Thanks to all of you kind ones who prayed for me. I felt the prayers constantly yesterday and I still am feeling them today. I am a little burned out on telephone talking so forgive me if I don’t call back. I love you all and feel so loved by you.
Today, I am a little more sore, perhaps because I switched to Tylenol instead of the stuff they gave me in the hospital. It is hard not to do the things I am used to doing, so some soreness may also be from overdoing it.
Because I know that women with breast cancer read this blog, I am going to detail what the surgery entailed. For those of you who will never need to know this, just take a pass.
I had a friend who told me some of what to expect and it really helped me. Also, if you are going through a surgery and need prayer support, email me and I will hold you up in prayer. It will be my privilege.
The first step was the preoperative tests– blood tests and an EKG. No sweat. Just a tip for the blood tests, drink lots of water so that your veins are easy to stick for a blood draw. I started 24 hours ahead to make sure I am really well hydrated. You need false finger nails taken off before your surgery so that they can get an accurate reading of oxygen perfusion before, during, and after the surgery(they clip this monitor on your index finger).
From midnight on before the surgery you will probably be told– no food, fluid, gum or hard candy. Once again start as far ahead as possible and drink water up until that deadline so that you are well hydrated and your veins aren’t collapsed from dehydration.
When you arrive, it will be hours ahead of your surgery time. You will probably have papers to read and consent forms to sign. If you are getting a sentinel node biopsy, you will get an injection of radioactive tracer which will go to the primary drainage lymph nodes for that breast. This stings like a bee sting. It helps to know this so that you are not surprised. There is also an injection later, after you are asleep under the anesthetic, with blue dye which is for the same purpose. If the sentinel nodes are clear of cancer (which they will determine while you are in the operating room) then no more nodes will be taken. If there is cancer they will take another layer of nodes. Mine were clear under the right arm. I don’t know exactly how many they took. They did not take more under the left arm –in a previous lumpectomy they took 2.
Next you will talk to the doctor’s and you can ask any questions. The anesthesiologist puts in an IV and right before you get wheeled to the OR, he puts a drug in that makes you sleep. The next thing you know, you will be waking in the Recovery Room. I think my surgery was about 5 hours with 2 hours afterward in the Recovery Room.
I do vaguely remember having to vomit in Recovery but they quickly gave meds to control that. After that the care was very orchestrated so that I got my drains emptied and my vitals checked every four hours. Mostly, I slept until the next day. Pain was not excessive. It decreased very quickly from the immediate post-surgical pain. After the surgery I had a little hoarseness and throat irritation from the tube they put down my throat for the anesthesia. I did not feel like talking much.
There were 2 drainage tubes sewn into each arm pit. These are clear plastic tubes which go to small clear plastic grenades. This sounds much worse than it really is. A friend sent me camisole tops which are specially designed for holding the grenades in small inside pockets. This top can be pulled over you feet so that you don’t have to lift your arms over your head to get it on. The camisole also has pockets for padding to tide you over until your tissue expanders are filled more or you have your permanent prosthesis. I recommend that you don’t try to use the padding until you are more healed. The padding is not comfortable pressing on the postsurgical area. What I finally discovered as the easiest and most comfy things to wear were jogging jackets that zipped all the way down with the pockets sewn so that they made pockets on the inside.
(A few more tips that she gave were these: Bring things that are easy to slip on like jogging pants and a top that buttons or zips all the way down. I would add to bring slip on shoes if possible. A loose top is better as your grenades will be under the top when you are dressed. Don’t bring anything that you have to pull over your head. )
The next day, I was taught to strip the drain tubes and empty the drains and I was able to shower by myself and get dressed after I proved I could walk around by myself. The staff respond well to “motivated “ patients who want to get moving. I was given written and verbal instructions on watching for fever, redness or increase in pain. I am to return next week, hopefully to have the drains removed.
At some point, I will have the tissue expanders filled to the final size and then I will have the prostheses put in to replace those expanders. The surgery at this point looks good. I have some bruising and the side that had radiation is not filled as much as the other side. It is also more sore than they other side even though I had no lymph nodes removed on the left side. The plastic surgeon is being very cautious with the irradiated area as it is more fragile.
Precautions are: no driving, no vacuuming and no lifting over 10 pounds. I think I will be allowed to drive when the drains are out.
I will answer questions if it will help any who will go through this. And again I offer myself to pray. email@example.com
Please help those who will face surgery or treatment for cancer. May they be enfolded in your love and covered by the prayers of many. Please let them be as cushioned and protected in your peace and joy as I was. May your grace abound in all ways and may these trials help us to know that it is ultimately all about You, Father God. May each one know how much you love her.
In Jesus name,
Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s
1 Peter 4:13