I’m ok. The surgery took 2.5 times longer than they expected, as the surgeon reached far under my chest wall, over and over, feeling every node hidden there that she could reach, and plucking the ones that were hard, misshapen, or otherwise wrong, giving hints of cancer inside. She plucked them (I’m told) and handed them to the resident, Matt (I imagine), as the 3rd year student, Eric, looked on and helped her (also a guess, I was sedated) take the fat pad, holding two dozen nodes, out of my armpit. All the while, the anaesthesiologist, Ellen, sat by my head and kept me sedated. The nurse was there, but she was surly when I met her, so she doesn’t get named in this story. Everyone else was wonderful, from the cheerful women at the registration desk, peppy and helpful despite the early hour, to efficient Nurse Pat who helped me to the chair where I would wait in a scratchy gown and nonskid socks (ew!), signing paper after paper, and kind Nurse Nancy, who brought me heated blankets to comfort me, and offers of help in carefully folded pamphlets.
I’m not particularly fond of general anaesthesia. I don’t like that out of control feeling. Although I was in control here for quite a while, as I showed them which veins to use (mine are scarred from chemo, and they’re a hard stick, so I usually end up passing out). Dr. Ellen couldn’t use them, however, since that’s where I was having surgery (oops), so she stuck the IV in my foot. It made me laugh, and was ten times better than the needle in
my neck last Fall. Then as we waited for the first medicine to take effect, everything started to happen all at once. Dr. Ellen put me in a wheelchair, Dr. Matt hustled me down the hall, Eric opened the door, and they all bustled around looking for that nurse and my chart, which had inexpicably gone missing. Both were found in the OR, a small room with bright lights and an OR nurse who I didn’t get to meet, although she saw my innerds close up, I’m sure.
Dr. Ellen took charge of the room, helped me up on the bed, and told me to tuck the pillow under my knees.
When I woke up, I was disoriented and groggy, trying to pull myself up as if under a thousand pounds of water, to find myself again. As I surfaced, nameless nurses reassured me, and eventually I was brought out to a chair again, with more and different nurses, and my husband. He told me (some) of what the doctor told him, and after a while I dressed and he went to get the car. He seemed to be gone a long time, and the patient next to me was beginning to scare me with his rants and pleadings, so I stood up and tried to walk to meet him. Finally an aide put me in a wheelchair and took me to find my husband
and the recovery began.
I’m writing this not 24 hours after being disharged from the hospital; forgive its nonlinearity and rambling — what I’m really trying to say is this: I’m ok.
and thank you, thank you for the Virtual Science Fair. It’s absolutely incredible and I’m enjoying picking my way through the aisles, seeing what you all have put together. I haven’t got through it yet (there are over 50 participants!), and, after my children, it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Go, visit the Virtual Science Fair that starts at Stimyland — my friends are incredible people, and I am so impressed at how they helped their little ones enjoy science — for me. This is the best present I could have ever dreamed of. Thank you.
and thank you for joining the Army of Women participating in cancer research. I will write a whole post and link to you all when I’m up to it. For now, please know that I see you and your contribution, and it gives me hope. Hope that the researchers can find a cure, so that our daughters and sons will not have to experience this beast called cancer.