A little Frankenstein for Halloween?

It’s been awhile – however the surgery is done! This recovery has been a little more “draining” than I had remembered. But, the lymph node dissection surgery at UW-Madison on Oct. 8th went…well, it went. I am so glad to say it’s done. I am also incredibly grateful that I went with the surgical expertise of Dr. W, as the surgery required a bit more “dissecting” than was expected.

Honestly, the day of surgery started out pretty well. The hubs and I made our way to Madison for the 2:30 p.m. surgery. We arrived about noon ready to go. As we sat in our “getting ready” room we had the anesthesiologist (or as I like to call him Dr. Feel Good) come in and explain the plan. He seemed confident with a nerve block and sedative for surgery. The plan being the nerve block will help me recover a bit faster since I won’t feel the worst part right after the surgery. The surgeon Dr. W came in next and checked in with me. She explained the surgery should take about 1-2 hours and then they would move me to a room for the night. I should note – I felt a bit bad for all these docs and their teams of residents as a bald, eyebrow-less me sat there looking bloated (thank you to those chemo steroids and my own lack of self-restraint) in a hospital gown. I must admit I felt even worse as I looked on to the many, many, good looking, healthy,  20-something residents staring back at me! Very Grey’s Anatomy:)

So with expectations managed they wheeled me off. The did the injections for the nerve block in one room and then with my port hooked up to what I had hoped to be terrific drugs – Ha, we were off to the OR, which I am happy to report was filled with a group of young, intelligent, talented females! All females. What are the chances of that? I even told them all “Girl Power” and that my left arm wasn’t quite numb? That’s all I remember. Fast forward to about 7:30 p.m. that night and I woke up groggy with a sore throat and a lot of confusion with my exhausted hubs looking on.  It turns out the surgery lasted a whole lot longer than anticipated, the nerve block didn’t “take” and they had to put me “under” after all. I finally got to a room about 8:30 p.m. that night. I was greeted by my bff and her mom who had made the trek from Chicago.

I settled in but so did the pain and discomfort. Luckily, throughout the night I had a lovely nurse who believed in “managing pain”! Ha. On Friday, we were greeted by my surgeon who gave us the low down. I was going to be in a bit of pain and experience soreness, as they really had “to go in deep”. It turns out one of the cancerous lymph nodes was deep in my lateral region and the other where they had expected under the left arm. They weren’t sure how many nodes they had removed yet as they were all stuck together, pathology would let us know in the coming days. I would be discharged with a drain under my left arm. Now, the drain was nothing new – remember I had this same surgery and then some about 5 years ago except that was my right side.

Later in the day on Friday the hubs and I would make the two hour trek back home where I would lay around for the next few days. The hubs diligent about emptying the drain and recording the amounts. I, on the other hand, I am good about HATING the drain! I could deal with the incision and the dressings, but screw this damn drain! Ugh. Sleeping is limiting, showering is a pain, going out in public! I feel a little like Frankenstein right now with the bald head, the lack of eyebrows and now the bulging drain beneath my clothes! It’s getting a bit ridiculous.

So, I had put off updating this blog, waiting for that follow up date with my surgeon or as I called it DRAIN REMOVAL day. Ahhh – October 20th couldn’t come soon enough! Alas, Tuesday the 20th came and my little bro agreed to drive Miss Daisy to her appointment in Madison, as the hubs was out of town for work. I am almost giddy as we make the ride. All I can think about is sleeping on my left side tonight! It’s gonna be epic! Legendary! On the way home I am going to lean this way just because I can! And what do I hear when we arrive?? Nope. The drain isn’t ready to come out!?!? What the hell! You’ve gotta be messing with me! Nope, it’s not ready, there is still too much fluid draining! Thanks a lot to the Hubs for his diligent recording and drain management! Ha.

So, here I am two days later and guess what? The damn drain is still draining too much fluid. I will say, I have had to find my “Zen” on this one. My feet are not just picked up in the lazy river of life, they are kicking and flailing! Ha.

But – the appointment on Tuesday wasn’t all a waste. The incision is healing well. And my pathology was back. Although the cancerous lymph nodes didn’t see a great deal of shrinkage after 13 rounds of chemotherapy, there were only the original two that had cancer. Somehow, some way, the cancer had stayed within the orginal two. They removed 10 total lymph nodes and two had cancer. It showed metastatic breast cancer in the nodes – so it was what we thought it was and radiation is next.

So, the plan is to kick back and relax, heal, spend MORE quality time with this damn drain! Ha. And in early November we will figure out radiation. Right now the plan is 6 weeks of daily radiation.

And I can’t say how humbled I have been to feel all the love from so many. It’s been cards, flowers, meals, rides for the kids, texts, emails, etc…It is such a humbling experience to be incapacitated and feel all that support from so many people from so many different areas from my life. Thank you.

So, until this silly drain is removed and I have a solid radiation plan…I shall be lifting up my feet. The good news is my “Frankenstein” look is very in season right now!

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