Saturday, August 13, 2016

The New Ladies

Heyyyyyy!  I'm back!  And trying to type while mainly reclined.  So far, just these past 16 words or so, it's hurting me in this general area:
Right??  So I came out of surgery with like 14 tubes coming out of me, which I expected.  What I did not expect was random bruising on my arms:
I wish these pictures could do it justice.  Seriously.  I don't know WHAT went on there.  I remember them putting in two IV's, both on my right arm, because my left arm has lymphedema and had a big old pink bracelet to remind them about that - it is a no cut, no pressure, and no beat-it-up-with-baseball-bat zone.

My mom and I have been trying to figure out what on earth is going on there (and I kept forgetting to ask the surgeon when she checked in on me each day), and she said that she heard that sometimes, a patient is under, and the surgeon is hooking up monitors and stuff, and even though the patient is out of it, they aren't, like, fully out of it?  And they start fighting the nurses and surgeons and assistants or something??  I think that is terrifying and fascinating.  It makes me a little proud of my bruises.  I mean, attackers, beware!!  I now know that I would fight like crazy if attacked.  I'm a little scrappy. Who knew?

And, you know, I can't show you pictures of my surgery site, because, now, what used to be my muffin top are breasts.  It's so weird.  And amazing!  They're so sooooooft!!  I forgot about how soft original boobs are.  And these aren't original, but they're fatty like unto original ones.  I was like, "Oh yeah!  Side boob!  Women have side boob!!"  And I keep bumping into them when I'm, like, walking. Or pouring myself a drink.  I have to maneuver around them now!  Crazy stuff.

Sorry I'm all over the place.  Blame the hydrocodones.  I guess this should be more of a linear retelling, but I'm just popping all over the place.

So you know, my ma and I drove into Portland, found the apartment, got all settled, etc.  We discovered that the closest grocery store was a Whole Foods, so we walked there and got some supplies for breakfasts and stuff for Mom.  I really wanted to buy these amazing herbal soaps in the doorway, but I kept the urge under control.  I mean, lemongrass basil soap??  So cool!  We ate at what we thought would be a  12-ish dollars per meal place, and it turned out to be a 20-ish dollars per meal place, which was an unhappy surprise.  We should have known.  It is downtown Portland, after all. We drove to the hospital to make sure my mom felt like she knew where she was going.  I showered, and we settled down to sleep (my mom is really a wiggler; I was like, "Are you Gage?  Hold still!"). We woke up, I did all the anti-bacterial washing stuff yet again, and we headed to the hospital.

And you know, it takes forever to talk to 25 people about the procedure you're doing, making sure everyone is on the same page, etc.  They gave me my IV to put me to sleep, and my mom got really weepy.  She's just so awesome.  I love her.  I bid her adieu, and that's really all I remember.

After a couple of hours, they came out and let my mom know that it had taken a really long time to get my body ready for this surgery.  Something about low blood pressure (it's been a prob ever since chemo).  But maybe this is when they struggled with me and decided to get out a hammer and hit my arms repeatedly. As a consequence, I didn't get out of surgery until after ten at night.

They had me in the intensive care unit for the first...two or three days?  It was just supposed to be one day, but my new left boob was struggling.  They have these monitors that they use to check the blood flow, and you actually listen for the flow.  If things are going well, you hear the blood flowing back and forth, back and forth, with each heart beat.  It sounds, to me, just like an ultrasound, when you're pregnant, and they listen for baby's heartbeat.  So when the blood flow is working well, you hear this whoosh-whoosh!  My right boob is an A+ student.  My left boob is like a C student.

Apparently, they use fat from your lower right abdomen for your left boob, and vice versa for your right.  I'm not sure why.  I had a hysterectomy several years ago, and my surgeon said that there was soooo much scarring in my right abdomen, the worst she's ever seen.  THE WORST SHE HAS EVER SEEN.  What???  I mean, I knew that it was a hard recovery after my hysterectomy, but...  it makes me a little mad at my former gynie/surgeon.  Anyways.  For whatever reason, I was really scarred up on my right abdomen, so it was hard to harvest fat/blood cells from there.  She even had to take some of my muscle right there in order for the operation to work out at all.  As a consequence, my left side feels a little harder and a lot more perky.  It feels a little bit like a tissue expander again. Maybe not as uncomfortable.

So it was a little nerve-wracking to have them check my boobs every single hour for three days straight, praying that the boob was there to stay.  It fought well and is doing great.

My tummy is now...tucked.  It feels really, really tight.  I have to always have a pillow under my knees for a couple of weeks, because if my legs are straight while lying down, it's just too dang tight in my lower abdomen.  I swear you could bounce a quarter of my tummy, guys.  It's crazy and really, really wonderful.  And my new belly button looks like a heart.  Not kidding.  When it stops looking gross, I'll take a pic and put it on here.

So after being in the ICU for a few days, they put me into the cancer wing of the hospital, which I liked.  It was very quiet.  The view from my window:

My nurses were nice - my night nurses were nicer than my day nurses, and I wondered why that is... It's like the meaner, older, stricter teachers in the day, and the young, fun teachers at night.   I found that I'm a little bit of a rebel when I have narcotics in me.  I was only supposed to go pee if I called a nurse first.  And I'm like, I'm fine.  I kept moving my arms outside of the range I'm supposed to, but that's more forgetfulness than willful disobedience.  I wasn't walking as hunched over as I was supposed to...  I pulled out some staples with my fingernails...

Kay, these staples were RIDICULOUS.  You don't need to staple a cord to a person's chest to keep it in place.  It's called medical tape, friends.  And they itched so badly.  So one day after a disgusting dinner, I dug those suckers out and gifted them to the food person to take away.  I have all these red dots on my tummy and between the two mounds on my chest.  I thought I had scratched hard enough to draw blood (I didn't react very well to the IV painkillers I was first put on), but no, those marks are from STAPLES.  All over my tummy.  I did remember to ask my surgeon about them, and she said that sometimes they need to hold some flesh somewhere for awhile during surgery.  So they use staples, apparently.  I can't pretend to know their business, but it just...makes me uncomfortable, you know?  I'm not un piece du papier!

The catheter left me with a UTI, and the doctors wanted this culture to come back instead of taking my word for it.  I've had so many of these, I know exactly what I'm dealing with, but...we had to wait for the results.  The results showed that I was right, and they put me on a pretty powerful antibiotic, but they had to change my anxiety sleeping meds because of drug interaction stuff.  So I didn't sleep for a whole night, which I wasn't a fan of.  After that, they gave me a sleeping pill until the end of my antibiotic.

Luckily, the days went by quickly (thank you, Olympics!), and I was released Wednesday to go to the apartment in Portland.

My surgeon said I could just go all the way back to Bend, but I worried about driving that far so quickly after being released, so Ma and I settled in at the apartment.  Mom took excellent care of me. Washed my hair, changed my dressings, made sure I was taking my meds on time, etc.  It was so nice to have her there.

My hair has been looking a lot like Ted's in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.  Good times.

On Thursday night, I had a full-on panic attack.  I'm starting to recognize these better now.  I was certain that the hardness in my left boob was because it was being rejected by my body, and that I needed to go in and see the surgeon STAT.  And I missed Ben and the kids so badly.  I just sobbed and sobbed and begged my mom to take me home right THEN.  Luckily, the lady at the surgeon's office kind of calmed me down, and my mom promised that we could go home yesterday.

The ride home ended up being a bit of a fiasco.  We went a different way than usual, which was beautiful, but very windey.  I spent much of the time feeling nauseated.  And it took twice as long as it should have to get home.  Lesson learned.

It wiped me out pretty badly, our driving misadventure.  So I've been resting all day.  Mom, Ben, and the kids went swimming, and I wanted to go watch, but it's an outdoor pool, and it's hot outside, and I just feel kind of gross today, so I'm chilling inside.  And writing this meandering post.  Sorry, guys.  My razor-sharp wit is temporarily dull!  Hahaha!

I had another sobbing episode last night at bedtime.  I think it was partially because of relief; I just can't believe that this long, long road is, for the most part, ending.  It's been two difficult years, and I just can't believe that I don't have to have this surgery weighing me down anymore.  But I also cried because I'm trapped in my body yet again.  I keep getting knocked down hard and having to climb back out, and it's just getting really old.  And I'm still at the place where I need help getting out of bed, showering, etc.  That's tough.  I'll just have to really take it easy and rely on the help of others. My  mom went above and beyond to help me, when she was feeling pretty crummy herself. Thanks so much, mommy!!  And Ben's mom is coming tonight to help for a couple of weeks.  Thank heavens.

So yeah, if you're in Bend, come on over and say hi!  Because I'm just friggin' stuck inside for awhile. Sigh.  But I have to remember how blessed I am, and how thankful I feel. With the Lord's help, I can get through these next several weeks of recovery.  Peace out!

1 comment:

kenneth rhoten said...

Hello! I fell upon your blog through sugardoodle.net while preparing for my sunday school lessons. And you are my #1 go-to resource for creative ideas to help my kids learn, think and understand my lessons.
And most times when I return to your blog for my next weekly lesson, I stumble upon your other entries which I get caught up in and completely throw my lesson out the window, as I learn about your victories and trials. Thank you for sharing your life, your stories and your lessons. Through words, i can't quite express my gratitude. :)

I live here in Minneapolis, MN but only for the past 6 months, came from Iowa where we lived for two years. But originally, my husband and I are both from Washington state. I read something about you living in Bend, Oregon, where I know exactly where that is! We're from the Tricities. West Richland more specifically. Bordering Oregon. It was neat after following your blog for the past few months then to feel a small connection with this inspiring blogger.

Keep blogging away! You never know who you touch.
Thank you!!!

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