBot. I posted the pic on Facebook and later got many funny responses as well as suggestions to bedazzle them. Hmmm…
Again, you need to keep a sense of humor when faced with so much; so, ask and ye shall receive: