02 November 2011

Surgery Part Two: Reconstruction

It's a little past midnight.  The wind is howling in Sunland this early morning rattling my doors.  I've been napping on pain meds since I got home from outpatient surgery this evening and now I'm awake til the next dose kicks in.  My day started at yesterday midnight when the doctor's orders were "nothing to eat or drink after midnight."  Eating is not a problem; but no water or the morning coffee is a bit tougher.  Still, I did okay, and made it to the Surgi-Center at New Age Aesthetic's - my surgeon's practice in Encino.

I met with the anesthesiologist who attempted to start my IV line.  Attempted.  I have only one good arm for this type of thing, and that one they can't use because of all the surgeries, lymph node dissection, and because the veins have been scarred beyond use from all the surgeries.  Not wise to use it anyways, unless it's an absolute necessity.  So SEVEN tries on the left arm.  I have never had such an experience.  I usually get the comments that my veins are very small...and they attempt my crook of the arm...and usually advance to the back of my hand.  But this doctor tried 7 times.  Two in the crook of the arm, three in the back of the hand, 2 in my underside of my forearm...and then gave me the option:  Either we try in the neck (EWWWW!) or we try the right arm.  All this time I'm praying for him to find a vein.  I asked him to please call the surgeon in the other room, and ask him what he suggested.  We opted for the back of the hand on my right, and thank God he finally found it.  Needless to say my left arm is nicely bruised.

Then I had to be photographed...the "before" pictures.  Humiliating.  But because it's reconstruction from a medical point of view, it's required by the insurance.  Okay.  Then meet with the surgeon for markings.  It's totally like the beginning of the TV series, Nip/Tuck when you see the doctor marking up the patient with dashed lines on the skin.  He explained to me what he was going to do.  I had a lot of hard scar tissue under my arm area where the incision was made 18 years ago for the lymph node dissection, and then more scarring on top of that from the mastectomy.  He wanted to remove that a bit.  Then some contouring to remove the necrosis (more hard areas), and then creating a nipple.

Then into the operating room where I was put in the usual "crucifixion position".  Arms out to my sides and restrained.  As always, in my head at this point...and at points throughout this whole cancer, I start reciting the 23rd Psalm in my head.  This beautiful Psalm helped me get through my daily radiation treatments and brings me a lot of comfort when I need it most.  I love the verse, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."  It's beautiful.

Anyways, I woke up in recovery.  My hands are still swollen from the IV fluids.  And I DID have to have a drain, despite my positive thoughts not to get one.  Hopefully it will come out on Tuesday.  I have a lot more pain than I thought I would have.  Especially in the exit point of the drain.  Every time I get up from sitting, or lying down, it's a sharp pain.  I have to empty the drain 4 x a day and log the drainage.

I am hopeful that this will be the last surgery for the year.  For now, I'm just going to think positive, work on healing, and taking care of myself: mind, soul and body.

If you are dealing with breast cancer, reconstruction, etc, and need to ask questions, talk about it, etc.  I'm here to help:  write me at ahnoosh@ca.rr.com

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