Monday, June 9, 2008

One Month, Two Days. Stage One.

And voila! Now you see them, now you don't.

It's been eleven days since the surgery and while I am still in a great deal of pain sometimes and my range of motion remains limited, I am pretty much back on my feet. I have a lot to catch you up on (although, thus far, no one has read this blog), so that will take some time.

The short story is this. The surgery was nothing like I thought it would be. I think that's thanks at least in part to the fact that I was so medicated by the time they prepped me for surgery that Hunter S. Thompson would have been proud.

If you remember, my greatest fear was the anesthesia. I must have mentioned that to someone at some point because I have zero recollection of being put under. None. Total blackout. I have little recollection of much after the nurse gave me what she called a "martini" (or two or three-- I seem to remember her adding more and more to my iv). And I have little to no recollection of waking up from the surgery. I just tonight found out that I pitched a fit with my patient navigator about not having my glasses. Long story which I'll try to fill in later. Seriously, the fam dropped the ball on that one.

The other big fear was the fact that I would wake up and get The News. Again, I don't remember much of this except not being able to articulate the question when I awoke. But in the end the answer was ringingly positive. The sentinal node tested clear. The cancer had not spread.

And the first couple of days-- the hospital/morphine days-- were way better than I thought they would be. Despite the fact that I barely slept in the hospital, everything else seemed really hunky dory. It might have been the dope. It might have been the euphoria of the good news when I had anticipated bad news. But I seriously felt as though recovery was going to be a piece of cake. My range of motion seemed good. I was reasonably comfortable (drugs).

It wasn't until I got home that things went to shit. I became stiff and every movement became an effort. I couldn't switch positions without help (you don't realize how dependant you are on your arms when it comes to leverage). I could only sleep, as though in a coffin, on my back, arms propped up, unmoving. I woke every four hours, max. I was peeing constantly and never pooping-- the constipation got so bad that on Sunday after the surgery, I OD-ed on laxitives and suffered the gut mangling consequences for two days. Every inch of my body hurt-- what didn't hurt from the surgery hurt from the awkward and unnatural positions in which I had to sit and lie.

By the sixth day after the surgery (thankfully, the day I had my first post-op dr's appointment), I was a weepy, angry, despondent mess. It seemed as though nothing was getting better, especially when I would wake up in the morning a mess of aches, painkillers worn off, still exhausted. After the highs in the hospital, the unanticipated depths of the lows when I went home made me feel as though something had to have gone terribly wrong.

And of course, the doctor said that everything looked as good as it should look. I was healing beautiful. The pain was to be expected. I might consider amping up the painkillers. Otherwise, I was just plain ol' being impatient.

More good news from the doctor. There was no cancer in the right breast. The tumor in the left breast was 1.7cm, and that's .3cm smaller than they thought it was from the ultrasound. The final analysis of the sentinal node says that it was, indeed, 100% clear (Megan-- the cancer survivor I met just before my surgery-- had her sentinal node test clear during her surgery and then unclear in the final analysis-- horrors).

And so all of this means that the girls and I were Stage One. We caught it early. All those piles of bad thoughts pre-surgery were just wrong. All that dread that I felt about my rock star lifestyle-- the heavy drinking, the more than 15 years of smoking, the lack of exercise, the taking of my body for granted-- all that certainty that this was PAYBACK-- well, it just goes to show you that I am one hell of a lucky S.O.B., now doesn't it?

I guess saying that I "dodged the bullet" is a bit like the broadcasters saying that New Orleans "dodged the bullet" after Katrina. Sure, NOLA DIDN'T get hit by the Big One. The Big One would have wiped out the whole city. But it was still devestation in grand scale. And I mean, Stage One is kind of a blessing in the larger scheme of things. But... it's still cancer. And I still lost the girls.

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